Our little crew -- Prati, baby Cayden, Prati's mom and I -- arrived in Pushkar this evening, a small, old lakeside town and Hindu holy site in Rajasthan that is a big foreign tourist draw. For the first time in about a week, I'm not the only foreign face about town, fruitlessly searching for toilet paper and weathering endless language and culture barriers and street-side staring. (The experience wasn't nearly all bad; though as a guest, I've been spoiled without respite, with Prati's mom even indulging my fondness for Beawar's fresh milk though she thinks it makes me a five year old, I started to feel a sense of cultural immersion.)Friend: What's that old adage - that there's nothing a good Diet Coke can't fix?me: yes, that sounds right, but i can't for the life of me remember who said it.Friend: some Cokehead
In Pushkar, things are different. The area is so popular with Israeli tourists that many of the signs in the market area are in Hindi, English and Hebrew. The place is full of pale-skinnned wanderers in abominable street-stall harem pants. The first language I overheard as I sated a Diet Coke craving in giant gulps and Prati replenished our toilet roll stash was crisp Castilian Spanish.
But instead of feeling more at home, I feel like I left "real" India for a tourist-geared version. The stores are all filled with trinket souvenirs instead of the stuff of quotidian existence. And while I've been wearing kurtas in Beawar because I stand out less if I cover a little more skin with Indian-looking clothing, when I arrived in Pushkar (wearing a kurta made by a Beawar tailor) I instantly felt like a westerner trying too hard to go native, a step removed from those awful pants, uncomfortable in the same garment that acted as security blanket a few hours prior.