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August 17, 2005

Durga, Queuing, Paan

Yesterday I spent the whole day being transported by the same cycle rickshaw driver. I was his only customer for the day and I paid him well because I felt that he was a really good person. I went to a silk shop, the Durga Temple and Banaras Hindu University.

You have to take your shoes off to go into the Durga Temple but they don't clean the floor in there. There is a layer of black goo on the floor so my feet came out really dirty. There are a large number of bells which you can ring and various shrines inside to visit. I was the only non-Indian there. It was the dirtiest temple I've been in.

Indians don't seem to understand queuing. Many times, I have been waiting behind someone in a queue and when that person is done, an Indian family comes and pushes in front of me. So I have to wait while all ten of them get tickets, or whatever. It's like I don't exist.

They use their vehicle horns a lot here. There is a continual beeping of horns. Often walking through the lanes of the old city, a motorcycle will be trying to work it's way through the crowd of people and will repeatedly and randomly honk the horn. Those horns are designed to be heard by another motorist, so they are very loud if you are standing right next to them. On several occasions, my ears have been left ringing from the noise, it actually hurts. The next time I come to a place like this, I will bring ear plugs to protect my hearing.

Many men chew a thing called paan. It prevents them from being able to talk properly because they are trying to keep all the brown spit in their mouth. It also dyes their teeth brown. Every so often, they will lean over and spit out several ounces of brown liquid on the floor. I have been in an auto-rickshaw and got the spray from this in my face and eyes.

I bought a really beautiful silk table cloth from a silk shop. It cost only 32 pounds even though it took a month to make. The guy told me that he had sold this design to Harrods. I'm not sure if he was being totally truthful. He was chewing paan also.


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