We are the best candidates because..
Well, let's see. Maybe if we told you a story about our travels, about noticing and liking the small things about travel, that'll make our case? He started off blandly, our guide at Konark. He spoke of the Sun Temple's various geometric features, its idol that was once magnetically suspended, the young boy who installed it and then committed suicide, that sort of thing. All this is OK, guide-sahib, but show us the Khajuraho-type stuff, won't you? No, we didn't actually say that. But not halfway around the temple, guide-sahib began doing the nudge-nudge wink-wink. He now steered us only to the erotica, explaining in a whisper that grew steadily hoarser what each sculpted scene was about, breaking into English for the especially titillating parts. "Here women", and "there two men one woman", and "that is dog, heh heh": the man had it all down pat. Every conceivable sexual variation, and every not so conceivable one, is on display at Konark. It's such an unabashed celebration of sex, love and life that you wonder: Where did we get our modern attitude towards sex? How did we evolve culturally from passionately entwined figures on a temple wall to arresting smooch-happy couples on the rocks at Bandra's Bandstand? But no time for that, because we noticed that our guide was now making frequent whispering use of the word "sucking." After a point, everything involved "sucking." Yes, he also said that of the panel with a giraffe. Don't ask. Soon after, minds in an understandable whirl, we got on the road to the upper reaches of Keonjhar district, iron mining country on Orissa's Jharkhand border. We arrowed inland from the coastal plain, then wound through muted hills and silent sal trees. Strangely lovely country, even once you realize that some of those hills are actually piles of slag from the mines. Everything in shades of ochre and red: roads that are more mud and rocks than tar, cars and buses, the menacing stands of abandoned mining machinery rusting peacefully into oblivion. The air itself seems heavy with rust, though it's really just the promise of rain. Yet it grows on you. With each mile, things slip away: grand expectations of travel, the need for unsullied comfort. You begin delighting in the small joys: a pheasant peeping from a tree, a long line of cattle tramping through a field, the truck ahead that advises "No Book Without Cover, No Girl Without Lover." It was thus that we reached the hamlet of Belda, to look in on an AIDS workshop. It was in Oriya, but we didn't need that language to know why a spate of shy giggles rippled through the audience of young women soon after we arrived. The lady conducting the session had just described, with unmistakably explicit hands, the use of a condom. No mention, thank you very much, of sucking. No Girl Without Lover that night? What a thought.