I arrived in Pushkar just as the biggest event of its calendar, the annual Camel Fair, was kicking off. It was a bit of an accident. I only went to Pushkar at all because my college friend Jo lives there, working as a veterinary surgeon for the animal welfare charity TOLFA.
I thought it seemed a bit of a shame to rule out the whole region just because of a lack of tourist spectacles, especially when it has such a strong cultural identity. I was keen to experience the Punjab for myself, and was already considering going off piste and looking for a couchsurfing contact in the middle of nowhere, when a better option was presented: my couchsurfing friend in Chandigarh suggested that I go and stay with his parents at his family home in Dhuri, a small town (a mere 50,000) in rural Punjab some 130km from the state capital.
I reached Haridwar on Tuesday afternoon, after passing the elephant gauntlet, and found my couchsurfing contact, Rohit. He owns and runs an English language school to the south of the city, which he also teaches at, along with his friend Sachin. Their hosting arrangements were basically the school premises, which although not exactly residential, provided basic facilities and a roof over my head. Rohit and Sachin were also both incredibly helpful when it came to finding solutions to the various bike problems I was suffering, so I can’t complain at all.