Back in Agra, after our day at the Taj Mahal, we went to the Yamuna river to observe the Taj at sunset. We couldn't get enough of the place, I think because it was the first truly immaculate thing we had encountered in awhile. It had to be savored and meditated on. Again, there at the river, the contrast of the muddy banks and the children playing amongst barbed wire covered in rags, against the back drop of the great mosque. The contrast of wealth and poverty, religion and politics. It really hits you sometimes. Always in the contrasts. When you're sitting in an air-conditioned train looking out the window at people waking up in the slums, and coming outside near the tracks to use the outdoor toilet. The beauty and splendor and absurdity of a white monument in a dirt country. The mud and children spotting your perfect view of it.
But then someone does something horrible to you and you in turn damn the entire population. In this case, it was me getting slapped. Yes, I got slapped in India. I'm always asking for it, apparently, everywhere I go, sexual harassment around the world, worldwide. So, in a moment when our rickshaw stopped (without permission) to pick up extra passengers (fellow foreigners), three young men approached the rickshaw and stuck their faces into my side, made kissing noises, a smack of the lips and then smack! a smack on my thigh.
It stung for awhile but worse, I knew there was nothing to be done about it. Pat stopped the rickshaw and I told him not to bother, and instead I just became silent, in a nation that will not address me nor listen to me. I finally acquiesced.
Later the same evening I saw a dog in the street that had been run over. It was lying on the ground like the dogs so often do so close to the road but this one had an indentation as wide as a rickshaw wheel through its middle. No blood spilling, just a void where its breathing would be.
- Carly Pifer
- Born and raised under the Los Angeles sun and smog. At sixteen spent some time in LA County Juvenile Detention Center, although never really learned her lesson. Moved to Boston for the classic college experience. Spray painted graffiti in the Paris Metro during six month stay in the Marais. Survived an ultra fabulous and frightening internship at Vogue Magazine while living at a nunnery in Hell's Kitchen. Lived a year in Seoul, a city which can only be compared to a Disneyland theme park. Written four hundred sixty-four words of an undisclosed masterpiece novel. Currently pondering her next adventure and also the meaning of her memoirs from an artist's loft in dirty Brooklyn.