Holy City, Holy Cow

Still in our room here in Pushkar waiting on Em and Eth to return. My tummy still feels wonky and I’m nervous about our long drive to Udaipur today. Indian rest areas are not exactly the most hygienic or comfortable. And they try to make you pay to use the toilet.

June 18. Yesterday, we got into Pushkar around lunch time, and our guesthouse was annoyingly far away from the city. Literally at the very end of the road of hotels. We got our key and dropped our stuff so we could head into town for lunch. No more suggestions from Khan. We had him drop us off near a place we read about and said we’d meet back up in a few hours. The place we wanted to go was closed, but the place we ended up was pretty cool too. It had a view of the lake that the entire city surrounds and of the bustling street below. Pushkar is a small city, which is great because there are less people and less noise. I had a dish called Vegetable Pulao or Vegetable Pilaf (rice and vegetables) and actually enjoyed it for the first time (still prefer Thai fried rice, but it was good). Emily got a Thaali which is a smorgasbord of small dishes that they keep refilling for you. It was actually a pretty good deal though it looked nothing like the picture. Ethan got Dal Makhani, which has different variations, but is essentially thick lentil soup.

After lunch we walked all the way around the small lake, which serves as a holy, bathing lake. The lake is surrounded by concrete steps that descend into these bathing pools called ghats. There are several all around the lake and each is pumped full of lake water and the overflow drains back to the lake. Foreigners aren’t allowed within 30 feet with your shoes on and are asked not to take pictures. It was unclear whether or not we could just not take pictures of people bathing, women bathing or just no pictures at all. And when we say bathing, they all have their clothes on for the most part. Some of the men swim in their underwear, but the women have their shoulders and knees covered at the very least.

We eventually found place to go down and have a look and someone promptly informed us that we couldn’t go any further with our shoes on. Back out on the street, which was narrow and shaded by large tarps (to my delight), we passed lots of people selling stuff and more foreigners than we had seen anywhere else. I guess Pushkar is popular because of it’s laid back vibe, which we really enjoyed as well. Eventually, we went back toward the lake and walked along the concrete steps on our way back to where Khan would pick us up. We were careful to stay 30 feet away, but couldn’t help but snap a few pictures. We stopped in the shade at one point and a younger man came to stand in the shade near us. We tried to ask him something about Pushkar, but he didn’t speak English. As we went to leave, I’m sure you can guess what he did. Asked us for money. We said “For what?” We think he replied “For this man,” but we aren’t sure. We just kind of smiled and walked away. That was weird.

To get back to where we would get picked up we had to cross a bridge, which we thought we would surely be charged for. There were no signs stating that there was a cost, but that clearly doesn’t stop people from trying. To our surprise, no one asked for money. There’s a first time for everything! We headed back to our room where the power went out every 5 minutes, leaving us cooking in the room while we waited for it to cool down outside. It was miserable. I told the manager and he reluctantly turned the generator on for us. Our place has a pool so Ethan convinced us to come with him. It wasn’t the cleanest looking pool so Emily opted out. Ethan got in and I sat on the side with my legs in. It was definitely awkward given that Indian people don’t often see women in bathing suits. I kept my shirt on. Before we headed back to the room I noticed it had gotten noticeably darker outside. Rain clouds?? I doubted it would rain since we were basically in the desert. Lo and behold, the heavens opened up soon after we got inside and since our electricity had gone out again, we sat outside and it was glorious. Sweet relief like nothing else!

The rain didn’t last long, but it was enough to cool it down significantly. We were hungry again, so Khan drove us back to town where we found a roof top restaurant with huge pictures of Bob Marley. We ate falafel sandwiches with hummus and french fries in the sandwich. That was a first, but it was delicious. It may have caused this stomach thing I have now, but it was so good.

Thankfully, the electricity stayed on all night (I was especially thankful given how many trips to the toilet I took) and we all slept soundly. Breakfast was delicious too, though I couldn’t finish mine. Em and Eth just got back and we are heading out for lunch then onwards to Udaipur where  we’ll spend a few days.

Thanks for reading! Hopefully I can add some pictures when we get to Udaipur!

Ps. The title refers to the cows that are always roaming around. They are holy to the Hindu religion and we wondered if thats where the expression, “Holy cow!” came from…

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