Monday, October 24, 2005

Pushkar

The holy city of Pushkar - known as the second most holy place in India next to Benares (Veranasi), where the holy Ganga river is located. This town was, to say the least, beautiful. The place we stayed at was great, and the atmosphere and energy was generally great as well. The only thing that I personally had issues with was the fact that there were sooo many tourists there. I would have preferred more natives - much more natives. But, besides that, we didn't mind our stay here one bit. Matter of fact, we both have since considered going back and staying again in this town for a while.
Ahhh . . . Sonu. Beautiful Sonu. There isn't enough space here for me to describe the wonder of this kid. He was amazing. He was the caretaker/main helper of sorts at the hotel we stayed at while in Pushkar. This kid was WAY wise beyond his years. Nonplussed, serious, yet pure . . . Man . . . Ted and I really thought this kid was something else. We fretted over a gift to buy him before we left, and ended up on an amulet of sorts . . . a sun.
Here (above) Ted stands at the bank of the Pushkar lake.
Interestingly enough, Ted actually made Sonu make this crazy, awkard face. I didn't know quite why at the time (and still don't, honestly) . . . and at the time I looked at the photo, thought the gesture didn't quite work (it was definitely not a face Sonu had naturally made up to that point) . . . but . . . well . . . I have to admit . . . It has grown on me. I see it now, and I laugh (inside at the very least) . . . And I don't think it looks that bad. Sonu still looks cute in a kookie sort of way.

(Above) While at Pushkar - just as in every place we stayed at and visited - my daily exercises, of necessity, continued. Here I was on the hotel roof at dusk doing pre-dinner drills.(Above) Pushkar lake at sunset.

(Above) Had to include a picture of an Indian squirl. They were very, very small (about half to 3/4 the size of the common squirl in the United States), and, as the picture clearly indicates, looked very chipmunk-like.

At the market.
I told you. Bovines RULED India. And they WEREN'T just cows that we saw walking the streets okay? We saw just as many (if not more) big ol strong BULLS just like this one roaming around; animals that in Europe they RUN from for their LIFE. But here? they were awesomely tranquil and content. The monkeys, as you may have noticed from the photographs earlier, were pretty common and prevalent as well.
Here we happened across a ceremonial procession of sorts, with traditional double-ended tablas and everything. The rhythmic progressions that these percussionists played I found quite gravitating, and I made it a point to remember them as much as possible. I wish I would have been able to get a recording of them while they were being played . . .
Here (above), I stood over the ledge of the apartment room Ted stayed in. Over to the right where I was looking . . . was this one lady who stayed and begged every day in the same spot. She had very small arms and legs and did not look like she could fend for herself much. Barely could she even move. In this moment I happened upon her being fed by one of the women villagers. I had no idea Ted was behind me taking this photograph, but as I watched her slowly taking her bread and drink, I remember being so overwhelmed by grief and sadness that I found myself not being able to help but to cry pretty profusely. Everytime I tried to stop, I would look at her again, and again I would start crying. After a while I got a hold of myself, and I stopped . . . we had to get ready and get going for the day.
Above is a photo I took of Ted from my own room (we were across from one another) overlooking the town below. All in all, we found this town to be one of the better places we stayed at.
This child - this absolute angel of a being - I had come across earlier the day before. Ted discovered her himself and here took some photos of her. The photo above was from the vantage point of his hotel room overlooking the town. The photo below occurred when we were down on street level.

On our last day in Pushkar, before catching a train to the next town, Ted and I decided to go on a walk to we knew not where . . . Here we happened upon some curious village children.

..............................................

Jai Mata Di!!

We decided - almost in a very last minute, very impromtuish and unexpected manner - to take part in a pretty significant pilgrimage that happened to be taking place and that involved a very long trek up this mountain (Don't be fooled by the picture below. It was a lot bigger and steeper than it looks, believe me). The final destination of the pilgrimage, at the very top of the mountain, was the temple of Lord Brahma's first wife - Savitri. On our way up, we found ourselves, along with the entire throng of worshipers that were slowly but surely trudging their way up, shouting "Jai Mata Di!!" Jai Mata Di is a spiritual affirmation that is shouted and responded to from person to person meaning something very similar to "The Power Of God!" It was a very positive experience for us both, one we were very glad to have taken part in.
(Above) This little boy was crying and crying on his way up - and who could blame him? the climb was quite difficult to say the least even for the adults. to say nothing of the children that were accompanying. Seeing the thoroughly distraught child, Ted began to think about his own - not quite yet 2 year old - toddler at home. He picked the boy up on his shoulders, and upon doing so, the small one stopped crying almost immediately . . . and for the remainder of the journey, he just relaxed and enjoyed the view.
Pictured above is a panoramic view of the holy city of Pushkar and the lake that centers it. It is difficult to describe the moments we experienced while on our trek up toward the Savitri temple. There was a very real, very tangible feeling of togetherness and acceptance among all who took part in the pilgrimage. Below is a photo I took upon finally making it up to the temple itself.
I'm not quite sure HOW this picture happened - but, somehow, the entire group just formed around itself and - "snap!" - the picture was taken. Everyone here was very well appriciative of the moment all the same, however. In the distant background of the photographs both above and below, the Pushkar lake can be seen.
This (above) is a photo Ted took that, somehow, seems dynamic enough for me to have included in this collective.

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