April 20-21, 2007
After our early getaway from Jodhpur, we made good time to Pushkar which is well-known for its famous camel fair. Each October, the town is inundated with thousands of buyers and sellers of over 50,000 camels causing this quiet town of 15,000 to explode with excitement and activity. It has also become a bit of a tourist attraction and we had mixed feelings about having missed it. In the end, though, like most other places we had been, we were glad to be able to see the quieter side of Pushkar on our own terms without having to deal with throngs of people – especially tourists (as opposed to seasoned “travelers” like us). After we settled into our charming hotel on the outskirts of town, Claude decided he needed to stretch his legs and decided to climb up to Gayatri’s temple which sat atop a nearby cliff overlooking Pushkar. The kids had no interest in hiking in the intense heat so I stayed behind with them and we did lessons until they were climbing the walls. Finally, we decided to take a break and go explore the marketplace. This was one of the first times I had ventured forth into an Indian market with the kids without Claude by my side and the dynamic was very interesting. Without Claude’s intimidating male presence, everyone seemed to feel at ease approaching us and calling out as we passed. Children scampered along behind us and shyly asked for candy while women and teenage girls and boys called “Hi, Mommy!” and “Hi, Boy!” and “Hi, Girl!” as we passed. They seemed to be enthralled by the sight a single Western woman traveling alone with two children. Their gentle smiling faces lit up when we responded and called “Hello!” and “Namaste” back to them and some actually followed us for a while, asking questions in broken English as we wandered through the colourful marketplace admiring the beautiful fabrics, spices and exotic smelling food for sale. The kids were delighted by the many monkeys that scurried along the rooftops and hung around the market hoping for a handout from a sympathetic food vendor.
As we finally made our way back to our hotel, all of our new friends waved and called out to us from their doorways as we passed, making us feel like visiting dignitaries. Read the rest of this entry »