Location: Pushkar Fair
Hotel: Paramount Palace
When I was in Jaipur a year ago I asked about seeing some live music and ended up at the Sufi Music Festival – read about it. Keep in mind that I had no idea where I was going or what I would see.
Last night there was a concert at the mela ground (the stadium) that was bill as The music of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan which was enough to get me along. If you have no idea of who he is, here is a sample on YouTube.
After an hour of traditional dancing – not me, on stage – the main show starts and bugger me, it is Harshdeep Kaur, the same act I saw by chance a year ago. I see two concerts in India, a year apart, in separate cities, not knowing what I was going to see either time and it is the same act!
This is not a complaint, she is a great performer and the audience clearly idolised her. I can save a lot of time typing about the repressed emotions of most Indians by referring you back to last year’s post. The description of an audience bursting with energy but keeping a lid on it, holds.
I had a pretty good spot, standing against a barrier between the VIP section and we mere mortals. In front of me were two young women cops who were stopping people sneaking into the VIP area and also making sure that the seated area at the side stayed seated. When there was no policing to do they would sit on a couple of chairs, talk and check their phones.
Suddenly they were on their feet, putting their berets on and looking about as busy as an Indian police officer can (not very). I spotted the trigger, a cop with three silver pips on his shoulder (plus his aide) who was doing a walk around. When they turned around I saluted indicating I figured what happened which got a laugh. They would sit down again, he would reappear they would jump up and put berets on again. This happened a few times to the amusement of people standing nearby.
Eventually they got bored or something and wandered off. With no one there keeping the riff raff out, decided I was worthy of an upgrade to VIP status and through the bamboo fence I went. VIPs had mats to sit on, some bolsters to lean on, were directly in front of the stage and could feel comfortably smug about being the I in VIP. I was clear that being in the VIP section made me neither V or I.
After a while some people left and there was an empty chair, which is much more comfortable than sitting on a mat. Guess who was my neighbour? He thanked me for taking a photo :o)
While discussing scams, it was another ATM day. Same machine, a few more people in front of me, but since it opened just as I arrived I knew there would be plenty of money, plus it is a bit social.
Unlike most queues in India, people would not tolerate someone pushing in and the police would be roused from slumber to push someone to the back of the line. It got a little heated at times, but the people in line with the help of the cops prevailed.
For me it is a fine line between banter to get on someone’s good side and banter which draws attention to me when I try something like getting into a VIP section. I have almost gotten away with little things in the past only to draw attention and get caught out. Not bad stuff, sneaking into an airline lounge at Singapore airport after a false fire alarm comes to mind. All I did was comment to one of the staff and she realised I shouldn’t have been there. Lesson learned.. but maybe the wrong one.
While we are waiting and the cops wander back and forth as slowly as they can, I greet them and then this guy is stopped by a woman for a photo.
I jump in and get one too, he is happy seeing the result. How lucky am I when half an hour or so later and I get into the ATM room and he is the one on duty. He is wanting to withdraw Rupees and I, without a (cough) single ulterior motive (cough) in mind graciously insist he goes before me.
My turn and I get my R2,000 in about 1 minute. When it works, it works really well. I ask ‘again?’ and he gives me a head waggle which means whatever you want it to. So I go again and w00t!, R4,000 takes the money pressure right off. In case you are thinking wow, 4,000, this is $AUD80.
On the way out I tell the woman who took his photo – Polaroid of all things! – that she should try it too. And you know what? I hardly feel sorry for the poor bugger who is next in line when the machine runs out of money later today.
Please don’t think I am implying that the police are lazy, but it is definitely a cruisey job that comes with some power that makes them feel quite I.
Haha, originally I said there were 3 ferris wheels, then a different angle showed me there were 4. Today I discovered there are 5 ferris wheels, each has different music that is blaring out at a Spinal Tap level of 11. Add other rides similarly loud and it is not a pleasant place to be, fortunately there are plenty of other areas to hang.
And I found out the name of that game. It is called Kabaddi (kuh-buh-dee) and I am not sure the rules will make much sense if you haven’t seen it played, but here they are. Today was the final of the competition and in Indian style, there was no emotion displayed by the winners at all. They’re a funny lot, but that’s why I am here.
These guys had an important air about them as they watched the judging of a horse competition, I suspect they are owners.
This is one of the horses, the curled ears is obviously a desirable trait, as they all have them. Someone correct me if I am wrong, but are they Arabian stock?
Rather than in any sort of order, I am grabbing images and telling the story. I want to get this post up and get back on the streets.
When I was here a couple of weeks ago, when I saw them lighting crackers, I befriended some boys who live next door to the hotel. I had some in a bag which I gave to them. When I returned a couple of days ago they spotted me and came running babbling away at top speed in broken English.
The gist of it was they wanted to buy me a kite (R5) and fly it with me. I was happy to buy them each a kite but they insisted. So they get the kites and the manager says it is OK to fly from the roof, but another employee says no, so we don’t get far…or high.
Kite flying, while fun is a very serious past time and on the average afternoon there will be dozens of kites in the air. There is an object to the exercise, and that is to down someone else’s kite.
The top 10 metres or so of the string is abrasive. I don’t know if this is how they do it, but years ago I heard that powdered glass is mixed with glue and the string is coated with this mix. Your kite crosses lines with another you give a quick tug and one of the strings will be cut and come floating down, hopefully not yours.
As often happens when kids (me included) are having fun, some of the well intentioned staff who claim to be kite experts come along ‘to help’ and spoil it. :o)
Would it be inappropriate or offensive to mention that I saw the biggest and best camel toe ever?
I was already a jaded greenie. I won’t go into why here. But being in India reinforces how futile changing a light bulb or using public transport V driving is for us in the western world.
The amount of rubbish in the streets and everywhere, the awful quality of the air – look again at the ferris wheel photo, the putrid state of most waterways, cow, dog and human shit everywhere. And all of it in volumes so unimaginable you can’t imagine it. (Why didn’t the grammar checker pick that up?)
Mumbai and Delhi combined have nearly as many people as the whole of Australia. In the rest of India is a staggering 1,310,000,000 people. That is over 1.3 billion people more than Australia. There is no hope.
This was an environmental rally of sorts. Some people are trying and I wish them luck, but I am not optimistic.
I had a wonderful Malai Kofta tonight and can only hope that having done the cooking class I can produce something as good. There was a great view of a busy intersection from the rooftop restaurant and I noticed some guys building a barricade.
I may have touched on the fact that as well as the livestock trading – which has wound down now – there is a religious festival going on. It ends tomorrow on the day of the full moon and apparently it gets crazy crowded in the streets. So crazy that the streets are being converted to a big one way loop and the lane to the hotel is off one of the one way streets.
So tomorrow, to get to my hotel, I may have to walk all the way around the loop. The manager suggested I tell the police I am coming to the hotel and they will let me walk the wrong way, against the tide of 1.33 billion people. I don’t like my chances.
Tonight many people will walk all night and the markets near the important Bramah Temple won’t close.
These people make a really yummy sweet lassi. I asked what the little bits of peel-like things were that are in it. Marigold petals! See them in the lower left corner? Maybe that is their secret.
This was at about 11pm last night, they were doing brisk business when just about everything else was closed. The Indian version of the late night kebab stand?
Many people won’t drink lassis, could this be why? It is also used for chai and cooking so is hard to avoid, but I’m not trying to.
I have been here for exactly a month and have a week to go. Keeping an eye on being in Delhi in 5 days I still have no idea where to go from Pushkar.
But I am fed, I am flush for funds, I am I’m India. Life is good.