Returned from our Thar Desert experience, we find ourselves in the golden city of Jaisalmer (Jye-sal-mere). Like Jodhpur, this remote city of 75,000 centres around a fort. The difference with Jaisalmer, is that it is a living fort and its precincts contain many homes, shops and hotels. This fact has also been the cause of major problems, with drainage and water causing subsidence and erosion of the fort's ancient foundations. It has resulted in Jaisalmer being ranked in the top ten of endangered historical sites in the world.
An amazing feature of the old houses (havelis) within the fort is their sandstone screens. Solid slabs of stone have been carved with minute latticework patterns to the extent that they no longer look like they could be made of stone. The details are as varied as they are beautiful. Afternoon is perfect for capturing the dappled light and shadow as it filters through these finely networked designs.
Having some time to spare in the evening, I log on to see what the world has been up to over the Christmas period.
Benazir Butto is dead, proclaim the headlines.
It appears that the ever-precarious sand in this woman's hourglass has finally trickled out. My astonished gasp prompts the Frenchman next to me to say, 'Where have you been?'
'Out in the desert on a camel,' I say somewhat sheepishly. He nods with understanding.
I click more to read the shocking details. Campaigning from a car, Benazir ducked down when she heard the report of shots. These were promptly followed by an explosion, courtesy of a suicide bomber. The hospital Benazir was rushed to later said she had taken a bullet in the back of the neck and that this had been the primary course of death.
With Pakistan on the eve of an election, I can only wonder what effect this will have on its volatile power structure. Musharraf had already been accused of withdrawing security force protection for a deserving ex-Prime Minister, so this will result in more international condemnation that he really does not need right now, and will inflame internal tensions before an election. India is naturally watching with baited breath.
Here in the frontier town of Jaisalmer, 120km from the Pakistani border, it suddenly feels very close to where the action is.