Posts Tagged ‘People watching’
We have recently returned from a short visit to Delhi and are a little home sick. So a couple of weekends ago we decided to go to the Stern Grove Festival for Kailash Kher’s group Kailasa. The thought of soaking in the coolness of Stern Grove listening to Tauba Tauba sounded fantastic after Delhi’s grueling heat and mugginess.
We were in Tokyo and we couldn’t possibly go back home without making a pilgrimage to Asia’s largest fish market. The only hitch was that the recommended visiting hours are 5am-8am. According to legend and Lonely Planet, the famous Tuna auction happens at 4am, which many websites informed us, is now closed to tourists. We were going to give it a shot anyway. Or not. At 4 am.
In 300 BCE, it is said, lived a thief, a kind of a highway robber called Valmiki. One day he tried to rob a sadhu, a wandering holy man, who had nothing to offer him so he gave him a mantra ‘Mara’. When Valmiki , in his distracted moments chanted it, he realised he was not saying mara-mara-mara but rama-rama-rama and that’s when he decided to write down the story of Lord Rama into an epic called Ramayana.
Are you a San Franciscan? Do you stay away from the wharf because you consider it to be touristy?
Tell me this – what is not to like at the waterfront – one of the best views as far as eyes can see, and loaded with history too. Yes, the touristy stores. They are there everywhere including Chinatown. They have large banners in front of them screaming “touristy”, so not too hard to avoid, right? And the performance artists, they are amusing if not fascinating.
We found him last year, on Oct 3, 2007. We were killing some time at the Ferry Building. On a weekday, Ferry building still has a plenty to offer – Sur La Table for kitchen gadget lovers. and outposts of Acme bread and Cowgirl creamery artisan cheese shop, Recchiuti for chocolate lovers, and of course Slanted Door, the most famous Vietnamese restaurant in Bay Area. And, a beautiful view of the Bay – something that you can enjoy every day of the week.
We had just stepped off the rickshaw when a young boy selling charms approached us. He was too young to have a street-smart swagger and walked towards us with the timidity of someone new to the job. A smile eased his hesitation and he stepped closer. ‘Hello…Want to see dead body?’ he said, grinning ingratiatingly. Casual and breezy…
The year was probably 1978-79. Time of the year – the summer holidays. Our family – mother, father, my younger sibling and myself – visited my grandparents whenever father could afford a short break during the summers. I think it was Kalka, going from Delhi to Kolkata. Could have been Shatabdi too. The ride typically was two days or more, depending on when and where the train got stuck. Rajdhani express, the first revolutionary train that traversed the same distance in seventeen hours, with its air conditioned carriages and Kwality Cassata for dessert would happen later during my teenage years.
Here is what happened. I was in Jaipur last spring, visiting family. And a trip to Jaipur is not complete without a customary trip to the shops of Johari Bazaar, jeweler’s market. I wanted to buy some chunaris, colorful cotton/silk drapes worn like shawls or scarves. Jaipuri chunaris, particularly the tie and dye, Bandhej (or bandhani) style are fabulous.
So, I was in this small shop, lit with fluorescent light. I had already picked up half a dozen chunaris to share with friends and family. In our excitement we had managed to give away the fact that we were out of towners. This is when our enthusiastic salesman got particularly creative. I am paraphrasing but this is what he said – “Sis, just check out our sarees. You are hardly going to see these in Delhi. I am not going to ask you to buy them. Just see how gorgeous they can be”.
A friend of mine used to say that a pukka Bengali gentleman, catches his fresh fish early every day. So particular is he about the freshness of fish, that after partaking his early morning cup of Darjeeling, he takes his plastic bag, dons his thong slippers, and goes for some fresh air exercise and sport – verbal combat with the hawkers at the neighborhood fish bazaar.
During a recent sojourn in Kolkata, an unexpected rainstorm has me heading to the banks of Hooghly. Where else but Outram ghat, the most popular river front destination for Kolkata folks. Named after Sir James Outram, an English general in India during Sepoy Revolution (1857), Outram ghat was a key port during the reign of British empire. Now, Sir Outram rests in the annals of Britannica and the ghat is a place for myriads of daily activities – boating, hawkers selling fast food, commuting, couples murmuring sweet nothings, bisarjan of idols after the puja ceremonies, and of course – adda, chatting, the activity Kolkata natives are most famous for.