was taking a snapshot of a sign in the touristy area of Udaipur
and Virendra, the man pictured above, started a asked me what I
was taking a picture of. I told him that I thought it was funny
that several restaurants in Udaipur advertise that they play the
James Bond movie Octopussy every night. (Apparently there's a scene
in film that was shot in Udaipur and somebody here got really excited
about it.) Virendra was standing outside of his self-described junk
store. We talked for a couple of minutes on the stoop of his shop,
and he invited me in. He told me convincingly that he didn't care
if I bought anything, so I went.
I ended up staying for longer than two hours and had a most rewarding
conversation. The talk was more-or-less a standup comedy routine
/ philosophical lecture by Virendra. He was pro-mind-over-matterness,
and felt it important for one to be indifferent to the physical
world, while at the same time be willing to die for their ideals.
Vague and contradictory, Virendra had the mark of a true guru.
On more than one occasion our discussion was interrupted by his
attempts to wheel and deal with foreigners. An Israeli girl sold
her Hebrew copy of a Harry Potter book for a quarter of the cover
price, a British man came in looking for antique window frames.
Virendra believed it was ok for him to be dishonest in selling crap
to tourists, provided he was honest about it with himself. His logic
was just cause he found something in the trash doesn't mean it can't
be worth 500 rupees to an Italian.
Virendra told me his real passion was playing music. I agreed to
meet him after his shop closed for a private concert. He rode me
on the back of his moped to his house where he played his sarod.
With what he told me was Afghanistan's answer to the guitar, Virendra
created music that sounded to me like a sitar with a whammy bar.
After an hour or so of performance Virendra gave me a ride to the
bus stand from which I made my way to Jaipur.