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 how foreigners enjoy the Pushkar fair in Rajasthan.
Table of Contents
GAMES PEOPLE PLAY AT PUSHKAR FAIR!
I would suggest assign an entire day in Pushkar fair to attend activities and sports organized by the Pushkar fair committee. The brochure which I picked up has a list of programmed scheduled to be held such as the kabaddimatch, the milking session, the camel race etc. but not a single program started at the time mentioned on the brochure resulting in me missing many events.
Last day though I got lucky and witnessed some sport events. Starting with ‘Matki-fod’(Break the pot) , two teams were formed on voluntary basis, one comprised of Indians (locals) and the other an eclectic mix of men from different nationalities. So we had an American, A Spanish, a Japanese, an Australian etc.
Two ‘matkis’ aka clay pots were hung up in the air. The game was simple: Form a human pyramid and break the matki. The team which breaks first is the winner! Few rounds of practice was allowed to rehearse the same as for most it was a first time activity and most had volunteered to participate on a whim. That’s the spirit of Pushkar fair! We even had a cheerleading group.
Some foreign girls in their 20s got really excited with all the action and enjoyed hooting while our desi counterparts, i.e., the local Rajasthani girls also in their 20s were coy in their own land and watching the game covered in their translucent veil, hiding behind the pillars and shyly smiling at the going ons.
I couldn’t help but marvel at this huge social-cultural-religious difference. Somehow, I was sure that the Indian team would bag the prize, but surprisingly the foreigners won the game by a whisker. But it was fun, prize was not the agenda here, having fun was!
The all women race like no other:
Then I witnessed another amusing game where women of mixed nationalities raced with each other. The Pushkar twist here is that they will have a large water filled clay pot on their head while they ran. On reaching the finishing line, the contestants have to remove the pot from the head and break on the dusty ground. Whoever does it first wins! The foreign woman who won could contain herself and was delirious with joy. What fueled her excitement was a news channel who interviewed her with platitudes like, “How do you feel?” to which she replied animatedly. So want your proverbial 15 minutes of fame. Come to Pushkar fair!
LAGAAN STYLE MATCH, ANYONE?
I also got to see a kabaddi match and a hockey match involving the locals and foreigners. It is this involvement with local culture and a heady mix of activities, food, shows, performances, shopping and the bizarreness and quirkiness of it all that attracts foreigner traveller.All this at a shoestring budget! No wonder some tourists return to the fair like migratory birds year after year! It’s that addictive!
TOURIST TRAPS AT PUSHKAR FAIR!
Then there were hawkers, sadhus, local kids, fancily dressed adults harassing and amusing the clueless foreign tourists. I was sitting next to a foreign couple waiting for some program to start. They were entertained by a family of four locals dressed in traditional attire. They would do an impromptu jig seducing the old couple to dole out the money. More money…and then some more money…This couple was sweet enough to keep a smile on their face despite being conned (and they knew they were being conned) but they actually enjoyed the private interaction with the locals. Some foreigners who were perhaps not too keen on the exotica, appeared miffed with all the harassment and pestering by the locals.
JEW PRESENCE IN PUSHKAR!
Then there were some yawn inducing though passionate exchange of platitudes shared on stage by organizers and local political and religious leaders. The Jew presence loomed large.
The bearded and garlanded Rabbi was speaking of brotherhood , co-operation and all that jazz in flawless Hindi. There were foreign women dressed up as Indian village belles.
FOREIGNERS DRESSING AS INDIAN BRIDE IS A RAGE!
One of them was sitting pretty in a camel cart complete with bridal frills such as flowers, decoration and a ghoonghat. Ghoonghat is a veil worn by North Indian women to cover their face. And I have observed the more an Indian woman covers up, more shy she is! I was wondering what she was thinking in that ghoonghat.
HIRE A MODEL FOR THROWAWAY FEES!
Pushkar fair is a photographer’s and sketcher’s delight! Especially the way people dress up in traditional attire with bizzare ornaments. Picture this: Bangles which cover every inch of the arm making them look like as if they are wearing a water tumbler. I started shooting some of them in the stadium grounds. Once done, turned out they were charging to pose as models.
Everyone from a ‘sadhu’ (holy men) to a rural Rajasthani housewife and children were willingly posing if you paid them. Amused, I didn’t mind it as their fees ranged between a throw away Rs.30 – Rs.50. The more pictures you click and the more you waste their time, so more the fees. The foreigners had it tougher. They had to dole out much more money than what I did. And like me, while clicking even they were not aware that these ‘models’ charge.
So, I was amused observing them being stuck in this sticky situation.But once you pay them, they’ll give you good results. They even know some winner poses which would make a top model run for her money.
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