The sound of grinding teeth chased me through my dreams until I realized that it wasn't a dream. I rolled over in my sleeping bag and realized that it was my camel, Mister India who was chomping away on some desert shrubs, keeping me awake. We were camped in the shoulder of a massive sand dune under a night sky overloaded with stars and the only sounds were of the wind blowing and Mister India chewing his cud. Over the last three days we had been trekking by camel through the Thar Desert deep in the state of Rajasthan, India. Our lives had taken on a dream-like existence as we explored an endless sea of sand in scorching 110 degree heat upon the parched earth. Unlike the rest of our time in India with its turbulent, intense and ear splitting cacophony, in the desert we experienced calm, serene moments filled with natural beauty untouched by humans. No rickshaws or chaos of the sub-continent. Without much warning I was thrown forward, scrambling to keep my balance reacting for a moment like a camel rodeo rider, as Mister India fell to his front knees. This was standard procedure for any mounting or dismounting of my young Arabian single hump camel that was suitably stubborn, stinky and equipped with a massive overbite that I was going to stay well clear of. I�d heard that camels could spit some distance, but I was a bit more concerned about being bitten by him. A light breeze picked up my mood and dissipated the sweat beginning to form on my electric blue turban wrapped neatly 20 times on my head. The jostling from Mister India�s gait almost seemed relaxing for a moment and soon enough I was daydreaming about an oasis where I could swim in cool waters escaping the unbearable heat. The crack of A whip by Raju, one of the camel guides, startled both me and Mister India from this lazy daydream and in the distance I could see that my dream had come true, or part of it at least. Sure enough there was a pool of water deep enough to wade in, however the brackish water was being lapped up by 30 thirsty cattle and our competing camels left no room and little desire for a cool soak in the backwashed waters. For the next hour Mister India walked with a stumbling and sluggish gait as if he was drunk from guzzling gallons of holy water and look much relieved when we stopped for lunch under the shade of several large cactus bushes. I helped Raju, our guide, unload the gear and food from the camels and within minutes they were roaming freely searching out shrubs to feed on. Over a small fire we ate veggie curry, chapattis, pakoras, and drank a spot of tea just to beat the heat. The smells from our small feast attracted two roaming cattle herders who magically appeared, joining us in our meal. I sat next to the older herder whose face bore the wrinkles of drought ridden years, sandstorms and scorched earth. His wispy white moustache stretched across his pock marked cheeks and I could tell he was as curious of us as we were of him. From their ears hung the traditional Rajput gold bells and their heads were wrapped in saffron colored turbans. Both men sat on their haunches and other than a few words between them, little was said. After our silent meal was finished the two of them disappeared from the shade and into the heat of the afternoon sun, almost as quickly as they had arrived. I rested for a while in the luxurious cool shade, still dreaming of that ephemeral oasis and whether or not it existed in the land of the searing sun. With a sudden yelp I was woken from my desert siesta and could see Mister India off in the distance being dragged reluctantly back to our lunch spot like a belligerent schoolboy coming in from recess. Thoughts of his angry temper and his nasty overbite distracted me as we loaded the packs onto his back and I quickly jumped on for take-off. As usual he shot upright and with a firm hold I was in control, at least for the time being. We sauntered behind another camel and I took in the scenery of sand and shrubs for miles. For what seemed like an endless march through the uniform looking desert we finally reached a village of Untouchables. In the Indian caste system untouchables are regarded as the lowest class of people. For hundreds of years the untouchables have been marginalized from society and treated with little or no respect. Change in a land like India occurs at an exhausted pace and often over several generations. The untouchables lived in such a stark environment amidst difficult socio-economic prejudices that marginalized their existence to the barren wastelands of the desert like a clan meant to be forgotten. Swarms of pant less toddlers with dirt caked smiles came running at us with demands in broken English for rupees, sweets, pens, anything they could have as a memento of our quick visit. I shelled out a few rupee coins and fielded the usual questions such as �Where you from or What your name? I walked over to sit by a woman making butter in a silver urn. She was bejeweled in thin gold necklaces and white plastic arm bands which signified her years as a wife and as a servant which is one and the same in India. She was effortlessly churning butter while allowing me to sit by and watch her performing her daily chore. The only way to communicate with her was through smiles and hand signs and after a few moments of charades and pointing at my camera I was able to take a photo of her, in exchange for a few rupees. The peacefulness and simplicity of her life impressed me as a tangible and true testament of her roots. She was an untouchable in her culture but someone who had touched me in her smiling yet silent nature. The setting sun cast a pale orange light on our camel train up ahead and I could catch a glimpse of a tall sand dune whose shoulders we would nestle into for the night. A night filled with song, snores, and star filled dreams interrupted by the occasional babble from Mister India.