|pushkar, india - ripped off but chilling out|
Few hours bus to Pushkar where we'd spend a couple of days. Cute little town. No rickshaws "meeee-meeeeeeeee!" but lots of sunset drumming across the lake, sunrise drumming, morning drumming, midday drumming, midnight drumming. All town revolves around the lake. In the holly ghats locals bathe everyday.
Even if we read about Pushkar passport on The Book, we fell for it like naive flies. On visiting Brahma temple, blokey under "I don't want any money" pretext gave us the tour with all the legends about the place. On the way out we were given flowers to throw on the lake for good luck. Blokey insisted on taking a particular path. We stopped for a drink on the hope he'd disappear, telling him we'd go to the lake later on our own. To no avail. He was waiting for us round the corner and followed us "discreetly" to where his guru mates were.
He took Miles and guru took me separately down the ghat steps by the water. There we sat and I had to repeat a long lot of nonsense in Hindi followed by taking the flowers, holding the coconut, taking the rice, and the sugar and the red pigment and throw them one by one on to the water while repeating God knows what this guru was saying.
I thought I caught him in more than one suspicious grim. Then he tied this piece of red thread to my wrist and smudged some of the red pigment mixed with rice on my third eye. When all this ritual seemed to have ended, the real thing started.
He went on about how he was a Shadu and inflicted this ritual to people for good luck in life and how Shadus don't get paid and live of charity alone. "So, how much?" me: "how much what?" Once I made crystal clear I wouldn't give him any money, he shifted to the "my name is Krishna. What is your goodname? where are you from? is that your husband? how do you say love in Spanish?" type of discourse.
Politely I got rid of him and walked up the steps while Miles was still being blessed by blokey at the other end of the steps. I recovered my shoes at the top of the ghat where the charity mates made a last attempt to get my money. No chance.
Miles came up soon after with a blood shiny third eye and the tail between his legs after having paid Rs.90 We walked away and in the first corner we hid to wipe clean our third eyes and to cut the Pushkar passport off our wrists. Pissed off.
Another and another non-stop beautiful sunset. A few chilled out cafes where you could spend an eternity. Inviting shops where I finally got my first Indian gear while Miles went to the barbers. A Ghandi suit and a tiny shiny red dress.
When I went to rescue Miles from the butchers' he had an over-the-clouds relaxed face under the expert after-shave slaps of the barber. The other barber invited me to sit on the other chair. "I don't want a shave!" "No, for a head massage". I realized that's what Miles was having so I thought it'd be OK. It was veeeeeery nice. When we left I found out Miles had paid Rs.200 for it! Ripped off again. He still needs to learn how to deal with Indians.
We took a short bus trip to Ajmer where we'd catch a pre-booked train at 2am. As it was only around 3pm we hired one of the resting rooms at the train station. Quite a sordid place indeed but with the basic elements to relax for a few hours.
Before going out to explore the town we went to check our tickets to find out that what we meant by 2 in the night they meant by 2 in the morning and our train had departed the day before. Just as well we had that room for 24 hours, we would leave next day by bus.
Ajmer was an awful depressing place in which the only good thing was the banana lassi I had for dinner.
After a few days in Jaipur we made arrangements for a bus to Pushkar (via Ajmer), a state bus, not too many hours which made it bearable 5 out of 10 on the nasty journey barometer). Pushkar was quite a nice, fairly hippy scene with some majestic sunsets. We spent some time in one place which stood out for its cool garden café with soft lights, floor cushions and good music.
We bought a small chess board, which was a good investment as we've spent many hours playing chess since. We saw a few sights (the usual temples etc.), and got ripped off on the Pushkar Passport - we just walked into it, I was so pissed off I tore it off straight away as it would have been such an blatant sign saying "I'm a gullible tourist, come and rip me off again".
I seem to be getting ripped off by someone in some way at least once a day. It's getting me down a bit. A couple of days later we failed to get a train on to the next town (a fuck up with dates and times on the train ticket) and settled for state bus (again) the next morning. A 6 out of 10 on the comfort-ometer. The railway restroom we spent the night in was one of the quietest places we'd slept in so far…