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Archive for May 14th, 2008

One of my Spanish friends is coming to visit. She will stay for a brief while in Bombay before catching a train for Kerala. I asked her where she was going to stay in Bombay. She said she was thinking of staying at a hotel. I told her she would stay with me. Not could, would.

She then asked me what she should say to the taxi driver to reach my place. I said I would pick her up. Not could, would. It is an imposition. What with flight delays I could be waiting around for hours. But I will do it.

Gracious Indian hospitality? No, not quite. More like great Indian shame. I don’t care about the filth or the poor infrastructure or the beggars and cows. Some goras even find that intriguing.

It’s the Indian man. I know what she will go through as a single white female when she lands at the Bombay airport and tries to find a taxi and a hotel. I cringe at the thought of the scores of groping unscrupulous taxi drivers she will have to cut through and the dingy hotel with lecherous men hanging around eyening her speculatively, hungrily even.

This is not her fist time In India and she had encountered all this before. Still some part of me wants to save her the unpleasant experience as much as I can.  I wish I could make this trip as safe and memorable as mine was to Spain. For God’s sake, a taxi driver in Madrid even turned off the meter when he was forced to take a detour! There was a demonstration because of which he was forced to take the longer road. He figured that it wasn’t my fault that there was a rally and switched off the metre. What’s more, he even refused a tip!

I wish there was some way she could have as pleasant memories of Indians (men) and mine are of the Spanish. I wish I could shield her all the way to and from Kerala as well. I regret that I cannot help her beyond Bombay.

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