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India: The Movie Star


All the worlds a stage. ~Shakespeare
We visited the Pavarti temple in Pune today a holy place with shrines dedicated to a few of the many gods revered by this country. It was the last stop of the day before heading back to the hotel for my favorite dinner of ice cream accompanied by a glass of Sprite liberally topped off with a double shot of Canadian Club. Prior to visiting the temple, we made a stop at the palace where Gandhi was once imprisoned and his ashes are now interred. Gandhi is one of my favorite leaders of all time so I enjoy visiting places that are historically tied to his time on earth.

The walk up to the paved path Pavarti shine is quite steep, so steep I had to rest a couple of time to catch my wind. I thought I was doing pretty good in my trek until I saw some people, obviously older than me, passing me up with a bounce in their step. And numerous also bounded past me seemingly without loss of breath. I guess my life back home in the suburbs, where no distance is so close that it can’t be driven to, has made me soft. 😦

At the shrine, I thought I caught a gaggle of young girls, early teens looking at me. This didn’t surprise me much because, in this country, my pasty white skin and red turning white hair is an anomaly in a sea of mocha colored people with jet back hair. On my first trip here, I was walking down from an old fort when this young child, perhaps 5 years old, kept looking back at me an pointing at me.

One of the teens approached me and asked if she could have a picture taken with me. More and more wanted pictures with me alone and in groups, requests to which I obliged. At least 10 photos were taken and probably a few more all with me grinning from ear to ear.  This was not the first time I was stopped for photos in India. On my first trip here 6 years ago, I was stopped twice for photos with the indigenous inhabitants.

I like to think I obliged because I am this nice, middle aged guy eager to show the world that not all American tourists fit the mold of ugly American. But, if I were being honest, I would have to admit that part of me likes being the movie star, likes being the center of attention, likes being the side show attraction that draws oohs and ahhs from the crowd.

Being on stage is fun once and a while, but, what if I were truly a movie star? What if people were constantly hounding me for photo opportunities and my signature? What if I was stalked by the paparazzi and couldn’t go anywhere without having cameras flashing in my face?

I am glad I am not famous, not continually in the limelight for that kind of attention would drive me crazy. It’s quite comfortable being anonymous.

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