The Camel In All Its Glory

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Text by Patty Simon

Pushkar, India

The first camel I saw was standing by a public bus – it was ironic as both are used for transport. Little did I understand what was coming. The Pushkar Camel (and horse and goat and cattle) Fair started in the early 1900s. It is part polo pony selling, part cattle and camel trading, camel contests for best decorated camel and best camel dancer, and it has an amusement park complete with Ferris wheel.
I am first boarded on a camel “cart” with my friends to ride to the fair. We then stop in the middle of thousands of camels – babies, with light and dark hair stick close to their mothers. They are hobbled but even that does not stop them from stampeding so you have to be careful. Some are given punk haircut designs and are combed out by their barbers. Some have anklet bells, brocade saddle blankets, beaded netting and just like the bangle bracelets worn by women, the camels are adorned with rows and rows of necklaces of bright colors.
But up close and personal, the camel gives off such an air of dignity! They hold their heads high as they cart our heavy weight around or when hundreds of obsessed photographers are shooting them from every possible angle trying to achieve that one National Geographic shot.

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