around Pushkar

I don’t think you could throw a rock in Pushkar and not hit a temple.  The seem to be everywhere.  I saw the domes of this temple (above) and worked my way through the city streets occasionally looking through the temples, hotels and apartments to the beautiful lake.

During and after my visit with the monkeys and my walk around Lake Pushkar, I did some exploring around town.  There are pilgrims from all over India who come to Pushkar as well as travellers from all over the world.  I met Americans, Brits, Australians (of course), Israelis, Spaniards, Germans, and even some Dutch.  The large population of western expats and Indian travellers gave the place a groovy international feel.  Of course, being a Hindu meditation and relaxation point, the mood of the place was very sanguine.  For the first time since I arrived in India, I didn’t feel “crowded.”  Most of the Indians seemed to be busy bathing in the lake, shopping, or eating.  The expats seemed to be doing a mix of touring, eating, smoking hashish, drinking, and just all around relaxing.  There were few beggars and most of the people just left you alone.  What Indians there were who interacted with the western travellers, most were selling something providing a service.  Aside from the initial assault of hotel hawks upon arrival, I found Pushkar to be a very relaxing and tranquil place.

I took the photo above at one of the many vendor stands that I encountered through town.  I am always taken aback when I see a swastika but then I remember that it’s a holy sign here, not a Nazi sign.  Below, some Indian women are buying fruit; I tried to shoot the photo on the sly so that they would look natural – it looks like the husband (far right of the photo) caught on to my photography.

The was a wonderful variety and assortment of food in Pushkar - so long as you could eat vegetarian.  There was no meat, no meat at all, sold in the town.  I found that I did ok, until I came home and realized that I had dropped 10 pounds in two weeks…

Pushkar is full of hotels, hostels, and guest houses.  I met many “budget” travellers that were touring India surviving on 5 quid a day (about $10 US).  This included their transportation, room, food, and  hashish.  It seemed that the low-cost of pot in Pushkar and other parts of India made drinking (beer or whisky) uneconomical.  I was glad that I had a stronger budged and could bypass the pot smoking altogether – LOL.

I caught this pious Hindu departing his hotel heading down to a bathing Ghat where he could revitalize his health in the “healing waters” of the lake.

It’s a dog’s life in Pushkar… cows aren’t the only 4 legged critters in town…

Where to begin with this guy?  We have here a “dole” pensioner from the UK.  This guy, I’m sure had psychophrenia.  Yeah, he was nuts.  I guess his government check goes a lot farther in India so he immigrated here and has become a world class pain in the ass.  He was well known in town, always hollering at the locals.  The Indian children harassed him and occasionally he would take his lazy rear end off of his “throne” cart and chase the kids with a stick.  The man in red is his “personal valet.”  I was really embarrassed for western society that we sent this fool as our “ambassador.”

Many vendors were selling water color paints.  I was half tempted to buy a small kit of the colors & a paint brush and try some post cards, but hey, I can’t even draw a stick figure.  I was content to taking photos of the beautiful colors.

A few more of the temples.  I passed so many in India that, just like the Cathedrals in Europe, they all start to blend together and I stopped even taking notes of their names…

This one though, did remind me of a temple in Singapore.  I’ll have to post photos of that one later…

Towards the end of the day, I started heading to my favorite restaurant for dinner.  I wanted to eat before the sunset circus that I knew would happen again.  Just as I came around the corner, I ran into this taxi service.  You just never know what you’ll run into in India…


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drive to Jaipur

… curious faces…

As I had said before, travel in India is not easy.  The bus that I took from Agra to Jaipur was an all day long affair.  I checked with my hotel as to the cost of the ticket and I was told that it was two dollars.  Later, on the bus, I talked with several other travellers and they were shocked at how much I was overcharged.  Apparently the actual cost of the ticket was only a dollar and my hotel charged me a 100% commission.  I was only in India for a few weeks, the cost seemed minimal to me.  Many travelers I have met are on a serious “budget” and actually survive on US $5 per day.  Yes, that’s including food, hotel, touring, and transport.  India is indeed affordable.

