Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Slow Down

A glimpse into the process of haggling, and inter-city travel.
Page 118 from my book, The Great Year - India Edition, our last day in Khajuraho and then heading off to Varanasi.

Text below.

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The slow down has officially begun. I think we’re at the point where we’re simply just enjoying India. There’s not much of an agenda, other than eat, explore, enjoy. Sounds like a book title. Laura spent a good deal of time negotiating for some wall hangings and cloth lanterns, back and forth with the proprietor. It was like watching a cross between a tennis match and a Vaudeville act, but with more contact. As the guy set the stage for the final act, Laura replied with a forehand smash. I will accept that offer, she said, if you throw in these two wall hangings. Oy, you’re bad, I said. The man put a heavy hand on my shoulder and said, wearily and with the appearance of great effort, Oh, thank you sir...thank you! as though commiserating with someone who recognized Laura’s deviousness. Then he quickly agreed and happily set to work assembling our purchases.

*  *  *

     Today we are bound for Varanasi. As soon as we are seated in the newer model vehicle, I turn to Laura and say, I could get used to this...The car takes half the time of the bus/train combo, and for that we are truly thankful. I’m remembering one of our bus rides, hours long over mostly dirt roads with windows that didn’t exactly close. We were covered in dirt by the end. Literally covered - after the trip I shook out my formerly white cotton shirt, and we could hear the debris hitting the ground. There are no bathrooms on the buses so you have to wait until the bus stops somewhere and hope that it stops long enough for you to do what you need to do, and it seems like they never replace the shocks on these things...what was I saying again? Forgot to mention that on the trip to Khajuraho we made a stop where Matthew and I got off to look for a bathroom. Well, this was just a snack stop apparently, as there were a ton of chip vendors but no toilet in sight. We found a policeman and asked where we might find a bathroom. He sort of bobbed his head in a direction across the busy street. Well, there is no official looking bathroom here, just an open space, a fence and plenty of men with their backs to us. Official enough. 

Carrying on to the next page:
     This car ride however, is uneventful, at least as uneventful as an eight-hour car ride in the middle of India (quite literally the middle) can be. Even the town with the car-sized pot holes (that is no joke or hyperbole - there was construction going on that necessitated ninety-degree turns in every direction, including down and up) does not merit much more than a glance from us. I am, however, happy to know that there is a town with more and slightly larger potholes than Winnipeg.

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