SEX SELLS IN PUSHKAR FAIR: OFFBEAT SOLO BUDGET TRIP IN RAJASTHAN, INCREDIBLE INDIA!
This blog is a part of my series on the Pushkar fair of Rajasthan in Incredible India. This blog is about the underbelly of Pushkar Fair, the sexual content of magic shows, vulgar video CDs and more. 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.
I arrived alone at the Pushkar fair from Ajmer via public bus. That’s the fun of solo travel. You can choose your mode of transport and what time you want to reach a place. It was late evening when I booked a dingy room for INR 350.
People scared me that Pushkar will be full and that no hotels will have vacancy. My experience in travelling across India is that, no matter where you are and what time it is, there is always a room available.
My room had a great view of the ancient, ‘Old Rangji temple’. Built in 1844, it looked beautiful in the night lights. After admiring its beauty, the first thing that I did was to lock my luggage in the room and rush to the main event area, i.e. the Stadium and the Camel ground of the Pushkar fair. A 10 minutes walk away from my hotel, I expected the main ‘mela’ (fair) area to be buzzing with activity.
Even at 7:30 p.m., Stadium and the Camel ground of the Pushkar fair was not overcrowded. A moderate crowd had gathered around a stage in the sprawling stadium to enjoy some cultural programme which included Rajasthani folk songs and dances, Kathak, ‘hasya sammelan’ (stand up comedy) etc. Though I am a sucker for Indian traditional performing arts but I was somehow disappointed and bored with the performances (It was too gimmicky and touristy for me). I had seen far better international level performances at annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (Every February) in Mumbai, India. Given the international stature of the Pushkar fair, the performances were mostly amateurish and of school – college level.
Bride competition was unfolding on the stage when I arrived. Girls of different nationalities except Indians dolled up in Indian bridal wear and sashayed on the stage competing for the Best Bride trophy. It was cute to see European , American , South East Asian girls dressed up like an Indian bride. The pageant was won by Ms. Japan and runner up was Ms. Netherland. Yawn!
Bored, I headed to a ‘thela’ (hand-cart) and bought some freshly roasted groundnuts and tea. The perfect North Indian winter treat. The things that I craved in Mumbai where 25 degrees is dubbed as winters! The groundnuts when roasted with hot sand over fire emanated a very pleasing earthy aroma.
The tea sellers had a very interesting set up. On a hour glass shaped portable stand, a copper vessel stocked with ready-made tea was placed. It was neatly surrounded by ‘Kulhad’ (traditional use and throw terracotta cup used widely in North India to drink tea). The earthy smell and taste imparted by the clay sent me in a food coma.
Energised a bit, I moved further and discovered temporary swings. Usual suspects like Dragon boat, Merry-go-round, My fair lady, Giant Wheel, Dragon-train filled the ground. . The kitschy ‘murga-dance’ (Chicken – dance) freaked me out. It had some metal cock shaped chairs (Don’t drop your jaws yet, cock as in cock and hen), where you had to sit and go round and round and round. Of course I didn’t take the ride. I just ‘chickened out’!
I came across a seedy ‘Magic Show’ which ran every day in a makeshift tent. Large posters, kitschy and loud, promised that ‘Jaadugarni Zareena’ (magician Zareena) will move her magic wand and turn a skimpily clad bimbette into a skeleton or rose or even a man! Phew! You name it, you got it! The models on the posters rather dressed up provocatively, of course to serve as a bait for the sexually suppressed Indian male.
The voluptuous ladies strutted their stuff with bursting cleavages, purposely malfunctioning dresses and garish make up. A badly photoshopped Michael Jackson gave the girls company in his outdated ‘Dangerous’ poster. Tired, I promised myself that I will attend this erotic magic show the next day.
Then what caught my attention were the loud Video CDs blaring at full volume. To lure shoppers, vendors played the videos showing some weird dances and songs in Rajasthani. The lyrics were all double meaning laced with not so subtle sexual innuendos accompanied by some suggestive raunchy moves. Interestingly all the female models were bewitching beauties while males were all weirdoes doing weird things such as dancing suggestively and goofing around with the drawstring (‘naada’) of their pyjamas. The titles were just as cheesy and crying for attention. Sample this : Chammak Challo jalebi bai, Angrejan naache gela mein (The foreign lady dances in …….dunno??) , ‘Jeeja saali bulaave jaldi aa ja’, Pushkar mein dhincha-chika (Whatever!) , “ Main to Pushkar mein rapat padi’ . Don’t ask me to translate these please! Priced at Rs. 25/- I bought 2-3 to show off to my friends in Mumbai and to enjoy the weird dances later on.
3 days in Pushkar fair, Rajasthan gave me lots of good pictures, amusing moments and some great stories to share with friends and family. Though 2 things still eluded me. I was unable to find time to see the sexually charged magic show. Also a friend of mine called up and told me that there were some vulgar dance shows going on surreptitiously in some dubious tents.
The kind of shows where men lech and women dance suggestively and seductively. Think ‘bidi jalai le’. Think Billo Chaman Bahar. He said that the same was continuously flashing on the news channels. Having a knack to experience things done clandestinely, I was desperate to catch the show and the underbelly Of Pushkar fair. I enquired, even peeped inside some tents but erotica escaped me. And I gave up! Maybe it’s the excuse of my next Pushkar fair trip.
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7 thoughts on “SEX SELLS IN PUSHKAR FAIR: OFFBEAT SOLO BUDGET TRIP IN RAJASTHAN, INCREDIBLE INDIA!”
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Interesting observations. I find Pushkar Fair hugely overrated and over commercialized. Plus fairs in India must be taken with a pinch of salt. So Pushkar + fair time can only be a bizarre concoction of vulgar kitsch, lewd innuendos, and indigenous scams.
True Ragini. Pushkar is overrated. But it still might give a chance to a foreigner to experience rural Indian experience. It’s good for a first timer but I am not sure if I want to go again. I agree kitsch, scams and innuendo are a part of this. My next blog is on that.