Strolling hand in hand now, not allowing me to go back to shooting, she recounted her previous stops on this trip, starting in London and making it almost all the way over here when she suddenly pondered if I would ask where she got the money to pay for all this. Instead I wondered where she’d gotten her love of travel, and she was so grateful she quickly gushed, “We had a station wagon when I was growing up, me and my sister and mommy and daddy riding all over the country every summer, seeking out every historical marker, national park and ‘World’s Largest.’”
Then, blushing at where she’d left that last part for my evil brain, she looked over at my face and was surprised to see me with myeyes closed, looking dreamy.
“Mmmmm, quiet while I try to imagine what your sister would look li–OW!”
She was still laughing about it when we came across yet another tour group, and since she’d had so much success with it the last time, she pretended to linger in order to overhear what the guide was saying. This allowed me to return to my photographic endeavor, so with only a psychic harumph! she let me go and concentrated on the words, trying not to smile at the combination Indian/Oxbridge accent.
“While the sexual nature of these carvings have caused the site to be referred to as the Kamasutra temple, they do not illustrate the meticulously described positions of this famous tome. The strategically placed sculptures are designed to appease malevolent spirits. Sexual images also imply a virile, thus powerful, ruler.”
Yeah, I can see that. . .
“A sculptor was brought in for a television interview to forensically examine the tool marks and construction techniques involved in creating the stunning stonework at the sites. He also recreated a stone sculpture under four feet that took about sixty days to carve, in an attempt to develop a rough idea how much work must have been involved.”
Two months? No way! Hope the models didn’t have to pose for that long. . .
“There were also experiments conducted to see how long it would take to quarry the limestone. It took twelve quarrymen twenty days to quarry about four hundred tons of stone.”
Holy cannoli, these guys musta been highly motivated!
“The temples are now set in a parkland landscape. When India gained independence from Britain in 1947, the landscape setting was semi-desert and scrub. The archaeological park now is compared to an English public park, with mown grass, rose beds and ornamental trees. This is popular with visitors but has no relationship with the historic landscape at the time the temples were built.
“Some people complain that the landscape should reflect its appearance in those times, however there are no records of what that original environment might have been. What he do know is that Indian gardens in the tenth century were predominantly tree gardens, without lawns or flowering plants.”
Dammit, way too early to be bored!
“You’re already in love with me, ain’t ya?” she beamed as she joined me again, not able to come up with a better opening line. . . plus she liked to keep up her image as a redhead, therefore overdoing it all the time.
“I think you’re a couple of folders short of a file. . .”
“Well said, sir. It’s almost like you invented sarcasm.”
I smiled paternally. “Of course I didn’t invent sarcasm.” Beat. “I merely perfected it.”
“Close enough.” Smirk. “Did you get far enough today with your photos that we can leave now? I think the sun’s getting to me.”
“If that’s what you need to tell yourself. . .”
“Hey, you’ve proven you’re the sarcasm king already! Don’t overdo it!”
“Let’s grab something cool to drink, or else I won’t make it back to the hotel.”
Not that it was that easy, of course. The first place we tried we were greeted by a nodding smiling man who had no idea what we were asking, but kept on nodding and smiling throughout. Even a redhead with a temper like Emily had been here long enough to sigh and bear it with those supposed smiles of acknowledgement; most claimed it was simple politeness, but I was sure it had to do with ego, not able to admit they had no idea what you just said. Worse than even New York!
But finally we made it back to my hotel, where she tossed herself on the couch with her six-pack of sodas and tried not to yawn as she watched me work on the laptop. I don’t know how long that lasted, but it felt like suddenly she was behind me, playing with my hair. “You look depressed, sweetie. Anything I can do?”
“Not even Carrie can get me out of this depression.”
My pretend yawn was a lot more convincing than I’d expected, even to myself. “This redhead I know in the Seychelles. Nurse, one of those girls who’ll do anything for her patient. And simply a monumental body. . .”
A strangled sound came from her throat, no matter how hard she tried to tamp it down.
This time I sighed. “I was thinking of visiting her when I was done here, figuring it wouldn’t be hard to get there from here. But when I called they told me the flight made a stop. . .”
Not quite thinking yet, she nonetheless managed to squeak, “So?”
A little shaken by this information–not about the scheduled stop, about the rival redhead’s monumental body–she nevertheless rallied. “Well, I’m better than Carrie!”
I looked at her interestingly. “Really? You realize I can’t just take your word for that. You’ll have to prove it.”
“Maybe I will,” she teased, not having planned anything but quickly becoming challenged. Seeing I wasn’t going to answer, she sighed, “Men! Can’t live with ‘em, can’t shoot ‘em!”
“Women–can’t live with ‘em, can’t have heterosexual sex without ‘em!–OW!”
And that was just what was needed to get her out of her funk, if her redheaded chipmunk giggles meant anything.
to be continued one more time