I woke up at 4:30am this morning with the lights on, my chai untouched, and yes – teeth unbrushed. Apparently balancing my bank account was extremely enthralling or there were sleeping drugs in my mystery LMB sweets. As there was no going back to sleep I finished my last Jaipur post and ordered room service to veg the morning away in my air cooled room before the drive to Pushkar. But first one final argument with the Hotel Pearl Palace restaurant staff and a power outage.
Then we were off down the bumpy multiple diversion road construction filled path to Pushkar. By hour two I had to pee so bad I thought the Mississippi took residence in my bladder but there was no stopping – just self criticism for the pot of coffee I drank before a long car ride knowing full well bathrooms would not be an option.
After marble mines and lines of walking Muslim pilgrims we finally made it to Pushkar and the ridiculous Hotel Master Paradise my travel agent booked for me – the unnecessary opulence is a bit nauseating – and they have the gaul to charge 100 rupees for a bottle of water. Boo! Hiss! Here is Jimbo on the bed of the gigantic room that has No Internet! I'm sitting in the lobby writing this getting attacked by flies.
I went directly into town with a warning from Sabir to watch out for greedy Brahmins who want my American dollars. I started at the hotel restaurant he recommended – where I ordered Ganda Curry and was stared at by this man – Nemi Chand – my waiter who insists I mail this photo to him.
This is the Ganda Curry which features fennel flavors and odd little chickpea flour dumplings.
Perhaps it was the heat or Nemi's staring but I could barely eat. So I started my walk through the Sadar Bazaar to bide my time until the Brahma Temple opened. I slowly weaved my way around the market noting how much it felt like I was in some paid entry hippie or rock music festival with boothes and boothes of the same items just different sellers. The tie-dye and the baggy cotton pants were all there complete with spaced out dreadlocked wanderers.
I just pretended I was deaf ignoring Brahmins and sellers until I made it to the temple where I promptly encountered the scary "no luggage in the temple rule," this time with no government provided coat room with a handy pink slip. No this time there were cheap plywood boxes with skeleton keys and "no problem you pay when you return whatever you want." Great. 2000 rupees and an iPhone in a cheap wood box in exchange for an easily jimmied lock. I put my stuff in your hands Lord Brahma.
Then a little boy attached himself to me – just when I thought I had ditched all local guides. He was semi-helpful but his cell phone and pushing me out of my meditative mood was pretty much the kicker. Can a girl just get some peace! For Gods' sake let me just have a moment of prayer.
And my wish was granted when I found myself chanting seeming gibberish about my parents and grandparents at Brahma Ghat complete with Brahmin by the lake. Until that is I had to start haggling about alleged hungry children and the Brahmin's fee.
With that I walked away and found a Brahmin free location to photograph the sacred lake then started the return march through the market…until a sign stating Laughing Buddha real coffee cafe for grassroots causes caught my eye.
I climbed the narrow steep steps to a tiny little establishment with a balcony and met Sharon.
Proprietor and philanthropist sending orphans to school with an exquisite and cheap menu. He gave me good music, a moment of peace, coffee, beer, and a fresh spinach salad! All prayers of the immediate moment answered despite the odds in this tourist trap religious pilgrimage puzzle land.
Over beer we chatted about everything from Buddhism to the treatment of cows and arranged for a visit to see the kids he is helping with his business tomorrow morning after my camel "ride." May I return from both unscathed and have Internet in Udaipur to tell about it.