Saturday, September 6, 2008

Angie's Varanasi

People unimpressed by my vessel selection on the Ganges

Happy Tears

After buying some jewelery from a woman, we agreed to be taken by her son to his store, where he would show us some of his merchandise. As he led us through the streets, he turned to Angie and said:

‘I was talking to one man, and he said the saw you walking here and crying the other day.’

Angie replied that, yes, that was her, but before she had time to elaborate, he continued, with one of my favourite theories on the effects India can have on tourists.

‘All the time I am in Varanasi I see tourists here and they are crying. I think, maybe, these are happy tears?’

Angie explained that, probably no, they aren’t tears of happiness, and recounted the traumatic details of the particularly infuriating encounter with a travel agent that led to her storming the alleys in tears (a bemusing sight for the locals, which kept them talking for days, apparently.)

* * *

Morning on the ghats

Goat eating a schoolbook

After-school Job

Angie was walking around the streets, being harassed by hawkers, touts and guides, as is usual for any foreigner in Varanasi.

‘Miss, Miss!’ came the familiar call from a pre-adolescent kid.
‘No thankyou’, replied Angie, denying whatever was on offer before it was even proposed (again, usual for the foreigner.)
‘No, no, Miss, I am not a guide, I only wish to talk to you.’
‘Okay, but I don’t want to go to any silk shops or ghats. I only want to walk.’
‘Miss!’ came the melodramatically offended response, ‘I am not a guide! I am a student.’ He then proceeded to make chit-chat, asking all the usual questions about what country Angie was from, which city she was from (‘MCG or SCG?’ is how we sometimes get asked this) what she does in Australia, before getting down to brass tacks:

‘Perhaps you would like to come to my Uncle’s silk shop?’
‘You told me you were not a guide!’ said Angie exclaimed.
‘Oh, Madam!’ he cried indignantly, ‘I told you, I am not a guide! I am a student! In the mornings I go to school, and in the afternoon I work.’
‘And what is your job?’
Innocently, he explained: ‘I round up tourists and take them to the silk shop.’

* * *

Naptime at the Nepali Temple

Cow with a sense of humour

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