Steel Notes Magazine October "Halloween" Issue 2016 - Page 123 Steel Notes Magazine Rajasthan is the source of many images of India familiar to Westerners, including men in turbans riding on elephants and those trippy, mirrored fabrics so popular in the 1960s. There are also shoes curling up at the toes that look like something from a fairy tale, and the women wear tops that just come down to their nipples, leaving the bottom half of their breasts exposed. Pushkar is one of India’s sacred cities, and the location of one of the country’s holiest lakes. The Pushkar fair, or Mela, is one of the most popular and colorful of the Thar Desert. It is a religious celebration lasting five days combined with a market where camels are bought and sold, and camels, horses and cows are shown and raced. The festive marketplace atmosphere is laden with spiritual fervor, as thousands of devotees descend upon the city to bathe in the sacred lake, as Sadhus, who have come down from the Himalayas, chant and sing holy verses. I happened to meet Gaeton at the station. I’d known Gaeton, a French Canadian, in Rishikesh, where I’d given him a haircut before he had to go to the embassy to see about a visa problem. He and I decided to share a room in a house. I think the room was about a dollar and the woman would cook for us for about fifty cents. There wasn’t any running water, and baths meant going down to the bathroom, a shed in the courtyard, filling a lota from some large drums of water, soaping up and pouring water over oneself to rinse off. There was a terrace outside our room, and when I would sit and play my Moroccan drums peacocks and monkeys would surround me. Although there was grillwork over the windows, we had to be careful not to leave anything too close to them or the monkeys would reach in and steal things. I had no set schedule throughout my years in India. I might hear an intriguing tale about a place, or meet someone, or just wake up one morning and it would just seem right to leave for the next leg of this adventure. So one day I was bouncing in the bed of a little truck/taxi, on my way out of Pushkar. Wearing kurta Pyjama, a long, thin, loose cotton shirt over simple pants of plain cotton, with all my belongings in my Tibetan backpack made of canvas, I was looking out at the vast sky filled with a moment of disbelief, that I was really here, in India. I was filled with a happy sense of wonder as I headed to Jaipur to catch a train for Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. Steel Notes Magazine 123