“…and he’ll tell you about his life for a sack of potatoes. It’s ace, man, I’d totally recommend it.”
The four of us looked at each other in disbelief before turning back to our fellow backpacker. It was a shame, really. This teenage heartthrob, if you like your men slim, bleached blond, tanned from the Indian sun and wearing outrageously hideous harem pants, almost seemed pretty sweet before he started trying to sell us this fad.
“So, this Aloo Baba,” confirmed Alice cautiously, “will tell you his life story for a bag of potatoes? And for no money?” We had already been scammed by a Brahmin, so we didn’t fancy risking our chances again.
“That’s right,” the boy said enthusiastically, grinning.
I glanced at Alice as she frowned slightly, “but why? And why should anyone care?”
We nodded our agreement.
“Well… let’s just say, he’s led a pretty cool life! So many experiences!” He looked wistfully at the mountain in the distance, where he had pointed out where Aloo Baba lived a few minutes before. “And he only eats potatoes,” ah – that explained the nickname, “so you know, it’s worth at least seeing him for that.”
“I eat a lot of potatoes,” I pointed out, “is my story worth sharing?”
The boy looked flummoxed. “Erm, no, because he eats potatoes and potatoes only.”
We stood silently for a few seconds, contemplating. Finally, Layla spoke up.
“So if we wanted to see Aloo Baba, we have to go that way?” Yes the boy confirmed, and preferably with a motorbike, and ideally before sunset, but definitely with a large sack of potatoes.
We looked at the waning sun as the boy said goodbye, shadows dropping onto the temple behind us.
“I see we’ve missed our opportunity for the day,” Avery commented.
“Maybe we can go tomorrow morning? Before our bus comes?” I was curious, and wanted to find out what Aloo Baba had to say. Perhaps he could teach me a new way to cook potatoes?
“Sure, sounds like a plan! We’ll go after breakfast.”
But we didn’t make it to Aloo Baba because we barely made it to breakfast. Instead, we passed our night high on ‘special’ lassis and cakes, chilling on the pillows of a café whilst Hendrix played in the background, meaning we ended up lying in a lot longer than intended due to having the most blissful of sleeps.
Yet as great as that evening and sleep was, I regret having passed on the opportunity to meet Aloo Baba. He sounded intriguing, and if we had gone to meet him I probably wouldn’t still be here over a year later wondering exactly who this man is and why he does what he does. Instead I’d have answers, or indeed, potentially more questions, but at least I’d have first-rate knowledge rather than second-hand information. If I should ever go back to Pushkar, I know without a doubt that I’ll be going to visit Aloo Baba straightaway – although not after a special lassi this time!