As I shrugged off the “overcharge” of my ticket, I remembered back to a conversation that I had just outside the Taj Mahal.  I met an Italian doctor who works in London.  He was traveling with a mate from London and the two men were touring around India.  The doctor had just finished a 6 month “Doctors without Borders” tour in India.  He explained his philosophy on paying too much in other countries.  A taxi cab ride in India may cost 15 or 20 cents but when a taxi cab driver charges a westerner a dollar, and that person pays because its easier to pay than to haggle over eighty five cents, he says that this is a huge dis-service to Indians.  Now, the taxi cab driver will ignore locals because he wants the big western tip.  Locals become angry at tourists and the practice also inflates the cost of taxi cabs for everyone.  Additionally, the perceived value of goods is warped and the tourist’s visit is disruptive to the area being visited.  He explained that in his opinion, tourists should always strive to pay (and tip) the same rate as the locals.

So, I thought about my $1 dollar overcharge on the bus fare.  Hmm…  well, I’ll try to get the “local’s price” in the future…

I took the above photo early in the bus ride; by the time the bus arrived in Jaipur, it was standing room only.  The bus was completely filled with local Indian people; most had not appeared to have bathed in months.  The boy below was clothed only in a t-shirt and was stark naked from the waist down.  He seemed genuinely curious about me and stared for about 15 minutes.  I was happy to entertain him but was constantly worried that he would decide to use the toilet as he stood talking to me as I had seen on the street so many times.  He was young and I was not completely sure that he was toilet trained yet and the thought of him “slipping” had me on edge.

Later in the bus ride, the top luggage areas filled full of people until I had a pair of unwashed feet in my face.  I shot a photo of Rainer (the nice German fellow I met on this ride) to give to him later.  The two Indian men in the top photo were “standing room only” as the bus completely filled up.  The bus was hot, it was smelly, it was uncomfortable.  At each stop I struggled to shoot photos out of the window as a blur of Indian people, culture, sights, sounds, and smells rushed past my senses.

I saw all sorts of animals including buffalo, camel, elephant, and of course, so many cows…

Even though the following photo is a bit blurred because the bus was moving so quickly, it still captures the beautiful colors of the Indian women’s clothing.  The traditional clothing was always so bright and vibrant and provided such a strong color contrast to the grey and tan of the dirt roads and buildings.

A few times along the day-long bus ride we stopped at little markets to pick up and drop off passengers.  Not wanting to leave my luggage, I negotiated out of the open window to buy bottled water, bananas and nuts.

It was a treat to be able to see the local people as they went about their lives raising children, selling their wares, or bringing food back from the market.  The people who I met on the bus were friendly and curious.  Those that could speak English asked where I was from, how long was I travelling, where was my wife? and why didn’t I have any children?  They often translated for those who did not speak English.  Rainer and his girlfriend chatted with some other locals, with me, and with some other westerners on the bus.  Despite the heat and smells, it was  a grand adventure and we were having a splendid time.

As we neared the state of Rajastan, hills seemed to grow from the horizon and soon we were snaking our way through mountain passes.  The Raj, or people of Rajastan have a fierce reputation as warriors and maintained autonomy from the Mughals for many centuries.  Even in the current Indian government they maintain a strong sense of autonomy.  As we entered the state, the mountain fortresses on each hilltop attested to the warlike resolve of these people.  I was quite excited to see these fortifications and I wanted to explore all of them.  In looking at them, it seemed that they were just “some old buildings” to the locals looking by how dilapidated they appeared and the level of modern buildings and telephone wires that sprung up around them.


Stories, posts, reports, photos, videos and all other content on this site is copyright protected © and is the property of Scott Traveler unless otherwise indicated, all rights reserved. Content on this site may not be reproduced without permission from Scott Traveler. My contact information can be found on the home page.

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