Village idiots

Trip Start Aug 18, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of India  ,
Sunday, March 18, 2007

Leaving Champaner we had another day of rural India to look forward to. Once again the roads were quiet and whereever we stopped for cold drinks and snacks we were met with curiosity and hospitality in equal measure. At about 4.30pm we arrived in a town called Mora, where we paused at a roadside cafe and ordered some cokes. We were so used to people buying us things by this point that we weren't even surprised when some katchouri (deep fried bowl of pastry with samosa and curry-sauce filling) came out with the drinks. When a man appeared with two garlands of flowers and the local english-speaking doctor told us the villagers wanted to welcome us we felt they were raising the bar, but no alarmbells rang. Not wishing to be rude, we allowed ourselves to be delayed for thirty minutes for a 'welcome ceremony', involving being garlanded outside the village-hall, in front of a blackboard with 'welcome' chalked upon it. Our photo was taken by one of the villagers, and then we were invited inside the hall.

More drinks were brought, and we conversed in a limited way about who we were and what we were doing. The doctor seemed to have disappeared so communication was rendered somewhat trickier. After a time, (precisely enough time, in fact, for the next town to be too far away to reach in daylight and for us to have accepted the offer of the villager's hospitality for the night) we were invited to 'visit the bank'. Only then did I begin to feel concern.
Me -No really, there's no need to show us the bank. Look, it's closed anyway
Villager -Don't worry, we will open it
Peter -They're very proud of having a bank, aren't they!
Me -Hmm.

Undissuaded, they opened the bank and invited us in, where we were sat opposite the five employees, feeling somewhat ragged in our sweaty riding clobber against their five crisp white shirts and pressed trousers. After some more stilted conversation about our trip, the manager started telling us how poor their region was. We sympathised, but with a sense of foreboding about where this was heading. Eventually the manager asked us what we do for a living,
Us- Erm... Nothing...
Peter- I used to be a teacher
Me- And I was a student... neither of us have any income at the moment...

Manager- Ok. bye. (rises and leaves. followed before long by the other four)

We wandered blinking back into the sunlight. Most of the villagers seemed to have dispersed and we weren't sure if the offer of a room for the night had been revoked, and if not whether we should still take it, and what other option we had. Eventually one villager was, it seemed, nominated to take care of us, taking us to what appeared to be his spare house, and bringing us food. But all this kindness seemed to be coloured, in our minds at least, by our failure at the bank. We tried to give money for the food and accomodation, of course, but were rebuffed. We left early the next morning, feeling both slightly ashamed and oddly let down.
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