Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Cheerful Boatman..


Haggling about marked up prices is nothing new to a tourist. The minute you are marked as an outsider, partly because of appearance , you know that almost anything you may buy is much more expensive than it seems. And so ensues a game of cat and mouse, where you come up with a random number , your idea of what you think is the right price...

This time we played the game on the shores of the beautiful Hongzhou lake. And our boatman Tao with whom we seemed to be negotiating a ride spoke with animated gestures :). Finally we settled on a number and we were off...

The void which briefly surfaced because of the absence of language, (we speaking English and he Chinese) quickly disappeared because of his cheerful disposition.. When language failed us he did the smart thing and broke into song. It was lovely. The cool waters, the swish of the boatman's oar , and his merry voice breaking the hot summer's air..
When he found the need to explain things about the lake , he continued where he left of in song in Chinese, pointing at objects , and we nodded ; empty nods devoid of understanding :).

When we got off after a long boat ride, what stayed with us was the voice of our Boatman Tao.. :)

-Meena Venkataraman

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