We spent our last morning in India on the small farm where Green Leaf Homestay is nestled. I fed the kittens some sardines and tuna and the owners told me I was ‘a very good friend’. They introduced me to their parrot, which they caught from the tree about a month ago. The bird is well fed and spends its days climbing up and down the bars of its cage, I presume with the intention of finding a way out to freedom. The two dogs, named Judy and Tyson, are the healthiest I’ve seen in India. They don’t even have fleas, which leads me to believe they must be on treatment, a rarity in India.
In the afternoon we decided to wear our saris to take a few photos. The trained eye will notice that my sari is on incorrectly. However, it was the best I could manage, even with the help of a youtube how to video. When it came time to take photos of Judy (the girl not the dog) we had some unexpected help from an Indian woman. She bluntly told us the sari was ‘all wrong’ and set about fixing its arrangement. She even gave Judy her bindi before setting off and telling us to visit her store later. I knew which store was hers because she had been yelling at us every day to come in as we passed by and once even grabbed my arm and tried to pull me inside. We agreed that yes we would visit her store now for the first time.
That evening on the way out to find some dinner we stopped at her store. I purchased an anklet and Judy purchased a few items of clothing. She is a very hard woman to bargain with but it turns out she has four children to support by selling clothing and jewelery so I can understand why. She made a comment that we should take her littlest one home to Canada so she can come back someday with money. She was joking of course but there was also a seriousness in her voice. She told us we should still be wearing our saris and insisted we go back to our room and put them on for dinner. And she added that if we had any shampoo or other things we no longer wanted that we should give them to her. We relented and went back to our room and attempted to dress ourselves in the saris. It is a lot of material to deal with. We both gave up and went to see her with our sloppy saris. With laughs all around she fixed us both up, garnished us with a necklaces and asked to have a photo taken of us three. I told her I would mail a copy to her. We gave her some clothing we no longer needed and went for diner in our saris. She insisted we keep the necklaces. We were both very touched by the gesture. We both felt decadent and awkward wearing saris. It was fun. The locals liked seeing foreigners wearing Indian clothing. One man even asked to take our picture with his cell phone camera.
India is a very different world from the one I have known at home in Canada. One thing that surprised me was how comfortable men are with each other. Seeing two men holding hands, linking arms or holding each other’s shoulders was common. Little boys sported painted nails without so much as a second glance from anyone. Public affection between men and women, however, seems rare, almost taboo.
The next morning we left India and landed safely in the city of Bangkok. Thailand is a drastic change from India. Drivers use lanes and turn signals rather than relying on the horn to communicate. Cows do not nap in the middle of busy intersections. The men do not sport mustaches and bellbottoms. It is acceptable for women to wear skirts, shorts and tank-tops. We weren’t sprayed with antibacterial aerosol before debarking from the plane. It is so much quieter, despite Bangkok being a huge and lively city.