The next morning we drove to Pushkar. Half way to our destination we stopped at a Jain Temple. In India there are a few types of religions: Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, and Jains. All I know about Jains is that they do not eat anything that grows underneath the soil (no garlic, potatoes, etc.) and the women must be completely covered, including a scarf over their mouths, but Jain monks don’t wear any clothes. At the Jain temple we didn’t see any Jains, yet I have seen some monks in Jaipur. I was surprised to see full frontal nudity walking down the street in the middle of the day after dropping Holly off at the airport.
The beauty of the Jain temple is etched in the pillars and walls of the large structure. Intricate carvings cover the temple as a Cathedral in Italy is covered in paintings. On the way to Pushkar we also saw many trees where bats hung like ripe fruit. Dangling from their winged cocoons, the huge bats stood out against the green leaves of the trees like melons. Once we arrived in Pushkar it was already getting dark. We checked into our hotel and then went to the main bazaar and walked around at night.
Inside the main bazaar in Pushkar, it was as if we were in Alice’s Wonderland. We may have even seen the Cheshire cat amidst the craziness there. Shops full of typical tourist fare sparkled in the low light next to illegal shops with “cigarettes.” We had heard Pushkar was a very spiritual place where people make pilgrimage to the only Brahma temple in India. What we found was a drug paradise for foreigners who spend more time with a bong and opiates than prayer beads and shrines.
Pushkar was dark, the streets were busy and narrow as motorbikes zoomed inches from our toes. The bazaar was very dirty and to top it all off, the power kept turning off after a dust storm started when we were deep inside the market. The streets and buildings funneled wind, dust, trash and motorcycles with no headlights … in the dark. I found the whole thing quite comical. I’ve come to accept India for what it is — something to appreciate despite your discomforts.
To quote Leah, “At least it lived up to it’s name in the true sense of the word – bizarre.”
The next morning we went on a camel ride for an hour behind our hotel in the desert hills. When we first saw our four camels, one was very loud. I don’t know what you call a camel noise, but the guide said, he “was singing.” Yeah, right, he sounded angry to me. I kept thinking, “Please don’t let that be the one I have to ride,” but of course it was. He was the smallest one, so they said I should ride him. In the end, he just complained a little and only tried to scratch himself with a thorn bush once while I was riding him. The scratches on my leg and foot were a small price to pay for such a cool experience.
For an hour Leah and I rode the camels and looked at Pushkar from the hill. I loved the soft thump of his strange feet on the ground and the shadow of myself and the camel against the sand. Leah and I saw beautiful Kingfisher birds flying overhead and mouse holes below at the camel’s feet. Daniel and his Dad took another route for two hours. Apparently Daniel’s camel was in heat, so it foamed at the mouth, moaned and when they got down for a break the camel collapsed. Daniel thought he had keeled over and died, but the camel was just desperate for his mate. Daniel gave a pretty good rendition of the camel’s noises over breakfast when they returned.
Later that day we drove back to Jaipur. On Saturday we spent some time with David and Leah before their flight. We had so much fun with the Fletcher family, we were sad to see the final two go.