The robed disciples were trying to sell puja strings to the people in the marketplace. They had white and saffron robes and yellow markings on their faces. An older man, also a disciple, full of character in his face, came along and started selling his. This seemed to spark off a territorial argument and he jostled with the others. I took a photo, and one of them directed their attention my way. Their argument forgotten momentarily, I asked if I could take a photo of them and they all stood to look at me. After, the old man demanded money, and I shied away, embarrassed, feeling I had violated some unspoken trade; would the few rupees have really mattered, I wondered? Why didn’t I just pay them? What I really wanted to do was go over and talk to him, ask him his name and that of his companions, make a connection, human to human. Instead, I remained distant; tourist, voyeur, western exploiter. I turned away, and they resumed their argument.
I didn’t look at them again.