We finally arrived at a more or less touristic town of Khajuraho. First time in a long time we saw white people, I got so excited, I almost run up to them and asked to take a picture :)
Since it's a touristic place, the touts and sellers make their reappearance. It's so funny to sit in a restaurant, seeing one single white person through the crowd and 3 sellers running after him shoving whatever they're selling into his face when he tries to choose a direction to run away in :) Of course that would mean that we're certainly bound to the same fate as soon as we step our foot outside. But all this hassle doesn't bother me anymore, I think I got immune to it, like a tank. I just say "I don't want anything, leave us alone!", keep on walking and ignoring any further attempts at hard sale, they soon smarten up and leave us alone. Some man started running after me, I turned around and said in a very harsh tone "Stop chasing us!!!" He was taken aback and asked me if I'm mad at him, I said a little. "Please don't be mad at me!", "ok" I answered walking away and smiling :) While walking on the road 3 people pointed at a tuk-tuk and said "tuk-tuk!", Andy and me almost in unison said "Very beautiful tuk-tuk!" :)) Ahhh ... life is good when you take their hassle as a joke. I wonder if my experience in Goa would've been different if I was immune to it then. But then of course, you can't compare anything to the hell of Goa.
We took bicycles to nearby temples. Most of the gods' faces were removed by the Muslims because Hindus can't pray to a god without a face. Thank god they didn't actually destroy the temples themselves. Temples like that don't exist anywhere in the world, they're world heritage site for a reason, and there is a lot of up keeping and reconstruction going on. A man in the temple showed us around and only because he didn't ask for any money when we were leaving, we gave him some money. We reward good deeds and not greed. While we were cycling around a bunch of local kids joined us, they pushed my bike up the hills, looked after our bikes while we were looking around. We were worried that they'll ask for a heavy donation, but nope, they just wanted to be/feel cool next to the white people. Andy was walking shirtless to get some even tan, everybody was giving him comments, nice body, nice tattoo (he has a small weird tail of some sort :) ... well, actually a part of unfinished design), beautiful beard :)) They couldn’t understand why would he want to tan? He said that he wants to be just like them, nice and dark! They’re in shock, they do everything in their power to be more fare skinned, when we just throw our gift of god the moment we forget to put our sunscreen on.
They took us to their village where people were taking the water out of the well, carrying many wood sticks on their heads and spreading dung in front of the house for good luck and to repel mosquitoes. I played badminton with the kids using a broken racquet. They were fighting who would have an honour to give me the ball when it flew away. I also tried not to look too disgusted when the ball landed in a pile of dung :) Very good kids, and now that I left India (I'm a bit behind on the blog), I wish that I would've stayed in some village to get closer to the culture. People we're usually dealing with (tuk-tuk drivers/sellers etc... ) and actual people of India who could care less about tourist money, are two different categories, and I wish I got to know it closer.
While walking in the town Andy bought a 600 year old coin from a Mughal period. So beautiful!!! I tried to make him convert it into a pendant, but he for some reason refused :( What a great conversation starter it would be :) I wanted to buy one for myself, but I didn't because it belonged to a not very favourite empire of mine. Instead I bought a puja coin (coin used in prayer and blessings). It doesn't have any actual monetary value to it, mostly it's for good luck. We were randomly strolling around when we came into the store and didn't have any money to pay for the coins. I couldn't believe my ears when the seller told us to take the coins and to come to the shop any time we want to with the money! Was I hallucinating??!!
In the evening, as any married couple should, we had a date night :) That means we actually wore nice cloths and went to a nice restaurant. India is so dirty and so traditional that to wear nice cloths is almost impossible, and we also travel on budget and eat in the local restaurants. Once in a while we want to dress up properly and treat ourselves to something that doesn't smell like curry. Thankfully the restaurant was directly opposite our hotel, and I practically ran across the road in my short dress and heels feeling very vulnerable and naked :)
Next day we went to the main attraction the "Western temples". I took an audio guide and went to explore. These temples are very famous not only because they're carved out of their minds, but also because a lot of these carvings are not only erotic but very sexually explicit. There are couples and threesomes and foursomes, orgies, masturbation, different angles/positions, sex with animals, taking a shower with a cloths seductively glued to the woman, hickey ... well yeah, that's about all :) The audio guide said that sex is a way of connecting with god as one if you completely surrender to the act and in that moment forget that anything else exists. Another theory stated that these carvings taught ordinary people how to have sex ... you know, so they'll be closer to god :) But on most of these temples the carvings are a way of life, farming, fighting, gathering food, preparing food, and I don't think they should teach people to have sex with animals ... I think it just happened, so they carved them to be part of the life story.
These temples and kamasutra made me think. How come kamasutra and the sexiest gods ever originated in such an oppressed country, where even the husbands don't see their wives naked? We came up with a theory that when something is hidden/forbidden/looked down on, your brain begins to wonder and imagination runs wild...
Other things I remembered from the audio tour are the reason for so many temples. It was a king’s duty to build so many temples for his people to pray in. The more temples, the better the king. There are also victory temples and gifts for say someone's hand in marriage.
At the top of the stairs near the temples entrance there are always half moon figures so that the people will enter the temple humble. Just like a half moon is not perfect, nobody's perfect as well.
My tour took a long time, and Andy was sitting under the tree shade reading a book. When I came to sit next to him, he thanked me for coming because a group of Indians approached him, took his pictures and were asking him the usual questions. When he said that his wife is somewhere around, they couldn't believe him. Why is he not with me? Why is he sitting there all by himself? "We value personal freedom" answer was given, to which they said or thought "nonsense"! When I showed up, they actually believed him that I exist. One of the guys wanted to take a picture, but I don't take pictures anymore, even if they ask politely. There are just that many pictures that I could take. However with this one, I decided to give him a taste of his own medicine, and started firing questions at him. What's your name? Where are you from? Where do you live? How do you like Khajuraho? Who are you here with? Where do you work? What do you do? He got so nervous and was stumbling on his answers and sweating in cold sweat :) Ok, fine, he deserved a picture :) The problem with taking pictures though, is when someone else will see you do it, everybody in 1 km radius will run up to us and ask to take pictures. I think if we were charging $1/photo, we could've travelled around India for free :)
I have to give it to Andy though. He would stop and smile for every picture. He would answer the same questions hundreds of times without tiring and showing the same enthusiasm each time. Unless you can have a proper conversation with me, all you'll get out of me is yes/no one word answers without taking my eyes off a book ... ok, sometimes I'm in a better mood ... but not often.
On the train we were attacked by an extremely eager group of men.
Can I see your book?
Why not, I want to see it
He grabbed it from my hand, I grabbed it back.
They had a decency not to talk to me because I'm married, and all their focus shifted to him. The usual questions about laptop ... no, just a book! Australia and cricket, then one guy got a hold of Andy's beer holder.
Can I have it?
But I want it!
But it's mine
Thank god they got off at the next station!
pix are here: https://picasaweb.google.com/100036016632387453128/Khajuraho