Pushkar, Plug your ears… and nose

Note:  This post was originally rated R for language.  Editing cleaned it up… Please use your imagination!

We are up at 4:15 am for another early six-hour train ride. Where the other trains have been sleeper trains with a board covered in a bit of padding and vinyl for laying horizontal, this train sits us up. Although completely luxurious compared to “second class” carts, Mark is reminded quickly that this is a country with over 1.3 billion people. Next to him, a mother and child with a bag as large as the child. It was bound to happen… her bag in his foot area, her elbows all over his armrest and personal space (a foreign concept in this place – we get it) and a child kicking in her lap (and Mark’s) and we were off for our next adventure.

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Our hotel is described as having a pool, and although we are a bit leery from past travel

Ignorance would be bliss

the thought of being able to escape the heat sounded appealing. So much for that idea!

Described in tourist books as a very holy place in India (it is one of five sacred pilgrimage sites for devout Hindus), at least one of these roamingtwo has a different description.  #%@$ (Insert colorful word such as one beginning in ‘F’) Disgusting!

Harsh?  Perhaps.  But we have no need for sugar coating; these blog posts are our way of remembering how we felt and what we experienced.

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Pushkar is built around a holy lake thought to have developed from a lotus flower dropped by Brahma (creator of the universe). Where a Westerner may have images of a beautiful lake surrounded by grass and trees, this green-brown colored lake is surrounded by concrete with mismatched steps (ghats) in various stages of disrepair. Cows, stray-looking dogs, large monkeys and hundreds of thousands of pigeons hang around the lake and defecate and urinate as they please.  #*$@ (insert curse of choice) Disgusting!  Absolutely! 

There is a reason the number of flies in this city easily outnumber the human population.

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The area around the lake is deemed a ‘no footwear zone’ and Hindus make a pilgrimage from all over to strip down and take a dip in the holy water. We cringed when we saw a snake in one of the bathing pools right beside people in the water.  Further, looking out at the animals, urine and feces around the lake; Mark had visions of hookworm, fleas, mites, creeping eruption and tetanus. While brave (or foolish), Christine ventured a bit with socks on, Mark kept his sturdy footwear on and just watched from a distance.  I’m good thank you very much!

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Numerous scams also exist in this holy city. Locals offer a flower petal to welcome you as you walk towards Pushkar Lake. If you take it, you will be hounded for money until you give in. Kids and old ladies grab at your arm while saying “chapati”, i.e. give me money for food. Touts offering free advice appear so nice but are so hungry for rupees that they will do and say anything to get some of your money. The entire environment does not feel holy at all!

It does not end there. Built in the 12th century, the buildings should offer some architectural interest. Instead, they are decrepit, crumbling and abandoned looking. The main street through the old city is the width of a car and must accommodate
people, a ridiculous number of shops selling the same junk by pushy stoic owners, crazy local motorcycle drivers with their finger stuck on their horns and a silly number of cows rightfully peeing and shitting where they stand. The cows are oblivious to the fact that people are standing right beside them. We never walked too close.

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Along the wall, local men urinate at will like dogs marking their territory.  The stench of urine and feces had us dry heaving more than once while repeating “@$#% Disgusting!” in our heads.

The tourist websites show you this…

On our particular visit we saw this…

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We were yelled at twice (in the holiest city? – oh the irony) for wearing shoes in an unapproved, but poorly marked area. Alternatively, the cows, monkeys and dogs taking a dump (told you this post was rated R for language) next to us in the same area was a non-issue.

The beauty of travel is that we do not have to love everything. Pushkar is just that place.

…Christine and Mark


14 thoughts on “Pushkar, Plug your ears… and nose

  1. Hi Mark and Christine,…. I had lost sight of your blog for months and was thinking of you today as I was reviewing Red Mtn stuff and wondered if you were still traveling, so checked back on to your blog and see that you still are,… and in India now. Hopefully you will be able to extricate yourself from the excrement and find lotus joy along the way. 🙂 Take care. Ali Leon

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  2. I can’t imagine what creeping eruption is (or can I?) but it sounds horrid! On the plus side, I now have a new excuse next time I call in sick and the goats in your picture are super cute!

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  3. Hi Mark and Christine! I can only imagine how civilized and luxurious other countries seem to you after India! Your memories will be incredible though given so profound! Can’t wait for your next blog! Stay healthy! 😍Sandy

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  4. OMG- sounds pretty nasty….Glad I read this post BEFORE breakfast here in Fernie!
    Thank for your candid descriptions. You two are much braver than we are. I have visions of you two disinfecting each other’s feet every night…. or maybe every Hour?
    We know trusted folks who said India was their fav place in all their travels. So keep searching….
    Thanks for all the pix and news.
    Happy 25th Anniversary btw!
    We are at 40 now and going bare- foot in our air conditioned hotel room in fantastic Fernie after a 13 km hike- LOL! Hats off to you both for being adventurous and living the dream.

    Stay safe sweetie- babies!
    Love always-
    Sandy & Marty

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