Shoes and prostitution
Dehra Dun Travel Blog› entry 15 of 17 › view all entries
Me, Mike and Andy ride up to Dehra Dun to stock up on bike gear and test out the newly finished Enfields. It takes about 2 hours, weaving our way through the beautiful chaos of Indian traffic. As Ross says, they only put the fucking white line down the middle of the road to confuse the tourists. It's not like anyone uses the bloody thing. Wherever there is a gap, you go. There's no 'my side' or 'your side', only 'the fastest person's side'. It always amazes me how there's not more accidents than there are in India, but I reckon it's cos everyone is on alert all the time. In the west, where everyone sticks to the rules, it only takes one person breaking them to cause a disaster, cos nobody's expecting it. In India, where there are no rules, you have to constantly be prepared for something ridiculous to happen. And it works. Better than the western system I reckon, and certainly more fun.
We split up in Dehra Dun to buy what we need. I need shoes for the mountains - even the most devoted bare-foot hippie has to sell out when you're trekking through fucking snow. So, I go into a shoe shop and ask for trekking shoes.
I go up and ask again. A young Indian guy who doesn't speak much English serves me.
He takes me up to the top floor, which is just a fucking store room, completely deserted, no customers. It's a bit weird, but being a naive idiot, I don't get too suspicious. I try on a few pairs of shoes, then ask the price.
'Which ones you want?'
'I dunno, I don't have too much money so tell me the price of all of them, then I'll decide.'
'All of them, man! I just wanna know the prices!'
'No money. Gift.'
'You wanna give me a free pair of shoes? Why?'
'I give you gift... you give me gift.'
'I... don't have a gift, man.'
'...what kind of... gift...'
He's leaning really close to me, right in my face, and grabs my arm.
'I think you know...'
'JESUS, MAN, YOU REALLY THINK I'M GONNA PIMP MYSELF OUT FOR A FUCKING PAIR OF SHOES?! I'M NOT THAT FUCKING POOR YET! TAKE 500 RUPEES FOR THE SHOES, GO WANK IN THE CORNER AND LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!!!'
Jesus Christ. Is this really what some Indian men think of white girls? Was he really expecting to get somewhere with that? It makes me sad that just a few wankers like that really let down their whole country, leave us with a really bad feeling, suspicious of everyone. I wish I hadn't even bought the shoes now, I wish I'd gone down and yelled at his manager and hopefully got the bastard fired. But at the time I just wanted to get out of there.
Luckily my next shop encounter was a bit nicer.
'How much for one sewing needle?'
'One? Just one?'
'One... take for free.'
(Now very suspicious, what sort of 'gift' is a sewing needle worth??) 'No no, go on, take... one rupee.'
'One rupee... ok, I give you 3 needles.'
Sweet. Resurrected my faith in the male population just a little.
My faith is swiftly destroyed again later that night though, when we're sitting in the guest house restaurant in Laxman Jhula with Ross. Narayan, one of the waiters who we've got quite friendly with, calls Andy over to him and starts whispering urgently to him. Andy comes back looking a little stunned.
'He wants me to go and buy him viagra. Enough for all the waiters.'
'They're getting a call girl tonight and she's charging 1000 rupees a night so they want to get their money's worth.'
'All three of them? They're getting one call girl between the three of them and they want viagra? And they want you to get it??'
So much for being sweet little Nepali boys coming to India to earn money to feed their families back home. Call girls and viagra. Lovely. Since seeing the red light district in Calcutta, I will never see prostitution in the same way again. In Europe at least most of the girls have made some kind of choice. In India, a lot of the hookers are little Nepali girls who've been sold into prostitution cos their families couldn't afford to keep them. They line the streets of the red light district, girls as young as 13 in make-up and short skirts. It's fucking sick. Narayan says the girl they're getting is only 17. I wonder how the poor kid ended up where she is now.
I have no fucking clue why, but Andy actually goes to get the viagra. Ross goes with him, just for the chance to stroke Andy's chest and call him 'Andrew' while he buys it.
If I was them I'd have bought them valium instead. Or maybe laxatives.