I am walking through the tranquil streets of Ambamata and Malla Talai, looking around and taking in the ambience of the environment as I search for an ATM. I’d like to withdraw some money.
The air here in Udaipur is humid. More humid than in Lagos. Strange. For some reason I thought Lagos (or Nigeria) was as humid as it could get anywhere. Strange. I stepped out of the airport and was surprised at how dense the air was to breathe in.
That’s one of the ways I realize I’m in a more humid place. I step out of the airport (sometimes the plane) and I have to consciously adjust my breathing.
Tomorrow evening I’ll be playing pool with a friendly Indian guy I’ll meet in the common room of Zostel– an Indian network of backpacker hostels.
He’ll tell me that Udaipur is in some sort of a climate bubble- and that in spite of how humid it is right now, it’s surrounded by a desert just outside the mountain range that encircles the city.
He’ll be teaching me the basics of playing the game of pool, remarking humorously that he should probably have spent more time studying in college and less time playing pool. That his life would be considerably different if he had.
Life and decisions and questions, and that tendency to wonder how different your life would be if you had made some decisions differently in the past. Especially when some people are of the opinion that maybe you didn’t make the best decisions. Even if you disagree with them, their concerns still make you ask questions sometimes.
Honestly I feel like that’s everyone’s situation – to some extent at least.
At the back of my mind, I’ll be marvelling at this subtle jesting awareness of the fact that I have somehow become of the pool-playing age.
I have generally always thought of pool as a game played by older people – by full grown men whose idea of fun was walking around a green table and having full grown men conversations, because they felt too mature to dance and let their hair down.
Yet there I was, being effortlessly inducted into the rituals of pool playing.
I’m definitely in the pool-playing age range now. Haha.
I’m still walking around Malla Talai.
I’m yet to find an ATM. Google Maps says there should be a number around here. I’m just yet to find them.
A tall Indian man is walking in my direction. He has a necklace of bright yellow marigold flowers around his neck. I’ll see marigold flowers like everywhere I go here in India. They are so abundantly prevalent.
The tall Indian man has a red bindi on his forehead.
Hm, hopefully he can let me know where a nearby ATM is.
“Hello? Hello Sir?”
He stops to look at me.
I ask where I can find an ATM nearby.
He says I need to return to the main road. And then branch right. That there are a number of ATMs along that route.
He says there are no ATMs along this road. That I’m in a temple.
Wait what? Temple?
I had no idea. I recall that when I branched into this path, I noticed a number of people dressed in bright red yellow and orange colours, with strings of marigolds around their bodies. There is also the sound of singing and musical instruments coming from further down the road.
I had no idea all of that meant I was in a temple. The sign was in Hindi so I could’t read it.
I thank the tall Indian man, and turn around.
Hah. Look at me. Searching for an ATM in a temple. Haha.
I am at a Bank of Baroda ATM. The logo is bright yellow/orange, almost like the colour of the orange marigolds that seem to be everywhere in this place.
I bring my debit cards out of my wallet.
I have a good feeling about this one.
I’ve tried to withdraw at about three different ATMs along this road, with no success. So far, they’ve all just been giving me ambiguous errors.
It is my first time in India. I have no prior experience with the banks here. Given that, the expectations I have for my experience with an ATM machine is based on the most random things:
Oh I like the colour of their logo. Hm. This one should work.
I try the first ATM card.
Ah. Bank of Baroda. With the bright orange logo. Why you fucking me up like this.
I try it again.
Different random error.
I try the second card.
I try another machine. I try to withdraw a different amount.
Okay now I’m beginning to get actually concerned.
How do I withdraw money in this place if my debit cards do not work at the ATMs?
It’s getting dark. I should get back to the hotel.
If it gets completely dark, I doubt I’ll be able to find my way back without becoming even more frustrated than I already am.
And I do not have any cash for public transportation.
Okay. I should get back.
Thanks to the conference organisers, I have one more expense-paid night at Radisson Blu. I haven’t begun to need money yet.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow, we’ll figure this out.
Image: Somewhere in Udaipur.