December 31, 2007

A Milestone (of sorts)

Since moving here I wondered if I'd always stick out like an obvious foreigner, or if eventually at least some of the time people would treat me like a "local." There have been a few small instances, but yesterday something happened that made me feel like I'd truly arrived.

I got shooed away from a store by someone! It was one of the myriad of curio/handicraft/rug stores that are constantly inviting tourists to "come look." They are filled with carved wooden Ganeshas, tacky souvenirs, and overpriced rugs. Anyway, I was sitting on a railing in front of the store waiting for Debbie wearing a cheap cotton FabIndia kurta. After I'd been idling there for a while, a guy came out of the store and made the "tshh tshh" noise you make to get someone to move out of your way, and made shooing motions with his hands. I was being shooed away from his store!

I was shocked, I'm used to having to tell them that no, I'm not interested in looking at his rugs, or buying a nice pashmina, or a chess set even at a "very good price." So it was very amusing. I had arrived - I wasn't seen as a rich tourist to be cozened, but rather a local nuisance to be shooed away. At least for those few moments I was a local.

In another small milestone, we went to Chitra Santhe, the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat's annual art show/sale on Kumara Krupa Road. The entire road is closed to traffic and lined on both sides with artists showing and selling their art. (Most of the art was, as another attendee put it, "not breaking any boundaries" but we picked up a Madhubani Nagini that I'm quite happy with.) We took an auto to get there and our auto driver had no idea where it was. He got lost and we had to direct him but we finally made it. While paying for the ride, a woman came up and asked him if he knew where the Chitra Santhe was, on Kumara Krupa road. I laughed. "He has no idea where it is, but that's where we're going - it's just down at the end of this road," I said pointing down a nearby side street. She thanked me and got back in her car. So not only had we told the auto driver how to get where we wanted to go (not that unusual) we had also given a local directions! A small triumph, but it made us happy.

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