Well, things came to a head between the Indians and the Italians today.
One of the things that happens on these tours is that you go to a site (in this case, today it was Pamukkale, Hieropolis and Aphrodisias) and then you get driven to a "special presentation" where you are offered high quality goods at a reduced price. I am not certain if this is true or not, but the stuff they are selling sure looks good. I am also sure that the tour company probably has some sort of financial relationship with the places we are stopping. You can see busloads of tourists going in and out of these places, led from their busses like some sort or poorly dressed multilingual marching band.
Keep in mind that we are near the Aegean Sea. It is hot and close here.
After the ruins of Roman cities and the AMAZING travertine landscape (click the slideshow to see the pictures of the landscape) we were on the bus to a leather shop. Turkey is known for its leather goods from lambskin and they really were lovely. They had a fashion show (music: Remixes of "What a Feeling" and a few heavy bass Turkish pop songs) and the models were very professional stunningly beautiful. Tall and olive skinned and very chiseled. They really were lovely to watch. I did notice that we were locked in the room for the fashion show and the only way out was to go through the store.
Also, keep in mind that I am traveling with people who have an advanced sense of entitlement.
In the shop and plied with the apple tea that is ubiquitous here, we got down to shopping. I tried on some jackets and became convinced that I really need to do something about my weight starting now. Nothing worse than a chubby guy in lambskin, Mother used to warn. The Indian contingent was not buying the prices convinced that they could do better in Dehli. The Italians were shopping like mad and having a lovely time. The minute the Italians began buying the music in the store changed to Andrea Boccelli. They really know how to please an audience.
In addition, keep in mind that these are people who will complain about a $2 bottle of water but will drop hundreds of Euros on a leather jacket.
We ended up waiting over a half an hour for the Italians to finish and that is when the two Indian men went mad. They really got in Omer's face (the tour guide, not the driver) about it and started yelling at the Italians to get in the bus. The Italians did there best "no speakeh anglaise" but everyone knows that they do so it was not playing in Bangalore at all. Once a few of the Italian women sat down for coffee it was ON. The older Indian gentlemen started yelling and saying "Why do they get to sit when me and my family are rushed back to a hot bus?"
The Canadian behind me on the bus took odds on the Italians. I took the Indians because they looked scrappy. I think they wanted it more.
I had a ball really.
One thing I was not ready for here was the staring. It is not very common to see American Black people in parts of the country and people have no qualms about staring. It is really discomforting. I was sort of ready to disappear here, to fade into the scenery as it were but that is so not happening. The Turks are kinds and lovely people, don't get me wrong. The minute I tell them I am from Boston their eyes light up and they get very excited. The staring though, it really freaks me out.
Today at lunch I had to tell the little boy that there are a whole bunch of things that are happening in the world of the adults that do not involve or concern him and that when he was a little older, he would see that the world does not revolve around him. I think this was news to him. It was certainly a revelation to his family.
No one asked me why I am single today.