OFFBEAT RURAL CIRCUS: SOLO BUDGET TRIP TO PUSHKAR FAIR, RAJASTHAN. INCREDIBLE INDIA!
This blog is a part of my series on the Pushkar fair of Rajasthan in Incredible India. The series 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.
“Bhaaiyo, maataon aur beheno…jaldi aaiye …Circus shuru aur chaalu ho gaya hai!” (Can’t figure out what is the difference between chaalu and shuru though!)
Translation: “Brothers, mothers and sisters….come rushing….The circus has ‘started and started’. Come, see a guy eat fire…see a 10 feet joker…and make it fast, the time is running out…”
As soon as I exited the stadium, this ear piercing and irritating announcement meant to stir ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ anxiety within you, drew my attention. And like a possessed snake enticed by the irresistible call of snake charmer, I got hypnotised and rushed towards the direction the sound was coming from.
I had been resisting entering this circus for 2 days now. Especially after seeing all the chaos and experiencing real outdoor Circus (read Pushkar fair), I thought I had had enough. But not having anything else to do, I collected all my courage and decided to give it a shot. After confronting the ticket seller who tried to con me by Rs.20/- (Eh, big deal?), I entered ‘The Circus’. I am totally against animals working in Circuses and that’s why it was after 20 years that I entered one only after confirming there were no animals in this Circus.
But it was not the kind of Circuses I have seen so far. First thing that strikes you is there are no chairs. Instead you have to sit/sprawl/squat/lie down on the much soiled ‘dhurries’ (carpets) spread untidily on the floor. Priced at Rs.30/- it was a jam packed houseful show.
Audience was mostly full of rural villagers. I could spot only 4-5 urban people in that circus, who, I am sure are pulled here by curiosity. There were also Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati who had descended on Earth to watch this Circus.
Well, they were actually small kids who earned money by dressing up as the Gods. Bored of their job, they must have decided to see the show. There was only one foreign couple in their early 30s sitting ‘althi-palthi’(cross legged) right in front of me.
The Circus had several skimpily clad girls (One even from North East of India whom they were promoting as the exotic Japanese doll) who performed many familiar circus acts such as juggling bottles/plates/balls, blowing fire from mouth, rings looping round the performer’s arms, legs, waist etc.
Even though I had seen most of these acts ad nauseum, yet it was riveting. The agility and perfection of the nubile teenager girls had me in splits. But I was wondering if they loved their job. I tried to look beyond the ha ha and he hes.
The only male performer in his early 20s looked like an angry young man, full of angst. The eldest (must be in her 40s) lady looked grumpy and angry (With life? Her circumstances? With breakfast?) performing passionlessly the acts (though with perfection). Amidst nubile nymphets, she looked incongruous with her extra weight and tight clothes. Who knows in her prime she might have been a Circus star. And happier?
The other two girls looked lifeless, trying hard to seem entertaining. The only happy looking girls were the two better looking girls (with little grooming, they could rock the fashion world). Maybe all the male attention and a star status helped bringing smiles to their faces.
What irked though were the jokers. Each and every joke by them fell flat. No one laughed at their slapstick buffoonery and histrionics, not even the kids. The only saving grace was the 10 feet tall joker, who brought some drama in the mundane proceedings.
Observing the ‘thanda’ (cold) response from the audience, the foreigner lady in front of me took the onus of cheering the performers on her shoulders (or was it vocal cords?). After every act, she and her boyfriend would scream ‘Bravo!’ earning glances by fellow audiences. She was continuously laughing hysterically, and at one point of time, she got carried away and French kissed her boyfriend for at least 30 seconds. In the process she almost laid down on the carpet, kissing and cuddling and frightening and scandalising the veiled rural ladies sitting next to her.
I almost laughed out seeing the freaked out expression of the village ladies. No one raised an alarm or did moral policing though. Tolerance much in Incredible India! Pushkar fair is the right place to observe the juxtaposition of East and West, two cultures poles apart! As different as chalk and cheese! The circus was a quicky. It was over within 45 minutes. It was worth it!
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