21.1.08

Pondy Bazaar

The street grew more narrow as the surrounding traffic swallowed the rickshaw and us. The first shop to attract me was stacked full of bangles, earrings, necklaces, and some common nick-knacks, like bandannas. The columns of bangles engulfed the tiny shop- they were stacked to the ceiling like jars of candy, enticing and dazzling.
The first impulse I had was to just stand and stare- absorb every colour and texture. But this is India, and quick reflexes are key.
Overcoming the overwhelming urge to gawk like a tourist, I dove in. The shop was about the size of my bedroom, and the width of one person. Thank God I haven't been eating and could squeeze past the already packed shop.
Make them work for you- that's what I learned from observing. But never, ever look as interested and amazed as you are. I found many things I would love to adorn myself with, starting from the head to the ankles, and many places in between. Settling for a few bracelets and earrings, I was off. The negotiations went well. My price went down half of what I was to be charged. Is it the fact that three of the bracelets broke before I even left the store and I clearly showed my displeasure? Or maybe it was my blasse and impassive face, bearing no sign of what I was feeling inside.
I left after a quick photo-op (I am a tourist, after all) and entered the ever-chaotic streets of Chennai again.
The first shop I passed offered me the exact earrings I had just bought for half the price. Damn. Maybe I'm not as good as I thought. I opted for eye kohl and henna paste; let's see if I can still draw on bodies like nobody's business.
Next was a juice bar, where the Brits and I sat for a bit. Did you know that the bars here can put nuts in your shake? Protein city. Note to self- never order papaya smoothie. One of the girls received a warm concoction that ended up making her sick, giving me a sharp reminder to be safe about the food here. Not sick yet. One week down. Good so far.
Our wandering led us through a flower street. The make-shift thatch overhang let some of the lamp-light flood onto the wondrous scene below. If you close you eyes, and imagine an entire block of a city covered in flowers of all colours, entwined withe the green of stalks, stems, and leaves, snaking their way around wooden stalls, through hair, and around peoples' necks- that's exactly what the scene was like.
Finally, we stumbled into a fruit and vegetable alleyway. Piles and rows of every fruit and vegetable imagineable greeted our eyes. The smells wafted up as we continued through. Someone even bought a Samosa: "I want whatever that smell is!"
Night fell and it was time to go. With sandy feet and glazed eyes, I clambered into a rickshaw and we were off.

1 comment:

Arun said...

you survived pondy bazaar?! whoa yer truly one of us now ;)
(been ages...my claustrophobia keeps me away..) ironic !