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Published: November 21st 2019
I work all day behind closed doors. As a therapist, you open your office door long enough for one client to enter and then 50 minutes later for that client to exit. I do my job without notoriety or exposure, veiled in total confidentiality. Then the weekend rolls around and I spend my time at Shamrock Farms where I might go days without seeing anyone that doesn’t share my last name.
I live in city large enough I can go about my business without anyone recognizing me or knowing my story. After growing up in a tiny town where, upon meeting or crossing paths, it’s often the norm to hear “Oh, you’re a Crenshaw,” this sort of anonymity can be refreshing.
Anonymity may be par for the course in Kansas City, but what I have discovered that is definitely not the case in Pushkar, India. Shamrock Farms Markets Internationally Apparently
Let’s start with the moment I arrived in Pushkar and checked into Camp Bliss. I started the standard practice of sharing my passport and completing the travel information every hotel and resort needs. I reach for the book and am handed
a pen. What a minute...this is a Shamrock Farms pen! Kind of fun, but not too shocking since I know I gave them one last year.
Next day, at the Camel Charisma booth a tourist asked for some information. I reached for a piece of paper and asked for a pen to write down the requested information. No way! Another Shamrock Farms pen. Instagram Fame: If that is really a thing.
I am so happy DeeAnn was with me when this one happened because I am still laughing about it.
When you are on the sand dunes and you are white and you are taking photos, you have a gigantic target on your back. A target that seems to suggest every tout and gypsy and camel taxi driver should approach you and persistently try to get you to part with your money. Because of this, I become overly skeptical, extremely stand-offish and absolutely uninterested in conversation of any kind with anyone. So whenever I am approached, my inner ice princess takes over.
“Ma’am! Ma’am! It is you!“ this young photographer yells from across the dunes as he
runs toward us.
I give my friend the side eye that says “like we have never heard this one before.”
“Valeri ji you are here! Valeri ji I didn’t think you were coming to Pushkar!“ He continues with sheer excitement.
I am still naturally skeptical, but can’t help but wonder how he knows my name.
“It is me. I follow you on Instagram. I comment on all your posts! I am so happy you are here!”
This is the moment DeeAnn grabs her phone and starts searching for this guy’s profile. Sure enough, he is legit, he is not selling anything and he follows me on Instagram closely enough he assumed I was not coming to Pushkar this year. I apologize for not being on Instagram for several weeks and try my damnest to convince him I knew he was an Instagram follower. (I know this all sounds crazy. I feel a little strange even typing it.)
Later that night back in the tent, DeeAnn informed me I needed to spend a little more effort trying to be convincing that I know people I should know but do not. Living in the Shadows of Papa’s Legend
I was sitting at the Camel Charisma booth when an older India man entered the booth and stood in front of me. He asked about my father. He asked if he were here and if he needed a shave and hair cut. At this moment, one of the Camel Charisma employees explains, ”he is your father’s barber and he wants you to know his barber shop moved two spaces from last year. He wants to make sure your father finds him.”
Seriously, my dad has a barber? He is considered a regular? Of course he does.
To be fair, I recognize him now and know exactly which “salon” is his. Papa’s Legend Continues
I made a mad dash to try to get camel accoutrements so that my camels can be properly blinged out when I return home. This is always risky because the camel decorations booths are in the thick of the fair salespeople and a gora shopping for camel bling creates quite a spectacle as it is. What I learned that evening is the Pushkar touts have great memories.
are buying for your American camels! I remember!” one yelled across the tent. “I remember you!”
“Where is your father?” another one asks. ”He is not here? Your father? The man with the walking stick,” he reminds me as if I had forgotten my dad usually travels with me and likes to use a walking stick when we do a great deal of walking. Maybe I am Too Predictable
When I walk into my favorite jewelry shop: “Oh hello. Welcome back to Pushkar. Where is your father?”
When I walk by my favorite scarf shop: “Hello ma’am. It is so good to see you. Where is your father? Is he already at Sunset Cafe?” This made complete sense because during past trips I would park dad at Sunset Cafe while I went shopping.
Before I can even sit down at Sunset Cafe, two waiters approach me to welcome me back and inquire about my father’s whereabouts. A third waiter chimes in, “should I get your Nutella pancake?” Now that is service. You Talking to Me?
One day I was sitting in the Camel
Charisma booth with some of India’s most well-known camel advocates when I see Pushkar’s camel decorating celebrity Ashok Tak approaching. I have never met him, but have seen him in action from the grandstands where he always wins the Pushkar camel decorating contests. Because of social media, I also know he hosts guests at his camel bling museum and displays decorated camels at local festivals.
I have always wanted to meet him and start to think this might be my best opportunity. Maybe I can get my friends to introduce us once he gets to the booth.
As he gets closer to our tent, I see him clasp his hands together, look directly at me and exclaim, “Valeri ji! You are here! So happy you are here!”
I am completely speechless. HE knows MY name? I don’t ask any questions and can only assume he knows my name because of social media. Social Media Strikes Again
While shopping in the market, I am always on the lookout for unique camel items, particularly camel textiles. I am a purest and want textiles with camel themes only, not camels
and elephants. Sounds picky, I know. I have nothing against elephants, in fact, I think elephants are magical, but we all know camels have stolen my heart. Explaining to shopkeepers that you only want camels on an item is not as easy as it sounds.
One day in I am inquiring about a particular item with a shopkeeper about what I am looking for and he sends to another shop where he thinks I may have some luck. I have never been to the mentioned shop, but am willing to give it a try.
I walk into the shop in my all business mode and start to explain the situation. The shop owner stops me mid-sentence and says, “I know you.”
Of course my sarcastic internal conversation is something about how he cannot know me, I have never seen him before and I haven’t even been in his shop before. But, I keep all that to myself and continue to try to accomplish my mission.
“Yes, I know you. From Facebook. I have seen you,” he continues unphased by my disinterest in what I believe to be some
sort of sales pitch.
“Yes, you are Donna’s friend!” he concludes victoriously.
Ok, he’s got me there. Donna is a friend from New York who comes to Pushkar much more regularly than I do and apparently this is one of her favorite shops. I walk away pretty impressed with his memory and face recognition.
I suppose the moral of this story is: if you want to move about without notice, you need to return home.
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