Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Imperialism Song and Dance

Our field trip to Laporiya today was cancelled due to inclement weather aka a freak thunderstorm that is never supposed to happen this time of year. After watching a classically ridiculous 3 hour Bollywood movie at the school, a group of us decide to do some monsoon sight-seeing. So we make the 20 minute auto rickshaw ride to the City Palace just in time for some sunshine. I won’t even try to describe palace, it was massive and unspeakably beautiful. I did however make a complete fool out of myself in one of the buildings. It housed most of the traditional wears of past kings and such, and the ceiling was this gorgeous carved white and pale blue marble. So as any tourist/student would do, I whip out my camera and take a picture. I forgot about the large sign at the entrance that said no photography. This traditionally dressed security guard comes running in my direction, holding his red turban with it’s 3 foot train, and shouting at me in Hindi. I, of course, am transfixed on getting a good angle for this ceiling and hear nothing. India is freaking loud-- I’ve learned to not be phased by shouting. By the time he reaches me and I’ve realized why he’s shouting, my flash has already gone off, aging the ancient clothing by at least a decade. The entire room is full of Indian students who have heard the shouting and are now looking at me with disgust for just tampering with their history. What an imperialist I’ve become.
After walking through this palace, we head towards the next one, which is called Hawa Mahal. It’s this great monument that was built so that the royal women could watch processions in the street without showing their faces to the public. Google it. So amazing. Anyway, as we’re walking there the usual street creeper comes up to our small pack of white girls and starts saying “hello, you’re so pretty, can I have two minutes?” As always, we ignore him and keep walking. Usually he’ll follow us, repeating the same three lines, for 2 minutes before he’s bored. This guy was rather persistent and started to ask my friend if she wasn’t talking to him because he was Indian, or because he wasn’t white, or because he was black. After ten ish minutes when we still ignored him, he says “Fucking bitches!” and leaves. We were just insulted in our language by a Hindi-native because we wouldn’t . Again, what imperialists.
Lastly, we stop in a notebook shop and browse through its stacks. Jaipur is famous for its hand-made paper, and I am a notebook fiend. I brought 11 notebooks here, including two mini ones for pockets for those times when I can’t carry one. The shopkeeper is incredibly nice and a great opposition to the ass we just escaped. He tells me all about the paper and such without doing the usual Indian song and dance of pushing you to buy everything in their store right     NOW for an outrageous price. I settle on the ones I like and he sells them to me for pretty cheap. I’m feeling great cuz I asked him the price in Hindi, haggled in Hindi, and he gave it to me. Then in Hindi he asks where I’m from, to which I respond in Hindi that I’m American. He immediately asks, in English, if I’m interested in the Kama Sutra books. I cannot escape the loose morals stereotype.

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