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05 November 2005

a burning sensation rushed over

last night's affair with the feeling and the flystalkers had worn me out and i slept in until 1300. i really didn't have much of a plan for the day... rent a scooter and explore the area, walk the beach, maybe check out the ruins of an abandoned portuguese fort on a hill overlooking the beaches. i got the scooter from a few guys who had approached me the day before. rs150 (less than $4 us) for the day... no identification necessary. i cruised around a bit and then parked down by the beach. it was while walking the beach that the strangest thing occurred.

i've already mentioned the scourge of the sand salespeople. fortunately, they're easy to spot as they're typically carrying a stack of sarongs, a fistful of bead necklaces, or a collection of small wooden drums. with some skillful maneuvering, it's possible to detour around them. the beach in front of me was clear... no sarongs, no necklaces, no drums... only tourists. i kept a watchful eye as i walked along the water. a man walking toward me looked like he'd altered his course slightly to intercept me but he wasn't carrying any of the telltale items, so i didn't think much of it. as he passed me casually he did a doubletake in my direction.

'sir, you have something on your ear.'

i immediately reached up to see what it was but felt nothing. my only thought was that a bird had bombed me (incidentally, if a bird _had_ bombed me, it would have been the third such incident of my travels.).

'no, it's just some wax... hang on one second.'

wax? hanging out of my ear? had i missed something in the mirror this morning?

he reached over and _into_ my ear; only after he'd scraped a waxy substance onto his hand (disturbing) did i realize that he'd employed a small metal instrument that i can only describe as a 'scooper' to remove the wax from my ear. at the moment i was far more concerned that he'd pulled out such a large quantity of wax than that a complete stranger had just shoved a small metal object into my ear.

'wait... there's more,' he said.

and again he scraped, pulled out more wax, and rubbed it off on his hand (still disturbing). all of this had transpired in about 30 seconds while i'd stood there in a stupid daze, still trying to process what was happening. it was at this point that i took a closer look at the wax. something wasn't right here. i clean my ears frequently with q-tips and the wax that this man had removed from my ear didn't look like any earwax i'd ever seen. this entire situation didn't seem right. i was instantly out of the daze and on full alert.

the man took a small black case from his pocket and removed a small piece of cotton from it... 'just some cotton.' ...at the same time he showed me the interior of the case. it contained some other bits of cottom and a few other small metal instruments. a small piece of paper, the size of a business card, was taped sloppily to one interior side of the case. it read:

'this is to certify that [whatever the hell this man's name was] is a professional ear cleaner... [i stopped reading as a burning sensation rushed over my skin and he repeated himself...]'

'see? just some cotton.'

[warning: profanity follows]

HOLY. FUCK! i stepped back quickly as he went to stick the cotton in my ear. i screamed 'NO!' at him so loudly that everyone around us instantly turned their heads. my response did not phase him in the least and he stepped toward me.

'just some cotton.'

i couldn't fucking believe it. i screamed at him again.

'STOP! NOW!'

again... no reaction. the expression on his face had not changed at all despite the fact that i'd just screamed at him. i turned around and walked away in absolute disgust... sickened by what had just occurred... mostly upset that i'd _allowed_ it to occur. he followed me.

'sir... sir... '

my hand formed a fist as i continued to walk and shout 'NO... NO...' i tried to process how i'd been duped by this man. had the instrument been rigged to push out the waxy substance when he'd had it in my ear? my mind was surging.

'sir... sir... '

he was a few steps behind me and i turned around and closed the gap like an exploding animal. i escalated my voice to maximum volume and screamed, yet again, 'LEAVE ME ALONE. NOW. LEAVE ME ALONE.' no reaction... but this time when i turned around, he didn't follow.

what a fucking violation.

as i walked toward the fort on the hill, i told myself that this would not happen again. i took it as a learning experience and didn't dwell on it as i began to ascend the rocks leading to the fort. this is the last i'll say of the scammers and pushy salespeople (barring any exceptional stories): these types of people make up a minute fraction of the indian population. unfortunately, _these_ are the people that most tourists come into contact with most frequently and that is truly a shame.

the fort was nothing more than an exterior wall as far as i could tell. i walked the perimeter and then descended, walked back over to the parking lot where i'd parked the scooter overlooking the beach, watched the sunset, and then rode back to the jolly jolly lester.

tomorrow i'd be leaving for arambol, another small goan beach village north of vagator. i vowed to start my indian travels fresh tomorrow... clearing my mind, learning from my experiences.

posted by paul on Sat 05 Nov 2005 at 00:00:00 est (-05:00)

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