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The others scrambled up the enormous fort’s last steps…

… but UD had had enough climbing, so she sat in a dusty nook and watched this woman lug stones on her head. In seconds, she and two other women put down their work and excitedly gazed at UD and came over and talked to her, though she and the women shared not one word in any language.

Americans are attractive exotics round these parts, and UD was several times at the fort stopped by families who asked if they could take her picture. Whole families crammed into the picture, arms around UD

Who is UD, she thought, as exuberant, curious people rushed her, that Indians art mindful of her?

To the three ladies’ manifest questionings, UD passed her hand against her forehead: I stopped walking because I am tired. Yes, yes, they signaled, and then talked with me some more. Eventually I closed my eyes and leaned against the pillar, and they went back to work.

A man seeing me with my eyes closed approached. “Are you ok?” “Just waiting for my husband; thank you for asking,” and he smiled the sweetest smile.

The acoustics were good, and one of the ladies was singing; so UD sang. She sang Ella Fitzgerald’s version of Mister Paganini; she sang Sarah Vaughan’s version of Speak Low. She sang – natch – Music For A While. The ladies seemed to like all of this, though it sounded not at all like their songs.

Margaret Soltan, January 7, 2024 1:26PM
Posted in: snapshots from india

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