India: a town for hippies

Before heading to Pushkar, we read that the town was entirely vegetarian. Not that being one is difficult in India, quite the opposite really, it’s never been that easy, but a vegetarian town? For real? I had to see it. It happens to be true. It is forbidden to eat flesh in Pushkar, they even have signs in the street to remind everyone. That’s like a beautiful dream to me, something making me wish I could go back in time and tell my 3 years old self “you’re not a freak, there are entire towns with people like you”.

We didn’t do much in Pushkar, we could have hiked a little but we could never manage to get out of bed in the morning. Our only activities were walking in a 500 meters area, eating huge fruit salads and taking yoga classes, ok one class. Never before since I’m travelling have I felt so tired… That’s because India is exhausting. This constant lack of any kind of respect for anything or anyone, the noise, the trash everywhere, people touching you and always harassing you with any possible thing, rickshaws nearly running you over all the time, the horrible smell and the pollution… It’s a never ending attack of your senses (or at least mine, as for no reason, I started to smell odors in India knowing that my nose was useless all my life – don’t even think the country has a nice spicy scent, it’s more like piss).

So Pushkar, a nice little town around a sacred lake with its ghats (streets that access the sacred lake), monkeys and colorful streets. It’s definitely the best place to shop if you like the hippie – pixie style! Clothes and jewelry that are sold at around $60 / $80 go for the equivalent of 2 here… It’s like the whole place is home to a very juicy business with European exporters. On top of that, a lot of westerners come here looking like homeless, doing lame circus tricks in the streets in front of the locals. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I don’t like circus tricks, I’m saying those people are a terrible at doing them and definitely send a weird idea of westerners to locals. That really is something I found quite disturbing in India: many foreigners seem OK with the poverty they see around them and only notice the colors and the exoticism. Anyway, the town is full of those westerners playing poor walking around bare feet. All in all, it might be the place with the most tourists we’ve visited in Rajasthan and it has good and bad sides. In the end I did like its beautiful temples, its amazing food and the vibrant life around the streets. Because we visited the Brama’s temple on a Sunday, lots of locals were there and by simply staying in a corner watching that agitation, I could understand the fascination so many tourists have for the country. All those flashy sarees with glittery bangles, the sadhus face make up and bright orange clothes, the tons of flower necklaces waiting on the street to be bought as offerings, the smell of roses next to the temples… But it never lasts long, there will always be someone to get you out of your daydream. Sometimes it’s a nice encounter of curious but courteous people who just want to talk, most of the time it’s just an annoying person who won’t take no for an answer and doesn’t care that you were happy being by yourself.

I know how negative my stories are about India, but I’m not even writing a tenth of the shit I had to deal with. There are fun times, there are cool things to see, and there’s an ocean of bad stuff.  In the end I only take pictures of things and situations I liked, so I’m not just bitching for no reason, I simply try to focus on the good. The problem is, there’s usually not much good to write about…

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I got to try that instrument, it’s like a very difficult violin to play.

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The lake is believed to be sacred.

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At least once a day! Fresh fruit salad with coconut flakes and dry fruits.

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While Silvere was visiting the only Brama’s temple in India (bags were not allowed so we took turns), I met A LOT of people who seemed very eager to talk to me, including those two lovely women.

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A Sikh temple.

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Hanuman’s (the monkey god) tower.

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Silvere with his tika on. “Priests” stopped us near the ghat and insisted on helping us to do a welcoming blessing ceremony. We knew it was inevitable so we agreed thinking we’d get the red string around our wrist. This would show the other “priests” that we had already done the thingy and there was no point making us do it again (but they still tried anyway). Of course at the end they asked for money, “for our karma”. When I said I’ll give 21 rupees (it has to finish by 1 and not 0 because of whatever superstition I don’t remember, but anyway, back then I knew that fact) the priest was surprised as I obviously knew how it had to be done, and then said I had to give more, which I refused. Silvere gave 51 rupees and his priest told him (while taking the money) that it was not enough to buy toilet paper (not true, but it’s not one more lie that will make a difference). They asked for 500 each and kept saying that less was bad karma for us and our family AND our future sons (because obviously, who would want daughters or even no kid at all, right), which made me laugh a lot, which they didn’t like and which I could not care less about. Ah, the so called Indian spirituality 🙂 If rupees could talk I’m sure they’d have a lot of jokes to tell!

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Near the ghat, local humans and monkeys.

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A lengur monkey, again, watching out for us!

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Some colors for the Holi.

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