Travel Snapshot – Meeting Pushkar's Naked Baba
When I was 17 I tagged along with my boyfriend’s family on a medical tourism trip to India. We spent a week in the idyllic northern town of Pushkar, and there was the most amazing chai shop right outside our hotel. I had been trying different chai along the way, trying to pick my favorite to buy in bulk and bring home.
The owner of the stand was a man named Surrender, and his chai was by far the best I’d had on the trip, so after we got to know him a bit I asked if I could buy some. He said he’d get some for me, as long as I let him teach me how to make it authentically.
Surrender and his chai stand.
That alone was incredible – not only do I get to take home this amazing tea, but I get to learn how to make it from a local who owns a chai stand. So cool. Through our regular visits to his stand, and our chai-making lesson, we became good friends.
Toward the end of our stay, he invited us to the mountains to meet his teacher. We agreed without knowing what we were signing up for and rode into the night on Surrender’s motorbike. We arrived at the base of a trail and began hiking through the jungle. Surrender pointed to a pond and told us he saw a lion there the week before. We continued hiking. After about an hour we arrived at a concrete structure with a shrine, a fire, and a small living space. This was the home of the Naked Baba, a guru living in the mountains of Pushkar.
Everything the Naked Baba has is from the donations of his students and fits in a simple open-air structure. Surrender translated as the he told us about his life, students, and spirituality. He showed us a picture of one of his most significant achievements
His genitalia is wrapped around a stick, which is used to pull them behind his back, while another man stands on the stick. It is meant to demonstrate his detachment from the physical.
Surrender and the Naked Baba on the floor of his living space. He is usually naked, but covered up because he thought it might make us more
They prepared us a meal of dahl, chapati, and warm goat’s milk in the middle of the jungle.
We hung out for awhile, sharing food, passing a pipe and swapping stories before beginning our hike back down to Surrender's scooter.
It was a mind-opening and truly local experience that stuck with me.
It’s also a memory I wouldn't have if I only had a surface-level conversation with Surrender.
The point is: Don't be afraid of people when you travel. Sure, you don't want to follow every random person into the jungle, but the best experiences often happen when you get to know the locals.