If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun. Katharine Hepburn
Heavy into shopping at the markets in Jaipur, India, I realized I was low on cash. It wasn’t a bargaining ploy – $30 worth of rupees was all I had left. Because my hotel was nearby, I told the proprietors I’d exchange money and return to the shop to complete my transaction.
“No problem, Madam,” one of the shopkeepers said. “We will go with you.”
As the men traded animated sentences in Hindi, I thought, You’ll go with me? What does that mean?
One man turned to me and said, “Just one moment,” as another vanished into the back of the store. When the men motioned me outside, the disappearing man had reappeared with a motorbike, which turned my suspicion into excitement.
As we zipped through the cow-brimmed tangle of Jaipur’s swarming streets, I no longer wanted to keep India at arm’s length – from the window of a train or the bubble of a private car – as I had at the start of my trip. Our bike zigzagged through the dusty pink swirl, which at its center, staged a carnival of the senses for which I now wanted a front row seat.
Yes, Mama told me not to accept rides from strange men. And later that day as dusk approached, I declined an invitation from a man on a motorbike who offered me a ride to a “sacred” mountain. In one instance, I followed my mother’s rule; in the other, I did not. The difference between the two? Context – enlightened by common sense.
Some rules are made to be broken. Even Mama’s.