PORTRAITS & STORIES OF INTERESTING PEOPLE I MET IN PUSHKAR FAIR, RAJASTHAN. INCREDIBLE INDIA!
This blog is a part of my series on the Pushkar fair of Rajasthan in Incredible India. I traveled solo in shoestring budget to Pushkar fair. Check out all my blogs in the series which apart from many interesting aspects of Pushkar fair, lists down information like – Best time to go to Pushkar, Best things to eat in Pushkar Fair, How to reach Pushkar Fair, Offbeat things to do in Pushkar etc. This blog is about the stories and portraits of interesting people I met in Pushkar fair, Rajasthan. Incredible India!
Local Rajasthani women. Pushkar Fair, Rajasthan, Incredible India!
Nothing goes waste in resource deficient Rajasthan. At many places, I saw women making balls of Camel dung. On inquiring, one of them replied to me that on drying it will be used as a fuel for cooking.
Pics above: Women making balls from camel dung. It will be used as fuel. Pushkar Fair, Rajasthan, Incredible India!
Al Gore will be one happy man! Thanks to India still holding close to its chest , its traditions, its need based habit of recycling and an old world eco friendly lifestyle (stemming out mainly from pragmatic reasons), we do unintentionally help in bringing down our carbon footprint on Earth.
THE BUS RIDE TO HELL
There is another very unique way in which we bring down our carbon foot print, which is by stuffing any available public transport till it is overflowing with hands, legs and more! I had made up my mind to take a bus to Ajmer to see the city in the day and return by evening. But as soon as I reached the bus stand of Pushkar at around 1 p.m., I almost fainted on seeing over loaded buses, people fighting to get in and in the process kicking, shouting abusing. I even saw a man stuff his 10 year old daughter from the window of the bus so that she can reserve a seat for the family while people were still fighting on the main door of the bus.
CONVERSATIONS WITH STRANGERS
I saw two foreigners, a lady and a gent, looking dazed and confused and trying in vain to board the bus. Unlike them I knew I will not be able to board the bus so I didn’t even try. Meanwhile, the bus started and whizzed off in a jiffy (with people dangling from its door, windows, rear ladder, rooftop, the works!)
No one seemed to care if their kin or family are left behind. As I waited for another bus to arrive (My strategy: To be ready to climb the moving bus and grab the seat even before the bus halts.), a man approached me offering the 11 kilometer ride to Ajmer for Rs.100/- in a Maruti Van.
I readily agreed even if it costed me 10 times (The bus ride comes at Rs.10/-) as I was short of time. As I sat in the van, I could not help but smile on seeing that the two foreigners I mentioned earlier were also sitting in it.
The target market of the van operator was bang on. One of the European passengers was a lady who belonged to Switzerland. She was cribbing how she got separated from her friend who was sitting in the ‘CHAOS BUS’ that just left.
Sadly they were not carrying any cellphones so she could not even call her friend. She had come to India to volunteer in an NGO and on weekends explore the state of Rajasthan and NCR (National Capital Region).
She liked the Pushkar fair in part but despised the touristy aspect of it. I couldn’t help but agree. She also pitied the fact that how it had transformed into a giant money making machine from Pushkar fair’s earlier days.
There were 2 more co-pasengers, one of them also belonged to Switzerland (No connection with the lady) and the other was a Spanish. Thanks to the poor English of the Spanish gentleman, it was not easy communicating with him. I switched to the Swiss tourists.
WHEN THE LOCALS THOUGHT I AM AN NRI – NON RESIDENT INDIAN!
After a unforgettable and soulful trip to Ajmer, I was back in Pushkar by early evening to claim my 12.5 kg backpack from the hotel room. While on my way back, a local Ajmeri boy who was sitting behind me in a group in the bus to Pushkar (Yes, I got an EMPTY bus to Pushkar while returning, woo-hoo!!!!!) came and sat right next to me.
He must be in his early 20s and started talking in English,”Which Country?”
“India!”, me surprised
“No Pure Indian!” (Whoa! Who am I? Some breed of dog?), I smile here at his naiveté and immature over confident body language.
I know why he thought so. I blame my backpack, my expensive camera with a protruding and intimidating looking lens ta-da!
Every time I would try to speak in chaste Hindi, even putting a fake Delhi accent to sound more local, he would stand his ground in English. In him I saw the aspiring Indian youth.
English for them is a ticket to good fortunes. He talked of how he planned to do M.B.A and go to foreign for better career prospects. He reminded me of my early 20s. After talking to his heart’s content , he went back to his group of friends and I was getting the feeling that they had a bet involving me. Something on the lines of “Talk to this man (In English?) and we pay you in dollars, eh!” I can say so as I heard them talking about me , “Aise hi aaya hai, ghoomne aaya hai. India se hi hai!” (He hails from India and is here as a tourist!) More smiles!
THE FRENCH GENTLEMAN WHO THOUGHT I WAS A CONMAN! DUH!
While exiting the stadium, I approached some people to click my picture. One of the drawbacks of traveling solo is that I hardly have any of my pictures from my solo trips. Not that I care much, eh! Most were intimidated to see my huge DSLR camera and refused. Some who did click did a BAD job of it. That’s the problem of being a solo traveler.
You struggle to get yourself clicked. Frustrated, I approached an elderly French man who was with 4 other French people. He didn’t understand a word which I said in chaste English. Initially, he thought that I want to take his picture and his skeptical expressions told me that he thought that I wanted money from him (Thanks to all the nuisance by local hawkers and vendors.)
Sign language came to rescue and he finally clicked a good picture of me. When I said, “Thank You!”, he looked confused maybe thinking , “See, I always knew t, he wants money from me!”
Unfortunately, none of the people accompanying him understood it either. I didn’t know how to say Thank You in sign language. So, I put my palm on my heart and again said ‘Thank you’ but to know avail. Then a bolt of lightening struck me and in my mentos moment (Jo dimaag ki batti jala de!) I asked, “Which country? W-H-I-C-H C-O-U-N-T-R-Y?”Thankfully, he understood the meaning of country and replied, “France.”.
Relieved, I put the education I received in my Hotel Management Institute (IHM Lucknow) and said, palm again resting on my heart, “Merci!” (Thank You in French). It was the first time the group smiled and I got rid of being perceived as a conman out to loot foreigners of their riches. Phew! What a relief! No wonder that was my only picture in this 3 day and I didn’t have the heart and energy to ask someone else to take another picture of mine. But at times I do wonder how come people in European nations such as France , Spain, Italy are so bad with English in spite of living so close to England. I have seen some 10 years old from Mumbai’s famous slums speak fluent English.
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