Have I already told them how the Indians want to be photographed with me? I don’t know why, but they prefer to be photographed as if I were the president of another country, shaking hands. I don’t know if they are all Hindus, because many people here adhere to the Six or Muslim faith. When they ask what I believe, they get an honest answer: nothing. At least not in a man or more men and women who are waiting for us above or somewhere else on earth and judge us on earth. They also get the honest answer when they ask if I am married or have a friend: neither. They look surprised, but often go on to the next question, if they haven’t already asked it: how old are you? When I say 31 years, because that’s how old I am, they say that age doesn’t matter. I sometimes joke, because I don’t have the feeling that everyone appreciates it, that only old people say that age matters.
I like it a lot. It took me a while to get used to it and after five days I was auctioned off by a big fever which made my visit to the Taj Mahal, like that of many Chinese people, to go there, take a picture and back to my bed, but the picture on Instagram is doing well, so nobody sees it (I guess). I’m afraid I got the fever of eating fried breadcrumbs during a bus stop. There was little other choice, so this seemed a good option to me, because fried and so all bacteria would be dead, but apparently not.
At least now I feel much better and I have ended up in a hippie village: Pushkar. I got the tip that I would like it here: what would be, but I wonder to what extent this is the ‘real’ India. Although, what is the ‘real’ Netherlands? Amsterdam? No, I don’t think so, but you can’t skip it either. Maybe the best of several regions is the best, but even then you haven’t seen much of the Netherlands. I find Limburg, the Achterhoek, Friesland and the Randstad very different in any case, not to mention the difference between the cities.
Back to Pushkar. Why is this a hippie village? There are a lot of tourists here, a lot of them are stoned or stoned every day, the girls – including me – mostly do yoga or want to do that, the tourists here generally look what many people would describe as hippies, but that also means good food, a super chilly atmosphere and the Indians know how to deal with western people, they are less intrusive.
Pushkar is also a pilgrimage village. A place you must have visited as Hindu, alive or dead. Hindus burn the body a day after death and spread it out over the river. Here is a small lake in the middle of the village, where there must be a lot of ashes. If you come here alive, as a pilgrim, you first baptize your hands and feet in the water and then visit the temple.
I did this too, they had a special bowl with flowers, sugar and herbs for the ‘foreigners’ as they call us. I said I liked it, but I didn’t pay, because I’m not a believer. That was no problem: faith is not about money. I can completely agree with that. A man prayed for me and I put the flowers and sugar with the herbs in the water. With the red herb – I don’t know what it was – he drew a dot on my forehead. I thought it’s going off like this – but I laughed kindly and thanked him. And indeed: nobody asked for money. Around the corner I swept my dot away and went to a temple.
The temple was fun and busy. Many people from the province. In front of the big sign: ‘Prohibited to take any pictures’ I made selfies with everyone for ten minutes and after that I was outside in no-time. What will those people do with the photos? No idea, but good.
I could also tell so much about crazy things you see here: people barefoot, cows in the street, the smell (because it really doesn’t smell fresh everywhere, that’s why incense is such a solution), the friendliness of people, everyone who offers you chai (tea with milk and herbs, oh yes, and a lot of sugar).
Things that are better here than in the Netherlands are that you can often charge your phone. The buses don’t look like the trains here, but you can charge your phone on any seat. Why is that not possible in the Netherlands?
In the evening Pushkar is a large festival area, lights near the water, fireworks, good food and everyone is happy. I’m going to discover it for two more days and then I’m going to spend ten days in silence… more about that later.