Feathers iridescent
Achingly green
Cavorting and
In the air beside
the mandir
The plumed devotees
Of the Lord
Fill the sky
With raucous
Joyous cries

Yesterday the other volunteers and I went to Govardhan Hill, about 30 miles away. Now getting anywhere in India is not so easy. One can travel in ease, luxury and conveniently-if you are willing to pay premium prices to hire a car and driver. But for us hardy and intrepid volunteers it is a point of honor to travel as the locals do and to steadfastly negotiate the best and cheapest price we can. When this entails getting a motor rickshaw or tempo ( a larger versionj) this means engaging in a ritual as stylized and nuanced as any mating ritual found in nature and deliberations can be as protracted and seriously considered as any peace treaty ever negotiated. But eventually the right mate is found, the parties agree and off you go. But there is always the chance of a new element being thrown into the mix. Woe to you traveler if you don't have exact change when you reach your destination- you will probably pay for that mistake!!
And there is always the chance that the previously agreed upon price will BE FORGOTTEN. Then ensues a most intriguing ritual, 2which I underwent yesterday The driver, with a suitably aggrieved expression will spout of a tirade of Hindi, which of course I can't understand at all and I will counter with measured and slow English, which he doesn't understand. After this gets us nowhere, the driver with a pained and nauseated expression, will take the money and place it back in my mind with a resigned look that seems to imply,"Why should I accept such a paltry sum! Why must I be surrounded by such fools!" Then he walks away defeated and dejected. At this point I suppose I could have just walked away and said, "fine if you don't want it, I'll keep it!" but I suspect this is not how the game is played. Instead I follow him, stuff the money in his shirt pocket and he reluctantly, with shaking head and furrowed brow accepts it! Such drama!
Another aspect of the game that is intriguing is the elasticity of price. I had drivers yesterday afternoon try and get me to agree to 20xs. the amount of the same trip taken that morning. One must be patient, remember its a game and keep searching until you get the fair price. Part of the problem is I was on the wrong side of the road, where passengers were being dropped off. I needed to go to the other side where the cabs were still trolling for passengers. This time I got in without prearranging the price which could be a dangerous gambit! I figured I would just give the price I paid earlier and see what happens. Next comes the part when the cab cruises up and down the street looking for more passengers and exercises inn egonomics as they try to cram as many people as possible into the space, whether some are hanging out or not! The only thing they don't do is try laying people cross ways over the touching knees of the six or seven people facing each other. I don't know why, this would make a nice and immovable table. Such is the game of transportation in iNDIA!


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