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Ok, right Pushkar does feel like a spiritual place one could even go so far as holy. There is deep sense of calm and peace to be found sitting by the lake. But….and this is a BIG but I has a very dark under current.
The beggars dress in orange and pass themselves as holymen, when I sense nothing holy about them. If you take their photo then they get angry and demand money which a true holy man would never do.
AND I’ve just been threatened. Probably by the mafia.
I went down to the lake to chill out and I saw a young girl who had fallen for the lake scam. Basically they give you a flower when you get off the bus, then they invite you to throw the flower in the lake. Then they do a little ritual, and give you a bangle and put some water on your head. Then boom they charge you $100.
I could see the shock hit this poor young girl. She nearly burst into tears at the high pressure sales. It started off with just the priest, but then his bouncer joined in to add to the pressure.
I didn’t intervene at this point as she had already decided to walk away, but I was ready to, if needed. I caught up with the girl and warned her of the scam. Unfortunately the bouncer herd me.
He said ” You make your choice, but you know nothing of the lake, DO NOT TRY AND DISSUADE OTHERS. Do not dissuade others, if you do it will be bad for you, very bad for you. You understand me? Now fuck off.”
This is the real Pushkar.
Every time I give someone the benefit of the doubt they let me down. Two women asked for their photo to be taken. I checked first. Do you want money? No. Are you trying to sell me something? No. So I took their photo and showed it to them. Then I got the “where you from” speal. Here it comes I thought. Then one of them tried to grab my hand and henna it. Yup. Thought so. Wish I had been wrong.
So, this morning I was up at 6:00 am to catch a bus to Jodhpur.
It turned out that it was a local bus which slowly snaked its way to jodpur stopping at every little town and village on the way. Even though the journey took 5 hrs rather than the expected 3, I chose to see it as a free tour of the local country side as a plus to the 200r (£2.40) I paid for the trip.
Previous to this journey, I had only experienced the locals as one dimensional beings. There were the school kids jammed into the tuk tuk for the ride home from school, The street hawkers peddling stuff that I cant imaging anyone wanting to buy, and the women selling grass, or fruit on the street side. Each day the school children were there, the hawkers were there and so were the street vendors.
In my mind they were always there. Since I always saw them in the same place at the same time, my mind never labeled them with more then one dimension.
But then came this bus ride. Street hawkers got on at one village carrying long staffs covered in little plastic bags of sickly pink candy floss, only to get off a few villages down the road. School children got on at one village and off at the next. Women got on the bus carrying curved blades, and steel cylinders with carry handles which I could only assume was their lunch. These women were off to the fields to cut grass, presumably which they would later sell at the market.
As an aside I had been a bit confused about women selling grass at the market, but slowly as i travel around India, things are becoming clearer. The women cut the grass in the morning and then presumably sell it on the streets later. Business owners then buy the grass and feed it to the cows which they presumably believe gives them good luck.
Anyway back to the story. Seeing these people at a different stage in the day enabled me to begin to see them as multi-dimensional. People with lives and jobs rather than people trying to get my cash.
which brings me on to the other matter. I spoke to some people that lived in pushkar which kindly explained to me the whole “seeing white people as a commodity rather than human beings” thing.
The natives see white people as stupid and having too much money. They have learned through experience that if they demand food or money from tourists, the majority will comply. So in our mind what we consider as compassion, the locals see as stupidity and ridicule us for it. There logic is If I demand money off tourists and they give it too me, then I would be stupid if I stopped demanding.
So the harsh reality is that if tourists ever want to enjoy India free from the touts, scammers, hawkers and beggars, it is our responsibility to either ignore them, or to engage in conversation and explain why there behavior is negative.
Until tourist actually change their behavior, we cant expect the locals to change theirs. I reality this is never going to happen, so holidaying in India will continue to be an unpleasant experience for many.
I have read that if you can last 3 weeks without throwing in the towel, then you eventually adapt to the reality of your environment, rather than struggle against it. I eagerly wait to find out if this will be true for me.
