Today in India I met a German doctor who told me that everywhere he goes, people treat him like a celebrity, but they also take it upon themselves to show him their ailments. While riding in a tuk tuk the other day and the driver learning of his profession, the man stopped, jumped out, rolled up his sleeve and revealed a huge, ugly scar that looked like his flesh had been savaged with a knife. The doctor frowned. “What happened?” he asked.
The driver shrugged. “I had tattoo. My mother not like so I cut off.”
We discussed many similarly enjoyable travelling tales around the table before I took myself to a little café called Teapot to attend to some admin tasks. This café was coincidentally full of teapots. I asked the lovely lady watching a soap with her feet up behind the desk whether her WIFI was working and she nodded her head, which was good news for these parts, so I sat down and ordered a cup of coffee – or what I have come to accept will be hot brown water. The WIFI didn’t work.
I went back to the lady and said “sorry but your WIFI isn’t working,” to which I received another head nod; this time with a tight closing-of-the-eyes. I was beginning to suspect something was amiss. I said tentatively, “So, your WIFI is not working?”
At this I received a nod of the head so severe I feared her skull might actually dislocate itself from her neck and roll across the floor and I’d be held responsible. I stood there perplexed. Was the WIFI working or not? Did they even have WIFI? Was she just nodding her head at everything I said?
I tried another question. “Is your coffee Nescafe, or filter?” She opened her eyes. All was still for a moment. She looked deep into my eyes. Then came the nod again – a deep thrusting of the forehead towards the floor, followed by the backwards loll of her head towards the seat padding; then from side to side in a strange jovial jig that was so enthusiastic I fully expected her to jump up from her chair and start up a Bollywood routine. Eventually it slowed to a mild rock and her eyes returned to the soap and I sloped dismayed and uncertain back to my table to ignore all WIFI enabled devices and look at some more teapots.
With my admin incomplete I ventured to a nearby market on the fishy-smelling waterfront, whereupon I was instantly shat on by a flying sea bird. Raising a hand to my hair I stared in dismay at the messy brown, watery turd now seeping through my fingers, but before I had a chance to turn around and reach for my hand sanitizer I was being beckoned onto a pier by a stubbly-faced fisherman in stripy board shorts. The man took it upon himself to explain the entire history of a 1400-year-old fishing contraption, snatched my camera, took about ninety photos of me that I didn’t particularly want while I was splattered in shit, and then happily charged me for the privilege.
He was a little miffed when I only gave him 40 rupees instead of 400 but I hurried off, waving as I went.
On the way back to my home stay I passed a nice five-star hotel, which the German had told me was very nice, so I stopped to look at the restaurant menu, whereupon I was swiftly ushered up the stairs to the covered rooftop. Here a friendly man gestured around another colossal yet unoccupied dining space and set about turning every single ceiling fan on for my benefit. Pondering whether or not it was the most stylish thing to do – to sit in a five-star restaurant with bird shit in my hair – the decision was taken out of my hands when a seat was pulled out for me. I sat down and figured maybe the wind-turbine effects of the hundred fans would dry if off and render it invisible. Not something I’d do back home, but whatever. No one knows me.
Tomorrow I’m going on a houseboat tour. I don’t know who with yet but just in case it’s a hot man I will be washing my hair.