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An unholy Christmas in holy India

It's Christmas time again, which brings back memories of last year when I was traveling in India at this time of the year. As I wrote in my diary, "It doesn't feel like Christmas" - a bit of an understatement.

Traveling alone in India I had met many great people, and luckily I was with a couple when my travels took me to Pushkar at Christmas time. Pushkar is in Rajasthan in the north of India. It is a holy place, a small town on the edge of the desert, composed mostly of a small lake surrounded by temples which in turn is surrounded by tourist shops. The whole of the town is a holy place, so alcohol, meat, and even eggs are banned. A long list of regulations greet you when you book into any hotel. Also on the list of restrictions is holding hands with your partner in the streets and taking drugs. Fortunately these don't seem to be upheld.

At first we thought it is going to be hard to celebrate Christmas with all those restrictions. To get us in the mood, we decorated a small plant in our room and turned it into a Christmas tree, and bought some balloons to hang around the place. I made some paper Christmas hats.

Next I pulled out a small bottle of rum I had smuggled in from the previous town. A few rum and cokes and we were starting to get in the right mood. We were in great spirits and wanted to share it with others. We dressed up in our hats and walked the streets of Pushkar, to the local's amusement.

For our Christmas meal there was no hot roast and no celebratory beers. Instead we had a great all you can eat vegetarian buffet meal, and afterwards treated ourselves to a special juice. This was no ordinary fruit juice drink, as anyone who has traveled India will attest, the 'special' indicating that it was laced with extracts from the marijuana plant. Despite the restrictions listed everywhere, surprisingly these drinks could be bought freely off the menu in most establishments.

We settled into a very enjoyable and relaxing evening. Despite it's restrictions, the Christmas spirit had still found it's way to Pushkar. We had a great day, a small group of solo travelers sharing this short and unique time together. This was a Christmas I will never forget. It was special, and not just because of the juice.

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