These are my favorite shots from Pushkar
I just had the most horrendous experience. I arrived in Jaipur. The 4 gb data and roaming I paid £30 for isn’t working. So I have no mobile phone and no google maps. So I paid a tuk tuk driver to take me to my guest house. At first I can’t find it. Then it turns out it stuck at the back of some grotty flats on the second floor. When I arrive there are two guys asleep on the floor who after 5 minutes gut up to serve me. They wont let me check the room before booking in. so I booked in and get taken to my room. Its a concrete prison sell. I sit down on the bed and my stomach starts to fill with dread and sickness. The doors are metal prison cell doors where you have to provide your own padlock. The cupboards are metal cabinets. The shelving are metal storage cabinets with newspaper on the shelves. Everything just feels so wrong. I cant connect to the wifi to access booking.com. Then the power goes off. I want to leave but its only 1.5 hours to sun set. Do I really want to be walking round an unfamiliar Indian city in the dark with no phone? fuck it, I needed to get out of there.
I said sorry and left. I started walking around Jaipur with my bags in the heat getting tireder and tireder. I found a hotel and asked if there were any rooms. They said “no, sorry sir, indians only”. I found another hotel and a guest house but got a weird look and a similar reply. Then I happened across what looked like a posh hotel, but I gave it a go anyway. I asked the price, but they said would I like to see the room first. Seamed like a good idea. The room seamed lovely. so asked the price. they said 1200 rupees. because I was stressed and tired I got my maths wrong and thought that was £140 so I said no and walked away. Then they dropped the price to 1000 rupees. I calmed down again and realized that that was only £12. Panic over. phew. Travelling can be stressful.
well I’d love to stay in this hotel, but the wifi is limited to 300mb a day. So I cant do any uploading of hi res images which is the whole point of being here
Well it doesn’t get any easier. Got up this morning and got out of my current hotel that didn’t provide toilet paper, towels, unlimited wifi, and whos staff didn’t speak English. I was determined to to make it to my new hotel on foot. maps.me said it was in one location and google maps and booking.com said it was in another. I walked to the first location and couldn’t find it. I walked round and round in circles but only functional map app I had was the one saying it was in another location 1.6 km away. Eventually I gave up and decided too walk to the second location. In the end I got so hot and tired I gave up and got in a taxi. He took me back to the first location. Apparently the name of the hotel that I’d been looking for was actually the name of the chain which was why I couldn’t find it. The hotel itself was called something completely different. Finally I made it into the hotel. I guess what. They had never herd of me and didn’t have my booking….after 10 minutes of nervousness and phone calls to booking.com it turned out that they hadn’t processed the booking yet….
I’m pretty sure I hate this country. Since I’ve been here I’ve been ‘trying to get it over with’ I’m not sure I’ve found anything enjoyable yet. its like being stuck in a small hot loud room full of thousands of flies and mosquitoes constantly buzzing in your face, and in your ears, and in your nose, and in your eyes. Constantly biting you and sucking your blood. I swear i’m not going to bother talking to anyone anymore. I’m going to ignore the lot of them. Constantly having to say no to tuk tuk drivers, shop owners and beggars is steeling energy I simply don’t have. They can all just fuck off. I’m coming very close to shouting fuck off at people. I miss Thailand. It it gets any worse here I might just leave and go there instead.
I’ve decided I need to chill the fuck out. Originally I’d booked this hotel for 3 days, but I need a pleasant stable environment for a bit. Basically I need to stop moving. So I’ve booked another 2 days. Ofcourse the price has doubled, but thats still only £20 a night. So I get 5 days in the same location. bloody luxury that. I hope Jaipur is going to be ok. So far i’ve spent about 5 hrs walking around it looking for a decent place to sleep…
I started ordering food by picking names that I recognized, dal, thali, korma, methi, masala, but I’m getting bored with eating the same stuff, so now I’m just pointing as stuff with an interesting name. I tried asking the waiters “whats in it?” but generally they don’t speak English so I’m just going for it. So far the only disappointments food wise are the two times I ordered thai. My experience is that indians have no idea what what a green or red curry is and make it up as they go along. As long as the resulting curry is green or red, they don’t seam to think anything else matters lol. My green curry was a a very dark green grass colour, full of peas and tasted of ‘generic indian curry’ I don’t think it had ever seen a coconut….
