“India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable and most astrictive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only!” Mark Twain
Our 1,122 mile road trip through Rajasthan, India, last year wouldn’t have been possible or remotely enjoyable if it weren’t for this man, Rejender Singh. He was the man behind the wheel, so to speak, our driver for 14 days, covering seven cities.
Of course, we visited many incredible, iconic temples, forts, palaces and museums along our route. The architectural legacy of the maharajas is this state’s signature attraction. Udaipur, Jodhpur, Pushkar, Mandawa, Samode, Jaipur, and then to Agra. There are plenty of large bus tours, but that isn’t out travel style. Having a personal driver and the use of local guides made our trip more flexible. And, having the same driver the entire time allowed for more opportunities to engage in cultural exchanges with each other that went beyond just pleasantries. We couldn’t have been matched to a better driver, and for two weeks you wouldn’t want to have a bad experience. Our personalities and travel styles clicked.
Driving through the cities and the rural roads takes skill, experience, and even guts. It also requires an emphasis on safety. Rejender has all that. He has been driving for over 25 years with this travel company. That says a lot. Knowing that we are passionate about photography, he would pull off for us to see something he thought appealing or would go back if we mentioned something we just saw. He is patient, knowledgeable and has a sense of humor. He also realized we have a sense of adventure.
Upgrading our mode of transport from a Tata to an Air-conditioned SUV Toyota made for a comfortable journey that was well worth the investment.
This wasn’t a trip for dozing off. There was always something of interest to capture our attention while driving through the countryside. A way of life. Long, windy, dusty roads, past small villages with their open air markets and women in their colorful saris.
Unexpectedly, we came upon a parade of villagers in route to a holy festival nearby. They looked somber, but this young lady greeted us with a smile.
Rejender is an opportunist, and when he saw a man by his well, pumping water by using his oxen to turn the wheel, he stopped for us to see it and to make sure I got a chance behind the oxen. The water was being pumped under the road to irrigate a sugar cane field.
I loved the colorful trucks everywhere, but some were overloaded. See what happens. I hope the driver wasn’t terribly hurt.
Time to get the milk to market.
Road blocks are opportunities to stretch one’s legs as Ron is doing while waiting for a rather long train to pass by.
Sheep are just a way of life and also have to use the roads. Goats, too. Cows, too.
Trucks laden with marble. There are many quarries and the stone is an abundant building material.
We notice brick kilns dotting the landscape.
Another opportunity to stretch our legs. Our first encounter with a camel driver surrounded by wheat fields and another one loaded down.
Farm trucks are interestingly home made.
This part of the drive was horrendous, but it was our only way to get to Mandawa. Due to unexpected road construction, the ride took much longer, and Rejender was quite tired when we finally arrived. Many trucks and machinery on the road including tons of red Massey Ferguson tractors.
I loved the arid Aravilli Hills, rocky mountainsides and ridges, including terrain that is harsh and barren. Pushkar is remote and we climbed a mountain pass to get there. Rejender is cautious as we go around the curves, but he seems to have a sixth sense when it comes to driving.
It was a treat to wind up a narrow road to get a glimpse of a lake.
Part of a driver’s time is not driving, but waiting. Here Rejender waits for us to finish touring the Panna Meena stepwell near Jaipur. Regardless of the dust and grime that covered the SUV each day, Rejender somehow wiped it down during his wait time and polished it spotless after each day’s driving. He also made sure the cooler was full of bottled water.
Working with Dream Vacation Pvt.Ltd., to customize an itinerary for us, was also rewarding. Ron had worked with them the year before while planning a trip to Kumba Mela. The team made sure our 50th wedding anniversary trip would be of the best quality and it was. Our thanks to Sudip Sen and Sanjeev Mehra, owners of the company, who came to our hotel in New Delhi to meet us. They referred to us as “the golden couple”. These men had planned our 26 day itinerary, which included Mumbai, New Delhi, Kerala, Munnar, and coordinated all the in-country flights, our overnight train ride to Varanasi, and of course, the details of our memorable road trip. Thank you, gentlemen.
And, let’s hear it for Rejender.
“So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked.” Mark Twain
When you have such a wonderful driver and guide it can make such a difference in a trip like this. I love the photos you took of him. And the one of you behind the oxen.
You’re right, Letizia. Guides and drivers can make or break a trip.We have a guide from Vietnam and an interpreter/guide from Haiti that we are still in correspondence with, as friends. I’m glad I took these pictures of Rejender. He was special.
What a special way to celebrate your Golden Wedding anniversary.Congratulations to you both. Rejender sounds like a rel gem, and looked after you very well. I so enjoyed your wonderful photos, Lynne. The one of you sitting behind the ox is my favourite. 🙂
We have to be good sports. Don’t we. This trip was a year ago and it seems like it was yesterday., especially after looking at the country side photos. The cities were wonderful and so rich with history, but I so enjoyed the road trip.🚙
Wow…superbly covered and powerfully depicted using pics. Thanks for sharing the nuances of the Rajasthan. Stay tuned.
Thank you for your visit and comment, Himanshu
Reblogged this on India Food Club.
Thanks for the reblog. ☺️
What a gift to have a great driver and personal connection like that.. i loved that lady’s serene smile, andi loved the camel cart – and the milk cans and the overloaded vehicles and and and === thanks for sharing all of this! Lisa/Z
I could have titled this “What’s on the road and in the road” or “Modes of transportation ” , but guides and drivers don’t get enough praise. Rejender was tops. In southern India, we had to navigate around elephants.
yes, you are right. when i ask a taxi driver, como se llama?’ they usually slap their chests and ask, ‘Me?” (Yes, you…)
You surely leave a trail of smiles wherever you go!
