On the sand dunes bordering Pushkar, where thousands of camels and horses are traded every year, 12-year-old Sanjini is flocked by a group of DSLR-carrying foreigners. They want to photograph her because of her light-green eyes and her tribal outfit. She obliges, but sets her condition - Rs 10 per click.
"Don't take my photo without paying me," she shouts.
Sanjini, who belongs to the nomadic Kalbelia tribe, explains this demand. The people with big cameras who click her photos, she says, earn a lot from that, and hence she and her family should also get a part of the money.
Walking for seven-eight days with four camels and traversing around 180km, these three camel traders came to Pushkar from their village in Rajasthan's Nagaur district. But to their disappointment, their camels didn't sell. They await the disheartening return journey.
But, even as Pushkar Mela maintains itself as a happening tourist attraction, many feel that the identity of the town is gradually changing because of the out-and-out commercial treatment of the event.
"With every passing year, the Mela is becoming more of a commercial venture. The calm and serene town which Pushkar otherwise is, gets erased suddenly during the Mela," says an ITBP jawan, who stayed for eight years in Pushkar (from 2003 to 2010).