When I came to India I wanted to be self sufficient. Turns out you cant. not really. Not if you want to get good photos. All of the security stop you from taking photos if you are white and you have to bribe them to carry on. If you actually hire a reliable guide and tuk tuk driver they will not only argue with the security for you and tell them to stop being a dick, they will distract them whist you nip in to ‘out of bounds areas’ to get the shot. Interestingly enough, all the prime photospots are funnily enough out of bounds. Mmm.
Well just properly lost my temper for the first time. I was walking up a 45 degree incline, carrying one camera body, two lenses and a tripod, running out of water, against the clock, to reach the summit before sundown. A kid latched on to me and said “hey smoke smoke”. I wasn’t smoking, I didn’t have any cigarettes, which I told him, but he kept on relentless, ” hey smoke, smoke, hey smoke smoke” I just snapped. In a split second I could have either punched him in the face, or shouted in his face at the top of my voice. Luckily I’m not a violent person. These people push you and push you and push you without any any awareness of the effect they are having, or how stressed you are getting. If you pull a dogs tail you expect to get bitten. I don’t understand why people her think you can just keep pushing us. Quite frankly I’m getting sick of the prejudice in this country. Separate hotels for Indians, separate floors for eating at restaurants, security guards making up tourist tax fines all over the place. Quite frankly I don’t feel welcome here at all. They young kids are great though. I guess they haven’t learned all the bad habits yet. I young girl blew me a kiss from a balcony. I wanted to return it so not to be rude, however its seamed inappropriate so I didn’t.
Nearly slipped and broke my neck on a cow pat whilst crossing a busy main road. Yup. This is India. On the plus side I can now cross a crossroads in the dark, with traffic driving directly at me from all directions, constantly beeping their horns at me, and not flutter an eye lid. This is desensitization in the extreme. I expect I’ll be a different person when I do finally get home.
Here are some photos
Alamy News phoned me up and asked me to work for them as a fixed point photographer for Prince Harries visit to Nottingham Central Police station. I said yes, not because I had any interest in the royals, or for that matter any interest in news photography, but I figured if you say yes to stuff, you are more likely to be asked to do more stuff. And you never know what you might get asked to cover in the future.
It turns out that fixed point press photography is a bit poo. You wait for a long time with backache from the heavy camera gear, the famous person turns up, people then stand in front of you to block the shot, the famous person then turns his back and walks to a place you cant see from, and when he comes back into view people stick their mobiles phones in-front of your lens…
I didn’t get very much but these are my favorites
In my younger days I spent the majority of my Saturday nights either in dingy pubs or Goth/Metal/Industrial/Alternative club nights. More recently I appear to have gravitated towards the Leeds centered psytrance club scene.
The whole scene transition thing happened by accident. Back then I was pretty much just a Landscape photographer and I wanted to teach myself another genre of photography.
I volunteered my services to Nottingham’s Ascension club night so I could learn how to do nightclub photography. After Ascension I ended up doing some photography for Cabbage in Leeds, then Illuminaughty in Manchester. The next Thing I know I’m doing stuff for Remedy in Leeds and Somasonic In Liverpool.
I’ve started going sunrise not because I love the music (although I do like some of it), but because the people are great. They are such a happy, friendly, welcoming bunch. Its always shock to the system when I do a goth/industrial shoot again and have to reacquaint myself with all of the standoffish behavior. I guess that’s ruddy goths for ya
Any way getting back the whole point of this blog thing.
Here’s my favorite shots from Sunrise – viva la revolution