Paagle Pushkar, Loud Weddings and Repair Stress
Trip Start Feb 05, 2009
29Trip End Dec 16, 2010
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Where I stayed
Yash Star and later at Moonlake guesthouse
The last 2,5 months I have been mostly in one village in India: Pushkar. Before ending up here, spend a few days relaxing in Bharatpur and visiting an amazing rikshaw family in Jaipur. Came to Pushkar for only few days, stayed almost 2 weeks, chilling at this lovely nature guesthouse Yash Star; cloth shopping and enjoying music camp fire evenings. Difficult to leave, but we are on our way South to celebrate New Year in Goa. After a few days in Bundi this stopped abruptly as we had a break-in and a car crash on 23 December, a dark grey day for us. Had the van towed back to Pushkar and stayed here ever since. Van for repairs in Ajmer, me living and socializing at my Indian home town…until further notice ;-))
Where to begin…
Last time I gave sign of online-life is over 2,5 months ago. For people who know me, this is very Paagle (Hindi read: Crazy)! I read my last story and for all of you I am still in Bharatpur! Well as you can see by the entry points I have moved on from there, currently living in Pushkar, the town I can call my "Indian Home", as on and off I have been here for 2 months now!
Please only start to read this story when you have time, because it will be long ;-))))
From Jaipur (the pink city and capital of Rajasthan state) we make our way to Pushkar, a little village which supposed to be less hectic and with a great vibe. We arrive in the night and park the car in the middle of town!! Mira, good chauffeur driving through the narrow streets…and more respect in hindsight as I now know the town well! The guys check into a hotel, we park in front it, next to the very smelly public toilets! Ah well, we are here. With the intention only to stay for a few days…..hahhahahahahaha!
Pushkar: A village in the middle of the desert state Rajasthan. Very different from the places I have visited in India until now. It is a small village full of tailors, shops, restaurants, guesthouses, cows, street dogs and without noisy rikshaws! This is THE place for cloths shopping, tailor work and cloths business deals! At least half of the foreigners I have met here
However, after a few days of postponing, we really have to get going…next stop; Bundi. Shiran ‘warned’ us not to go, that something bad would happen. She was joking, not realizing this would be our sad truth only a few days later…
We made it to small and more shanti Bundi on the same day, parking the van near the artificial lake with great views on the palace and fort. This place could well become the next Pushkar in 10 years time, but for now it only has few tourists around, crap restaurants and an amazing view
23 december, a dark grey day in our travel period. On our last morning we want to visit the palace. On our way we decide to have a coffee first instead, in this garden on the other side of the water so we are able to see the van, how nice. Until I see someone circling the car a little longer then with the normal curiosity. I do not trust it for a minute so borrow the hotel bicycle and go over. When I arrive the right window is smashed… great a break-in! Luckily we saw it happen, so the guy did not have time to look around inside! No more palace visiting, but spending the day at the police station getting a report made up. The foreign-coins-guy helping us out with translating the whole time, how nice of him! At some point he is mentioned in the report papers as well, which he does not like at all with all the corruption police practices in
As the break-in and the crash were not enough to handle, the day got even more crazy! When I say Mira at the police station, alive and in pain, I thanked all 36.000.004 Hindu gods that she is (we are) still alive! As far as we could judge, Mira had a nasty wound on her lower leg, possible broken toe(s) and brushes. The crash was very bad, but, learning from the Indian optimism, could have been much worse. Not trusting the local doctor, we want to go to a big hospital in Kota for a second opinion. So late at night Akram and a police guy take us there, to a new private hospital which we heard about via some people in Pushkar. That hospital visit… a story on its own. If we were not so in shock and tired I would have made photos! We get there, nobody around, no activity whatsoever, like as it had opened only 2 days ago. In the emergency hall there is 1 doctor (wearing a mp3-player) and 3 nurses who seem very bored. Down the hall there is one guy behind the payment-counter and 2 boys sleeping on the floor of the pharmacy room. The rest of the hospital seems deserted and eerily quiet. This ‘doctor’ checks the wound on her leg, but does not want to undo the stitches, it would make it worse. Now normally I kind of trust a doctor, but it showed in all his behavior that this guy just did not want to do any work that night! Also claims nothing is broken. As we have serious doubt, Mira goes of for x-ray of her foot. I end up running around for payment, medicine collection and so on. Feeling that Mira wants to have the wound redone, I look the doctor straight in the eye and tell him with a strong voice that “we would like to wound looked at and stitched again and IF he WANTS to do a good job, he can do it”. Giving me the look he agrees and prepares himself. Again I have to run around for payment and tools collection. When I get back he is already working on the wound….without using any pain killer! Mira being brave, tired and stubborn lets him continue. When he is done, I look him in the eye again and ask him sarcastically “Do you LIKE your job?”. Back in the emergency hall we get the x-ray back….of her ANKLE! I demand a new x-ray but Mira is fully worn-out and wants to leave, which of course we do, although I go under protest. Away from this Paagle hospital with its mp3-player-doctor!
