Somehow I expected this town to be a small, quiet town filled with monks and pilgrims. It is that, but it is also a crazy place filled with people asking you for money, selling things, shops, people pushing past, man powered rickshaws whirling past, colors, noise, all pushing you toward sensory overload.
And then this little boy about 7 comes up to me.
Boy: Can you buy me a bat and ball?
Boy: A bat and ball?
Boy: Yes please. Where are you from?
Me: The USA.
Boy: Do you speak Thai?
Boy: Do you speak Chinese?
Boy: I speak English, Thai and Chinese?
Me: How did you learn all of those languages?
Boy: “I learned from the monks. They come from all over. One monk teaches me each time he comes to visit. I miss him. I feel it in my heart…” He touches his heart.
He continues to tell me about his life and how much he studies while directing me toward the store to pick up his ball and bat.
Me: How far is it?
Boy: Not far, over there.
Me: What is your name?
Boy: My name is Vikram.
Me: I have a friend named Vikram.
Boy: Now you have two.
Me: I think you are a genius
Vikram: Nah, I’m not a genius.
Me: I think you are! I think when you grow up you are going to run India!
Me: Are we any closer to this shop?
Vikram: Yes, Yes, it’s right over there. See.
Me: Ji ha.
He asks for the bat and ball and out comes a complete cricket set.
Me: Yes, How much?
Store owner: 700 rupees.
This pint size kid is carrying an entire cricket set home. I’m worried someone will take it away from him so I offer to walk him home. My guide Rashid starts to freak.
Rashid: You can’t walk him home.
Rashid: He can take care of himself. He got you to buy him an entire cricket set, didn’t he?
Me: He is still a kid and I want to walk him home.
Maybe your mom can make me some tea, I say to Vikram.
I think my guide is going to faint.
Rashid: I advise you not to walk him home.
Me: Why, you’re here.
Rashid: It’s not advisable even for me.
Vikram sees his mom and runs over. I go over to meet her. I tell her that her son is a genius. She smiles warmly.
Goodnight Vikram. He waves.