Its been a rough ride, as rough as the camel I rode in jeiselmere with its hump punching my nuts for two hours, to reach “the desert”, painting the picture it was more of a tiny patch of sand surrounded by shrubby undergrowth, with more than the normal amount of goats you would usually encounter in a desert, and if you looked the opposite direction to the beautiful sunset you are blessed with a more then lovely view of a bunch of wind turbines.
It was a good night, its where I met my next travelling partners for the next length of the journey, where we lay out on one giant bed under the stars eating the worst thali I have ever tasted to rest our heads and leave earth for another night.
2 weeks prior to having my testicles punched back into my stomach I was traveling out of Jaipur to Pushkar, the holy city, the place you hear so much about, I was fairly surprised of the the amount of rubbish that’s around being a refuge for the travelling hippy and in all honesty I was disappointed, though I went in with no expectations and I left without thinking anything other than I’m never going to go back.
I had enough on the first day when I was given a flower by a man who told me to throw it in the lake, I had every intention to throw this flower into the lake, so I held onto it and kept walking, eventually after wandering the shopping street, a hippy haven for crystals, chillum, macramé, and all the clothing you can find at every psytrance festival on the planet, though now knowing where it all comes from and how much money is made off of the labour of these Indians I don’t think ill ever buys a pair of harem pants in a western country ever again.
I continued on my path towards the lake where a man stopped me, he saw my flower and kindly directed me to a pathway down towards the water, as I was walking down the stairs I was suddenly stopped by the Brahman who insisted to follow him down to the water where he will bless me in a personal ceremony to cleanse me of any bad karma, I am still new to India at this point though I could feel it that I was being led on, I stayed and waited out the ceremony and gladly accepted the blessing to then be asked, “where you from, oh Australia, beautiful country, you play cricket?” “no I don’t play cricket”, this eventually becoming a very common introduction and ending to almost every Indian I have met.
He continues the conversation asking for a donation “well, usually Australians like to donate something around 3500-4000 Rupee”, this is ridiculous, nothing costs 3500 rupee in India, except an excuse for a yoga course, (though we will come to that later).
Just because I’m seen as a tourist it is instantly thought I have money, I proceeded to state my reasons that my faith in what ever I believe is not determined by money, no amount of money changes anything in terms of karma, karma is from the heart, I had nothing but 50 rupee in my pocket which I kindly offered though it wasn’t enough, he refused and insisted I jump on the back of his bike and go get more from the guesthouse, at this point I apologized, gave my thanks for the ceremony and left.
Thank you once again India for showing me something beautiful to follow it up with something to tarnish the memory.
3 days in Pushkar was enough, a few nice nights in some cool cafes, some awesome jam sessions, sneaky beers, a few doobies, spending the days dodging motorbikes and tuktuks Immersing into the cows, camels, donkeys, pigs, monkeys, shopkeepers, fire twirlers, henna gypsies, speeding Israelis, speeding Indians, and the corrupt holy men whilst sweating in the dry desert heat constantly cringing at the sight of so many sick animals, I’m painting a pretty picture rite? This is all personal opinion, each to there own, I know people love Pushkar, I’m not one of them.
Onwards to Jodhpur, leaving little Israel behind in a very old tuk tuk up the mountain looking back over the arid, dry shrubby landscape with a sigh of relief, a reasonable travel time on the train, crammed into unreserved seating getting very close to the local folk, on our way to the second biggest city in Rajasthan, Jodhpur.
I find Jodhpur very authentic compared to a lot of other cities I have come across, its very bright and there is a lot going on. It is also home to the Mehrangarh fort, along with some other beautiful temples, Jodhpur is great, as a city goes in India it was reasonably clean, it is a tourist destination, though besides the fort and the other attractions it was hard to spot anybody strolling around smothered in sunscreen and wielding a selfie stick. The food is cheap and still holds its place as some of the best I have had throughout India, it’s a lively, happening city with quite a lot to explore, full of real authentic India culture.
The blue city, a beautiful pale, stained, sky blue, coated over the walls of the city, it was here that I experienced some of the best food I have had in my time here, and 80 rupee thali, with unlimited butter chapatti, pappadam, paneer, 1 veg, 2 curry, jeera rice, and curd, where they would top you up the second your scraping the last remnants of curry with your roti.
We had just finished visiting the fort when we made a quick stop to buy some water from a small shop on a corner.
Two older Indian men playing a local game known as Omweso, i got talking to them an eventually they offered to come into there home and eat some food cooked by one of the men’s wife, I am not ones to shy away from street food or local food for that matter, we went in side at sat in the mans bedroom whilst his wife cooked up thali, lunch was served, after a delicious home cooked meal from the lovely lady and a nice conversation, the son arrives, the eldest son, it turns out that his job is to recruit western tourists to play a role in the highest budgeted Bollywood film ever produced, Thugs of Hindustan starring some big names in Bollywood, starring Aamir Khan, Fatima Sana Shaikh and Amitabh Bachchan, you know that old guy that’s on every billboard throughout India smiling and holding up packets of soups and noodles?
This was one to check off the bucket list, so without hesitation we signed up for a 6am meet-up in the fort for a shave and costume change.
I arrived in the change room, I was given an old English imperial soldiers uniform, after dressing in a loss of dignity I was redirected by a bunch of men speaking Hindi and pointing to my beard, I told them that they cannot shave my beard, “ok, ok” they kept saying “yes, I understand”, to then attack my face with the shaver on the lowest setting leaving behind one hell of a moustache, and we where ready to go.
We where told to make our way onto set, we walked up to the top of the fort where they were filming, as the other fair skins and myself eagerly awaited our break we wandered over to a balcony, this idea was quickly rewarded with some fake firing arms and some decent metal swords to give us more authenticity as we had stumbled in the background of the shot, squinting our eyes into the sun, hoping the smoke would clear enough to be in the shot for longer then half a second.
Here we watched an English officer sip his tea in an accomplished stance being bellowed by smoke over the city as it burns.
We remained standing for the next 2 hours, watching this scene play out Over, and over, and over again.
After the scene was over we where directed back to the communal area to eat lunch, after a quick patronising photo shoot with our supervisor we sat and waited patiently digesting the abundance of dhal and chapatti in our stomachs, then waited a little longer escaping the heat of the desert sun, we waited even longer, enough to start questioning if we are actually going to do anything, half an hour later a bunch of supervisors came and told us to move closer to the set, what he should have said was, go and take a walk through the fort in full costume and entertain the tourists with as many selfies you can until your soul is vanquished.
We where told to sit under some trees, and that we would start filming soon, an hour goes by, 6 hours, 8 hours, by now we where getting agitated, I went to speak to the supervisor and ask tell him we where all thinking of leaving, he insisted that we stay, though we all knew nothing was happening and that it was all just a waste of time, and after a bit of an argument between a brother of mine and the management we decided to leave, all having been paid 1000 rupees ($20) for a full days work sitting under a 30 degree heat we thought it was necessary we spend it all of beer and run, and spent it we did, we ended up back in the hostel of our new mates from the movie and drank ourselves into a frenzy rite up until we where kicked out for not condoning with the music, and it was time to go home.
3 days in Jaipur and its once again time to move on,