Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Why I smell like poo-

This morning I watched the sun rise over the Ghats in Varanasi. A holy man filled my hands marigolds, walked me down to the river and had me chant with him as he broke up the petals and spread them through my palms. He blessed me with a good boyfriend who would be a good husband and that I would have a good son. (I didn't even ask! Mostly I was hoping he would bless me with a job, but I guess I'll take either.) Then he sprinkled my hair with water from the river. Which is where everyone in the city bathes. And does their laundry. And dumps their sewage. And burns their dead bodies. I gave him 100 rupees anyway.

Later, on the steps of the Ghats, Krista was approached by a man offering a head massage for 50 rupees (about $1). You should know something about Krista. She is a connoisseur of massage. She's also a complete sucker for any sort of massage offered. ANYTHING. Just ask her. She'll prove it. There were other tourists being given massages on the steps and it looked ...interesting. At the least, it would be worth 50 rupees. She agreed to his price and went for moral support (to take pictures). The old man walked us over to a small dugout type of apartment room with a curtain hanging in front. He kept proffering the massage and we got increasingly disturbed by his insistance. At this point, he has a buddy, who keeps prodding me along as well, even though I've insisted I've just been sprinkled in holy water and don't want my hair touched. (True story. See above.) We see several men leave the curtained room, adjusting their loincloths as they go...shadier and stranger yet. But the wall outside is painted "woman massage for woman," so we figure, "what harm can there be?" We walk up the little steps and inside are two small floormats and a chair. That took up the entire cubbyhole room. From there it turned into my little friend saying he just wanted to hold my hand and try for just a minute (and you know how I love a good handrub...) into being face down on a sheet that had probably not been washed in years and had a slight smell of poo. It was probably the best massage I'd had in months.

You know how they say, "Always change your underwear, because you never know when you'll get hit by a bus"? At this point, a bus is the least of my worries. A tuk-tuk, a motorcycle, a bike, a cow...we've either already been hit by or had near misses of all these. I just hope when they find me, I don't smell like poo.

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