Friday, July 30, 2010


There are a lot of people in Delhi. Everywhere.
Sometimes we find ourselves in places where the ‘lot’ of people is even more concentrated than our usual experience. Lives swarming the streets. Water vendors, poor men with squinted eyes covered in flies on the ground, a rich family bumping their plump hips through the crowds as they saunter, women with ratty hair holding a baby too hungry to cry, shopkeepers inching away from their merchandise to lure you in, people yelling everywhere, masses of flies traveling in waves and bunching onto sweet sticky messes, unfinished construction as stacks of bricks and tile and debris in piles dribbling onto the foot path, traffic pouring like molasses through the streets in dense walls of tire and metal (Delhi Thrill Ride #54: Crossing the street.)

This afternoon we took the metro the Chandri Chawk – near Old Delhi, a definite artery of the city pumping all kinds of life through it. As soon as we skipped off the metro, we were met by the line of bike and autorickshaws lining the street and calling calling asking asking “ma’am where are you going, ma’am?” Our destination: the spice market. We asked for directions from a nearby woman, which we assumed to be a safe bet… however, in India, asking for directions is a hit-or-miss process. Even if the person doesn’t have a clue which direction to point you in, even if they only have a vague notion of where you want to go, even if they can hardly tell you how to navigate there, you will almost always get some sort of answer; confident and assured, not wanting to displease you, a stranger will send you off on a wild goose chase…

Thus, we managed to navigate around a large square of space before we got to the spices, and we passed a lot of sites that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen. (Delhi lesson #454: Getting lost in Delhi is never a loss of an experience.) Such as, wizard woman. Wizard woman was only one of the many people we brushed past – how can I describe this sort of ‘many’?
Imagine looking at a black wall, and then realizing that the wall is black because it is actually covered in ants.
Needless to say my visual inputs have been completely overwhelmed by my afternoon…
This woman had ratty hair, natural interspersed dreadlocks, and wore shiny reflective cloth wrapped around her body. Gold jewelry hanging from her face, like a gypsy, maybe, and in her hand, a wand pointed outwards. A long, nubby wooden stick of a wand. And her face was beaten by the dust and her body was stuck in her casting-a-spell posture.
The next moment this image was gone and replaced by thousands of others as we pushed ahead on the uneven cement…

The spices. The nuts! The dried fruit. The spices! Puddles of spices in open white sacks, shop after shop…
Just, everything.
And a spicy meal before heading back.
I am being rushed away from this writing experience by Kelly Donohue. Time ticks! Words sparse!

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