No really, a guy actually asked for the socks I was wearing!
Among other things, we went hiking yesterday. The location was a near a pilgrimage town in Tamil Nadi, called Tiruvannamalai. There is a holy mountain there called Annamalai. It has an ashram (monastery) at the top of its 600 meter (2000 ft) high peak with a small trail leading to the top. As the trailhead was in a city, it was not quite the wild adventure of the Ranganatha Swamy Hill trip, but was a fun hike anyway.
The hike itself was “unsuccessful”. We hiked in 35 C (about 95 F) temperatures under a blazing sun with no forest canopy, which we had been expecting when we chose the location. So in climbing about halfway up, we managed to consume 9 of the 11 liters of water that we had brought with us. As the prospect of running out of water and risking heatstroke did not appeal, we turned back. On the way down, we ran into a barefoot man who had apparently walked up the hill to catch up with us – on a side note, I really, really, hate this. We are searching for solitude while hiking and are out to commune with nature, not talk to touts.
He stopped and smiled, dashing any meager hope that he might me heading for the Ashram further up the trail. He tried to talk us into taking him on as a guide; after all, we have to be careful on the way down. One of our hiking companions (neighbor from Palm Meadows), a Tamil woman named Shiva more or less told him to get lost because he was useless anyway; yet he lingered. Jeez I hate touts! After she told me about the “we have to be careful” bit, I made it a point to do my mountain goat best and leap between rocks just drive home the point that being a westerner does not make me some fragile doll who needs someone to hold his umbrella and carry him down the mountain.
He smiled and complimented me on my jump. Then he asked me.
Sir, may I have a pair of socks?
I only have one pair of socks. They are on my feet. They are also sweaty and stinky.
Sir may I have a pair of socks? Just one pair! I have to work on the trail every day and I have no socks.
After I did not give him the socks off my feet, the smile vanished instantly as it always does when one of these toutish types realizes that we’re not going to be his personal ATM machine. He then went away and walked back down the hill.
But really… the dude coveted the socks off my feet!