Fishing Nets, expensive shirts and books....
Trip Start May 31, 2007
107Trip End May 20, 2008
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Where I stayed
Santa Cruz Tourist Home
really looking forward to the start of my tour on the 5th. Woke
up late again today, had breakfast at the Teapot, had a fitting for
some pants I am having made (about 400 INR or $10 each), had lunch at a
new place called the Kashi Art Cafe which is a very cool art gallery
and place to grab a small healthy bite of non-Indian food and
drink...except of course the ubiquitous masala chai. Almost as
important it seems in India as petrol. Served up at any
particular time especially when some type of sales transaction is going
to take place...of course it is a bit more subdued here in the South
than it was in the North last year.
Went shopping for the typical pullover shirt that everyone wheres and
have found that many of them have H&M tags sewn into the
collar...jacking the price up considerably. "But madam, see the
quality...feel the texture of the fine cotton...see the intricate
design...blah blah blah. The hard thing is I have the exact shirt
that I want but I got it on the beach in the Sinai for about $1.
When I share this fact with the shopkeepers...they step back in
disbelief. "But madam, you can't possibly buy a shirt for that
here...our costs, the quality, the design, the tag blah blah
blah. It really gets quite exhausting. I resort to the
deferential response that my price and their price will never meet and
that I do not want to waste their time anymore...which would never be
complete without the quintessential Indian Head Bobble. For those
of you not familiar with this...think of the little dolls that you can
buy at home that you tap on the head and then think about how the head
moves... Ok, so you have the picture. It is really the
sweetest and most endearing thing you can see because it is almost
always accompanied by a huge smile and bright eyes that shine right at
you. I find myself smiling back and waving my head back and forth
which usually elicits an increasingly positive response from the person
I am bobbling at. During negotiations, I'm not sure exactly what
it means but it seems to soften the blow of whatever refusal or comment
I am making. The last thing you want to be is overtly rude
here...it doesn't go over well at all.
I was at the post office the other day, politely insisting that they
mark all of the stamps on my postcards and letters I was mailing...the
head bobble was not accompanied by a smile and it seemed a bit less
enthusiastic. The lady behind the counter motioned for me to just
place them in the slot for mailing. I repeatedly made my polite
request and then when she started to ignore me and wait on other
customers...I just stood there and finally she called one of here
colleagues over who then made quite a show of stamping, in such a manner
as to make a very loud thump, each and every one of my postcards.
It was quite a scene but, if the stamps aren't marked then sometimes
they are removed, put on another letter or parcel and your is just
thrown away. While I was there I picked up a brochure advertising
books about healing written by a Swami called Ramdev which suprisingly is
available through the post office (had to put it in my journal) and watched as
fabric parcels were placed on the counter for mailing. To
discourage theft, the post office require that all parcels be sewn into
a fabric package that is then sealed along the hand sewn seams with
colored candle wax. Let's hope that they do get stuck in the rain!
Tonight I walked along the beach, watched the sunset amongst the
historic Chinese fishing nets set up permanently along the
coastline. They are quite spectacular to see although the usual
debris, stink and trash clutter the otherwise graceful view. Took
a photo for an Indian family and then they wanted a photo with me in it
with them. It was quite nice...