I am a certified “heritage nut” – temples, forts, ruins fascinate me no end, the ruineder the better. As a solitary traveler, I often stop to look around. And wonder about the kind of people who visit such places. This started when I made a leisurely visit to the Qutub Minar last July one rainy day. It was mid-week, mid-day and I expected the place to be mostly empty, barring the die-hard touristy types “doing” the qutub. For all the rain and dullness in the sky, the place was teeming with people. And not all of them were obviously tourists; in fact, some so obviously not tourists that I began to wonder. Most of them (at such places) I could classify in my mind and neatly file away for future cross-tabbing. Here is a quick reference guide, see if you can spot anyone you know.
the tourist – I don’t use this word as disdainfully as it sounds here – these are people you see everywhere; their aim is to visit, not necessarily see and much less, experience. I imagine them frantically peeping into their guidebook every hour or so. Juma Masjid – check. Red Fort – check. Qutub Minar – check. Hey, we missed out Lodi’s Tomb here. And who am I to get all superior about this – I have been guilty of this several times.
the history nut – (or the temple nut or whatever) – usually alone, guidebook in hand, or guide in tow. examining every stone and peeking into every crevice, hoping to find some historical significance. Either devouring the tales the guide chooses to spin, or contradicting eerything he says with a but my book here says… Could be with or without a camera.
the shutterbug – ahem. *deep blush* – been there, shot that. Views things through the viewfinder, spends more time furiously wiping the lens and more effort lugging around equipment than anything else. In some cases, this species can also be found muttering softly to him/herself – which means a case of clear multiple disorder syndrome – the photoblogger composing the post – along with the picture – mentally.
the lovebirds – visit any monument, any temple in India and you are sure to find these couples around every corner. A day off from college, a day off from work, a day off from families, these couples find complete peace and privacy in such open places. And strangely enough, along with the cootchie-cooing couples, I have also found an equal number fighting and arguing. I wonder why. In any case, responsible for the graffiti strewn around such places.
the dayouters – could be groups of young people from a college, or a family on a day out, laden with picnic hamper. These are the ones behind the raucous laughter you hear at such places, the noise and the hooting, the litter of forgotten Bisleri bottles and empty wafer packets. I often find them, their afternoon’s work done at the spot, sitting around in groups, watching other visitors.
the loners – and finally I get to the point of this all – those single men and women who sit on the steps, windows, benches of such places, apparently doing nothing. They look like locals, have nothing in their hands, not a book, not a camera. They do not seem to be waiting for anyone, for anything. I find them staring intently into space, with a posture that suggests that they have all the time in the world on their hands.
I came across these two women at the Qutub Minar, oblivious to the world around…
And then during my recent trip to Orissa, this man at the RajaRani temple in Bhubaneshwar…
At Konark, I spotted this man sitting at the top, looking at and down on the ruin and splendor around him. This caught my attention when I happened to look up since I had seen the security barriers towards the top earlier, meant to prevent people from going up further (following an accident some years ago).
So what are they doing there? What do you think?