Pushkar Passport

Trip Start Aug 22, 2005
Trip End Feb 06, 2006

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Flag of India  ,
Thursday, September 1, 2005

The annoying thing about a guide book is simply that everyone follows it, no new revelation there, but I am rapidly gaining a sixth sense for the places which mean nothing to Indians anymore (i.e. pushkar is reputed to be a holy place for Indians, but there is nothing here but tourists and hawkers). We are surrounded by fucking hippies. The girls all walking round in tiny vests, bare stomachs and floating skirts and wondering why they are being sexually harrassed. Why the attack on hippies?! only because I'm sure they are making it harder for me not to be seen as a walking dollar bill.

I have so far refused to get a pushkar passport... They are basically 'blessings' from extremely agressive touts, who then tie a bit of red string around your wrist that is supposedly to stop you from being harrassed further... hmmm... no don't think so! The guy that invaded my personal space this morning told us we had to leave the town unless we got one right then and there, I politely told him to leave us alone and surprisingly he did!

I sound a bit bitter but something happened this morning which really upset me. We went to the Brahma Temple on the Pushkar Lake (a bit simplified but basically Brahma is the creator of all in Hinduism). The legend is that Brahma dropped a lotus flower into the desert and Pushkar Lake was created, hence why some Hindus do make the pilgrimage here to bathe in the water. The temple however was something else. I have had experience of Hindu temples before, especially considering my mother's family are mostly Hindu.

I felt extremely distressed this morning when I entered the temple and had to be quite rude to two greasy touts trying to 'give me a tour' of the temple. There is no need for a tour. You go in, pay your respects (in silence) and come out again. We got rid of them but with all the people trying to take a chunk of us, I felt nothing. I felt like this was the worst kind of experience, where you can't even be alone long enough to think about the things you want to and should be able to in a place of worship. I wanted to leave asap so made my way to the front and collected my shoes from the entrance when another greasemonger tried to charge me for 'watching' my shoes!... I started ranting about profit from religion blah blah blah and was saved by marcus who said quite succintly "This is a temple not a shop, your behaviour disgusts me". Any other way of making money I can handle, but exploiting a temple for personal gain just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Anyway rant over. Everything in India is counter-balanced. For the hassle we recieved on the streets of Jaipur we experienced extreme kindness from the family we stayed with, and for all the ugliness I saw today we've also been treated very kindly by the people who work in our guesthouse.
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owen on

Sarah, I have to appologise for only just understand how to navigate around this travelpod of yours. It finally makes sense to me and it's really interesting to here your perceptions of India. I was very naive when I went there (just 18) and picked up on the commercialisation you write of but was not strong enough to resist it.
My best memory of Pushkar was sitting with Naj and John in a cafe in the centre of town. A few tables behind us there were a bunch of stuck up kids the same age as us. Although they had there overpriced bits of string on the wrists they sat there complaining that all the tourist were destroying there chance of seeing the real India. I guess they would have been the kind of people who would say they had found themselves in Pushkar when in reality you got more chance of losing something (your soul, or as John did, your camera!)
I admit I paid for a passport too, but thankfully I didn't sit there thinking I was making a difference. Glad to hear your sticking to your guns despite being in a foreign land but that doesn't mean you should start screaming at drivers in traffic jams like you do here!

Keep smiling, Owen x

PS When you get home I bet the smell of diesel becomes one that you'll love for the memories it evokes.

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