Last week, I was at this museum in Hampi (more about the place, later) when I pulled out my phone and took a couple of pictures of the artifacts on display. The guide, who was showing us around, gently interrupted me:
“You don’t know to take pictures, Madam!”
“What?” I looked up from my phone, a trifle taken aback, not believing my own ears. Maybe I had heard wrong? His English was confusing at the best of times. Had he really said what I think I heard him say?
“Yes, Madam,” he replied in his soft voice which I had to strain to comprehend, an apologetic smile on his face. “You don’t know to take pictures!”
Huh? No one had ever been so upfront about my picture taking abilities! In fact there are quite a few who have unreservedly appreciated the photos I have clicked. Had they all been lying? Meanwhile, the man stood there smiling benignly at me, not a hint of the cynic about him.
I was mystified, but secretly miffed too. This had been totally uncalled for on his part. He was hired to tell us about the place and its history. Commenting on my picture taking abilities certainly did not fit into that category. Besides, when had he ever seen pictures clicked by me? The whole day I had been carrying a DSLR around with me. Had he thought it was for show?
Oh, what the heck. He was entitled to his opinion, eventhough it was based on practically nothing. So I laughed a trifle self-consciously, and dismissing the matter, moved on to the next exhibit.
Then it struck me. Like lightning. Or maybe I mean a thunderbolt. Whatever. The important thing is, it struck me, revealing all.
I turned to him pronto and asked, “Did you mean I should not take pictures?”
“Yes, Madam!” He said in the same soft voice, the gentle smile still in place.
“Oh ah!” That was my enlightened first response.
“Cameras here everywhere, Madam! You no, not to take pictures, Madam!”
My picture-taking abilities weren’t in question after all. I was so relieved, I could have hugged him. But I didn’t, he would have been scandalized. Instead, I quickly put the phone back in my pocket and apologized, “Sorry, I didn’t know. No more pictures!”
© Shail Mohan 2019