Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A day at the ghats

A lazy day today.

Woke up, wandered down to the ghat to go and talk to my new sadhu friend. A bunch of other similarly dressed sadhus were there (and equally lacking in teeth). Not so fun this afternoon, so I promptly left.

Wandered through the market, and went on a shopping spree. I'm now the proud owner of a nice pair of handmade leather shoes, and a very decent red/orange wool hooded pullover. If i'm still cold tonight, I'll buy some thicker trousers.

Then, after wandering through the streets sampling whatever street food I could find, I headed back to the ghats for the sunset.

I normally warn western women against shaking hands with Indian guys. Sure, a few are being friendly, but the fact is, that it's quite a titillating experience for the men, and it can lead to bad things...

It's much easier for women to press their hands together in a semi prayer sign, and say namaste. It's polute, you respond to the person's request to shake your hand, and don't have to touch him.

However, for the first time, I've had to actually resort to doing this myself.

You see - the tourist hotspots (such as the sunset ghat) seem to be frequented by what the sadhu called Gypsy Girls. They're very very pretty, a few of whom are rather young, outfitted in traditional indian clothes, makeup, jewellery, etc, and are quite anxious to shake hands with any western man who doesn't run from them. I watched this from a distance......

First a handshake, then a palm-reading, then a bit of subtle hand massage while 2-3 friends appear from nowhere, requests for a photograph, etc... The Sadhu said that the girls will do "everything" with the foreigners - quite interesting in itself, given that the red-light industry I've witnessed elsewhere in India seems to cater mostly to the domestic market. I've (thankfully) not been offered this kind of thing more than once or twice during the whole trip.

But in any case, it was quite fun to watch hapless westerners being smoothtalked by these ladies, only to end up giving them money in a highly frustrated attempt to be free of them.

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