The Place I Ran To

'My Room', in Pushkar.

‘My Room’, in Pushkar.

The Pushkar Fair

The Pushkar Fair

18

At the Pushkar Fair

Saadiya Kochar In Pushkar

Saadiya Kochar

…whenever I was in need of a friend”. Or so go the famous lines from a song I listened to in my younger years. The chapters of my memoir would  be based on the places I loved. Some of my longest, most fulfilling relationships have been with the places I fell in love with; the places I travelled to, alone.

Though my trip to Ladakh was my first solo trip, at the onset of my twenties, Pushkar became my favoured destination. My first trip, was of course with a bunch of photographer friends, capturing the Pushkar festival. A friend drove my Silver Qualis, while I sat meekly in the back. Through out the trip I shot two rolls of film and felt like a babe in the woods. But I fell in love!  Not with the  place or it’s inhabitants, neither with the camels nor with the bidis I learnt to smoke with the Oonthwallas. But with a room.

For many years, through many seasons, I travelled to Pushkar for nothing but what seemed like a room of one’s own. When Virginia Wolf wrote in her book, ”A woman must have money and a room of her own if is to write fiction”, she wasn’t referring to escapists like me. I already had my basement, my dungeon as most of my loved ones called my underground home.

Yet, there was a room in a tiny, obscure guest house in Pushkar that drew me. While people went for photography, I went to read, to be, to heal and of course for the drive. I would surface once a day for an hour, walk down the familiar corner, eat at a familiar restaurant and return to my room.

Ask me where anything in Pushkar is and my mind will draw a big blank. Only this year when I went there for my thirty-fifth birthday did I truly try to venture out, in the scorching heat, during the off-season, when everything was shut. Na, I did manage to get around and strike a few must do/see things from my list. At least, now I can sound like a seasoned traveller.

But I sit here in my basement in Delhi, day dreaming of sand dunes and women in beautiful attires and wishing I could have made it to the fair this year. And of course longing for my room.

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