Wed 8 May, 2013 08:10 am
The morning was quickly gone. At midday they were standing beneath trees looking up at the Tibetan temple, a modern place where there were many strange pictures and demons glared from every gable. A group of tourists came with a man carrying a megaphone and stood beside the villagers. Some of the foreigners began pointing at some of the pictures. Amiya moved away and waited for the others out of sight of the foreigners, followed as usual by her obedient admirers. Deepaka followed the gestures of the tourists and found they were looking at pictures depicting the acts of love. Deepaka gasped with shock. She was horrified. She came upon Amiya suddenly.
‘They are dirty people,’ said Amiya, ‘they do not smell of sandalwood or coconut oil.’
‘Yes, they must be very dirty people to make such pictures,’ Deepaka replied thinking of the tiny statues and the mysterious people of the mountains who worshipped at such a temple.
‘Yes, and they show these pictures in foreign countries and people will think we are beggars and that we act as they do.’
‘Why do they make such pictures?’ Deepaka was still preoccupied.
‘Why, to show to those who do not travel these ways.’
‘You think those are the ways of real people?’ Deepaka looked astonished, but not directly at Amiya.
‘Well, I do not think those foreigners are the same as we are in the way they feel, but I think that is how they all behave. Yes, I am sure.’
‘But Amiya, they had helpers!’ Deepaka stared at her friend.
‘Yes, but rich people here have helpers as well.’ ‘Rich people?’
‘Yes, they behave like that in Calcutta I think, going about with helpers to carry their parcels and speak with megaphones and help with everything, I suppose.’
‘Yes, they do not do their duties themselves, as you and I do.’
I have difficulties in understanding this part of the book Third-class Ticket written by Heather Wood and hope that some of you can help me answer these questions.
1. In the first paragraph, the foreingers "began pointing at some of the pictures" and Deepaka followed their gestures and found "they were looking at pictures depicting the acts of love". Do the two "pictures" here refer to the same thing, namely the decorative images in the temple? What does "acts of love" mean here? I think it's something related to sex, or else Deepaka should not be so horrified. However, it maybe something not that erotic and just pictures showing affection between people. I am not sure which one is more plausible.
2. When Amiya and Deepaka say "dirty people", who are they referring to, the people who create the pictures at the temple or the foreign tourists? The phrase "make such pictures" is very tricky here. I don't know what does "make pictures" mean, and so I cannot decide who are the "dirty people".
3. In the third paragraph, Deepaka thinks of some "statues" and some "people". What are these statues and people? The pictures and the tourists? Does that mean the pictures are kind of carved on the walls of the temple?
4. Why is the concept of "beggar" introduced in the fourth paragraph? Why will those people who have seen the pictures think that "we" act like beggars (I think the word "they" in "act as they do" refer to beggars)?
5. "I do not think those foreigners are the same as we are in the way they feel, but I think that is how they all behave." This sentence is too complicated. I cannot understand its meaning.