No Way to Get Out, Except to Get On

Back home, I could have said, "No. No, I don't want to ride a camel! You youngsters go ahead; I'll just stay here and watch."

This wasn't the Griffith Park Zoo, however. This was New Delhi. My nephew's son was celebrating his fifth birthday, and camel rides were part of the fun. If five-year-olds barely higher than the camel's knees could ride the tall, ungainly, brown beast, surely I could.

Getting on was the tricky part.

The camel wasn't happy about kneeling. His loud grunts of protest and the heaving of his hairy sides as his trainer pulled him to the grass told me that. The way his lips curled back from his teeth seemed another bad sign.

"Get on quick and hold on tight!" directed my nephew.

My sister scrambled off. I climbed on before I had time to give the matter further thought.

The camel struggled to his wide, plunger-like feet and swung toward the road. Placing one knobby knee ahead of the other, he plodded along in a slow, swaying gait.

"Hold on tight!" my nephew called again.

I needed no reminder. The street was a long way down.

To my surprise, after a few rolling steps, I began to relax. I even felt we cut quite a figure! The camel with head held high, his red blanket draped with spangled rope netting; me sitting tall in the saddle, with both hands firmly gripping the pommel.

"Take a picture!" I called to my sister.

She did.

There I am, smiling down from my high perch. I wasn't tempted to sign up for the four-day camel trek into the Rajasthan desert, which I'd seen advertised. But I was glad I'd had the chance to see how the world looked from the back of a camel.

Plus, I could hold up my head with the five-year-old set.

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