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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Pushkar

Well, we've had a big 24 hours. Amazingly, the horrible US election news has been dwarfed here by the Indian PM's late Tuesday announcement that effective midnight Tuesday, the 500 and 1,000 rupee denominations were no longer valid tender. This is roughly $7.50 US and $15, so it is equivalent to our government taking the $10 and $20 bills off the market. The banks and ATMs were also closed yesterday. The govt said they are doing this in response to counterfeiting by Pakistan as well as the use of the black market. Our guide tells us much business in India is done in cash, which means that it isn't subject to taxes. The 500r and 1,000r can be exchanged at local banks for smaller denominations, but at that point you have to report it.  The issue is that we are all carrying those denominations, and some vendors are refusing to accept them.  Plus we are in the middle of the desert now with no access to a bank for exchanging them. So it is a bit of drama. Most folks also brought some US dollars, so we are paying with those for now if people won't take our rupees.  

Yesterday morning we got up at 4am and took a  6 hour train ride to come to Pushkar for their annual camel festival. Farmers from across the area come here to buy and sell horses and camels. Unfortunately, activity has been diminished by the currency freeze and a number of vendors reportedly left yesterday.  Still, it was really neat to walk around the market yesterday afternoon. The vivid colors of the camel costumes against the desert background are striking, and I'm still really enjoying photographing the people. 






We are "glamping" in tents which have an AC hookup as well as bathrooms. 



It got pretty warm here yesterday afternoon (80s) but temps dropped into the high 50s/ low 60s overnight. They even brought a hot water bottle by for our beds, and I enjoyed snuggling with that thing. I slept like a champ - I was asleep by 9 and woke up around 6. That part feels the most like vacation! 

This area is largely Muslim, and food is vegetarian and in the Ayurveda tradition which keeps you super regular! Thankfully no Delhi belli yet.  

Today we are heading back to the camel festival. I want to ride a camel, and hopefully 
we'll have more time for exploring on our own. 

LA

Sent from my iPhone






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