Friday, July 25, 2008

the trip

My boss wasn’t happy to grant me leave as she was going on work tour just around the same time. I felt like crying. The daily hurry to work and back was driving me nuts, i badly needed a little time to breathe. Besides, the visit was crucial for other reasons.

She thought it over for two nights. “So, what have you decided?” she finally asked.
“I can’t go if you say ‘no’, and i’m too old to throw a tantrum”, i replied.
“You feel like throwing a tantrum?”
“Okay, go, but next time make sure we’re not away at the same time.”

I could’ve grinned from ear to ear and whooped and jigged. Instead, i demurely thanked her and walked out sedately. But i couldn’t contain my excitement while saying bye to my colleagues.

D received us (hubby & me) at Ajmer station though our train was two hours late. The half hour drive to Pushkar was on winding road through rocky hills. It felt so good to be free of Mumbai heat and jam.

D had booked us a room on the second floor of Lake Palace with spacious balconies overlooking the lake. We could see both sunrise and sunset from there. On one end of the compound was a music school.

The first evening, after bath and refreshments, the music teacher treated us to desh raag and guzzar toda in the music room. Listening to Indian classical live was quite an experience. Then he took us on a walk round the lake, explaining as we went. On the way we passed ruined durbar halls where Shah Jahan had sat in olden times.

Around nine thirty, we came back to the hotel for dinner on the rooftop restaurant. Several locals and firangis were hanging around on the terrace, some strumming guitar and crooning in turns. They greeted the music teacher loudly as we sat down. We asked for a Rajasthani thali but it would take a long time to prepare so we had to settle for an ordinary Indian one.

Next day D took us home. His original house was a chief priest’s haveli on the lake bank. But he gave it away to relatives and now lives in an ashram his father built in a harijan colony when he followed Gandhiji around during the freedom fight. Lovely family. D’s elder daughter had taken leave to cook for us. Sumptuous Rajasthani meal starting with ‘bati’.

Evening we sat on the hotel balcony and listened to live music from the school and dined on the rooftop again. Next morning we had breakfast at D’s old haveli. Malpua sweet was a new delicacy. Then we roamed around the ghats, D telling us old stories about them. Gaughat had been visited by Queen Victoria and other dignitaries. We went into Brahma temple, supposed to be the only one in the world. (The temples of his two wives overlook from the tops of two hills on opposite sides of the town’s outskirts). Our guide lamented that policemen are now guarding the courtyard where in old days rishis used to sit meditating.

We went back to D’s house for lunch. The grown-ups told us that the teen aged grandson and granddaughter had nicknamed me ‘Chinese Aunty’ and liked me because they like Jackie Chan!

Sunday we went to church in Ajmer and then sightseeing. Each of the places we visited could fill a page to describe, so i won’t try it here.

Pushkar is a geographical interest. It has lakes, gardens, and sand dunes within a small area, and is surrounded by hills. It is also rich in temples, myths, history and many other things. It’s getting too long for a blog. I’ll tell you the stories in another form some day.
Sorry, i can't figure out how to put in labels for the pictures. Just guess it!