It’s amazing what a difference a knowledgeable and friendly guide can make to a travel experience. I personally don’t think they get the credit they deserve from many people so it’s so lovely to read your open ‘thank you’. On another note, what a wonderful trip that’s captured in your excellent photography 🙂
Thanks, Rachel. With your extensive travel background, you understand the importance of having excellent guides, even though we know it doesn’t always work that way. Thanks for your compliments on the photography, a blend of Ron’s and mine, mostly from the car. 🚙
Your Golden Wedding anniversary! You are definitely the golden couple. Congratulations! Hooray for Rejender! Ron and I are trying to plan a 40th wedding anniversary trip soon. We may need the services of Rejender. Is there a way that he can see your post? What a wonderful tribute to a fearless and patient driver and guide. So glad to hear you meshed well. That makes all the difference in a trip.
The anniversary trip was a year ago and well worth the time and money. I will send a link of the post to the owners of the company and they can see to it that Rejender can see it. Thanks for your comment, Jo.
What an incredible trip and I love all the photos….the rest of the world seems to play out in black and white after seeing real India in all its magnificent glory and colour.
This was not the rainy season and everything was quite barren. Our proximity to the Thar desert, bordering Pakistan made for dry conditions, but there was color everywhere in terms of adornment. It got quite green towards Agra and southern India was tropical and green. Also, the tea plantations in the highlands.Lovely country. Thanks for your visit and comment.
He has a lovely smile! Someone like that is crucial to making a long trip like that pleasurable, Lynne, but didn’t you see some incredible sights? Everything from radiant colour to dust! 🙂
Rejender takes his work seriously and I wondered if I could get a smile from him, but he came through.Lots of color in the midst of this rugged barren state. And yes, I chewed some dust. 🙂
I’ve had a wonderful time catching up with your adventures. I didn’t realize I’d been away from my mail for so long. Can sympathize with your comments on the traffic in SC as I’ve just come back from Charleston where the number of cars on the road at all times was surprising (and I’m used to mid-Atlantic conjestion!).
Have really enjoyed returning to India with you–if I ever get there, I’ll certainly try to get Rejender’s name from you. He sounds like a perfect guide (particularly since he’s a good driver as well as a knowledgeable destination locator).
You have some marvelous photos: the lovely ladies in their saris; the trucks; you looking fine behind the oxen; the camels; the landscapes, and the marvelous Dali Museum (a must-see for me one of these days).
Looking forward to Daylight Savings Time as it is the harbinger of Spring–which I’m definitely anticipating. Take care, Lynne, and I’ll be looking forward to your next post.
So good to hear from you, VB. Thanks for catching up and commenting on all of it. Traveling always connects us to someone who stands out and this time it wasn’t a guide, but a driver. Rajender was special. This is a late response, but I’m already enjoying our Daylight Savings Time.
What a gracious piece of gratitude.
Thank you, my dear friend. Rejender deserves praise.
You have captured the essence and the drama of life on our roads with this post Lynne! A good driver is key to a stress free time in India, and Rajender seems to have done a great job. Love the Mark Twain quotes. Wonder what he would have to say about the country if he were alive today 🙂
I appreciate your comment, Madhu. It’s usually a guide that stands out, but this time it was a driver. What we see on our roads is pretty predictable, but India’s roads was an educational and cultural experience.Rejender was patient with us and our barrage of questions. Mark Twain would probably think it still an extraordinary country…and it is. 🙂
I totally like the quote of Mark Twain about India, it is so true. And your photos are just speaking of it … Thanks for sharing.
Cecelia, thank you for you lovely comment and visit. 🙂
Oh the sites to be seen when you travel the world. Great photos and interesting to hear more about your travels to India.
Thanks for vicariously seeing a little of India, Carol. Quite an incredible country.
Bravo for the driver, Lynne, and also a Very Happy Birthday to you today (March 23)! You’re the only person I know who was born on “Near Miss” Day. Celebrate Big Time! 🙂
Yes, applause for the driver and thanks for the birthday wishes, Marylin. Glad to know I was born on Near Miss Day. 🙂
Hi Lynne – what a pleasant surprise and let me first wish you a belated Happy Birth Day. Also wish you many many happy returns of the day (anniversary). The Golden Couple turns +1 today and am so grateful to you having remembered us and Rajinder with all your lovely compliments and pleasant memoirs of that Golden Trip last year. Off-course, I will keep Rajinder posted for his knowledge on on this development. He definitely deserves what you said and what you feel about him. Look forward to meet you again and do urge you and your friend’s circle to start planning to visit India and give us the opportunity to cater for your travel needs. I must say that nothing is more nice and sweeter than this sort of “Expression of Feelings” which give us the maximum satisfaction for what we try to achieve through our hard work. All the very best and have a nice celebration of the day. Sudip
It is good to hear from you, Sudip. I continue to spread the word to friends and family about incredible India and the exciting itinerary you created for us. Again, thank you for all that you did and praising Rejinder was easy to do. Well deserved. Lynne.
I enjoy your story and the images – Rejender seemed a great driver (and guide)! Gosh, the streets of India is always full of surprises! 🙂
Having a good driver/guide makes all the difference in the world. Thanks for stopping no by, Indah. India is full of surprises.