I’m currently sitting at a fancy restaurant in the French influenced city of Pondicherry eating a divine beef burger! I haven’t eaten meat for three months and I haven’t missed it at all given how good the food is here. But I’ve heard that if you’re going to eat meat, this is the best place to do it so I thought let’s try it.
We’ve had a few days in-between cricket games so we’ve come to see the beautiful architecture here in Pondicherry before we head to Nagpur for what promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience as we will be watching India in India against South Africa.
It’s been a surreal few days here in India. During our few days in Jaisalmer to go camel safari-ing, we heard about the Desert Festival that was happening a week later and so we decided to get involved. We’d met a local at the restaurant we often visited and enjoying our last meal before hopping on the train, he insisted we visit his tailor to get outfits for the festival! It was all a mad scramble but we were able to commission our outfits – white pants, brightly coloured jackets (mine was purple, blue and green) and multi-coloured turbans.
We headed off to see other parts of the state before returning for the festival and it was an unforgettable experience. We arrived a day early to get our house in order – collect our outfits, which fitted perfectly, pick up some jewellery and visit the barber to spruce up the beards!
Our friend mentioned he had a surprise for us and when we went to the restaurant bright and early the next morning, we discovered he’d rented us a camel! So Pauli and I proudly rode through the streets in the opening day parade dressed as Maharajah Princes! All the while we were waving to and greeting the crowd with the traditional Ram Ram and the town seemed to thoroughly enjoy us. We must have posed for heaps of pictures (no doubt we were “So I was in Jaisalmer and I saw these two crazy foreigners dressed up as Maharajah princes”), shook hundreds of hands and were even interviewed by both the local newspaper and local television.
Competitions during the festival included Mr. Desert, camel races as well as turban tying. We participated in the competition for foreigners and failed miserably with my turban suitably made for my afro! camel races while there was also lots of live entertainment. Entertainment included an “air-show” (if one plane flying about constitutes an air-show?!), camel tattooing (where camels strut around), camel polo and, the highlight for me, folk music performances on the final night.
Where else but in India can one ride in on a camel in the opening day’s parade of the city’s main festival whilst dressed up as a Maharajah prince?!! All in all, it was a surreal few days and an experience I’ll never forget.