Thursday, August 26, 2010

and today I was groped by a four-year-old

Am I kidding?

You aren’t sure.

Am I kidding?

I wish I were. It does make a good story though –

It all begins with a long Delhi day. One of those days that takes you through the dust and the traffic and begins with a sensory overload and ends with a sensory overload. One of those days where you find yourself climbing over piles of red powdery bricks stacked in disheveled pyramids. One of those days where the mosquitoes rip you apart, limb by limb. One of those days where you ask for directions once, twice, three times, and always Delhi is such a maze, you realize you were only five minutes away in the first place. One of those days where you come across a large procession of disgruntled men yelling as they trudge through the streets for some unknown reason, specifically directing their attention towards your curious faces as they forcibly hurl plastic bottles in your direction. You cross a scattered mess of honking traffic in order to find a sweet shop with the “best samosas around” –
And damn,
were they good.
The kind of good that is full of cumin and potato and curried peas and raisins and cashews. And you dip the crunchy fried triangular dough into a vegetable sauce that somewhat resembles ketchup but is actually infinitely more flavourful.

One of those days where you take a bike rickshaw to Majnu Ka Tilla, the Tibetan commune off of the metro station two stops down the line. You watch the biker heave his body to the left and right pressing weight onto each pedal in rhythm with the steepness of the street a slight hill makes all the difference. The veins in his arms protruding underneath deep warm skin. His whole body an instrument of movement to propel you forward. Suddenly you find yourself on a downward slope and he stops pedaling and while coasting he navigates around the holes and the gravel in an attempt to ameliorate the bumps of the oscillating roadway.

One of those days where dinner explodes in your taste buds. It all starts out with a cup of milky masala chai and traces of the spices and strong black tea are swirling around dappling its surface and you can tell it’s going to be a really,
really good cup of chai.
Then when dinner comes you almost don’t want to eat it because you’d rather just look at it first; imagining all those tastes that are soon to be swirling around your tongue. The soup – the one with the vegetable dumplings cradled among vegetable chunks in a smooth salty broth. Those vegetable dumplings I hope you remember had the smoothest most delicate skin on them, which covered a flavorful conglomeration of spicy mush. Then the tingmo that you dipped in the broth,
the doughy, thickly rolled dough that looks so fresh was it even baked? But of course it was baked it’s just so soft and plush. Plush! Perfect word to describe this Tibetan bread. Rolled and wrapped and curled and tucked into itself like an infinite cinnamon roll, but a thousand times more and all plush. Perfect for sponging up the remains of the rest of your meal…

One of those days where you get off the metro station near your house. There is abundance of people and a lack of rickshaws that will schlep you down the road. Walk? It’s really only 15 minutes or so…
One of those days where halfway down the street a group of four-year-old boys come running up to you from across the road. You pull your backpack close to your chest and glance behind a couple times as they skip up to you and hold out their little hands their little arms. You turn back around and keep walking forward, and to your genuine surprise you feel one of those little hands grab your ass, more forcibly and less innocently than you could imagine. Whipping your head around, you point at the first boy you make eye contact with, the one with the most mischievous look in his eyes, and you point hard –
“NO. That is NOT okay.” (In all caps, you say these things.)
You turn forward again. Keep walking. The little dude again runs up to you and starts jabbing his little fingers on your thigh and your ass, again. Grab his arm and throw it off! What are you doing little boy! He doesn’t stop. Grab his arms and throw them away! Am I being too forceful with this child? Did I grab him too hard? He doesn’t stop.
A bicycle rickshaw pulls over to the side of the road and hops off his bike. He has passengers on the bench behind him. One of those days where you are saved by a man on a chariot and he chases the kids away. He yells and the kids and chases them away.
You walk faster and look back and see the rickshaw driver continue to yell at the kids and chase them away. He yells and chases them away.

It was one of those days. Where something bad happens but then humanity steps in and you remember that all the people surrounding you are going to be good and bad and up and down and heaven and hell and you run into both and you make your own. And that rickshaw driver just makes you appreciate everything good that happens in life ---

And those little boys with the little hands…
I’m not sure if I should be disturbed or surprised; but really, I am neither. Life is just ‘how it is’ here, for lack of a better description that is totally encompassing. There isn’t anything really that can impose itself over social rule. And sometimes things are more slackened because of it, and sometimes things are more restrictive because of it. Sometimes personal responsibility is prominent, and sometimes crazy things let loose.

Crazy things happen everywhere though – back home I can sue McDonalds for giving me a hot beverage that I so gracefully spill on myself. I can feign a finger in my chili and then ask you for a large monetary compensation. Sometimes I wait a whole 25 minutes for the next BART train.
Here, little boys grab my ass sometimes, I guess.

1 comment:

  1. Nina: Following your blog from time to time. It appears the adventure is everything you expected, and sometimes more. Continue to enjoy yourself .. and keep us informed.

    Uncle Peter