The carnival opened on Sunday morning and it was pure chaotic joy, despite the suffocating clouds of dust in the air. Parents gripped overexcited toddlers by the hand while older children were given free rein and a few rupees for whatever ride they wished to go on. Giggling hordes of teenagers (in single-sex groups) ate ice cream, couples held as they rode the ferris wheel, and males of all ages lined up for the seemingly ever-popular motorcycle show.
Though there were two ferris wheels and a few rides, and even a magic show, there was no cotton candy to be found, no games and prizes to be won, no hall of mirrors to run in. The only animals lurking around were feral dogs, cats and rats the size of my foot.
The booths were instead filled with the usual fare for sale that we see all the time in local chowks (bazaars): saris and assorted clothes, household items and sundries, jewelry and wearable charms, artistic and holy figurines… And of course, fried food.
There were a few elaborate photo booths (not the electronic ones we have in our malls back home) with religious props and quick-printing schemes so whole families stood in line, chattering excitedly up til the minute the photographer is ready to snap the photo–and then they all wear solemn faces. When the printed photo arrives, everyone takes turn scrutinizing and laughing at the photo, passing it around again and again.
One thing we saw for the first time was a man drilling crude street tattoos (much like the dark blue prison tattoos we see in the US) on a group of young boys. The one I saw had a raw scorpio on his left hand and was getting his right forearm imprinted with a string of hindi words. Should’ve thought to ask how much the fella charged for his ink work.