Sunday, March 25, 2007

Lions And Sheep And Pigs... Oh My!

Connaught Place (CP) is made of 3 concentric circles, the inner circle being the most popular part with the shops and restaurants, and in the very center, a round park under which one finds the metro station for Rajiv Chowk. Why it is not the CP metro stop, nobody is able to tell me and so I just assume it is the victim of the world’s largest ball of red tape that is Indian bureaucracy. Actually Rajiv Chowk is named after Indira Ghandi’s son, while the outermost circle is named after Mrs. Ghandi, but nobody uses those names. It is simply CP, inner or outer circle. The metro, which is still being expanded just opened a couple of years ago and until today I had never taken it. I expected it to be crowded, noisy an run down like so many places in the city, but on the contrary, the station had not a single piece of debris anywhere. It was also airy, roomy and quiet for metro station in the center of a city and the trains were clean, shiny and smooth. I bought my light blue, plastic token, which looked like a gambling chip from a cheesy Vegas casino. I held it up to the magnetic card reader and like magic, the doors flew open and suddenly I had no idea where to go. I needed platform number 2, but there is almost no signage and so I began wandering around, looking for a sign, any sign that would tell me where to go. I finally found platform 2 and took the metro exactly one stop from CP to New Delhi Train Station and then back.

I was having lunch at Zen in the inner circle, where I ordered egg wrapped rice, which upon delivery turned out to be rice wrapped in a thin pancake of egg. I don’t know why I was surprised. The Chinese just have this way of calling things exactly what they are. Lemon chicken, boiling fish, sizzling beef or grilled king toad. I have had all of those dishes with the exception of the toad. I was tempted the last time I was in Beijing, but as I was not feeling well, I had a change of heart. It was between ordering the food and the actual delivery that I discovered I have some astrological issues. I am a Leo, have always been happy and proud to be a Leo, content to bask in the limelight, fame and glory that is my birthright. People love and adore me as they should. It’s all right there for anyone to read. Look up Leo and you’ll need sunglasses just to read the definition. Hear me roar, the lion, the ruler of the other 11 not so glamorous houses. I was not very pleased to learn that in Japanese astrology, I am a goat. A winged fire-breathing dragon would have been ok, but a goat? I am not sure whether to be offended or just dive into the deep ocean of denial. So there was I was, educating myself on the placemat as one does when waiting for the food to arrive and as if being a goat wasn’t bad enough, the Chinese have turned me into a sheep. A sheep. And a sheep that seemed to have lost his Little Bo Peep and doesn’t know where the find her. But I’m not done yet, the final blow was yet to come, the chart that showed the compatibility with other signs. I was curious who the Chinese felt I should be with. The highest rating on the entire chart, at 98 of 100, was the sheep and the pig. How would I explain that one? “Hi everyone, meet my partner, the pig.” I just don’t think it has that certain je ne sais qois I so liberally season my life with.

The only thing to do to recover was to go shopping at the little markets. There is one market just off of CP, behind the only modern building on the inner circle, sitting between blocks F and A. Turning the corner into the alleyway, the senses are immediately assaulted with shouts of offers, bargains, people holding innumerable strings of beads, watches, wallets, pants, bangles, earrings, windchimes, cloth elephants, inlaid jewelry boxes and on and on it goes, an explosive blur of color and sounds. People pushing. People pulling. People crowding in to see, making sure they don’t miss something interesting, or perhaps they just to be a part of something that is none of their business. I find the madness intoxicating if not addictive.

This evening found me with a friend of mine at Dilli Haat where I loaded up with enough cashmere and silk to make Nik blush. I almost bought a brilliant rhinestone adorned Ganesh. It was just too fabulous for words, but I passed on it for now. I did, however flirt with the very dishy Kashmiri cashmere sales person and I will most definitely go back to pick up where I left off. International relations being what they are, I feel it my duty to do anything I can to bring our peoples together, sort of the modern version of buying the world a Coke.

1 comment:

  1. interesting anecdote, capturing a slice of delhi's life... look foward to reading the rest of your blog anecdotes. ciao! gfunk1