March 2020 - Sadar Bazaar in my Silver Flip Flops.

I rushed out to another Old Delhi market this morning — Sadar Bazaar — in my flip flops, forgetting about the rain last night. This market is supposedly the largest wholesale market in all Asia, and it is a labyrinth of tiny alleyways. It feels a bit like being in a human anthill. Once in, I vaguely remember where I need to go, but often get very lost.
No time for being lost today though. I gingerly squished through the disgusting filth underfoot — a mixture of mud, plastic rubbish, gob and smog juice — as people walked past it flicked bits of it anywhere and everywhere. YUK! Truly YUK!

I wished I were not wearing my stupid silver flip flops — I could feel the black sludge oozing between my toes. I was dripped on several times — watching the ground as I walked, I forgot to watch for the huge watery drips and God knows what else that was threatening to fall from above.
I managed to avoid the sparking live wire that was hanging in the gangway whist someone up above in a hard hat fiddled about in a spaghetti jungle of wires. Perhaps it is not so bad wearing rubber flip flops after all!

I was on the lookout for a tiny Brahmin shop where I buy brass bells — big bells, small bells, bells with bells on. We use the bells to make Christmas decorations, and someone has ordered some! Did they order enough to make this worth it!?!
Finally, after going around in a few circles, and asking a few folks, I found the tiny shop and was greeted by the son. The sweet old father was at home and I missed him — he would have most definitely have made it all worth it!

By the time the bill was being made, I had more bells than I needed,
and the bag was almost too heavy for me to carry. I was offered help but declined and said I could manage. I soon regretted that decision. I squelched my way back to the main road and found an auto to take me on my way. The auto rickshaw wallahs all joked, “Madam is not shaking hands?” I was protected behind my mask, and safely in the rickshaw by then and we all laughed and agreed NOT to shake hands!

I got back and took off my mask, only to discover it was covered with filthy spots of black gunge, on the inside! Fat lot of good that was! Feeling like disgusted of Tunbridge Wells, I threw it away and got straight into a hot shower and washed and washed!
Later, by chance, I ran into a dear friend, someone I have known for years, Richard, who has a shop in Inverness and travels extensively in India and Nepal to supply his shop. He is off to Kathmandu tomorrow morning, and the big C word was on our agenda. After some discussion and thought I gave him money and I gave him a few urgent jobs to do for me there, messages to pass on. I am not sure if I will make it to Nepal this time, perhaps it is better to restrict travel a bit?! Who knows what to do in this world?

Now I am on my way to Jaipur, with a cheap car I have arranged at great length. It is packed to the nines with goods and again, it is pouring with rain — hammering it down — cold. Not what I was expecting, although, India will always deliver the unexpected!
We turned into a petrol station, into a puddle, and fell straight into an excessively big hole! Ooops! The front of the car was completely stuck. This felt much more like being in the U.K. than in India, although, it didn’t take long for a crowd to gather around us and our grounded car.
Soon enough, after we got everyone to pull — not half of us pushing and half of us pulling — we got heaved out by the crowd. There was a lot of laughing because I was shouting,
“Peetche! Peetche!” (Back! Back!) and
“kirki colo”, (open the window), so we could all get a good grip on the car.
The fact that I speak some Hindi always causes a fair amount of shock, interest and hilarity.
A few people got very, very splashed with water, spinning off the wheels, but they did not seem to mind too much. They waved us cheerily on our way again.