Apparently leaving your knickers out to dry makes you a slut.

In which case the locals must think I’m running a brothel. Where else though are you supposed to put them? If I left them inside to dry our house would turn into a Turkish sauna from the water vapour evaporating off them.

So the knickers stay on the line outside. Which isn’t doing my image any good in the neighbourhood. But that could also have been affected by my household attire. The other day our landlady brought round our freshly laundered clothes and I answered the door in my bikini. It is about 110 degrees in our house during the heat of the day. She’s lucky it was my bikini I was wearing and not my sweat draped birthday suit. So that didn’t help dispel the brothel myth any.

The social norms of Indian vs Western people are about five million light years apart. It’s not just knicker laundering etiquette either. Indian people use the beach in the late afternoon only and they swim, or rather, paddle in their saris. Europeans sit like tandooried, water-injected chickens with skewers up their arses on the beach from sun up till sun down. The other day we saw someone sunbathing topless and I felt as offended as if she had slapped them in my face and told me to squeeze them.

It’s not that I’m becoming a pretend native, like some of the western Hippie contingent (you know – the kind who wear bindis and ankle bracelets with bells on and who change their name to Sita and start chanting in Hindi), or even a real native like Alula is becoming (she picks her nose in public and taking a line from the fishermen at Varkala even took a dump on the beach yesterday) – it’s just I’m starting to see the tension. To feel offended on the local people’s behalf by such things.

Though not enough to bring my knickers inside admittedly. Just enough to tut loudly as I walk past the topless woman and mutter something about it not being Benidorm.

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