Hotel: Still at Paramount Palace
Tying off a few loose ends again.
This is my new hotel room having moved upstairs.
It isn’t huge but it is comfortable, clean, quiet and cheap. And unlike the room I was in downstairs, the bed is soft.
Those water plants are also called singara and here is a bit more detail on how they look individually also peeled and both out of focus. But I couldn’t reshoot because it was my last one and I ate it.
The other day as I was walking I happened to notice a fellow foreigner walking in the opposite direction. Later while I was having breakfast, there he was again on the opposite side of the road. Still later I am sitting having some chai and he sits down beside me “I think I know you from somewhere”. His name is Claudio and he lives a few suburbs away from me in Ashmore. We can’t manage to work out the connection and as always, agree it is a small world.
I started chatting to a woman today who is sort of from Perth via a few other places but now sort of lives here, depending on visas.
She told me that the Camel Fair is in just 3 weeks. This is great information, I thought it was late November. But now what to do? Should I come back to Pushkar for what is likely a crazy crowded event or should I head somewhere else? Should I miss one the largest camel fairs in the world that likely has incredible photo opportunities for the sake of somewhere different? Quandary.
While we were talking a group of gorgeous young Indian women approached us. I have seen them many times walking around. They reach out to shake your hand and while I am not sure what happens next, I can guarantee it will be a hustle of some sort. The last couple of times we have passed I have ostentatiously shoved my hand deep in my pocket…cue laughter.
They wanted me to buy them some chai – it is only R10 for a serve. At this point I digress slightly to satisfy the curiosity of those who know I never drink hot drinks like tea or coffee and rarely will I have a hot chocolate. I have started to enjoy a couple of drinks of chai a day. It is only a small serve, which helps, but it is real social grease here. Sit and talk for a while and someone will order chai.
So I order 3 glasses of chai (I had just had my 3rd, enough already) and sort of abandoned the Aussie woman, this was a rare treat to interact with Indian women. Being street hustlers they are quite bold and their English is pretty good so we had a lot of fun talking and hearing stories.
A word about stories: I have a story that becomes easier to tell the more I do. If someone asks about my bad neck it is hard enough to explain Ankylosis Spondylitis to someone who speaks English well. So my story is that I had a two wheeler (motor cycle) accident. It is easier and gets nods of understanding even if i have to mime it.
One story the woman on the left tells when I ask who looks after her 3 children is that her husband broke his leg and can’t work so he stays home. Later I ask the shopkeeper if he knows if it is true but he doesn’t and in the end, neither do I.
We are having so much fun I am offered a gift of having my hands hennaed – I am not sure if this is unprecedented. The gifting I mean, I know have never had my hands done before. While there are working I order more chai, woman orders some beedis and a loaf of bread – it is awful looking white sponge bread – that she dips in her chai. Meanwhile my hands are taking shape.
Note: you can’t both hands in photo you are taking
Pretty cool I reckon. They want to continue the conversation in a lovely restaurant but I twigged that it will end up costing me for 3 lunches and despite them trying hard, I stick to my no. This becomes their cue to leave, after all they do need to make a living.
I go to pay and of course I have to pay for the beedis and bread as well as the chai :o) It comes to a total of R90, less than $2, and is well worth it.
The photos of my hands were taken early while I still have all my fingers. I found the fireworks shop and for R35 I am ready to be king of the local kids who have already let me set off a couple of theirs.
A bit disappointed in the big ones, they look impressive but are only about 75% full. We shall see if they still have an impressive bang.
Later: we survived. The big ones despite looking bigger than they really are, are impressive and get the respect they deserve from everyone involved.
Though what a ripoff the rockets were. The box says rocket bomb implying an explosion in the air. Sure they went off, but like our prime minister, they returned out to be a fizzer.
I am publishing this now as I walk out the door for a bus for Udaipur and the Diwali edition.
Let there be light.