Monday, November 21, 2011

India 21

This youngster was one of many who would take care of one's shoes at the entrance of the mosque in Fatepur Sikri. In the style of any number of personal-service positions where someone does something for you that you didn't really need done, and would have preferred to do yourself, and then you're more or less obliged to tip them. The most famous example is the "restroom attendant." (I forget exactly where in our travels I walked into a restroom with an attendant, and immediately said aloud depsite myself "oh no you don't" and walked out. I guess I didn't have to go all that bad.) India is particularly good at this game, with various dudes always ready to "help" with whatever they can think of. It is, in many Indian tourist attractions, extremely difficult to avoid having a volunteer "guide," who even after being told in no uncertain terms "We don't want a guide and will not pay you," would proceed to follow us around and tell us fun facts about the site, and then for a tip. The shoe-minders at the mosque have a better racket in that one can theoretically imagine having one's shoes stolen were they left untended, and since you don't tip until you get your shoes back, you may never know what might have happened without them. Of course an even better racket would be to demand a payment up front, and then ensure the disappearance of the shoes of those who decline to pay.

Not sure what the horseshoes are for. Perhaps we should have paid a guide to tell us.

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