So the other day, we had an interesting little adventure at an arts and crafts market in Hyderabad.
By "we," I mean a group of eight or nine women serving the same agency for orphans. Two - including my host, Natalie - are long-term foster moms. The rest - like me - are helping out for a few weeks or months.
All are white.
All are American, British, or Canadian.
All are young enough to be my, um, younger sisters. Okay, my daughters.
The long and short of it is that we make quite an impactful group.
The visit started innocently enough. We rattled across town in a pair of typically dilapidated auto rickshaws, disembarked into the blazing heat, and began the feminine ritual of meandering from booth to booth, examining the wares and considering our purchases.
Full disclosure: I struggle with this routine. Just not the way I shop. So I quickly transitioned from shopping to browsing to wandering aimlessly.
I snapped some random photos of the booths and then got distracted by the trees.
I also found an unlikely kindred spirit in this rug shop. He looked up just after this photo, shocked to see a white woman staring at him which made me laugh out loud.
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That's when the action picked up. After briefly admiring a quilt, one of our group cut off the aggressive negotiations of the shopkeeper and moved on. That old Indian woman not only hand-signaled wildly to us across the courtyard, but actually chased us down and tried over and over to restart the bidding war.
Once we escaped her clutches, we joined a pair of our compatriots who were at a clothing stall, admiring a crocheted dress. It was cute but the potential owner concluded that the shoulder straps were just too long. "I fix," proclaimed the seller. "Ten minute."
"No, that's okay," my friend said. But two minutes after we walked away, the seller chased us down, waving another dress in our faces. "Shorter! Shorter!" she shrieked. "Fine," my friend gave in, logically pointing out that it was worth paying a few dollars for the dress just to get the shopkeeper to go away.
Emotionally drained and overheated, our group congregated in the shade to plan our next move. Suddenly, we realized that a fifty-something man had backed his wife up against us and was attempting to take a group shot. "No!" we protested as we scrambled out of shutter range. But no sooner did we stop moving than this pushy pair tried again and again to frame up a photo with all of us white folks.
Laughing and breathless in the heat, we ended up running away to the relative safety of the auto rickshaws. As we swept out into the dark streets of India, our market day was done.
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Here is the full story of my trip to Hyderabad, India and my visit with the Indian Princesses: