With high hopes we met Mr. Sharma again: the descendent of one of Pushkar’s oldest religious family was to enlighten us about temples and the holy lake. But what a difference to the walking tour the previous day! Mr. Sharma’s narrations were tedious and above all, hardly intelligible. Poor Kelly suffered thorough all this without complaining once.
Exciting it got once we reached the famous Brahma temple from the 14th Century. To be the only one in the world is hard to beat! So was the crowd, shoving each other up the stairs through a metal detector.
The scenes inside the temple were revolting. So many pilgrims were pushing by the main shrine that the priests could hardly keep up grabbing the offerings, mainly cash. They reminded of assembly line workers – ripping the bills from those hands reaching out to them.
The attack on us came unexpected, down at the lake. Out of nowhere a priest (?) introduced himself to us. Not the usual flower offering that we had successfully fought off the previous days. For a small donation he would perform the typical ceremony. Although it was obvious that our guide had instructed the priest to meet us there, we reluctantly played along. Down to the water, mantras repeated, water splashed and then Bang! The ridiculous demand of 50 Euro… We were speechless. Eventually we dished out 30 Euro, feeling angry with ourselves for not putting our foot down. We even missed our chance to pay them back big time. When Mr. Sharma asked how much we gave, we should have said 200 Euro, sending these two guys into a fight over their share.
It was not our day. A two-hour evening camel ride turned into something truly unforgettable. Swaying high up on these creatures through a congested main road brought us very close to panic attacks. We could think of nothing else but falling off and being squashed by the trucks and busses that raced by within an inch, relentlessly honking while passengers took photos of us with their mobile phones. In the midst of this mayhem, it was easy to ignore your repeated complaints that Gilles’ camel had a limp and was obviously hurt.
A short ride through the scenic edges of the desert followed, during which the guides offered us to buy beer, which we declined. Alcohol outside the holy city was okay they explained. Soon we rested. A guide not older than twelve readjusted the gear of the camels forever. The older boys stretched out in the sand. Then they seemed to remember the hurt camel and sent off a young kid to trade it to a group of Indian tourists that had stopped on a nearby hill. Well, they did not want it either. A quarrel with the guides over not tipping enough was all we needed. Our hotel had arranged the trip, so we unloaded our frustration right there.