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One Perilous Shopping Encounter

Do you have that one travel memory that sticks with you? Is it a sunset, the joy of making a new friend, or the possibility of running into the unexpected? In a distant time I once lived in New Delhi, India. It is a chaotic city full of life, it is one of those places in the world you will either love or hate. The feeling depends on the day…

I had packed unprepared thinking the weather would be warm for all of the seasons. I was wrong, it was the end of the November, and the evenings were bone-chilling.  I knew it was time to invest in some warm clothes.

I headed to the market in search of the perfect wool sweater. I came across one merchants table, looking up admiring a lovely green one hanging on the wall. I stepped closer, to get a better look.

The Snake Charmer, Mewar Style, by Mr. Gopal

I then looked at the merchant “Kitna?”

The man looked at me “For you only 200 rupees!”

I looked at him “Without the white man tax?”

He replied, “150!”

He assumed I was an easy target. It was then I got swept up in the moment, “Ne! Ne! Ne! 50 rupees!”


“No. I’ll go somewhere else!”

He started to exclaim “Wait! 110!”

I looked at him backing up “75!”

And with that I heard a man exclaim “Snake!”

I thought for a second that wasn’t part of the deal! I turned around,  looking down, and I saw a man crouched next to the corner of the table.  My brain registered and I gasped with the realization that I almost toppled over  backwards on top of a  snake charmer.

He once again exclaimed, “Snake!”

It was there I saw his beady eye snake peering at me. I  was within less of a foot of a cobra. I screamed, and jumped fifty feet away. I screamed again, and only mildly recovering!  My heart was racing the thought of being  that close to a snake unbeknownst to me sent shivers down my spine.

I have always had a  phobia of snakes and this one was within striking distant of my covered calf. My heart was racing, I blushed, everyone within the distance of the commotion was staring at the crazy white woman who almost walked into a snake and screeched like banshee.

In order to save face I  recovered from my panic attack, ” 80 rupees! And you have a deal.”

Have you ever been startled by the unexpected?

Categories: cobra fun funny Humor India Life musings my life NaBloPoMo new delhi random thoughts snake charmer thoughts travel

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Darcie Cameron is a RYT 200 who believes Yoga is a gift that is accessible to everyone with proper modifications, a patient smile and just taking the time to breathe. One of the greatest presents you will ever unwrap is when you connect your mind, body and spirit in perfect sync with your own breath. Connect with Darcie on Facebook

20 replies

  1. Okay, I would have fainted dead away. Where was Riki Tiki Tavi when he was most needed, sheesh. One can never rely on a playful mongoose. 😉

    No way I an top that experience. I’ve never been anywhere exotic, unless you count San Francisco, Oklahoma City, and Madison Wisconsin, amongst other places, as exotic. I do have lots of memories, each specific to place.

    I’ve fallen in a grease pit, driven a go cart off a track into hay, stepped on a bees nest that teased up bees that raced me a quarter mile to home, had a belly dancer toss her veil over my head in a Moroccan restaurant (in LA) been interviewed by the BBC (anonymously and annoyingly) and was trapped in a restroom at a local TV station while the station manager, then governor, and candidate for US Senate planned how to trick the Democratic candidate into responding along a timeline that gave the Republican the final say…

    1. I think all of those places are exotic and have their own adventures! I would love to visit all of those spots. But I’m chuckling over all of your predicaments. Those tricky politicians were you eavesdropping from the stall? How did you get out of that one?

      1. Since I had retreated there in good faith for specific purpose, I stayed rooted bare arse to the seat for 45 minutes, semi-panicking, not daring to make a sound. They did not know anyone was around.

        The election was a special election, to be held after I was back in school, a few weeks thereafter. It was the culmination of the closest election in US Senate history You can read more here…,_1974

        I was trapped in the restroom in August 1975. The governor at the time was a notorious right wing bigot. I only told those I know about this, never said a word publicly, was sort of afraid… back then, we were very cynical about government, on the heels of Vietnam, Kent State, and Watergate.

  2. Jeez what was he planning to do, have the snake attack you? Sounds scary, what a jerk. When my brother Andrew went to India he ended up across from a snake charmer too who demanded money of him, which he of course felt obliged to pay with a big snake staring at him…It stinks that in India it seems like merchants are often trying to overcharge white customers and rip them off.

    1. Chuckles! No I think he was just chilling in the spot and I didn’t notice him. I was probably more of a jerk for being oblivious to my surroundings. Merchants can be very aggressive but it’s how they make their money. And when they see a foreigner it’s like winning the lotto. You just have to be savvy with them and not buckle under pressure 😉

      The snake charmers on the other hand can be aggressive I have had heard stories of people just giving them money because they use the snake as a recourse…I was fortunate enough never having to face that scenario.

  3. LOLROF, I think I’ve led a way too protected and dull life! No, nothing like that has ever happened to me. Maybe that’s why I enjoy all the adventures you guys have!

  4. I think I would have joined you in some leaping activity. I admire you for continuing to haggle, if only from a distance. I once slipped on a dance floor so that I was pitched backwards until my backside was in the lap of the local mayor’s wife with my head in the lap of her friend sitting on a chair beside hers. Being slightly merry at at the time I quipped up at her face, “I don’t believe we have been formally introduced”. I don’t think either of them were too impressed ! Perhaps not dangerous but I should have looked were I was going

  5. WOW! I didn’t know you lived in India… How cool was that! The food must have been amazing… did you learn how to cook? I would have died with the snake.. I am SO afraid of them…. Startled by the unexpected – well that happened on Friday when I learned of the manditory evacuation (especially knowing if we didn’t leave that they would raise the bridges and we would be trapped!)

    1. I did for a very brief time. The food was amazing, so many flavors, textures, and tastes. I cooked a little in my kitchen but for a month we had a rodent problem. As in cat sized, we had two in the kitchen, so for two weeks we kept the kitchen door bolted, the water delivery man arrived, and we told him he couldn’t go in there…He said “No worries! Grabbed a frying pan. And the rats were history.” However, I went out to eat a lot after that…

      It sounds like you had a crazy weekend! I hope you are home safe, and your lovely spot didn’t incur too much damage.

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