On Sunday afternoon I walk alone along the main street in Vallabh Vidyanagar, on the way to the DBS supermarket. Very busy, very dusty. Everyone is staring at me, and I attract significant attention. Not sure if it is just the fact that I am the only Westerner in the whole town who is walking here, or if it is my GPS unit that I am wearing around my neck, or the fact that I take pictures of almost everything I see: cows, buildings, just the road...
And walk by a group of three policemen who are sitting on chairs, chatting with each other. Maybe I looked somehow suspicious to them; after I am already away about 10 meters, one of them shouts after me "Hey, come here". I think I better follow. With a big smile I turn around and walk slowly towards them. One gets up and points me to sit down on the chair. I do this. "Where are you going?" I say that I am going to the supermarket. "What do you have in the bag?" Cake from the bakery around the corner. "Where are you from?" Not sure what to answer, but I say "Germany". At least they cannot release any anti-colonialistic resentments then - the relation to the former colonial power here in India has still a slight tension. They all smile while they ask me these questions, so this questioning feels kind of weird: maybe this is not an official inquiry, but just a chat... ? There is actually a meeting of police here in the town, for a kind of drive around various towns, as I have seen the signs "Vallabh Vidyanagar welcomes police from..." and then a couple of towns listed. So we talk about that. Then I say that I have to go now before the supermarket closes. A friendly good-buy, and I walk off.
On the way back I stay on the other side of the road, just in case.
In the evening we have a tea with the cake which I bought, and we have a laugh while I tell the story to our group.