Yesterday I dived out of the rain into a little chai stall made of wood and plastic sheeting. A tourist taxi driver sat next to me and we began talking. To get the conversation away from my personal life, I started mentioning that I was intereswted in some of the colourful posters I’d seen around. This led us to talk about politics and I mentioned that I approved of a left-wing government being in power here. The taxi-driver told me he was a communist but that he was no threat to me: he saw tourists as a people to treat well in the hope of repeat business and maybe friendship.
When the rain stopped, he invited me to just sit in his car and chat: I was a little apprehensive but agreed. He told me that he had worked at a tea factory until eight years ago. Then a ‘political’ issue had arisen and the factory had closed. So now he drive for a living and made he ‘cultivated’ his ‘crop’ well.
He began inviting me to visit and eat at his house, saying it would cost me nothing (in reaction to my obvious reluctance). He also repeatedly grasped my hand and said that we weren’t friends but brothers and therefore I was in no danger. Despite this presumably being intended to reassure me, it didn’t – it made me feel even more uncomfortable and determined not to go with him.
So I refused hospitality from someone who was keen to give it to me and, at least apparently, had the financial resources.
Contrast this with my acceptance of hospitality from some lads with whom I later paid cricket in the street. After watching for a while, I was invited to join in and had a fantastic time until the rain became really strong. I was given shelter, coffee and jackfruit pieces by a few lads in a a family house: two sisters came into the front room to eat jackfruit and giggled at my presence. (They eat small pieces of the seeds’ inner coating while extracting more coated seeds for later use.) The lads and I chatted on about school, education, their jobs, personal jokes and and were really, really genial hosts.
However, in a way, I feel I forced or obliged people who may have had far less income to give me hospitality by choosing to go out without waterproofs on a day it was bound to rain. I think I only took inconsequential amounts of their resources and repaid by taking some photographs of them which I hope I can print and send to them.