While driving in Bhuj, Brian and I came upon three Rabari nomads leading their colorfully adorned camels and goats along the highway. The jarring traffic noise was juxtaposed against the peaceful rhythm of their procession. The slow, silent footsteps of the camels; the jangling of bells and harnesses; the occasional punctuating bleat of a baby goat. The man and two women carried their possessions upon the backs of their camels; their belongings had been lovingly and creatively handmade. The camels were outfitted with embroidered, appliqued blankets and tasseled reins. The goats rode high atop trampoline-like saddles that, once removed from the camels’ backs, flipped over to become beds.
It was a beautiful and somewhat unsettling contrast, watching these traditionally dressed nomadic people tread slowly along the highway, bordered by car dealerships and even a wind turbine manufacturing plant. On the surface, they appeared unfazed and unchanged by the modernity all around us. We felt we had been given a brief glimpse into a past way of life that had snuck into the present.
We pulled over to the side of the road and spoke with the Rabaris, thanks to our translating tour guide. We asked whether we might take a few photos. They said their goodbyes, and we watched quietly as they processed away down the highway and flatbed trucks laden with machinery rattled by.