venerdì, dicembre 09, 2011

My very first person

So I have my own tuktuk driver, speaking of Westerners seduced by inexpensive personal services. I'm paying him at the same rate that Indians pay cabdrivers, as far as I can figure out, and tipping him like a drunk Canadian - which is exactly, precisely, the opposite of ironic - and that seems like enough to make him 'my' tuktuk driver. That means he waits for me outside offices and conferences and restaurants. He seems happy and I'm happy because he speaks pretty decent English - almost enough to chat, definitely enough to know what I'm saying when I say where I want to go.

Also he's Sikh, and for reasons I don't fully understand, I feel safe with Sikh guys. I think it's because somebody mentioned years and years and years ago, when I was very, very young and impressionable, that if you're a woman and you're ever getting hassled in India, you just find the nearest Sikh guy, who'll kick the shit out of the Hindus or Muslims who're hassling you, on principle alone. It's either that, or that single, lonely emotionally charged moment in that wasteland of a film The English Patient where the hot Sikh guy was washing his hair. 

I'm quite happy to pay the driver what a cabbie would get because tuktuks are better than cabs. A little crammed, but they're all open-air, and since you sort of have to let go of the idea of personal safety as soon as you're near a road here if you're in anything short of a tank, you might as well have something all open-air. Especially since there's not much air here. Shanghai is obviously a fucking mess of a place but it's close to the sea, and not so damn dusty, so this is the first time I've ever had the experience of the air catching at your lungs as you breathe it.

Another reason I reckon middle class European descendants and Nazis are so seduced by this place is that it feels pretty European. There's not much culture shock. Obviously there's some; I mean, realizing dying one day will be easier than I'd thought because as much as I like it, this plane of existence is pretty much a shithole for, like, 2 billion people, is somewhat shocking. But it's not really culture shock. Truth is, I feel like I'm more or less back in Europe here - it feels pretty much like Southern Italy with a fuckton more people, wild monkeys, and the relative populations of the middle class and the gypsies + refugees reversed. 

Anyways, I'm done pondering other people's reactions to this place for awhile. First I'm gonna sleep, and then tomorrow I'm gonna drive out to the Taj Mahal (not in a tuktuk) and have my own fucking middle class reactions.

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