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Winging it “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” - Martin Buber, Philosopher

Jaipur- Weddings, transvestites and mutton gravy

INDIA | Saturday, 2 February 2008 | Views [2029] | Comments [2]

Sunlit corridor -Nahargarh Fort

Sunlit corridor -Nahargarh Fort

I notice many differences as I head north, more music, fewer beggars and much more interaction with people. My contacts have ranged from the ever friendly touts trying to get you to their commission shops by any way possible, rick shaw wallahs wanting to take me away anywhere I want, people making obscene gestures and shouting things in Hindi at me to some true kindred spirits of the purest kind.

I have a friendly banter with the rickshaw wallahs who wait at the gate of Diggi Palace, they ask me why I walk so much, and I tell them that I am eating too much indian food and have to work it off. After 3 days of walking out the gate, they no longer even get up when I appear, just a hopeful, 'hello madam?...ah, Natasha, yes, she walks again...*sigh*'

Touts: are absolutely exhausting and use a range of techniques, usually involving an invitation to chat over chai. 'Where are you from? Ah, Australia, I have a friend there...blah blah', 'I am a student in Jaipur' (Me:, "oh really, you are a student, I'll bet its an art student, let me guess...marble...no wait...painting...oh, hang on, its, gotta be jewelery") or, 'excuse me madam, why are tourists so rude to us Indians? We are interested in you and you tell us to  fuck off, that you are you only trying to sell us something', (Me: well, that is very unfortunate, and I am sure not all tourists are like that. What do you do in Jaipur? ...Oh, you are a student, ooh, hang on, is it an art student?...etc) I did find a couple of very effective techniques, one was to totally run off about myself ' yea, I am a student, also and study fine art at UWA, then ramble some crap about the Bauhouse/cubist/impressionist movement until their eyes glaze over. Alternatively, I start to talk about, cultural differences/values/ integrity... wait, where are you going? I have more to say...come back...

I just cant do the rude tourist thing because I may miss out on something really special, which is what happened when I met Rahull. I had been targetted by the same tout, Paras, 3 days in a row. However I do have a chai with him because he is rather amusing (an art student!). He took me to a chai house and introduced me to his friends and I sat next to a neatly folded young man. He was from Goa and visiting with family in Jaipur for a family wedding. The chai was hot and sweet, we shared a cup and I listened to him talk of his travels. He spoke of a documentary film he assisted with, acting as an interpreter for a UK girl interviewing Sadhus in Varanasi. As he spoke, his gentle, distant eyes followed his thoughts before returning to reconnect with mine. He suggested that if I was free, we could catch up again in 2 hours. I almost did not call, as I had spoken to another person in the mean time ('why do you foreigners always tell us Indians to...) who gave me a 10 minute warning on the perils of gem scams, and he 'knew exactly who this mas was...'blah blah blah, and it nearly burst my bubble. But this man was the one I did not trust, so as soon as I brushed him off (tour guide scam), I called Rahull and met him at the same chai stall. We talked of many things, including Indian transvestites, and he told me that he had just seen an article on them in the newspaper, and knew where they lived --did I want to go? Well, yes!

We jumped on his 'Hero Honda' (not so many Enfields here)and zoomed back to the place he was staying with his family where I was immediately approached by his family with steaming cups of chai and an invitation to the family wedding that evening. I was a bit reluctant, as I was wearing travelling clothes and knew how flash everyone would look. In the end, I made it there anyway, introduced to an insane amount of relatives and then ordered to dance! I had centre stage in front of a the whole room, the camera was turned on me with full lights blazing, recording my every move so I did my Bollywood best to some of the loudest Bhangara music I have ever heard. Everyone was just so wonderful, introducing themselves and dancing with me. Until that is one fellow reached into the shrine, gave me a handful of ash and told me to eat it. I just refused, thinking that he was trying to make fun of me. In the end, he ate some himself, so I then agreed to try some. After this there was a roar of approval and if was up with the music again. I laugh about it now, thinking that the treasured memories of this married couple will contain footage of some random person having a wild dance in the middle of their home.

Tags: friends



Very interesting. And I like the quote from Buber. But to identify Buber as a German seems wrong. He was a great Jewish thinker, born in Austria, who after living for some years in Germany as Hitler rose to power, settled in Jerusalem.

  Bill Oct 6, 2009 3:32 AM


Oops did not mean to be offensive. I used that quote with the greatest respect :)

  tash Oct 10, 2009 1:37 AM

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