Thursday, November 18, 2010

Of Pushkar and towns

These are pictures of the Pushkar fair that happens in Rajasthan every year. You can find more pictures on my facebook album. In the month of travels, the next destination was Pushkar. This was almost a photography trip, eight people armed with seven SLR cameras only to reach and find another thousand odd camera loaded curious tourists around. However, this is not only about Pushkar. The inklings of the experiences I am about to narrate started in Gokarna and Hampi, a couple of months ago. Little kids running about offering to pose for photographs, women swaying their colorful skirts nod, heads slanted, perfect play of light and shadow, camels decorated so elaborate and their owners curling their mustaches. You almost want to rush and talk to them, how is it to live in a desert? How do you cook and what do you eat? Sigh, if you could only speak their tongue. Or, maybe not, what would you like Sir, Madam? Deutsche ou Francais? Hablo espanol, even better I am fluent with Hebrew, will that do? Tired of our local food, would you like some falafel or Malawach or Fatut? How about some peach flavored iced tea under the mud thatched roof?
To the unsuspecting Indian tourist, this might just look like a film set. Backdrop of giant wheels, bubbles in the air, turkish pants in the shops and one exotic photo for only five rupees pliss pliss
This is not to scowl or mock the exotic tourist extravaganza on which these places survive. Rather it is for those who like me realize late how the rural to semi rural spaces that used to define the essence of India are holding on to those huge colorful placards of charming Indian-ness while adapting to urban consumption underneath. The language of consumption is so skewed and firmly performed, managing to serve daal baati churma and Scotch in the same wink clearly shows things have changed so much.
Again, this is not to make a point or argue for some colonial dips that keep circus artists and camel riders in Pushkar and such towns alive. It's queer, almost unsettling, how the longing, aloof sand dunes that I was so eager to sleep on are a mere construct, towns of cardboard and nicely placed dolls. I move along, munching on Bruschetta, sipping on lemon tea, my embroidered jhola drags along.

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