Monday, December 12, 2011

when i think i know, i know not.

here's a smarty pants episode. i think i know a bit about indian customs. after all i have had a guru, who's indian, for two decades. right? wrong. here's how it goes down. there i am in satara, india, in a museum which was created by a local maharaja. it houses an amazing collections of objects and paintings including copies of mona lisa and works of rembrant. this maharaja really traveled around the globe. so after browsing through a series of probably hundreds of elaborate and intricate paintings that depict the story of ramayana i am more than ready to...pee. a quick glance tells me my hostess is sitting on the other side of the spacious courtyard. i say to myself, hey, i can handle this, i'm just going to pee. so i go straight out of the museum and ask the security at the entrance, toilet? with gestures supplementing his english he says, go around. i think, okay, no big deal, i'll just go around. turns out i have to go around a couple of corners, almost the length and breadth of the museum. at times i am trodding unpaved mud path between knee high weeds. finally i enter a block of brick structure. it is clean. four stalls. the one furthest from me is closed. i go up to the first one, gives the half-closed door a gentle push. what do i see? a cubicle tiled wall to wall. a faucet. a tiny trench against the wall. no hole. i go to the second stall. same thing. third stall. same thing. by now i realize i have two options. turn around, seek clarification. but i am already feeling i can't hold it for the long walk back. i take a deep breath. it takes quite a bit of washing everywhere to clean up the mess.

later that evening i ask sadhana, my hostess. she says, those stalls are for people to wash their feet and even bathe before entering the museum. she is absolutely certain that the fourth stall is a latrine. i will never find out that one but i know this much. when i think i know, i know not. 

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