Off in the distance camels stretch into as far as the eye can see. Single humped, double humped, dark furred and light, rough haired, and two toed. Chewing with lower teeth jutting out from the split in their floppy camel lips. Adorned with cascades of all-coloured pompoms, plaits, and beaded trinkets, looking proud and silly all at once.
A Pushkar newpaper seller celebrates Barack Obama’s election victory. He shakes M by the hand, after posing for a photo with his newspaper-displaying bicycle. “Two hundred and thirty four years,” he tells us excitedly, “and now change!”
An army of monkeys marching down three sides of a narrow alleyway, their tails waving like banners of victory behind them.
Two mud-black pigs caught snuffling through the worst smelling rubbish in a tiny side street, one turning its too-pink nose to pose for the camera.
“She is very old and gets sick when she travels.” The girl explained, “She must sit by the window”. Granny moaned in pure Bollywood style. We looked at the Indian men stretched out on the bunks above, one to a bunk, opening a sneaky eye to watch the proceedings and then hastily shutting it when they saw us watching.
Sat in the VIP area of the most patriotic crowd I have ever been a part of, watching men with fans on their heads attempt to almost kick themselves in the face while marching, while the throng around me chants football-crowd-like songs at a just-as-patriotic, just-as-loudly-singing crowd across the border.
I was accosted by a whole crowd of Sikhs outside the temple who stood around giggling as a small boy, with arms much stronger than his skinny frame let on, tied my head scarf on so tight I worried I may have to surgically remove it after.
Amritsar – Jallianwala Bagh “An everlasting symbol of non-violent and peaceful struggle for the freedom of India”
In 1919 General Dyer, of the British Army, was called to restore order to the city as unrest had broken out over an emergency British law that allowed them to imprison Indians suspected of sedition without trial. The general ordered his 150 men to open fire on the 2000 peaceful protesters occupying an open space surrounded by high walls.
Gap-toothed rickshaw driver to the rescue! He lead us out into the street next to his chugging steed “No worry.” He told us through his festive grin. He motioned to the boys “You my brother. You my brother. You my brother.” Then with a pat on my shoulder “You my sister. Come. I find you room.”
The maze is 20 hectares of pure imagination, twisty passages, armies of wobbly-legged stickmen, spindly ponies, growling stone hounds, hobbling rocktagenarians clutching clay pots, wavering-necked graceful but gawky swans and peacocks with shards of mosaic feathers, and colourful boogie-ing bracelet maidens.