Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pushkar to Jodhpur (The Blue City)

I left Jaipur for Pushkar (a holy Hindu city) by bus. It was a 5 hour journey that required a bus change in Ajmer. I read that there was a holy site for sufi muslims in Ajmer but did not look into finding it. In Pushkar I walked around in the dark and checked into the Everest Hotel where the manager hooked up a TV for me to watch. This was my condition to stay the night. He turned on the TV and immediately left the room. I found out later when I tried to watch TV that the channels were mostly scrambled. So I slept instead. Dammit :)

There are a ton of Israelis with dreadlocks in Pushkar. In fact, I have seen more Israelis in India than almost any other nationality. Pushkar feels like one of those hippy towns from the sixties. There are holy men everywhere. Some want you to part with your money for their divine intervention.

Pushkar is also the only place in India where, as of this writing, I have stepped into cow dung. I have been more vigilant elsewhere. The locals say it is good luck! I say crap is crap no matter how you wrap it. It is also for this reason that the holiness of Pushkar hardly impressed me. And I intend no disrespect to the real believers in Pushkar.

There was hardly anything to keep me in Pushkar. It was noisy, congested, and dirty. I did, however, have a nice dinner at a local rooftop restaurant. For starters I had hummus and pita bread. A simple pleasure that allowed me something different than the usual Indian fare.

I noticed this sign for a Sai Baba restaurant before I left for Jodphur. I thought of my boy Faizel Mooi and his diabolical plan to have us stay around Sai Baba'a ashram this christmas. I must be loosing my damn mind listening to Mooi. Last few days he has had me convinced that my 'clothed' picture appears among a file of disgusting porno pictures someone emailed him. I have yet to see the picture.

I left Pushkar in a funk (for a variety of reasons not entirely connected to Pushkar). At the bus station I met a really nice couple, Nick and Stephanie, from Switzerland. Together we figured out which bus to take to Jodphur. I sat behind them and we chatted a little. I ran into them again in Jodphur and also in Jasailmer. The night before I left Jasailmer we had dinner together at a Tibetan restaurant. I really like Nick and Stephanie. They are open-minded and progressive. As of this writing, they are on their way to Gujarat. All together, they intend being in the sub-continent for a year .... they have guts I must say!

See Nico and Steph's excellent travel blog at: http://www.stephetnico.com/Index%20general/index%20general.htm

Jodhpur is simply the nicest place I have been in India. It is called the Blue City because in the Old Town folks paint their houses blue (supposed to signify the home of a Brahmin or upper caste Hindus). It is not nearly as big as Jaipur, but all things accounted for, Jodhpur is a magical near-desert town in western Rajasthan. It was founded by Rao Jodha in 1459.

The Majestic Fort (Meherangarh) is fabulous. The best fort I have seen in India. On my way up to the fort (about a 3.5km steep walk) I ran into Sara from Italy and we immediately started talking. We ended up kicking it until she left to catch her 11pm train to Jaisalmer. Having someone around to share the experience made Jodhpur feel even friendlier.

This young boy called out to me as we walked toward the fort. He was buzzing with energy and wanted me to take his picture. I obliged and stood around for a moment just giggling like I was 7 years old. I knew the day was going to be special.

Well I knew earlier that the day was going to be special when these two birds joined me for breakfast. They were not even remotely scared of me. I shared my toast and took several pictures of them.

The view from the Majestic Fort allows you to appreciate the grandeur of the Old City. It is like a living piece of art.

I walked around literally mesmerized by the views. It was a beautiful day too. The sun felt familiar like in the days of my youth. The air tasted like Kimberley (my hometown) of old.

The Majestic Fort is still run by the Maharaja of Jodhpur. It is immaculate and absolutley stunning to see.

Inside the fort there are courtyards and palaces all fit for royalty. I appreciated the ornate doors.

I tried my utmost to take a few 'artistic' pictures. Can't say I was successful ;)

I really connected with Jodhpur. The elements aligned and the day lifted my spirits. I was ready to move closer to The Great Thar Desert.

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