The Rann story: a travelogue -1
Achint wanted to shoot his diploma film in the Rann of Kutch in the first and second week of May. Many believe that May is the worst time to be in the Rann. May be that was the adventure of the whole shoot. We packed our bags.
Our journey started on the morning of 1st May, in a van which carried the entire luggage, the driver, Achint and me. The journey was long. I have seen the Thar, but this was my first visit to the Rann, a desert of some other type. After around two hours of traveling we stopped at a dhaba to have some chai and faafda! As we moved further it got hotter and boring as there was very little variety in the visuals that could be seen. So, I dozed off.
The hot breeze woke me again after a short while. I saw trucks, some villagers working on huge heaps of sand. As our van got closer to the heaps I noticed that it was not sand. It was salt! They were white salt crystals which were brought from the Rann and now would be sent to factories for refining. I had heard about this, but had never seen it. And there were many heaps being worked upon. The sunlight being reflected from the salt crystals was strong. This village was Kharaghoda, our destination. We moved a couple of kilometers ahead and there it was… the Rann. There was nothing till the horizon (not even sand dunes!). It looked so blank, so incomplete, yet so powerful. It was not a typical desert with sand and dunes. It was… just blank, sans trees, sans plants, sans everything. It was so independent; it seemed as if the place shouted, “I don’t need anyone or anything. I’m happy alone!”
And in the middle of this terrain was our location, where we would work for the next 15 days.
Kharaghoda, which translates to the salty horse, is a village which comes under the territory of the wild ass sanctuary, of the little Rann of Kutch. This species of donkeys is an endangered one and is not found anywhere else in the world except in the Rann.
The moment we entered this area, our driver Haaji bhai showed us this group of wild asses. They were white-coloured donkeys with big brown patches on their back. I had never seen more beautiful donkeys!
We dropped our luggage 2kms away from our location, at ‘Desert Outpost’, a present day resort, but was historically the house of the Jaagirdar of the region. The rooms were filled with certificates and legacies offered by the British empire to the local king/ Jaagirdar. The walls undoubtedly were quite royal, with pictures of men in uniform and of horns and heads of animals shot by them in the name of shikaar.
As Achint and I walked walked towards the location, hot breeze welcomed us. We kept walking quietly. With our faces covered, the strong breeze didn’t allow us to talk, but it did force us to think. To think of many things, many stories, many questions...
We continued walking with silence. Our journey had just begun…
(to be continued)