Saturday, September 01, 2007

31 August 2007: Madame!

Lonely Planet India says “It’s not unusual to end a day in the Mysore streets and markets wearing a pungent rainbow of scents – sandalwood, jasmine, lotus, etc – in jumbled-together patches on your skin.” This was certainly my experience today upon my first visit to the Devaraja Market. I could take no more than a few steps without someone calling after me, “Madame! Madame!” Store owners would let it go when I kept walking, but enterprising mobile salesmen will walk right alongside you. “Where are you from Madame? What’s your name Madame? Small price! No buy, just look! Looking is free!” One such guy somewhat interested me because of an instrument he was playing, which he said he made himself. It is a hollowed-out calabash with a hole in the top to blow through and two reeds coming out of the bottom, one with finger holes on it. (Yes, Frank and Sharon, I am describing Ben’s next instrument!) When I was hesitant to buy anything, he asked if I wanted to see incense being made, and said he would take me to his friend’s shop. (Aha! Western tourists will want to see this!) In fact I did want to see that, so I let him lead me to his “friend’s” stall (I wonder what sort of commission he gets?). In fact I think the incense making (which was actually very interesting, in that I learned the substance is rolled on the bamboo stick, rather than dipped as I previously thought) was just a lure to try and get you to buy oils. Some of the oils are quite nice, but I wasn’t really interested, so I just got some incense. While I was waiting for my incense, a Dutch couple were brought in to the stall by a boy for the same show that I had just gotten. They were much less willing to listen to the spiel than me, though, and left with only their “gift” incense (the ones made in front of them).

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