Sunday, December 31, 2006

Excuse me, Madam, I would like to be your friend.

23. That's how many times I was asked to take a photo with someone this afternoon. I'm going to be in half the photo albums in India, so, that'll teach me not to wash my hair. I really didn't expect this kind of attention, like I'm, as Maisnon aptly noted, the cardboard cut-out white girl prop. I went to this nice, relaxing boat park slash amusement park this afternoon. They had paddle and motor boats, but it's not something you can really do by yourself, so I just walked around the carnival rides (what's more awesome than women in silk saris eating cotton candy and riding the SpinMaster?) and munched on some ice cream (naturally). Afterwords I took a seat on the grass along with the other Indian families and wrote in my journal. Pretty soon some people came over and asked if they could take a photo, which then opened the floodgates for all the other people who'd apparently been waiting for someone to do it. A lot of them are men my age, which is, I know, totally creepy, but they're actually very kind about it and thank me and shake my hand, and you know, I'm sure Playboys are hard to get around here. Zing! Or wait...ew. Anyway, becoming some angry person who says No over and over and over again would start to ruin the rest of my time, so fuck it, I'll take a photo with you. And yes, I'm very careful about pickpocketers.

The other people are parents who want me to take photos with their children, which cracks me up. One father had me hold his toddler, who screamed and cried the whole time while I laughed awkwardly and said, "I don't think he's very happy..." I started asking the parents to take a photo with my camera too, so I've got a few to share with you later. One cute little girl came by 10 minutes after her photo and asked for my address so she could send me a copy. Then 10 minutes later came back with her address, so that if I'm ever in Coimbature, I should stop by. (And I actually may be, ha...but I think a postcard from the U.S. might be better.) Later another girl came over, knelt down next to me and said, "Excuse me, Madam (everyone says Madam here, emphasis on the first syllable, not like you'd think), I would like to be your friend." Me: "Um, okay." Heh. Luckily I'm getting pretty good at this talking to children thing (omg, what if I actually start wanting one! ahhhh) so we had a nice conversation followed by a photo to commemorate our new friendship.

So anyway. I saw a monkey masturbating today. NOW my trip to India is complete. I also went to a tea factory to see how they process the leaves, which was pretty cool actually, and worthy of some good photos and a purchase of a couple of bags for gifts. I discovered why the tea and coffee here is so damn good. Well, I already knew, but now I know the recipe. It's not just hot water and coffee/tea like we drink at home. It's 80% milk, 20% water, a tablespoon of tea/coffee per 5 cups, boiled for 2-3 minutes. Add some sugar and you can call me seriously addicted. I usually don't drink tea, but I had samples of the cardamom and chocolate teas, and Mmmmm.

Earlier this morning we went to Lamb's Head point and I got a guide to take me on a little trek through the woods ("Don't bring any food. There are monkeys."). What a workout. And this was the first time I saw the lush India that's been in my head. So far it's been much, much more arid than I pictured. We drove past the jungle I'll be going to tomorrow (hopefully, Maisnon just said the travel agent fucked up her reservations somewhere, so I'm crossing my fingers), and it'll be much more like what I imagine an African safari would be like, then through kind of tropical jungle. I hear that it gets more tropical and lush as you head further south, so hopefully I can experience that, too, except Maisnon just told me her father said there's some outbreak of this awful disease I'm not vaccinated for, acquired through mosquitoes, so a lot of people are avoiding things in the south, like the houseboat tour everyone tells me is not to be missed. Arg. I'm not sure what to do. I have 100% deet, which will probably just give me cancer instead, but maybe it'll be fine if I use it for a couple of days.

I'm realizing more and more, with my 20/20 hindsight, that I had no idea what I was doing planning this trip. You really need either firm reservations in places, or you need 10 back up plans. Just coming here and figuring you'll wing it is more difficult than I anticipated, i.e. this outbreak thing. I mean, what do I do now? Not go south? Go where then? There's nothing else I want to see down here, as the temples and things don't interest me all that much. I still have my reservations in Aurangabad, and I met an American couple today who told me the caves there were NOT to be missed. But to do that I'll have to get to Bombay. Then back to Bangalore because that's where my flight to Delhi is out of. Yeesh. The logistics thing is seriously the one thing weighing me down with this trip. I don't mean to complain. I just have to look at this more as adventure travel then leisurely see-the-sights travel.

Okay, I'm off to celebrate New Year's Eve with some jewelry shopping, room service, and a broken toilet I need someone to come fix. 3-2-1!


At 2:17 PM, December 31, 2006, Anonymous sylvie said...

i say...the next time someone hands you a child to hold for photo op, you start running away with it. It will teach everyone else around you to leave you alone.

btw...I've finally decided what you can bring back for me...chocolate tea. :)

At 11:08 AM, January 03, 2007, Blogger Erin said...

haha... everything you have said up to this point feels like i could have written it. the traffic. yup. the attention... well, i didn't get as much as our blond haired female travel companion, but the four of us were the only non indians we saw for 10 days. and we had our photos taken with many people there too. the wedding officiants actually wanted a photo with me and andy (my husband), but then they put me in the center and him off to the side, and then in the next photo told him to get out of the photo! it was amusing to say the least... and the children were too funny. all the questions. "do you have roads in america" was my favorite.

sounds like you're having fun... i can't wait to see the photos! and good luck with your planning... that's the only part i don't envy...


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