May was an extra special month in our travel writing competition.
It brought us the last entries we’re judging until My World First returns in the autumn, bigger, better and more brilliant.
So what did our plucky entrants entertain us with this month?
Hayley Green from Bournemouth dubbed Spain’s Nerja an ‘Andalusian Brighton’ while tucking in to delicious Mediterranean cuisine, and Jaz Chopra swapped Weston-super-Mare for the unexpected hospitality of Costa Rica’s indigenous tribes during a volunteering trip.
That’s not all. Stacey Pryce from Wrexham conquered first time flight fears by playing scrabble, while Kelly Martin from Gloucester revealed how her life changed forever during a solo travelling trip round Australia. Oh, and our sympathies went out to Hazel Rigazio, whose lost suitcase forced her to spend much of her honeymoon wearing her husband’s Bart Simpson swimming shorts. Aye carumba.
But there could only be one winner. And that was a writer who questioned karmic justice during a visit to Pushkar in India. Congratulations to Bryan Poynton from East Molesey in Sussex.
You can read his Kindle-winning entry below and see what so impressed our judges!
Lost and disorientated in a holy Indian city, surely a priest will help us…
A swarthy grumbling little man perches on the frame of the camel cart and steers us across the dunes into the twilight. My wife and I recline on embroidered silk cushions, spread around to engender some sense of grandeur on what is ultimately an old farmer’s cart.
Half an hour later with the light gone, we roll into the outskirts of Pushkar. Men sit around small fires outside their single storey, windowless dwellings staring at us. Smoke hangs in the thick night air. The driver, who speaks no English, signals us to get off. A youth introduces himself as a student of a nearby temple and whisks us off through the maze of streets, pushing past a large crowd entering the temple to the sound of a gong. We are the only westerners. Pressing on at break neck speed, he leads us down dark alleyways and across junctions choked with people, rickshaws and cows, to the banks of the River Ganges. Here, against a cacophony of enthusiastic prayers and boisterous merchants, we are instructed to remove our shoes and transferred to the charge of two young men who lead us down to the water’s edge. Dressed in robes, they are apparently Brahmin - wise religious men. We are invited to sit and presented with a metal plate of rice, sugar, flowers and a coconut shell. One of them calls himself Baba, he speaks fluently and convincingly.
“This is not a place for one religion but for all. Repeat after me, Shiva, God, Krishna, bless me, bless my family”. I do as instructed.
“What job do you do?”
“Marketing” I reply.
“Give me good marketing” he prays, gesturing at me to repeat.
With each statement completed different items from the tray are thrown into the river. His words are delivered rhythmically in both Hindi and English and I repeat them parrot like, until, with my tray nearly empty, talk turns to a contribution to ensure the health of my family and my continued good marketing. He moves closer, he is a large man and his behaviour becomes intimidating. Unnerved and disorientated I have no option but to part with 500 Rupees to secure our release. He bids me to toss my flowers into the river for good karma though I feel none.
“Don’t forget me” he shouts.
Perhaps Baba should reconsider his methods for the sake of his own karma.
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