Sunday, March 17, 2013

Winter Break, part 2 of ?

Because I began recounting my travel experiences in a rather negative manner, I’m going to skip past the description of my short stop in Delhi and move right into the good stuff—arriving in Pushkar!

I won’t mention that I’m never going to book a bus ride on ever again.  I won’t mention that walking around the streets of Delhi while sporting a backpack transforms one into a walking piece of foreign flypaper.  I won’t mention that, in order to simply locate my bus’s departure zone, I was haphazardly tossed around the city like a hot (tempered) potato, though I tried my best to be a sweet one.  And I won’t mention how I ultimately found it… “but,” says angel-on-shoulder, “what happens if one of your readers is ever put in this exact same situation?”  Okay, okay, I’ll tell you… but only because it’s my civic responsibility.
Here are very specific directions to the bus that supposedly leaves from the very specific location of “khanna mkt opp st ste”:
Creeper McGee (on first bus)à”German” bakeryà metroà Khanna Market (NOT Khan Market) in the daylightà loiter outside of a metro station for hoursà Khanna Market at nightàother end of Khanna Market (NO bus)à inside car of two strange menà St. Stephen’s hospitalà inside car of same strange menà surprisingly informative vegetable stallà vegetable stall producing (unsurprisingly) contradictory informationà closed travel officeà open travel officeà back of motorbikeà random alleywayà bus.
I won’t mention that the bus was freezing and I had no feeling in my toes for the duration of the 12-hour trip.  However, those little piggies did have the whole sleeper berth all to themselves! 
Oinks of approval.
Pushkar was, quite literally, a breath of fresh air after my brief exposure to Delhi’s stifling pollution.  It provided a navigable, low-key environment that encouraged relatively peaceful wandering—a much-needed transition into the world of solo travel.  From the outset, I realized that one of the joys of adventuring alone was being entitled to the freedom of direct decision.  Rather than trying to meekly appease the majority, I was able to be dictatorial without being demeaning.  I have the tendency to be quite indecisive, so, while somewhat uncomfortable at first, I quickly embraced my new “wearer-of-the-pants” role out of necessity.  My first official decision was to stay at Milk Man Guesthouse, and the decision-making process was quintessentially me.   When I initially went to check out the place, I saw a woman taking an amazing-looking breakfast up to her room, which led to:
really wanting the breakfastà being impressed that the place had curtainsàactually liking the curtainsà asking my friends for their opinions on the breakfast and the curtainsà oh, wait, I’m aloneà decision made.
Yeah, I’m also the kind of girl who aligns Super Bowl allegiances with cute mascots and uniform color combos (because lord knows the Browns will never get there).

In the fall, Pushkar hosts an impressive annual camel fair.  Understandably, prices skyrocket during this time and visitors have to be willing to roll out sleeping bags wherever there’s space.  But when I visited, it was only Rs. 100 per night ($2) for a spot in the dorm-style, communal sleeping space.  Because I’m fairly introverted, I thought that forcing myself to choose this shared room would be better than wallowing in private hermitage.   But then I ended up being the only traveler in a room with 10 beds, and I was secretly relieved that I didn’t have to socialize—although, I did randomly meet a group of Woodstalkers (j/k, j/k) 
on a rooftop restaurant! 

I spent a lot of time on rooftop restaurants during the break.  They’re wonderful places for people-watching, scenery-basking, and journal-writing… which leads me to share a semi-related excerpt taken from my personal journal.  I think I’ll do this often in my Winter Break series of posts.  Writing is time consuming, and I had oh-so-much more of it then:
People’s reactions to me are so weird.  The child laborer they call the waiter just asked what country I’m from.  I hesitate every time I answer this question, because it seems so unnatural to say that I’m from America; I’m American, yes, but I’m from the United States.  But regardless, when I told this boy I was from America, he got a big grin and confessed it was his favorite country.  It’s probably just part of his go-to foreign shtick, but I really do think the USA produces a good batch of people.  Probably because we’re sickeningly sweetly friendly, like a chocolate chip cookie.  Soft. Ooey-gooey.   I think that people from some other Western countries are more like scones—also delicious, but more, shall we say, appropriately sweet for everyday dining.  I say this in a completely general and stereotypical way, because I would classify myself as being relatively scone-like, but perhaps not… it seems that people here can smell my inner sweetness from a mile away, like the scent of a freshly-baked  cookie!  I’m sure the longer I stay here and the more I venture outside the oven that is Mussoorie, the more stale I will smell.  Almost like the stronger I get, the weaker the aroma gets?  God, I love extended metaphors.  I leave Pushkar with many a bite taken out of me… yeah, I’m not even gonna try and stop…
At this point, I go on to basically explain why you should run far, far away from anyone who calls himself a Brahmin priest.   And this time, I really won’t mention the details!

Pushkar pointers:
1) Definitely only stay there a day or two, unless you want to visit literally hundreds of temples or you just love buying random shit (like stamps being made at the side of the road… guilty).
2) If you have the luxury to go during camel time, it's probaby worth coughing up (or spitting up, get it?) the cash. 

the Milk Man
because food tastes better when cross-legged on a cushion 

outside of the Brahma Temple

a slightly different rooftop view


  1. Oh, I love your voice, Julia!

  2. Browns = Super Bowl 2014!

    I forgot to tell you ... sorry!

  3. Last time I visited India ... I kept seeing a tall, over-weight, man with a Cleveland Browns sweatshirt on.

  4. Thanks, Linda, that's one of the best compliments I could receive! And dad-- was he Indian?! : )