Autobiography & Memoir
I arrived by private car having given up on the uncomfortable trains. Pinkie had recommended I stay at the 'Seventh Heaven' Haveli, a unique place for people like myself and even backpackers too. A delightful haven with a fountain in the central courtyard with the rim of its basin strewn with pink rose petals. Unfortunately the Haveli was always full with travellers staying for just two or three nights. I was lucky to get a room which was unfortunately on the second floor up a steep flight of stairs. Pushkar was definitely not a gastro destination! The first cafe-cum-restaurant was a further flight up more steep stairs and the best charming restaurant, up on the fourth floor. I just couldn't stay beyond one night as it was too strenuous for me to clamber up and down. O me miserum! Such an interesting and friendly sanctuary, I was sad to leave. I took lots of photographs, even or the ornamental lock to my boudoir.
I ran into Pinkie and co in the main street. She was hard to miss!! The owner of a hippiesque boutique called 'Maharani's Palace' in Glastonbury, and so she had tailors to meet and her designs to be copied and executed exclusive to her boutique. Her's was an annual business trip. She confessed she had been coming to India for twenty five years and could not live without coming back to Mother India. India was in her blood, heart and soul. I understood that feeling as India had grown on me too within the space of less than two weeks!
I got the picture and feel of this holy destination by the lake with its commanding temple. But what could I do there? I was bored looking at the sameness of the tempting cheap clothes shops. I bought a lovely ethnic pinky bag only because it was 300Rs (£3). How many did I want? He asked thinking I was giving a wholesale order. When I replied one, he looked at me disdainfully! I needed nothing as i had bought 4 kilos of silk kurtas and trousers lovingly tailored to my Rubinesque body by Sunil my tailor in Udaipur.
I spent only half a day at Seventh Heaven and the night before I moved out to the best hotel in town - The Pushkar Palace. Very lovely and colonial with lakeside views fringed, palm trees and visions of the splendour of the setting sun. You could sit outside your room overlooking the lake gazing at the sky far from the noise of the throbbing outside world. I photographed the long wooden verandas stretching the length of the building on each of the three floors, this time thankfully with a lift. I chatted to a Frenchman next door about our respective sojourns in India which was nice hazing st the night stars but one night was enough. There was nothing to keep me longer.
The lure of the blue city of Jodhpur beckoned me next as it was reasonable close by car and not worth going all the way back to Jaipur where I had left my luggage. I was warned not to bring too much and not to plan too much either But did I listen? I had to pay the price!
The next morning I had a massage from the handsome Deepak who had been born into the world of Wellbeing, massage and yoga. He insisted on speaking Spanish to me and massaged my legs with Ayurvedic oils he had concocted himself. I photographed him and after I left, he whatsapped me his holistic words of wisdom several times. If only I had been 30 years younger.....
I got conned by a poor shoeless street musician from the desert. He was playing an unusual wooden handcrafted instrument and so I wanted to photograph him. Then an older musician friend appeared to join him with an interesting turban. As I delved into my bag to give him some coins, he suggested I buy flour for the desert community instead. Of course that appealed to me more for their staple diet, Chapattis. So he practically frogmarched me to the local grocery shop. A dark hole in the wall, spoke Hindi and collected two gigantic heavy bags of flour. One for him and one for his friend without asking my permission first. Then asked for butter to cook them. He was handed a gigantic block of butter of sorts and was about to ask for a second one, when I insisted on knowing the price. 900Rs (£9) I was told instead of giving him a few rupees!!! I paid for one butter and told him to share it. Then he fled without really thanking me. Obviously not for the community in the desert. I felt so exploited because I am sure he does it to all the tourists so I showed his photo to Deepak and the local travel agent who said they would haul him barefoot over the hot desert sands. But I got good photos of the two con men so I suppose that was worth my money!
I never saw Pinkie and Romany to receive a hug and a proper goodbye but I know that I will go once again to their lovely neck of the woods namely Glastonbury and Stroud where all the wierdos in England hang out. I had been there before when I did a Reik workshop years ago at the Challis Well. I recall meeting a strange woman on a bus who confessed she did gardening at a Buddhist centre in London and was having a sexual affair with one of the monks without full penetration she confessed over dinner! It's always the silent ones who confess to me. Strangers do reveal amazing stories to me at home or abroad.
End of part 4. Next port of call - Jodhpur. Written back in Brighton in March 2016.