Friday, April 17, 2009

another new skill

The same day as the rickshaw driver invited me to drive the rickshaw, we took a one hour rowboat tour of the ganges.  We took it at night because we'd read that it was the one of the best ways to view the aarati ganga, which is a type of dusk prayer/ceremony at one of the principal bathing ghats on the ganges.

It was really beautiful and it cost us about $4.  (Initially they asked us $10, but we balked until they accepted $4.)

We went out on a small boat that was rowed by one skinny Indian guy.  He had limited English but was very friendly. 

Perhaps encouraged by my prior rickshaw driving, during the trip I asked if I could row.  The guy grinned and offered to show me.  I was somewhat startled because he told me to sit in between his legs.  He wrapped his arms around mine to show me how to row the oars.  This felt uncomfortably homoerotic to me, kind of like the 'tennis pro' seducing the young unsuspecting student.  However, it's nothing unusual in India.  We had heard about this before, but it might be interesting to you:  Indian men are very comfortable with touching each other.  They walk down the street holding hands or with arms around each other.  (Marisa and I already knew about this, because we've heard stories from Indian coworkers, who told us about how when they first arrived in America and would get funny looks as they walked around holding hands.  Once they were told what that connoted in the US, they stopped holding hands with other Indian men.)

Anyway, intellectually observing and knowing about how comfortable Indian men are with each other is quite a different thing from viscerally having myself wrapped in the arms and legs of an Indian rowboatman, close enough to feel his breath on my neck as he talked.  Still, I quickly learned to row pretty well.  Once he saw I wasn't going to lose the oars and crash the boat, he went around to the front of me, only giving tips when I screwed something up.

Here are some pictures of me rowing, although they're pretty hard to see because it was in the dark.


  1. It's good you like to try everything for yourself. I wish the pictures were better. When it comes to physical exertion, I prefer Marisa's method - watching someone else have those experiences.

  2. hahahaha! homoerotic indeed!

  3. Good to have a wide range of experiences!

  4. this adds complexity to my understanding of this song:

    Row, row, row your boat,
    Gently down the stream.
    Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
    Life is but a dream.