From coconut trees to camels
Pushkar is a whole ‘nother world from Hampi or Varkala. I have spent the past two days lounging, wandering around and climbing up to two temples that overlook the small city. There is not a whole lot to do here, so I have been getting ready for my transition and making plans for my remaining days. But, here are some of the differences and observations:
- well, there are the camels. Not wild camels – but today I saw a guy riding one through town. It was elaborately painted and with bells on it (like the women wear around their ankles)
- Pushkar is a temple town — there seem to be hundreds of temples around every corner. there is a small lake in the middle of town – and ghats leading into it where people bath – similar to Varanasi – however you cannot wear shoes down there or take pictures (two mistakes I made my first day)
- The land is arrid, cacti line the cliffs, and it is cold at night. People are going to the temple early in the morning (earlier than I wake up – which is pretty early) – and they are all bundled up in scarves and blankets
- Rajasthan is poor. I read that it has one of the lowest literacy rates in the country – and that seems evident – from how foreigners are treated to dental hygiene to people’s homes
- there are the usual holy men trying to get money to snake charmers on the streets to tons of shops with clothes that many of the tourists are buying up (speaking of which – what is up with the pants that foeigners are buying that look like they took a crap in them (not color, but saggy-ness) – but no Indian wears… let me just ask the question – why? why would you wear those?)
- I have been offered special lassis on several occassions. My guess is those are not just yogurt….
- I have seen two cows that are seriously messed up…. and by messed up – let me try to describe the bizarre-ness…. Ok – so these two cows, seen on separate occassions — both were painted various colors, though predominantly red. Both were being lead around by a holy man of sorts (dressed in long flowing garments – white or orange in color, wearing a turban, long beard). But had a hoof (swear to god) growing out of it’s rear – either near its tail or on its back. And the holy man was waving around said hoof. which was painted red. yes, bizaare.
- people seem to come here from all over — well, yes – foreigners – but i meant Indians. I have seen NRIs (or what I assume are NRIs – non-resident indians – as they are speaking english). I have seen Indian women dressed in such elegant saris with the most stylish sunglasses on (think Julia St. Martin if she were Indian in a sari).
- Young men are flying through the streets on their motorcycles – which the streets are not wide and full of pilgrims and cows and dogs and foreigners. But these guys are swerving through traffic – all wearing sunglasses, trying to look as cool as possible. Makes me laugh that men (and women) no matter what culture will do similar things to look cool and show off.
- Pushkar is a popular place for weddings. As I was wandering the streets the other day, outside of town a bit, I cam across a wedding procession with a band – like a marching band. It was great. I stopped to watch – but could not tell which was the bride — many of the women were dressed in elegant, fancy saris with their hands henna’d. On that same walk I was invited in by two teenagers into their house for a cup of tea — our mutual language skills were limited – but lots of smiles were exchanged. And every time we found some common language, we repeated those facts over and over “yes, i am a teacher”, “i am in grade 10”.
All in all, I have to say that I do not love it here. Maybe I am just comparing it to the south too much. Maybe my headspace has moved on. Maybe I am just tired of being seen as a dollar sign — whatever the reason, I am glad to be leaving tomorrow. I enjoy the smiles exchanged between myself and some of the women, I enjoy seeing the kids look at me and then catching them off guard with a smile from me – and then they break into their own smile. I enjoy the different look of the people here — people are tan – not dark like in Tamil Nadu – but more weathered – and with the green eyes and the turbans and all… they are quite remarkable looking. But, all in all – i am good to go.