Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chapter Three

In Which I Realize I Don't Know How to Count (Nor Do I Care) and Have A Temple Experience That Has Absolutely Nothing To Do With Being A Good Little Mormon Girl

We got up early to go out to Khajuraho - I really wanted to beat the tourists, and heading out at 7 was not really what I considered early after my trip with Belinda last year. I've got to tell you, there is a short list of coolest-ever places I've traveled. Until Tuesday, it included only Fushimi-Inari-Taisha in Kyoto and the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul, but I'm adding Khajuraho to the list. And not just because of the erotic sculpture (see, I told you it had nothing whatsoever to do with being Mormon...) which the temples are famous for (seriously, I learned about them in my Asian art history class). There is just something organic about Hindu architecture, and the sheer wealth of detail with which every surface of the temples are embellished is mind-blowing. Me likey. Also cool was the fact that the last temple we came to had a monkey infestation. Literally. The place was crawling with them. It was very reminiscent of the Jungle Book.

Well, I liked the sculpture so much that I decided I HAD to have my own little sandstone sculpture to take home with me, of one of the less explicit erotic couples. During the process of haggling the sales guy kept trying to pawn some of the more exciting ones off on me - he didn't really get the fact that I just was not into threesomes, foursomes...moresomes...bestiality...nope, not really my bag. I also happened to notice that he had miniatures, and I really wanted to buy myself a painting from India, so I asked to see some. Maybe I even asked to see some that were "Kama sutra style," because I was maybe feeling naughty and some of the illustrations are not as explicit. Of course, though, I mean, come on, if you're a tourist and you're buying a miniature, and you want a kama sutra illustration, you're NOT (probably) looking to get something you can put on your wall, right? So they didn't exactly have what I was looking for, and the following conversation ensued:

Me: Hmmm. Well, these aren't really what I was looking for.
Salesguy: Is good.
Me: Oh, yes, very nice, but my mother would freak if she came to my home and saw this on the wall.
Salesguy: No. Sex is natural.
Me: Yes, Sex is natural.
Salesguy: Without sex you not be here.
Me: Oh no, you're right, but I'm looking more for something about love.
Salesguy: You love, you sex. They go together.
Me: Of course, but again, not something my mother really needs to see.

And with that I grabbed my sculpture and scampered off to another part of the shop, where Evil was bartering over "pashmina" shawls.

We saw the eastern temple group, and then our guide offered to take us to the old village, where he lives, and he explained about the different castes and showed us around. The Evil One and I emptied our pockets of coins, as the children - and some of the old ladies - who had obviously seen a whitey or two in their day, were unabashed at coming up and saying, "Hello? Rupee? Hello? Rupee?" and having their picture taken.

After that, it was lunchtime (Indian at a roof-top tourist restaurant), followed by a Evil-induced trip to the bookstore up the street (she'd read all of her books, and the one I had that she hadn't read yet, plus one that she'd bought in Agra - which is an emergency in Evilworld), where I found A Short History of Nearly Everything (which came highly recommended by Dougie-Poo, and as books are cheap here, it joined the dozen or so that I am ALREADY bringing back). Thus situated, we were ready to brave the long road back to Jhansi, and it was only 12:30. Not bad. No, BAD would come later on that day. Stay tuned.

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