Further down the road Nix was rammed by a cow, then a goat and rounded off the hat trick by slipping on her butt in some muddy slime (at least we hope it was just slime – you never know round these parts). Fortunately both she and her Canon Mark II were OK ;) For my part, I got slapped by a monkey (not a euphemism) atop the Shiva Temple. Fortunately it wasn’t a Bombay Bitch Slap ™. I’ve never been spanked by a monkey before. It was a surreal experience, and a great way to start the day. Everyone should be spanked by a monkey at least once in their lives.
We went for another walk to the main bazaar (or “bajar” as they say here. The locals can’t seem to get their tongue around “Nikki” either – she is known to all as “Jiji”) this arvo and down to the Nagar Ghat so Nix could take some more photos. On the way we had to run the usual “Hari Om Give Me One Pen” gauntlet. Street kids in most other countries tend to ask for money. In Omkareshwar they prefer school equipment. Respect.
We also had to dodge Feather Duster Guru who uses what looks like a large feather duster to shepherd in passers-by to pay homage to the Ganesha statue he guards daily and give him paisa. I’ve worked out an avoidance technique that I like to call “The Rajasthani Method”, which basically involves hovering just prior to the shrine until a large group of Rajasthanis walk by (and you can rest assured they always do). I then cunningly place them between me and Feather Duster Guru so they can be herded whilst I run off into the sunset. Feather Duster Guru always notices mind you, and shouts a variety of God’s names after me as I disappear into the distance.... He hasn’t caught me yet though, and I’m not superstitious.
Further down the road we came across a guy who had a mountain of coins in front of him at his stall, nothing else. Most of the other folk who had set up at the side of the road were either selling chai, cheap plastic toys, religious paraphernalia or begging for grain. It struck me that this guy had the air of a sacrosanct second hand car salesman about him. He definitely seemed to have the Del boy banter down pat and to be doing well out of it. And last but by no means least, we came upon Disco Guru just before arriving at the Bazaar - a Saddhu who was sitting comfortably in front of a hifi (more a lofi really that had the volume set to 11) with accompanying flashing lights which was blasting out the latest and greatest Bhajans. I quite liked him (more so than Feather Duster Guru at any rate).
I found out from Komal (our local chai wallah extraordinaire) that the large inscribed stones running along the length of the parikramar route contain excerpts from the Bhagavad Gita. It didn’t surprise me that the stones were religious, and it’s another thing I dig about India - bringing in the sacred wherever and whenever possible. The flip side of the coin is that the very same beautifully carved spiritual stones had graffiti all over them! No doubt it was blessed graffiti ;)
Mangla is feeling happy because Nix and I are going to help her put together a basic website for the Ashram – that was part of the reason we did the early walk this morning, to get some good photos for the purpose. We sat together last night after dinner brainstorming copy and have got that sorted. Next week we’ll head in to Sanawad to attempt a session at an internet cafe to upload and finalize the site. Hopefully the stars will be aligned that day and it will all work as it should (technology hasn’t so far for us). It feels good to be of service to someone, especially people as deserving of help as Mangla and her Mum. I often wonder if the skills I have (such as they are) are actually of any use to anyone. It seems that in rural India they just might be.
We’re all going to head to the funfair tonight. Mort Ka Kua here we come. I reckon some good video footage could be had as it’s not meant to be too busy today. We’re also going to brave the crowds on Sunday when they are expecting over 100,000 people to attend. That should be interesting, and challenging.