Pushkar, Special Lassi City

Trip Start May 18, 2008
Trip End Jul 20, 2008

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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Pushkar is one of the most relaxed cities I've been to. One reason is that it's set up around a holy lake and most of the people here are religious. Another is that special lassis and tea are on the menu at every restaurant we've been to and in our hotel's menu. Our second morning in Pushkar, we went out on a walk and had breakfast at the Funky Monkey Cafe (not particularly good food or price, but somewhere to eat a banana pancake and some porridge). We looked around and noticed that almost everyone we saw looked high. According to Jay, the government has licensed the city to use marijuana as it is a religious place. Wow, I thought you had to go to Amsterdam to get blazed in public! Unfortunately, we didn't realize that we could have bought one for about $.25 completely legally until we were on our way out of town...
Anyways, our story in Pushkar:
We got to our hotel late at night and got the nicest room in the place for 200 rs ($5, we splurged). We (just Sarah and I now, Jenny left for Delhi from Jodhpur) went out around 11pm to find some food, but all we found was a juice bar. We got some fresh pineapple and mango juice. What we also found was that Pushkar is safe to walk around at night, which is something we hadn't experienced yet in India. There weren't even any rabie-infested dogs chasing us. When we got back to the hotel, the owner offered to run to his house via scooter and get some chapati and veggies for us. What a nice guy. The food was delicious as always, and extra spicey being Rajasthani . In the morning, the hotel tried to  hook us up with a scooter for the day for 300 rs, but it didn't work that well so they were going to get a newer one later in the day. By the time we had breakfast at The Sun and Moon Cafe, chai on a rooftop cafe overlooking the lake, and got on the internet, I found a nice new motorcycle to rent for 150 rs/24hrs. I can't express how exciting it was to figure out how to drive a motorcycle real quick (I've driven a dirt bike once or twice about 10 years ago) and take off through the Rajasthan countryside. After riding in cars, busses, and trains (sorry camels, you're too slow) for the entire time, it was amazing to make our own root and explore the back roads and villages on our own terms. We did have some recommended places to go, but I just drove around and turned where ever I thought looked interesting. About twenty minutes into our ride, it started raining. Ten minutes later, I decided to pull over under an overhang. As soon as I turned off the engine, it started to pour monsoon style. We were perfectly placed across the street from a few small buildings where a bunch of old men wearing turbans were drinking chai. We ran across the road to join them. About thirty minutes later, we were off again, driving through huge puddles and getting splashed by muddy water when huge trucks passed. After a ways through a village and up a small road, we decided to turn back and get more petrol. Then we passed Pushkar and went the other direction, towards the mountains. I drove up this really skinny alley and got chased by all the kids in the town until I reached a dead end and had to turn around and plow through the kids again (no casualties), stopped when we saw a sadhu playing drums in a small shrine, and went up into the mountains a few kilometers until we reached a look-out point to take a picture and pee. We went back to the city to find some food before going to the sunset temple. The restaurant had all kinds of food from Israeli to Italian, and we met a nice Turkish girl there by herself. She was on her way to a town north of Goa to do a yoga teacher training course. We decided to just watch the sunset down at the lake with our friend. We were joined by a few Indian students who did not want any money (holy shit), but just talked with us about the philosophy of Osho, an Indian philosopher who was exhiled for his progressive ideas. He is famous for his ideas about the spirituality of sex and meditation while having sex, and no, that's not what the guys wanted to talk about. They just wanted to talk about how amazing his philosophy was, and how the city of Pushkar is full of "cartoon characters". He was referring to all the religious people who blindly worship all kinds of things, including a filthy lake. In the morning, I noticed our hotel guy had an Osho book. I'm going to read some of his writings when I get a chance. As I mentioned before, we had breakfast at the funky monkey and didn't drink a special lassi because we planned on getting in one more motorcycle ride to the sunrise temple before we had to leave (we told Jay we'd be ready by 11). We parked the motorcycle in the bus station parking lot and hiked up to the top of a big hill to a temple overlooking Pushkar and the huge valley we drove through the day before. Then we drove back into the valley on a different road and stopped to take photos of a crew of colorfully dressed and beautiful women... ..digging a ditch for a water line. Did I mention that women in India do most of the hard labor and most can't read or write? They are basically treated like slaves. The women were very nice and loved to have pictures taken. They tried to put Sarah to work digging the trench with a hoe, fixed her shawl, and distributed her bangles onto both hands instead of just one. The only thing they demanded from us was chocolate, which we obviously didn't have. I think they wanted us to go get some for them, which I would have done if we didn't have to leave. The request caught me off guard and made me laugh. We got back hoping to grab a lassi before our 8 hour drive back to Delhi (which may have helped numb the frustration that we couldn't just keep the motorcycle and drive through Rajasthani villages and meet people for another week or two), but Jay was pissed we were 35 min. late and said this to me, "Alex, you must think I'm a stupid or somet'ing". We would have just told him to stop for a special lassi except we didn't want him to know that our guard would be down for the last leg of the trip, so we just left without the experience and pretended we were high for about 10 seconds. Until we meet again Pushkar, until we meet again.
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