Friday, 26 February 2010

"And How Much Have YOU Got?!"

These are both the lyrics to a Pet Shop Boys song ("Opportunities" if you care), AND a constant question being levied - either outrighty, or by slow, protracted questioning - by the local natives here on a near daily basis.

One beach merchant in particular, a very gay, very effeminate seller of sarongs, clothing, scarves and bed sheets, seems have adopted a most unhealthy obsession with me and my worldly possessions. Every time we meet (which is everyday, given that we live across the road from the beach), as soon as preliminary greetings are out of the way, he begins his daily inventory of the jewelry I happen to be wearing.

"Gold toe-ring, white gold toe ring, gold bracelet, two gold necklace, other gold bracelet, gold anklet, new silver bracelet."....etc. and so on.

Such is his interest, he has even extracted detailed info about the precise circumstances surrounding the acquisition of my material wealth.

"This one from husband...this one from father....this one from mother....this one mother-in-law...this one for wedding gift....this one for birthday...this one for anniversary..." and so on and so forth.

I smile indulgently (I have after all only been here a little over a week so my patience has not yet been fully depleted) and try to grin gamely throughout the predictable litany, resisting the urge to hurry him along by parroting the answers alongside him.

Egg has absolutely no tolerance for shopping, perusing or anything related to buying and selling - unless it has to do with ice-cream cones, new pens, notebooks, or DSi games....)

Dumpie however is happy to while away the time fingering precious stones, and pulling pieces of clothing from makeshift bamboo hangers, all the while giving his opinion about the quality of merchandise.

"This one pretty Mama. You buy you look sexy Mama." Or, "Yuck. Me no like this one. This one yucky. Let's go buy circle ice-cream Mama. No give man your money Mama."

Funnily enough, 9 out of 10 times the little guy is right.

Today I dropped in on my favourite jewelry seller to negotiate on a beautiful silver, ruby, emerald, and sapphire ring which I've had my eye on since arriving. Deep in 'hagglesville' we suddenly hear a deafening crash, and turn to see that Dumpie has somehow upset an entire display of ancient Tibetan brass bowls and is lying in the middle of the mess triumphantly clutching his little wooden necklace, which I am guessing he had tossed up and had been trying to retrieve.

Needless to say, negotiations halted, and any bargaining power I might have had flew out the window as I apologetically dragged Dumpie out the door and mumbled something about bringing my credit card by later and paying up.

Even professionals are not above charging top dollar when they suss out that you are a potential bank machine (sorry - I mean 'Westerner'). Yesterday we rented a taxi to take us to the city of Margao to visit a dermatologist to get a questionable mole on my thigh attended to. It had been changing shape and colour recently, and after too many Kingfishers and poignant sunsets I began to fear that I might be inflicted with fatal melanoma.

Self-diagnosis courtesy of Google didn't do much to alleviate my unease as my mole appeared to almost completely resemble the life threatening ones pictured online. The husband began to worry (less about losing his beloved wife I suspect and more about raising the monsters solo) and insisted we attend to it asap.

So see to it we did. Making an appointment with the best English speaking dermatologist (and with the highest ranking on Google) we were told the procedure would cost about 700 Rupees. Upon arriving however, after performing the biopsy, the doctor gave us a proper once over and declared payment to be 1000 rupees.

Whatever. Not only was the painful biopsy over and done with, but she had said that in her opinion it was nothing to worry about at any rate, in ten days I would be contacted with my result.

Gleeful with the news that I was likely not going to have to leave the monsters under the sole supervision of their well-intentioned but by no means completely parentally competent father anytime soon, I would have gladly given her any requested sum.

Also, there was an earlier embarrassing incident whereby I wandered into the operating room and came face to face with an Indian man's arse, raised high in the air whilst two nurses tried to extract something rather horrid from the surrounding area. I was keen to get the heck out of there before he emerged and we invariably came face to face (as opposed to arse to face).

I blame it on the painkillers I had taken previously. What with a self-medicated concoction of imported Nurofen Plus and 10 mg of Valium to relax me, I wasn't exactly on top form.

Jewelry or no jewelry, if my little beach seller had seen me in that state he might have revised his opinion of me as a glamourous woman. (He tells me this daily. And every other day he tells me I'm beautiful. (I suspect this is directly co-related to the ever increasing array of sarongs I have piling up at home - but hey - what position am I in to refuse such outright declarations of admiration? I've got to stockpile them while I can, non?)

Am I a rich woman? the ways that count. (And hey - from a jewelry perspective I ain't doing so bad either. You should see this ring :)

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