Monkeys and Masala in Pushkar

We opened the window to get a little fresh air going through — if hotel rooms are anything it’s stuffy — and a few seconds later a tiny man jumps on our windowsill. He sees me and shrieks. Then I see him and shriek. As it turns out, it was not a tiny, hairy man with a tail, but a monkey. About three minutes later, I hear Eric shriek followed closely by monkey shriek. Eric makes the astute observation that any other animal, encountering a very recently surprised human, will run/fly/crawl/slither away. But monkeys act just like us and grab their cheeks and scream, then turn and run. It’s clear we’re related.

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Markets and rootop bars dominate the scene

I’ve had a few surprising encounters in Pushkar. This morning at breakfast I saw a planter sprout legs and walk away. It wasn’t the bhang lassi but a turtle, taken as a pet from the ghats I think.

Walking down to the ghats and around Pushkar Lake, a Brahman priest ran up to us — which I’d read might mean a hefty donation. But it actually turned out to be a fun and uplifting mini ceremony. He wished us both good luck and we threw flowers into the lake ridding ourselves of bad kharma. Then put some red powder on our foreheads. Which prompted others to wish us good luck on the walk home.

I’m also excited to report I have found sweets in Pushkar. There are many sweet shops with milk sweets and sweets soaked in syrup. I picked out a few and they were wrapped in a bag (handmade from newspapers) and handed over.

In India, people make do. At the post office they don’t have boxes, but they sew up whatever you want to mail in a canvas sack — no extra charge. Samosas and sweets are delivered in newspaper. Plastic bottles are used for all kinds of things. Your restaurant leftovers go out the front door to cows and pigs. Our current lodging — the Pink Floyd Hotel — has bicycle tires framing each rattan chair, and old blankets have been turned into ottomans.

Oh and the masala! I’m not sure yet what ‘masala’ really is, but whatever you order in Pushkar is Masala. Omelet is masala. Tea is masala. Pizza us masala. Spaghetti is masala. Lucky for me, I think it’s delicious. In fact, I’m trying not to think of a time when my pizza/sandwhich/tea is not masala or I become sad.

We had planned to stay only two nights in Pushkar, but with the perfect weather, sweets, and masala-everything, I asked to stay another night. Our host replied, “Stay forever.” Why not.

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