Pushkar Gypsies

How do I begin about the Gypsies in Pushkar?  Hmm…  several thoughts come to mind; mysterious, exotic, enchanting, mischievous, and perhaps even a little “dangerous” amongst some others…  The Gypsies seemed a bit more “rough” than the other vendors, merchants, and entertainers in Pushkar.  It is really hard to describe.  Thinking back on them, I think of them as the “used car salesmen” of Rajastan; with a twinkle of an eye, your wallet is a lot lighter.

The woman above was a town favorite with the tourists.  Specifically the male tourists.  Even more specifically, the unmarried male Scandinavian tourists.  This woman always seemed to have a pack of fair hair – blue-eyed Vikings drooling over her and trying to find some way to impress upon her that they were the answer to her life’s woes.  Later, she told me that she had more than 50 marriage proposals from northern European men; primarily the Scandinavian countries and a few Germans too!

The and boy below were her younger siblings.  While she sold bracelets and did Henna painting on the tourists hands, the younger siblings just hung around and hit up the tourists for candy money, for candy, or for candy money and some more money.  I thought that the younger sister looked like Pocahontas:

I really enjoyed the antics of this young man.  He was always happy and smiling and kept saying, “Full power” while making this arm motion.  Apparently he saw it on some cartoon or super-hero movie and was imitating it to no end.  He was constantly asking the tourists for candy money and then he would run off to the store to buy more sugar; unfortunately to the detriment of his teeth.  The Gypsies seemed a bit “rougher” than the other vendors in Pushkar in that they seemed a little dirtier and a little less “conservative” in their demeanor than the rest of the Indians at Pushkar.

Most of the European men were more than willing to oblige the two younger children with some cash in order to remove them to the candy store so that they might have more courting time with their older sister.   I don’t suppose that they were listening when she said she had no mind for marriage; she didn’t want to end up like her older sisters – pregnant with children to tend after.  She wanted no such life.  I asked her if she had considered any of the men’s proposals and she said that she loved Pushkar, Rajastan, and India and would never leave.  Should they want to marry her, she said, “They can move to India.”  She seemed to have a defiant and independent streak in her.

However, she also had a temper and when her two younger siblings didn’t do what she told them, they got a good smack up the side of their head.  She yelled at them as though a demon might pop out of her chest.  And then, as quickly as they started crying and wandered off a few feet, she would smile and carry on as though nothing had happened.  I watched her and her siblings and cousin for a few days and it seemed that they collected more money from “fans” than they did by actually selling anything or providing any type of service.  It seems that they just put on an aire of charm and the tourists find it fit to give them money.

There was something quite bewitching about this woman.  She smiled and flirted and seemed to separate many tourists from their money.  I couldn’t help but think of all of the Gypsy stories and how they cast spells and wondered if she didn’t have a set of spell bags hanging from her belt that and each one had a name on it: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, & Germany.  I tried to imagine her in Norway in a long jacket in the snow… no, I don’t suppose that would work…

I ran into the cousin (below) while she was walking with the little Pocahontas sister (just off-screen to the right) and captured this photo:

… selling bracelets in the walkway near Lake Pushkar…

… some fellow travelers from Australia; Jennifer, Claire, & Bradley as we check out the bracelets at the Gypsy stall…


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the beautiful Pushkar sunsets

Aside from wandering around looking at the temples, shopping in the open air bazaars & sipping some chai tea while talking with other travellers, life at Pushkar seemed to center around the sunset and watching it from the eastern shore of the lake.  Even before the sun hung too low in the sky, the tourists would line up at the cafés near Moon Hotel and have some Indian food, some pizza or other fare and enjoy the singing of the local minstrels.

I came later to learn that the minstrels were Bedouins who lived outside of town in traditional tents or mud-brick houses.  They clung to many of their traditional ways of life including only marrying with other Bedouin families.  Later, I would meet some groups of Gypsies who maintained a distinct cultural tradition.  They too only married within their own group and lived in traditional ways.  But, unlike the Bedouin minstrels, the Gypsies primary source of income was in reading palms, painting henna on the palms and arms of tourists, and in selling bracelets and small jewelry.  I”ll post more about the Gypsies later.

… my German friends as they sample local jewelry for purchase as we await the sunset…

For the rest of the week, while I visited Pushkar, I made the daily dusk pilgrimage to the lake.  For the sake of brevity, I will combine the photos of the week’s sunsets into one post so as not to bore all of you.  Each day I saw the same local characters and came to know them.  My favorite family, the Bedouin minstrel with the yellow-eye daughter, came to play for me each day.  Eventually I met his son (below) and his wife.  I was surprised to learn that his daughter was only 10 years old.

I never grew tired of the whole “relaxing” atmosphere that the “sunset-watching” produced.  The warm chai tea and traditional music against a warm mountain breeze made the memory of Pushkar indelible in my mind.  Half of the fun was just watching the people from around the world as they congregated to this magic spot.

… “Photo!  Photo!  Ten Rupees, photo!”  I made sure to get a photo with the young man who made an appearance each day.  Every day he posed as a different manifestation of Shiva…”

 

Each evening I must have shot a hundred photos of the sun setting.  It was so beautiful and still; the photos just can’t capture the beauty of it.  One evening as I was snapping away, an Indian woman happened to walk through my shot.  Looking at the photo some years later I find that I really like this photo.  She is quite beautiful in her native clothing, a friendly smile on her face, and the contrast of her clothing and the fading sun in the sky…

The last set of photos is a just a collection that I chose showing the sun as it made its way behind the western horizon….


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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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