guided by a friend
November 26, 2015 - single portrait
One cannot get into a Monument in India without being occupied by a handful of guides (or swing a cat without hitting one), who are get alarmed as soon as the car enters the parking place where they wait for their victims. The more competing colleagues are around the more forceful they approach their potential customers. Sometimes they even open you the car door pretending to polite, but it’s just all for business. Each of them swears to the Hindu gods that he has an official permission by the Indian government and the Ministry of Tourism and presents a badly crafted and laminated id-card that says whatever in Hindi, perhaps a membership of a Yoga Ashram, a kitchy quotation from a Bollywood Movie or a selfmade piece that says in hindi: “i am not a official guide as i pretend to, but i do a fairly good job anyway”. who knows?
our driver warned us several times, because the good man he really was had own plans with us. he arranged with this guide who waited for us in front of the Mandawa Fort in Rajasthan to start a city tour. Other guides approached us hastily but we already had an arrangement as it turned out. we had absolute no reason to complain. Mukesh was 21 years old and from the Brahmin caste, the highest caste in the system, who had been priests in ancient times. mukesh as he told us performed as a student for the family owned local tourist agency and dreams to later move to delhi as a guide. And he made an amazing job. he was very patient, answered our many questions, let us time to explore the sights by our own, explained everything very precisely. It was rather like walking with a friend who was showing us his hometown and telling family stories. his family actually is in the fabric business for generations and lives in a Haveli they occupied many years ago, when it was still common that other families moved into the abandoned Havelis and after 10 or 15 years they could declare domiciliary rights. The owners live somewhere else and don’t care about. while earlier the family sold fabrics, they let weave in the surrounding villages, only to merchants at home they today run a small shop in the old town for walk-in costumers. So it wasn’t too surprising that he in the end of the tour he brought us to the shop, where his uncle patiently showed us what he had to sell. That’s how things go in India. Everything is about business, but in such a familar cozy way, that in the end everybody gehts happy and grateful and even gifted by a fair trade, by a tea Mukesh organized from a nearby cafe, by a good talk and an sinight to the beautiful wold of Indians colorful fabrics I finally decided for a pinkish-blueish pashmina scarf of quite good quality i have to remember how shopping can be besides clicking a dead cold keyboard button.
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