F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein made it seem so glamorous. But they were expats in Paris. In Pushkar, a small religious town in Northern India, these expatriates seem, at first, lost. Maybe they want to be lost, having misplaced their passports years ago with no intention of finding them again.
Pushkar is no Paris. The motorbike horns honk louder than the shopkeepers yell. The Indian boys, trying to make a buck, will take you down to the sacred lake and ‘bless you’ with the holy water, only to ask for a large donation they inevitably pocket. It’s an incredibly religious town, strictly vegetarian, without a drop of alcohol to be found. And for twice a day, three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening, the whole city loses power.
But in spite of it all, there is a certain charm that resonates. If you get to know the pesky shopkeepers, they’ll light up as they tell you all about their exporting business and how two Californians, like yourselves, placed a large order for their upscale boutique just last week. They’ll offer you chai, free of charge, as they explain how to play Cricket and slowly become someone you won’t likely forget. And even the weathered expats, who walk the main bazaar up and down until the day is done, smile as they wave to old friends and new acquaintances. They’re content here, it has become home. While I can hear home calling, these souls have traded in traditional for a life of dodging roaming cows and playing chess at the side street cafes.
No, Pushkar is not Paris. There is no glam, there is no wine, there is no busy speakeasy playing Cole Porter from the gramophone. But there is a different something here. Something just as enchanting.