The bulk of research on Indian forms of nomadism was conducted while living in Rajasthan's Thar Desert. During that time, I was lucky enough to live and travel with herders, musicians, small goods traders and others in a nomadic landscape no less mobile than the plains of Mongolia.
Traveling in India pushed me to further examine the very word, “nomadic” and see new ways in which issues of movement and landscape are integral to Indian life, culture, economy and spirituality.
My heart was happy to be back in India. On arrival, I moved to Varanasi where I lived with my friend Sandy, in a rented room on the roof of our Hindi teacher's house. Virendra and his family are wonderful and I rejoiced in the comfort of cooking with Sushila, Virendra’s lovely wife in their small kitchen and eating in the house’s courtyard or on the rooftop with its carpet of drying chilies and sky full of paper kites.
I had been in Nagwa for more than a month before I was even able to think of moving again. Nagwa, a small neighborhood in Varanassi, just outside of the bustle and maze of what tour books deem necessary to include in their maps, proved to be the perfect place to acclimate. After five months continuously on the move, I welcomed a moment of pause. I wish I could say that my Hindi was much improved after my stay. I try to relax, to let another foreign tongue find its place in my mouth. This takes time, and countless conversations about family, daily activities, trips to the market and the dozen or so mundane topics that formed the extent of my mediocre vocabulary passed before I felt able to communicate at all. Benares is a wonderful place to cultivate patience.