Then on our way home one last surprise awaits us as a drunken guy tries to cut us off…good thing we have a police guy with us, who tries to book him. In rush this guy hits the gas pedal and almost crashes into us! Another crash?! We can only just stop our driver from going on an almost- hit-and-run-pursuit…23 December 2009, a very Paagle day for us!
The next day, after a short night sleep, I am still in denial. For sure this was all a very bad dream! But no, unfortunately it is not. That morning we go and have a look at the van. A very sad and scary sight, especially for Mira as the crash impact was on her side of the car. If she would not have pulled her legs to the side…better not think about this too much. Can this really be repaired? Yes is the Indian answer. How much / Where / How long will it take? We decide to tow the van back to Pushkar, both of us feeling we want to be with friends and familiar surroundings: Yash Star. The next day Chotu and Bob arrange a vehicle to tow us back,
From that day I can call Pushkar my ‘Indian Home’ as I have been here all this time until now. Our plans stopped there and also no more traveling together in the van. A very abrupt end to our on-the-road-adventure… A lot and nothing has happened in these (almost) 2 months…
Of course we did not go to Goa for New Year, so also Roos changed her plans and came to visit Mira in Pushkar. We spend New Year’s Eve at Yash Star with bhajans, good food and friends. The first 2 weeks I did not have the energy to get started on the van, still in shock, feeling guilty (I know unnecessary), in denial and afraid about the financial consequences. At the same time I did not loose the connection with the car and was still sleeping in it until the move to Mechanic’s shop in Ajmer a few weeks later. Before the move I had several mechanics quote a price and I had to judge their capability, difficult to do even in my own country, so the choice was made on instinct mostly. Would loved to have the car repaired in Pushkar (with the possibility to check every other day), but nearby city Ajmer is more equipped. Via this French guy I got in contact with Hameed and he has been the best help so far, going to the mechanic every time with me, translating, buying parts with me and being my all-will-be-ok-mentor! At the
Life at Yash Star has been divers. Nights of live music at the camp fire; Wood oven pizza dinners; lots of socializing with amazing people; Bob’s dad came to visit and has been part of the Yash Star family; Mor, Shiran and Gal made my prejudice towards Israeli people disappear; great Dutch connection with Cindy and Lila. Unfortunately things were overshadowed sometimes because of some family issues between the brothers. This resulted in Chotu closing the kitchen
So as of end of January I am by myself again, living in another guesthouse to take some time alone without hectic situations and too much socializing. I completely lost myself in the midst of it all. Good talks with Mira, my dear friend Miranda in Holland and people here helped to focus again. In between visits to Mukesh’s shop, Hameed’s home, Sunset restaurant chai evenings with Cindy and Lala, a motorbike trip into the countryside, a photoshoot with Padma’s design cloths, Chai at the vegetable market and attending 5 weddings (it is wedding season here!), I also read a book, slept a lot and even started to do some yoga again! When I needed some laughter back into my life, I went to visit Sunil in Agra. Cannot really explain but now we have a very strong connection, like as if I know him from past lives or something, and the best thing is: he makes me laugh, a lot! Thank you my Paagle friend for some great days in Agra!
The weddings in Rajasthan…special, loud, long and colorful!
I was privileged to be invited to several weddings, pre-wedding and engagement ceremonies.
Weddings in India are often arranged affairs, where the parents choose the partner for their son or daughter. When both families agree an engagement ceremony takes place at the girl’s house (see Pali photos), where she gets presents and a special puja (spiritual ceremony) is done by her soon-to-be-family-in-law. The wedding itself has 7 days of evening ceremonies beforehand. For the guy, he gets presents from family-in-law and 7 important family members receive some alcohol and little money. One chosen boy has to sit next to the groom acting as the protecting Ganesh god during these ceremonies. On the wedding day itself the groom, sitting on a horse, is lead to the wedding venue accompanied by dancing family members and a LOUD music system or LOUD musicians walking between people carrying huge lanterns. Once arrived, before entering more traditions are carried out. Then he sits on stage and waits for his to-be-wife to be lead to the stage. There they will remain the rest of the evening, on the photo with all the guest, family and friends….one after the other. And they are NOT allowed to smile. The guests are entertained with food (lots of it; in buffet style or given to you when you are sitting on the ground in huge rows) and sometimes music. At 23.00 most people have gone. In the night or the next morning the wedding ceremony is carried out by the pundit (kind of priest). It lasts several hours. E.g. they have to hold hands for some time with henna in between, puja is done with parents, they walk around the holy fire 7 times. Then it is time to go. As of today the bride leaves her parental home and will live with her husband and family-in-law for the rest of her life. People she only met once (or not at all) in her life. Find it hard to understand coming from a
And what are my plans for the near future…I decided to stay in Pushkar even longer ;-)))
Hope to get the van back this week. Have to do some work on it myself (solar panel back on top, reconnecting wiring, putting back the kitchen, wood panels etc.). Then probably celebrate Holy here (another festival) and as of the 3rd of March I will do the Vipassana course (a strict 10-day meditation course) about 12km from Puskar. After enrolling 3 times and canceling 3 times, now I am ready to face myself and do this. Still afraid in a way, but also know it is the time I need to do in my life. But more about this and other things later…I think the story has been long enough for now.
I am back…online ;-)))