Monday, January 01, 2007
Snake Charmers and other ways to get paid for just being yourself....
The one thing my Dad wanted from India was for me to get a picture of a snake charmer. And I did. Please look at and learn to love this picture, show it to your friends, show it to whoever you would like to....please show it and look at it....just so I can feel like the 5 bucks that this guy charged me to take his picture wasn't in vain.
Of course I didn't know when I was taking the picture that I would be charged for it...silly me...because I come from a society that doesn't normally accept the average joe to be paid for just being themselves. And of course....I am a dorky tourist who like so many other people before me....fall into the scam. The history of snake charming is interesting though.
There are alot of people in India who expect to be paid for being themselves...and so many street performers who start performing for you that you don't want to pay but get sucked into it unwillingly. I guess that in the US the shame of watching someone perform and not paying them isn't that big of a thing....but in India that is many people's only livelihood.
At the airport on my way home I talked with a doctoral student who was working with Indian children and various NGO's...it is fascinating all of the work being done to help children in poverty. There are thousands of children who leave rural areas in India to come to the big cities every day. Most of these kids are abused both in their homes and when they get to the cities. Teaching them a trade like street-performing is a way for them to learn how to get by alone in the world. I still have to deal with my issues of not wanting to pay people when I didn't give consent for them to perform. I can afford it....I am just selfish and don't want it forced upon me.
While we were at the Red Fort, my friend Oiwan and I were sitting out on the grass relaxing, waiting for some other friends to catch up with us; a woman came up and stood really close behind us and had her husband take a picture of us. I didn't think anything about it until she ran off giggling and pointing at us. She had taken the picture only to have a picture of the fat American and the exotic Asian girl. As she ran away I realized that I had missed out on a great opportunity.....
I could have made 200 rupees for that photo.