Wednesday, April 25, 2007

the adventures of israeli sandals in rishikesh

Shai and Adam, a couple we met at the yom ha'atzmaut party, told us about a Hindu musical jam at the Center of Light yoga center, so we picked up Prakash, his dijeridoo and my drum and went to play. It turned out be not so much a jam as a concert, which started off seeming pretty dodgy with a western duo who studied in Pakistan playing tabla and sitar while the 4-year-old daughter of a couple of Hare Krishna devotees danced in strange poses next to them only half-covered in a red and white sheet. The jam ended about 3 hours later with an Australian dude in a jodhpur beatboxing and singing reggae in loops while the whole room danced.

Afterward, Dani and I piled on to Prakash's bike, who asked us to come back to his place to sleep. It was such a treat, because of his fan that actually works and his cool marble floors. I was exhausted, having nearly passed out at the concert, and went right to bed.

My sandals, which I had fixed in Jerusalem before I left, broke again, so the next morning after dropping some stuff back off at the guest house, Prakash and I went into town to find a sandler. It is an unbelievable feeling to ride on the back of a motorcycle in the mountain air, and Prakash is a very good driver. The sandlers in India I am a little less impressed with. The first one we went to was a little thin man sitting barefoot and cross-legged on the side of the road hammering rusty nails into my shoe.

Via Prakash, I tried to tell the sandler that while he had done a fine job crudely sewing black leather on my light brown shoes, I really didn't want to step on rusty nails. Prakash told me that these were the nails everyone used. I told him that all rusty nails were once silver and there must be some fresh ones somewhere in Rishikesh. Out when the rusty nails, and in went the black thread which if left alone could last maybe a week. Five rupees to the nice man, and off to another sandler. This one had a few silver nails in his lump, but did not understand what to do with the broken leather. Prakash reasoned with him, explaining to me that he was teaching him how to fix the sandal. To no avail, so we went to the next stall over. This sandler just shook his head and handed me back my sandal. They're pretty crudely fixed now, and may break soon, but there is no real shoe selection in Rishikesh (all plastic) so I'll wait until I get to Dehra Dun in a few days.

I am treated differently by people in Rishikesh when I ride around with Prakash. Many people have made comments to him, in Hindi, which I can't understand, but I know are about me since they are all said with a gesture in my direction. I assume they have something to do with me being white and a foreigner. I've also noticed that when Indian women ride behind a man on the back of a motorcycle, they sit perpindicular to the driver, with their legs swinging over the side, not right behind the way I do. I don't really know what people think about an Indian guy riding around with a white girl, but considering that Prakash has told me that his father will pick out his wife for him when the time is right, I imagine local people may think our friendship is strange.


neuralchaos said...
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neuralchaos said...

Well, I don't know what to say about the Prakash story. There is India and then there is India. In fact, there are so many Indias in India. Nothing is impossible there.