I’m not normally moved to poetry, but India is a place of firsts. I wrote this in Kolkata (Calcutta), but was reminded of it today as I walked the streets of Thamel, Kathmandu's backpacker ghetto.
This poem is for all who ceaselessly sidle up to me as I walk down the street, befriending me only for the sake of a sale. Although I’m certain those who inspired this poem are unlikely to ever see it, I offer it just the same.
Disclaimer: I’m not a poet…and I know it.
I don't want any silk saris, pashminas or bangles,
nor do I need more bindis I'll never use.
I have no kitchen, so spices are a waste
and I bet that saffron is anything but true.
Telling me how wonderful America is –
that's just touristic and empty banter.
Praise my beauty – it won’t help your cause.
I’m too wise by now; I only brake for candor.
Please let me enjoy your streets in peace,
and engage me for my humanity.
In return, I promise to purchase what I like,
and we can both savor our sanity.
“Why not just ignore them and keep walking?” you ask? The catch: there is the occasional person who is truly interesting…and interested in us. This is why we continue to respond and engage. We keep ourselves open to worthwhile opportunities and connections, for these outweigh all others.