(Posted on March 16, 2016 by Ishita Shelat)
Day 4 of my trip to Rajasthan.
This day was all about exploring the cafes in Pushkar. We were lazy to travel about, even though we awoke early. We roamed the ghats once again, and went to the market side of Pushkar town. We first stationed ourselves at this cafe, The Laughing Buddha, the ambience was quite trippy and we had a nice chat about life in general. The food is standard across Pushkar with a variety of Israeli dishes because of the number of foreigners visiting here. We also had a Ginger Lemon Honey Tea at all cafes since it was so refreshing. Another thing that struck me about The Laughing Buddha was the business model. They had a 50 % profit and 50 % not for profit model where they donated their 50% earnings to a cause. Also it had an in-house library and cafe and the owner had taught himself a few foreign languages to cater to his foreign customers. Quite an eventful morning.
We then walked around the market, and went to find ‘The Doctor.’ Found him, and the hotel he is stationed at has the weirdest paintings. We chit-chatted for a while, had some coffee o’er there. The coffee is the worst ever. Probably something to do with the fact that the waiters also seemed stoned, hehe. We took our stuff and headed back to the market. This extremely trippy cafe with colourful flags and old-school divan seating arrangement with arched windows caught my eye. We entered the cafe and there was just this old man sitting near the window, looking at the street below. We called him ‘The Thinking Man’ as his pose was epic and now etched in my memory. We sat there till sunset as it was a beautiful place with not many people, and good Margherita pizza. Also they had some of our favourite on this trip- ginger lemon honey tea. While we sipped on the chai we spoke about perspective and how it is altered by our feelings or emotions at that particular moment in time. Maybe someday, if something bad happens, we would probably reminisce about this trip and our perspective about it may be altered. Although till date, I feel the same way about this trip and remember each and every tiny detail, except all the cafe’s names of course.
Now that I am writing it, feels like I did eat a lot this day. I was still hungry after the Margherita and we decided to have some roll at this small joint. The shop owner had hollered at me saying, ‘Allow, some nice food?’ I found the hospitality quite amusing as they treated us like maybe we were from another country. There were 6 guys with us at that cafe. Three guys were in a group, probably stoned, speaking in Italian. Couldn’t understand a lot of what they said, but they did seem to enjoy their meal. These other two guys just quietly nibbled at their meals, observed the people around like I was doing, and I was just observing everyone and on second thought, I probably creeped them out. Another guy looked French, he had a roll, gave us both an inquisitive look and smile, spoke to the owner for some time in broken English, and left the food joint. We called for just a single roll cause we wanted to share. The roll was quite delicious, and we ordered some ginger lemon honey tea, again. We had it at the bench stationed at the food joint itself and ordered another veg burger for takeaway. He suggested a different kind of yellow cheese, and it seemed intriguing. We unwrapped the burger later only to find out it was Britannia Slice Cheese that he meant, but nevertheless we were not disappointed.
Now was the time to walk around the market, again. Haha, sort of feels like this day is playing back on loop. But I had seen a few things earlier which we hadn’t bought. So I went back to the same shop and picked up a wrap around skirt for only INR 200. It looks amazing and I must say it was quite a steal. I also bought 2 pyjamas for INR 200 each. One red with black warli print and another white with black flowery print. Wow, I’m coming shopping here every year. What I loved about the vendors here is that they had a fixed price and wouldn’t bargain. We also bought 2 pairs of John Lennon shades for INR 150 each.
It was late evening by now and we went back to the hotel to freshen up after the tiring day. Sitting on the terrace of Bharatpur Palace and enjoying the night view was quite mesmerising. We didn’t have a lot to talk about after this eventful day. But my sense of adventure was not over.
I decided to go for a walk alone in the Pushkar lanes. While I dared not venture out as far as the ghats, I did enter the Jain Temple intrigued by the intricate carvings in the white marble and the peaceful vibe it exuded.
The Jain temple was calling out to me and I felt that the lighting was as if just perfect, and I was slowly disappearing into the ambience of the place.
The statue of Buddha was shining in the minimal light and had gold detailing that reflected the light in the most beautiful way. There was nobody on the ground floor so I climbed up to the first floor. There was only a man and a lady, seemingly unknown to each other, praying. They saw me and made me pray for 2 minutes while they recited some prayers with the diya. They gave the diya for me to hold and watched as I encircled the statue of Buddha with the diya’s flames. Maybe they know that I’m not a believer, but I didn’t really care. For me, it was about a new experience. The prayers got over and I came out from there feeling some kind of inner peace. I’d stay there forever, but the magic of the Pushkar street was as if calling out to me. As I walked out, I noticed the same French guy I’d seen earlier walking about looking for something. God knows what it is he was looking for, he was just walking up and down, but it felt like this magical Pushkar lane makes you believe things are playing on loop like it did for me.
I took a walk around the market lane alone, encountered the same cafes and vendors and people. At this minute I was wearing my hipster glasses that I had just bought and feeling invincible. I was greeted with the same ‘Allow’ from the small food-joint I had eaten at. Did they forget that I just ate there already?
Never have I felt like delving into the unknown like I felt in what I’d like to call the magical town of Pushkar. The street seemed never-ending and though I’d walked past the same street for over 5 times now, I just want to keep on walking. Another Cafe, Cafe Nirvana seemed inviting with its decor. It was just opposite the small food joint I had eaten at. I felt like going there this time around, but I decided against it. Enough of the eating. Went back to the hotel, and decided to sit by the ground floor verandah for some time, alone.
As I sat by the verandah and saw the beauty of the UV lit doors lined with flowers, this lady walked out of one of the doors. She was staying in Pushkar for 6 months and had made Bharatpur Palace her home. Prior to this she had stayed at Haridwar for 6 months. She was from Australia, and had made India her temporary home. She was on her way to learn gypsy dancing at a class nearby. Oh, to have a life like that. Travelling around the world, learning local art forms and absorbing their culture. I thought about making a documentary on her, as to what brings her to this magical land, what makes her stay, how does she make money, etc. But this would be too far fetched a thought. Maybe someday.
Here’s a short video before I say:
This day is when I saw the two sadhus racing a motorbike in their modest saffron robes. This town is where I experienced the proverbial walk of life.