Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Not the Koraput Fair

Women are often treated dismissively in India but I had not been ... until yesterday that is. A colleague of Dillip's invited me to accompany him to the Koraput Tribal Fair after I mentioned I was interested in textiles. The day started really well. Sarnath showered me with an eclectic array of gifts – a fresh flower, a Hindu rosary, a baseball cap and a book on tribal development. We set off with a random selection of his family, who were hitching a lift part of the way, and our first stop was for a small snack – 7 samosas, heaps of rice, dhal and a slab of cheesecake. When we dropped off the family, I was invited in for tea but, before I had chance to reply, Sarnath declined the invitation on my behalf. My hackles rose slightly but I let it go. Our next stop was an agricultural research centre where he "had a bit of business to do but we would get to Koraput at 3 o'clock". I was foisted on some poor, unsuspecting researchers who were told to take me on a tour of the place while he conducted his business. It was a pleasant way to pass the time even though I was invited to inspect each and every one of the 89 types of rice grown in Orissa - it's amazing how many things you find to say about rice! At 6pm, with no sign of Sarnath, I started to get a bit annoyed - the researchers were going home and I knew the return journey would take 5 hours. He pitched up finally and, on arriving at Koraput, we went to the Jaganath temple. It was rather beautiful but I wasn't that interested because I could see my time for browsing tribal textiles slipping away. As we left the temple, I was informed that, if I still insisted on going, I could spend no more than 10 minutes at the fair. Insisted on going ... it was the only reason I had come. I was marched there at break-neck speed and to hurry me up, he turned and clicked his fingers at me in an attempt to bring me to heel – at this point, I lost patience. Looking him straight in the eye, I did an 180 degree turn and made my way to the first interesting looking stall. I managed to buy something I actually liked but only because the stall-holder clocked who was holding the purse strings and chose to talk to me about what I wanted and ignore the instructions issued by my minder. I'm not entirely sure what made me so angry. His business meetings were certainly more important than my shopping but there seemed to be no requirement to explain why the plans had changed so drastically let alone apologise. The finger clicking episode certainly didn't help. Apparently there's a similar fair in Bhawanipatna in January – I'll pick who I go with carefully.

1 comment:

viksdes said...

I really liked your blog. The India I live in is quite modern ( or rather I choose it that way), I really am surprised that in all your blogs you have been so positive about your experiences here. No hot water, some one clicking fingers would upset me to no extent. Wish you all the success for your work in India.