Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Last Sunday we went to the National Museum. Same old-cultures, eras, broken pottery and frayed textiles of these cultures and eras. It was moderately interesting, but we mostly went to get out of the heat. We went into the theater and dumbly watched a baffling film about a golden statue of Buddha (I think) before Jenny said to me "What are we watching?" which surpassed my favorite thing she said-the first morning, sleepily before we'd said anything else "So...the beds are hard." I may not have mentioned this, but none of the mattresses are at all springy. You land on them with an unexpected thud. Monday I reuined a haggling session of Jenny's for a couple of salwar-kameezes by naively piping up "Gee, that sounds like a pretty good deal." She was nice about it, but she was pretty annoyed, too. We had been in the Palika Bazaar, an underground market which reminded me of a casino, in the overwhelming sensory input and the darkened environment meant to blind you to the outside world. I am refraining from buying much (except my shirt and pashmina, both overpriced) till I can get a better handle on the baseline prices. As I said, I don't mind there being mostly seller surplus (in the economic sense), but I think prices will be cheaper here in Dehradun. At the National Museum, we met a few guards. One gave us mango while we lunched in the Canteen, and later, in his gallery of musical instruments, a cookie and some nuts warm from his pocket. He managed to slyly ask both me and Jenny if we were "available" He was old! But pretty sweet all things considered. In another gallery, I attempted to mimic a Buddha statue's mudra, a complicated hand position much more intricate than the usual YogaYoga forefinger-to-thumb mudra. Jenny and Mari tried to mimic me, and we turned to find a guard also mimicking us and laughing. He attempted to ascertain Jenny's status by asking if she was our mother. This managed to shock all of us and offend her somewhat. Another thing I may forget to write about if I don't write it now is how overstaffed everywhere is. I guess when you have a population of nearly a billion, you enter the realm of diminishing returns, especially when the economy can't support nearly that many. It gets confusing trying to remember who took your order, whom you should pay, how you get the food.