« 26 – Things Are Looking Up | Main | Chapter 25 »

Around The Sun: Ears And Snakes

...There I was, sitting in a park in Delhi, enjoying the day, when a man wearing a fishing hat approached me. In the hat band were metal probes and implements. I had no idea what I was about to experience...

Steve Harrison went into the park to relax - and ended up on tenterhooks.

Indian was a riot of colour and smells. I enjoyed the country and time flew by. I was the only one in our group who did not become sick. I ate in all the local places, even drank the local water, but everything seemed to agree with me. The others succumbed to Delhi belly and the Indian trots. After six weeks they were shadows of their former selves and decided to go back to the United States to recuperate. School was not due to start again for two weeks, so I decided to stay on and have my own little adventure.

I travelled with them to Delhi where they would catch a flight back to the US, then I was planning to go on towards the Himalayas, through Derra Dunn, then to the hill station town of Moussourie.

There I was, sitting in a park in Delhi, enjoying the day, when a man wearing a fishing hat approached me. In the hat band were metal probes and implements. I had no idea what I was about to experience.

"Clean your ears?'' the man inquired.

"Clean my ears!'' I exclaimed with an hysterical laugh.

He gave me an offended look, then produced a notebook from a trouser poicket. It contained page after page of glowing references and recommendations from people who had had their ears cleaned.

Now when I was a youngster I was instructed that it was unwise to put anything smaller than an elbow in one's ear. I looked more closely at the instruments in the hat band. They included metal hooks...

"You surely don't use those?'' I fopund myself asking.

Somehow the man had already manged to carry out a preliminary probe of my left ear. With glee he placed on the back of my hand a lump of black wax. "You see,'' he said. "Your ears need to be cleaned.''

I considered my age. I was 32 at the time. Could it be that I had 32-years-worth of black wax lodged in my ears?

"How long will it take?'' I asked. "And how much will it cost?''

He told me it would take about 20 minutes to clean each ear, and the cost was one American dollar.

“Okay,” I said "Go right ahead.''

I inclined my ear, dreading that it may never again receive sounds. The man produced something akin to a miner's lamp, strapped it to his forehead and went to work on my left ear.

First he trimmed the hair in rthe ear, then started removing wax. I was rigid, afraid that if I moved so much as a millimeter I would be rendered deaf. When the wax had been removed he poured warm oil into the ear, then started on the other ear.

When the job was done it seemed as though I was hearing sounds I had never heard before. I heard bees foraging some distance away. It was as though I could even hear the grass growing. I gratefully paid the man and added another glowing testimony to his notebook.

Travel it seems not only broadens the mind. It can also open up the senses.

At that time in my life I was a keen photographer, taking a trusty Nikon camera and a case filled with lenses and filters wherever I went. As you can imagine, I was keen to get a shot of a snake charmer in action. I was told that the charmers displayed their craft daily in Conaught Square in the centre of town. I went there every day for three days, but no charmers were to be seen. When I asked about them I was told "Tomorrow.'' When you travel in Asia no matter how little English the locals have they are always able to say |"Tomorrow.''

I had almost given up hope of getting my picture. I was due to catch a bus to Moussurie the following day. I was sitting on a wall in the quare when a youngster came up to me and set a round basket on a ledge, not ten inches from my face.

"Are you the man wanting to photograph a snake?'' he asked.

I nodded.

The boy removed the lid of the basket. Up popped the large head of a cobra which looked me in the eye. It's tongue flickered in and out, tasting the air.

Soon I was surrounded by other snake charmers with their baskets. Cobras danced wherever I looked.

And I got my postcards of India.


Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.