Date: 30th October – 4th November 2017
Hotel: Paramount Palace
Picking up where I left off in the last post, I have to admit to feeling kind of cheap using a click-bait headline and then not even getting to the story – then again, that’s what happens in click-bait links. But there was just too much happening too quickly to keep up to date. So here is a bunch more on our adventures in Pushkar…you won’t believe what happened next.
The Mela Ground is the big arena where much of the entertainment happens. This is where you see the games and concerts, it is a big sandy arena where many things are happening at once including camel rides, hot air balloon rides, magicians, contortionists, tightrope walkers vendors and all manner of other spectacles. It is a constantly changing hot and dusty place where it is easy to spend a few hours.
We all showed up for the scheduled moustache competition, one of the highlights of the Pushkar Fair. Of course it started an hour late, but This Is India. I am not sure who won, but there were some incredible contenders.
Here is someone else’s video of this year’s competition, it was as chaotic and as much fun as it looks
Just about every western tourist in Pushkar seemed to be there and the opportunity was taken to recruit people for the turban tying competition that was happening next. It didn’t take much encouraging for us to enter…actually it didn’t take any, we actively tried to get into the competition…and succeeded.
I hadn’t mentioned that one of the most exciting parts of the trip and planned to happen in Pushkar was for my daughter Jasmine and her partner Cameron to meet us there. In India for the wedding of a couple of fellow (Indian) doctors, this was the beginning of a month long trip that had only begun in Delhi the previous day. I caught a jam-packed local bus to Ajmer (you seriously could not have squeezed another person on board!) and in a miracle of Indian logistics and gods aligning, met their train (which was on time) which they were actually on board and then I found them as they disembarked. Having haggled a taxi fare the previous day I knew the price and was able to give them a soft landing into Pushkar.
Our Turban Tying mob now had 3 teams out of about 15, and we were ready to go.
The task is for the woman to tie the turban, and then from the tray place a tika (the red mark) on the man’s forehead, add some rice to it and tie the kalava (red thread) around his wrist. Here is what it looks like thanks to a couple of guys who happily held my camera.
In case you can’t figure out the result, Dawne & Tiff came 2nd and Jane & I came 3rd but the video guys clearly thought they were the winners. Hmmm…on reviewing the video, Jasmine and Cameron easily beat us, but never called out that they were finished, don’t tell them. I was pretty excited that we had one something receiving my certificate and plaque looking like I had been shot in the forehead.
We each received a certificate and a plaque which was good because it cleared my conscience.
Earlier there had been a cricket match, India Vs Tourists. Tiff had batted for a short while and after the match each player was awarded a certificate and a plaque. I really wanted a plaque as a souvenir and when Darren from Australia wasn’t there to accept his, I jumped up and accepted it on his behalf. Yes! I had a plaque!
After doing well in the turban tying, I now had two plaques so I gave one to Cameron who hadn’t won one and didn’t feel quite so grubby any more :o)
One of the great things to do anywhere in the world is crowd watching. It is even better in India. It is even better in Pushkar during the fair. Let’s sit for a minute and watch the crowd go by. And this is on a relatively quiet day.
Wedding season also started while we were in Pushkar
What a smooth segue into our next adventure. The following night there was to be a bride and groom competition. Jasmine and Cameron had been in a temple somewhere and had been asked if they would enter.
The competition is really between different beauty salons who dress western tourists as a bride and/or groom in an attempt to win a coveted prize and enhanced reputation. It involves quite a bit of work for everyone.
The first part was 3 hours in the afternoon following the turban tying. Both Jasmine and Cameron had liberal amounts of henna applied in intricate patterns.
A fair bit better than my hand from the train a few days earlier.
The day of the competition had them meet at 3PM to get ready for the 8:30PM presentation on the main stage at the Mela Ground. I was determined to get some good photos of this and being in the crowd was never going to be enough. So I hung out near the state entrance and when I saw a bride and groom going backstage, I tagged along. Easy Peasy.
It was a hot, crowded couple of rooms full of nervous tourist brides and and tourist grooms who looked absolutely awesome. The best way to get an idea is for me to quickly explain that the brides came out and paraded, then the grooms came out and paraded, then those who were couples showed off and some – including Jasmine and Cameron – were interviewed for fun, not as part of the competition, then they danced until it all became a bit awkward so everyone went home.
As for getting good photos, the woman organising the event was wonderful. She also organised the turban tying and recognised me, and since I was father of one of the brides, she gave me the OK to be on stage and even encouraged me to go to the front to take photos. It is worth adding that India is so chaotic that I probably would have managed this without her making it happen and no one would have noticed or cared except a couple of cops who just wouldn’t have cared.
Now check out the visuals and you will really get an idea of how it went.
They didn’t win, but who cares? It was the experience of a lifetime, in India.
I am no video editor, let me prove it to you with some video of the night.
The good news is that Jasmine and Cameron won their own plaques. I think the extra one ended up with the beautician who did all the work. Better than with someone like me who didn’t really deserve it.
There is so much more I could write about Pushkar, but just between you and me, I am already home and trying to catch up.