The last one hundred kilometers of what was a two thousand km drive round Rajasthan and we are bowling along a three lane highway, freeway/motorway. It may be part of the project to build a three lane highway right around India, I read a magazine article about it back in Ca. Speed things up it certainly may when it is finished, but there is something rather poignant about the ladies in their saris walking down the side of the Expressway with pots on their heads, progress progress. Its downright alarming to see them crossing six lanes of traffic to reach the other side, dodging heavy trucks, cars and motorbikes all the while balancing the precious water on their heads. A slight worry as the engine temperature soars, we stop, hood up, a large metal plate has split, hmm. Adjustments are made, hoses moved, clamps reclamped, the radiator fan spins, hooray, we have lost the a/c but who cares, there is only an hour to go. Back on the expressway anxiously watching the gauge, it’s high but we are still cruising along. I smile, remembering friend Anna who had a similar problem crossing the Sierras, she survived and so will we, though now have the heat on to take the heat out of the engine compartment.
I found the night stop in Pushkar something of a challenge. One of the four or five major pilgrimage sites of the Hindu religion that all must be visited, it was of course, crowded, but not only with practicing Hindus looking pleased with having actually arrived and could take to the waters of the Holy Lake, but also what I can only describe as a lunatic fringe of Westerners. One of the more ludicrous comments I heard was “you’re not really trying to fit in”,this from a tie dye clad, blond, dreadlocked Canadian (odd as the Canadians are always so nice), ya right dude, you are fitting right in. Come on Mr Tim, don’t get all cynical, live and let live. The amplified chanting from a Temple on the mountainside behind the hotel began at midnight and ceased at four thirty, it was very loud, even the noise canceling headphones couldn’t cope. I may be a little cranky today. Oh and the temperature gauge just hit the red zone, twenty kms to go.
Of course we made it and all was well. Back to the Bissau Haveli where I was greeted as the conquering hero, well, they made me a pot of tea by the pool ! Good humor returned and I set off to find a few gifts to take home. Bit of a problem, no cash, searched and searched for an ATM and noticed lots of police and army personnel, also barricades going up, interesting. Looked around and there were banners proclaiming The Gangaur Festival starting today at five thirty, it was four o’clock. Walked up and down, noted where the crowds were gathering, on roofs initially, figured out the route and staked my spot. I was joined by two Danes, wearily jet lagged and already mosquito plagued but cheerful enough, we were hard up against the barricade. More and more pushed in behind and tried to squeeze in front, uh oh, no dice buddy, fortunately the male Dane was quite large. Lots of police activity controlling the crowd, they carry big sticks, the roofs were cleared, more pushing, the lady Dane bailed, too hot, and still they did not close the streets, oh how I missed my bottle of water, this was just a quick shopping outing. Finally at six o’clock the streets were closed, what chaos resulted in the rest of the city I can only imagine. In the distance the remaining Dane and I noticed elephants and heard drums, mighty pounding, horns, flutes, cymbals, trombones, a bassoon maybe, all the fun of the fair. Magnificently the lead elephants came into sight, decorated, painted, very big, and then my camera battery died ! Whipped out the phone, took a few photos and a short video and then it announced it was full. Fortunately it was a quite short procession and I think I digitized the important bits, we shall see. THEN, it was getting out of there time, without wishing to sound alarmist I can quite see how a stampede can occur, it bordered on the just a little bit frightening. The way out was through a market stall area, at one point I sought refuge on a pile of onions, the chaos continued for quite some time as the crowd seethed this way and that and finally I was on a broad boulevard heading towards my city gate. The people were fun, leaning over to touch me, taking my picture, letting me take theirs, smiling, laughing, the scare factor quite gone. I was somewhat exhausted and happy to arrive back at the Haveli, more tea and here I am. Great way to spend the last evening in Rajasthan, memorable even, couldn’t have been better, what great timing.
The two fifteen pm express tomorrow to Bombay, afternoon and night, arriving Bombay at seven thirty Tuesday morning.
Let’s hope the wifi works.
Children with pots, processing in Pushkar.
What a wonderful sight but I think I would have been with the Danish girl…too hot and crowded for me! I am amazed the elephants tolerate that beautiful painting. I wonder how long it takes and how many people paint each elephant?
I hope you got some dinner tonight. Safe travels.xx
I know, I wonder how it is done too. I think I have some more photos on the dead camera, hope so, the elephants were so affectionate, trunks out looking for food and strokes. They were almost smiling right in my face. Yes, ate dinner !
Wonderful. Love the colours and the elephants. Prepare for culture shock when you reach Blighty.
Oh how amazing! I want to paint an elephant! These are great photos Tim. Well done. Keep safe and travel safe. Hope to see you at some point, some time! Nibs is right, be prepared! xx
What a colorful rendition! I’m so glad someone else besides me still calls it Bombay! Happy Birthday, Tim!
Thanks Anna. It seems it is still known locally as Bombay. Will let you know more when I get there.