DOWN IN THE BACK GARDEN FOR COFFEE, having breakfasted at the Clarks hotel down the street. Tourist gluttony: toast, rolls, butter, marmalade, pancakes with honey, juice, coffee and horrible, taste-like-death eggs𤺠 Rs, eight to ten waiters, room full of French people eating fast so they could get down to smoking; Indian tour guide speaking brutal ("Ooh la la!") French—very disturbing; lane outside the hotel full of parasitical touts, drivers and monkey handlers. Glad to be back in the monastic calm of my hotel, where there's an orange cat (!) on the loose, very shy and not too thin. My spirits were already good—excellent surprise of a call from Mom & Claudia (Sony-sponsored party line) late last night, they entirely support choice of Bombay over Calcutta (M: "What were you going to bring me—a leper?") so that was helpful and healing of pride to be told.

Finishing the events of yesterday: from Sarnath, back to Papu's house (through a neighborhood awash in red and purple dye—still dancing, celebrating in open tents on the street, girls performing Hindi film songs before an audience of groin-eyed, slack-faced men and boys; stained older men embracing one another with long formality; women emergent, their hands stained red, fresh red powder in the partings of their hair, holiday pleased and attired). Met more of his family, including the sister-in-law out of Chekhov—no English, but the genius for assigning blame from inside the safety of the parameters of the civility one has put oneself in charge of establishing, was very clear—a married lady wearing, somewhat remarkably, pink lipstick; Papu, who behaved as the object of her complaints with remarkable forbearance, kept leaning across to tell me that she lives in Mughal Serai, as if this explained everything. . .

Down the street at Hotel Surya/Canton Restaurant for dinner—cheaper and inhabited. . .feeling skittish and dislocated after a bout of shopping; spent an absurd amount of money on a very few, very exquisite silk things; hope I didn't get horribly taken—no way of knowing, of course. . .symptoms of paying too much—do they include being shown more things after one has bought other things for a price the salesmen claimed had cost them all their profit? Wouldn't they rather, in that case, one left without buying anything else? But instead they bring out more goods, very expensive goods to beautiful not to buy. . .I don't want to think about it any more. . .Sat in the hotel room for a little while looking them over until the room cleaning boy arrived—and he had a look at everything, thought the quality was good but of course made as if I'd paid crazy tourist prices. He left; I ordered coffee from room service but really I wanted a cigarette and someone to talk to. . .Buying gifts makes me want to be home; buying such expensive gifts makes me want to get home before the spending—which feels much like bleeding—gets out of control. Salesmen can smell it, I fear, this helpless readiness to spend. . .I was bored and lonely and restless today, self-conscious about not doing enough. . .had a vague notion of going down to the river to watch the sunset but had agreed yesterday to visit the "factory" the salesman in the hotel recommended—he went with me in the car. . .What I bought (let's cut this short—it's making me ill) could (a) not be found in the United States and (b) if it could, would be some much more than what I paid I could never think of buying it. So, there's this feeling that nothing in India should cost more than than $50—I don't know where I got this idea but it's there in my mind; and the infinite untrustworthiness of the salesmen is sickening. . .What is "worth," anyway, in a cottage industry culture, where you're buying from fat middlemen what's made by people—including children—in what you're told are their homes—as if people here had room for enormous looms in their homes—for what can't be more than pennies; what is a fair price—how can any price be fair?—anyway, when race plays such an enormous role in the transaction?

I don't know why I'm behaving as if I have infinite hours to waste on every opportunity to obsess about money and injuries to my pride and why men are evil and money again; why I can't transcend even by inches my clearly excessive limitations as an individual just enough, at least, to be able to mention that yesterday I saw: (a) two goats creating chaos in a barbershop—a little cube with two chairs standing open to the street—one goat was standing in one chair and the other was knocking over the bicycle belonging to the customer who was sitting in the other chair; (b) RAJA HINDUSTANI, finally, at a small hot packed, theater, with Papu, his wife and their two young children, a boy and a girl—the little girl, Puja, sat on my lap for most of the movie—for most of what we saw of the movie, as we arrived well after the start, and it still ran (with one intermission while the aisles fill with men distributing food and drink—for which they collect the money after the film has resumed, in the dark, knocking through a litter of empty glass Pepsi bottles which someone comes even later in the film to collect) until almost nine, two and a half hours after we got there. . .We used "black tickets" to get seats, for which I paid 40 Rs each (children free), as it was sold out; Papu had said the tickets were "confirmed" when I'd offered to buy them earlier for the whole family group—this last minute "black ticket" purchase was his delicate way of accepting the offer, I think. . .(More about money! I can't seem to help myself. . .also very sleepy, because although I napped today I also overate. . .before I leave India I must try a day in which I do nothing but eat and sleep and sit in the sun and spend money—wait! That was today. . .)

Hotel de Paris, Varanasi