There’s a flipside to being an Indian travelling in India. On the one hand, the touts do seem to leave me alone moreso than the white travellers. On the other hand, I am susceptible to the disdain the Indian establishment often shows its own. A white woman I met who lives here in Bombay was bedecked in seemingly Indian garb. She went to a restaurant to use the toilet, and was blocked by the guard until he realized she was white, then she was allowed to enter. Toilet access determined by skin colour. Think about it.
It is worth pointing out that this woman suffers from many of the same unfortunate choices I have earlier attributed to hippies, though she is not one. Specifically, the clothing ensemble she has opted to wear resembles that of street people, or more precisely, members of the city’s lowest classes. Clearly race is confounded with class here, as it is elsewhere in the world. But that does not discount the tendency for Indians to dimiss their own.
As a proud metrosexual, I went to arrange a massage at a salon where two white friends were having pedicures. (Hey, no snickering; if you’ve never had a pedicure, go try it!) The white tourists were greeted with smiles and warmth. I was greeted with businesslike coldness. I can only assume this was a response to my race: they took me to be Indian, therefore unworthy of their best social/commercial efforts. I’m having the massage tomorrow and will report back when I’m supple and oiled.
After a few hours spent at Elephanta island (where 1500 year old Hindu temples and sculptures adorn huge caves infested with aggressive monkeys), I returned to the mainland and sucked back a litre of Kingfisher beer. I am now drunk off my ass and desperately desiring my bed.
And yes, I am way overdue on all my tasks!