Pushkar, in Rajasthan, is on a small lake said to have appeared when Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, dropped a lotus flower from his hand. A magical beginning to a town that continues to offer enchanting experiences.
Devout Hindus make pilgrimages to Pushkar for its 400 temples and 52 bathing ghats. It also has one of the few Brahma temples in the world. Ghandi’s ashes were spread there.
Tourists go to Pushkar for its beauty and its size – it is completely walkable. Removed from hectic India, it’s a place to relax on rooftop cafes (I’m now writing at the cafe on top of the Hotel Everest where I am staying), shop in the bazaar that goes on and on, and climb the hills to the Saraswati Temple (1 hour) and the Pap Mochani Temple (30 minutes).
But, as always, it is the people I meet that make a place special to me. In Pushkar, I met Baabush.
Practicing French in Pushkar
I was sitting in front of the Brahma Temple when a young Indian man sitting nearby asked where I was from. As soon as he heard Canada, he asked if I could speak French.
Baabush had studied French and English. English practice he gets frequently, but the opportunity to speak French is more rare. “Please, speak with me,” he said. “Practice my French.” Now some Indians try to draw you into their shops and homes based on many pretenses as a means to make money and, at first, I wasn’t sure if this was yet another.
Baabush struggled between keeping me in sight and going inside a shop to get something. He quickly returned with a notebook and showed me the French words. He asked me to sit on a nearby wall with him and speak French, which we did for over an hour, working through his notes using simple phrases. I encouraged him, confirming that he was communicating clearly and, occasionally, correcting his pronunciation.
I was so impressed with Baabush’s enthusiasm for learning. I have seen it many times in India. At the Open University he is taking economics, political science, geography, sociology, and Sanskrit. He studies English and French at the summer institute.