21. November 2002 11:58
India, brought to you by Coca Cola
Ok. I just spent an hour writing
back to as many emails as I could that had direct questions
and such. Now it is time for that impersonal mass email once
That night that I emailed
you lot, I was confronted in the alleyway by a guy in a blue
shirt. Somehow he knew I was from Canada (I suppose word travelled
fast in that little area) and called out "Hey Canada,
where are you going? I want to talk to you. I've been waiting
out here for you". Yes. In your country that might be
flattering, but when a man waits for you in a dark alleyway,
we call that stalking.
Where on earth do I begin?
India is still the land of crack. Maybe someone slipped me
a bad batch of acid and I am actually at home, on my couch,
with Twin Peaks on the television.
We went to Jaipur in Rajasthan. It was nice to get out of
Delhi. While on the road, you pass dirty shacks where people
are selling food or anything else... another 200 meters and
there is nothing... another 200 meters and there are 20 camels
nibbling on some overhead leaves... another 200 meters and
there is a groupings of mud and straw houses with water buffalo
outside... another 200 meters and there is a free standing
McDonalds... another... what? I'm sorry... what the fuck was
that? Where am I? What is WRONG with this place? A McDonalds
that looks exactly like the ones at home, in the middle of
nowhere, between the starving farmers and the camel pond.
Crack baby land. That is where I am.
Every 5 minutes you are guaranteed to see a stone open-faced
'building' that is covered with Coke images. Second to that
are Pepsi, and then Cadbury. *just makes a stunned Dan face*.
Coke makes a brand of water here. I spend most of my time
drinking coke when I don't have a plastic water bottle glued
to my hand. Their logo says "100% Trust". We've
expanded on this, and say "In Coke We Trust".
Here's some differences between home and Jaipur. At home,
you go into a monument or heritage site, people are generally
quiet, you look around leisurely, and then you make a stop
at the gift shop if you like before leaving. In Jaipur, you
go into a site that is probably bustling, even if only 5 people
are there. You don't stick around one spot too long because
a) you will be accosted by the 70th hired guide who wants
to work for you or b) the smell of urine may overwhelm you,
since not only do men piss on the streets (in Delhi and Agra
too) wherever and whenever they want, but they also choose
a specific room INSIDE anything that is partly outdoors (this
example was in a historical fort), or c) someone will try
to sell you something or send their starving child over to
get you to give them money, or finally d) the monkeys will
get you. That's right. The monkeys will get you. We were in
a palace where the windows were open, and there were a group
of monkeys playing inside.
I've started new techniques to dealing with undesirable situations.
A girl was persistent with trying to sell me some postcards.
She followed me forever, and I just could not shake her. I
finally counter offered her things I owned and tried to sell
them to HER instead. "Water bottle... for you, 100 rupees.
No? 75 rupees. Used ticket to fort, 50 Rupees". She was
confused, then laughed, then finally left.
We had an experience with child beggars again. The first one
that is emblazoned on my mind would be when we were stopped
in Jaipur, and a young girl came up to Penny's window and
just lay her forehead on it, staring in at us with a tin cup
in her hand. It was the longest red light of my life. I don't
know what made that one stand out so much... maybe because
it was our first up-close experience. All I know is that we
have never talked about it.
There were more experiences. Kids with amputated limbs, children
who look like they haven't been changed or had a bath in weeks.
Not all of them fit this profile. Some are dressed in normal
wear and look the same as other kids. If they aren't sent
by their parents for money, they ask "Photo? Pens? Chocolate?
Chewing Gum?". The children are most persistent. One
time I looked back at this little girl who was following me,
asking for these things in a pretty little pink dress, and
put my hands out to her as I asked "Cheeseburger? Pizza?
Coke?" She laughed at the crazy white woman and said
no. I shrugged and we parted ways.
Ok. Sending this off before starting part 2.
Next Mail: coke part 2
travelogue is part of the subside