EAST V. WEST
Today’s Vocabulary Words:
D.L. = driver’s license
Sakoo = Kannada for “enough.”
Sulpa-Sulpa = Kannada for “just a little.”
Baksheesh = bribe
Many of the women at the shala unwittingly bare their shoulders and ankles / legs in public. Apparently this is seen as obscene by the locals and it makes them, well, stick out like a sore thumb. (I once ate with a friend at Indian restaurant on a sweltering Chicago day, during which every Indian man in the place glared at us the entire time. Years later I realized they were upset by our brazen display of flesh via shorts and tank-tops. I’ve dressed carefully at Indian restaurants ever since).
So…The other day a not inappropriately dressed Western woman was asked why she doesn’t wear Indian clothes.
“It’s not me,” she said. “It’s not me.”
If they had asked *this* Western woman why she *does* wear Indian clothes, she might have responded,
”It’s not *about* me.”
For one, it makes it easier to move about in the world here.
Especially if one is also wearing a motorcycle helmet and dust mask.
It also earns one almost as many smiles as one’s feeble attempts to speak Kannada.
Today at the shala:
After I’d dropped back two times on my own, Sharath, who’d been standing in front of me the whole time, indicated he was ready to help me do a final dropback (ie, the last backbend of the practice, which is always assisted). But I was ready to do one more.
”Sakoo?” I asked, surprised.
He lauged; "Sakoo? Yes, enough."
Apparently nowadays students only have to drop back twice – not thrice. This was news to me.
In other words, I’ve been killing myself for nothing these past few weeks.
Later, at the non-anesthetized tooth-drilling:
Lady Dentist: What a lovely dress you’re wearing
Even later, driving home via scooter:
I was waved to the side of the road by a policeman standing in the middle of Kalidasa Road. I was too close to ignore him. Like all of his ilk he was wearing khaki pants, white shirt, white gloves, moustache and a rather jaunty white cowboy hat flipped up on one side.
Apparently Kalidasa Road is a one-way street, and I was going the wrong direction.
Another officer, sitting in the shade, said the fine was Rs. 400. He began writing a ticket in Kannada and asked to see my D.L., which I produced. Then he asked to see my insurance papers. Those of you who’ve been following along know that I was pulled over in 2002 and fined Rs 300 or 500, I can’t remember which, for not having my DL. Others have been fined Rs. 500 for no papers. But this time I was prepared, and produced the insurance papers – which had taken days and days to procure from Prashanth’s Aunty. After squinting at them for some time the officer handed the papers back to me and said. “100 rupees fine.”
Which was fine with me.
When I handed him the bill (slightly over $2), he put it in his pants pocket.
Then he asked me to sign the ticket – which was written in Kannada (which I cannot read).
I signed. And then I signed my name again -- in Kannada. The Kannada alphabet is whimsical, to say the least, and my name looks like a snowman with a rolling “o” next to it.
Seeing my signature, the officer gasped in surprise, and smiled. “Kannada!” Then he called over the other officer and the nearby woman shopkeeper, and showed it to them.
”Kannada?” they asked, seeming pleased and surprised.
”Kannada sulpa sulpa,” I replied.
"Ah, 'Kannada sulpa sulpa,'" they repeated, laughing.
“Even she cannot write Kannada,” the arresting officer said, gesturing towards the woman (who was wearing a beautiful blue sari).
“I cannot either,” I said. “It is difficult. Fifty-two letters, and many sounds are there. Too much learning."
“Yes,” the arresting officer agreed. “It is very difficult.”
Then he showed me the route to take back to my hotel, and sent me on my way.
One is not quite such a hit with her fellow westerners.