Cows on the street have lost their novelty. As holy beings out here, they are obviously free to wander where they want, blocking traffic and pedestrians at their whim. They eat food from poor people’s stalls. They try to push motorbikes over. And they shit everywhere. Dog-poo on a trainer is nothing compared to cow-pat on a flip-flop. Actually that should be around the flip-flop and therefore in between the toes.
We’re in Zara Phillips’ favourite town Jodhpur, which did actually lend it’s name to the pony trousers. The old town is incredible and refreshingly non-touristy, it’s also very blue. From the giant fort that sits above you’re greeted with a swathe of houses that look like they were nicked from a Greek island, except that they’re all blue. The fort is vast (and was recently used for filming in the upcoming batman movie, bat fans!) with huge spiky metal gates to ward off elephant attacks and old cannonball dents from previous sieges.
The other day we were in Pushkar, a smaller place surrounding a lake complete with 400+ temples. I accidentally entered one. It was open air see, and beside the lake. One minute I was taking a photo and the next I had flower petals in my hand and being led to the shore. A fat Brahman appeared beside me, made me hold a coconut over the water and began his blessings. Alarm bells were ringing. He asked how many people were in my family. I said four. Big mistake. Each family, including myself, was given a specific blessing and then the inevitable request followed. “Can you please make a donation for each family member that has been blessed.” He wanted so many rupees for each member I wished I was an orphan. I ended up bargaining with the holy man, as tourists and locals looked on disapprovingly. “Please sir!” He exclaimed, “have an open heart!” I told him that I did have an open heart but not an open wallet. We settled on half the price. Self-enlightenment over. I’m not sure where people go in India to discover themselves but it probably involves a few trips to the ATM.
Next up – Jaipur for Diwali!
Oh, and never ever take an Indian sleeper bus. It’s false advertising, you will not sleep.