Sunday, 21 February 2010

No No No, Its Not The Varanasi No Dance

written 3 years ago
when i went varanasi agra
rather than agra varanasi
O, just yesterday, how he marched so cleanly through all the milling street-pavement-square- arch-entrance throngs, how he carved through them like a hot knife through melting butter, how he affixed his fiercer eyes upon his fierce face and how he A-to-B-ed like no-one has A-to-B-ed round here since the rampaging Muslim hordes of 300 yore… how, yes, he arched his eyebrows in that unmistakable negative, how he rolled his eyes and shook his determined jaw one way while shaking his head the other way, and mouthed a muttered no or a crisp no thank you, not today, sorry no, and no not thank you again as he shrugged his shoulders in a distinct definite not while rolling his wrists one way and wagging his index finger the other while shaking the other wrist in a subtler negative, and wagging that other index finger whatever way all the while looking deeply, distinctly, down-to- every- last- detail, uninterested, unlikely to ever get interested and, most importantly of all, not stopping, not stopping for anything and looking like nothing, not anything, not anything ever, could, has, will, or might ever make him stop… and, o yes, how it worked, how it all so inconclusively, unstoppably, profoundly, successfully said shouted whispered and declaimed, NO, Not, Not Any and definitely, Nothing At All … for nothing could stop him and would he stop? no he would not… not for watersellers, restaurants, dhabas, sarees, auto-rickshaws, cycle-rickshaws, postcards, chess sets, taxis, carpets, bangles, ivory boxes, wooden elephants, pashminas, shoes, internet, t-shirts, table-runners, fruitsellers, auto-rickshaws, cycle-rickshaws, bike hire, soap gandhis on a rope, taj mahal snowdomes, potatoes, aubergines, exchange, beer, jewellery, silk… no not anything will ever make him stop, even if he does want oranges, internet, exchange and more…not for bangles, bracelets, necklaces, guidebooks, India maps, spices, incense, bindis, stone work, auto-rickshaws, cycle-rickshaws, postcards, giant khalis, mini-khalis, not while giving money to beggars, looking in shops, eyeing up random aubergines… not ever not not not will he ever stop… except, ummm, today… when the word sucker, affixed so seemingly indelibly to the forehead of the cheery-smiling nice-teeth brightness-brimming Canadian, has somehow shifted overnight onto his forehead and so , suddenly, uncharacteristically, complete with friendly interested beaming smile, she is unstoppably strolling while he, he, the master- blackbelt nonstopper of just yesterday, is snake-sliding, is stopping for begging children, for juice-sellers, for Premi the cycle-rickshaw man who somehow, expertly, engages him with his niceness, his charm, his need, his two days without a customer, his three children and, after the next thing after the next thing after next, with Premi ever- smiling returning guiding chatting returning, Mr Jams and Miss Lisa are, after the somehow fleecing by the toothless conman at the fourth mosque in a month called the Jamma Masud, uncomfortably sat on his uncomfortable rickshaw watching the man’s arms back and legs strain them through the haberdashers’ bazaar on their way, away from where they really wanted to go, towards the utterly rubbish-strewn banks of the Yamuna to see another view of the backside of the Taj Mahal and stride through the scavenging dogs and the eviscerated corpses of cows, through the truly rubbishy rubbish the rubbish becomes after the scavengers beggars children dogs goats cows and crows have picked and picked and torn and sorted and picked and eaten and torn their way through it again and again and very again while they can hear the distant singing of the washer- women on the far bank below the railway bridge which is where they did want to go but aren’t because they are, even more incomprehensibly, on their way to meet Premi’s brother Askar on his auto-rickshaw, to be expertly transferred and taken to a silver-saree-shawl-carpet-trinket- woodcarving -shop way past their hotel, all because premi gets commission and the ex-non-sucker Varanasi-no-dance- ex-expert has mysteriously, despite himself, despite all experience-habit- knowledge-defences-and-sense, to the laughter of the ex-sucker non-sucker, agreed to all of this and they are now on their uneager proven-greenhorn way to the next carpet-shawl-saree-woodcarving- silverware-jewellery-giantkhali shop

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