Friday, October 8, 2010

Samir's Journey of Life −7

And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
-Bible (NewTestament); Revelation 21:21

All the blog posts I write this month are going to be on my street experiences.
There are many bouts I go thru in life, one such bout these days is the desire to have an experience of street life (not literally).  I think this desire probably is the result of  APY - last Saturday, some of us went to the old town for the photo shoot.  We explored the area surrounding Bhadra Kali Fort and Bhatiyar Galli.  It was an amazing experience.  The energy and movement around awed me. Not just the people, but the cars, buses, rickshaws, mopeds, bicycles, cows, dogs. All of these things conspired to give the environment a chaotic and anarchic feel that amazed me, not that I am new to this place but its been a long time since I’ve had the street level experience.  The apparently chaotic place, when closely looked at, was very well organized.  Vendors intensely negotiating and selling ‘Katrina’ brand of lingerie and ‘Ladrina’ brand of cosmetics!  It was all very colorful and vibrant.
Zipping traffic at Bhadra Fort (will soon be a history)

Aggressive marketing (order within chaos)
Colourful Katrina
Lustrous Ladrina

From there we ventured in to the much talked about ‘Bhatiyar galli’.  Just before we entered the ‘galli’ we noticed a series of ‘perfum’ (e- is missing) kiosks.  They had strange collection of perfumes 'Sandol', ‘Drax’, ‘You & Me’, ‘My love’ types.  Unfortunately, I missed trying out some of them, as I was too pre-occupied in taking pictures.  We entered the (in)famous eating joint and very honestly, we were thoroughly disappointed.  Not that we expected great hygiene conditions but what we saw even lacked basic cleanliness and hygiene.  We lost all the appetite after having roamed around the street full of filth and stink of rotten fish or flesh.  We got some food packed and I must tell you, what we had was a surest route to get pancreatitis (if one consumes 3 days in a row) not to mention other gastronomic complications (or probably the regulars must be having Teflon quoted stomach lining...)

Gastronomic nightmare!
My desire to have a feel of street experience did not fizzle out – on the contrary it became stronger.  I decided to go for a roadside barbershop for a shave.  I wanted to go to one of the types with a mirror hanging on the compound wall or they ask you to hold the mirror and a high wooden chair (one often finds such barbershops around the city).  I had always noticed one such shop opposite my office, so here I go, I parked and looked at it closely, tried to muster courage to go and sit on the chair – but I couldn’t (I had all sorts of thought processes, what would the adjoining tea vendor think, what if my colleagues pass by etc).  Eventually I ended up in some obscure place in Mithalkali village.  The shop had a colorful board ‘Monopol Jents Salun and Beauty Parlur’.   The shop was not more than 4.5 feet wide by 7 feet deep.  It had two chairs and two mirrors, around which there were plastic flowers and lots of photographs of Bollywood heroes stuck (on the wall opposite the mirrors) and neatly stacked gadgets as well as many bottles, tubes of weird brands of cosmetics (probably of the similar types I saw at Bhadrakali fort).  It appeared that I was the first customer of the day.   The moment I sat in the chair, my ‘hair stylist’ took out a packet of ‘budhalal’ tobacco and some lime paste, rubbed it in his palm and shoved the mixture in his mouth and without washing his hands – he held my face and gave a detailed look.  By that time I had closed my eyes, sank in my chair with some palpitation and stated praying ‘god …please protect me from allergy or infection…please’.  After the job was done, I opened my eyes and was a happy customer (really? I wonder).  Since then, I have been closely monitoring my face – looking for some signs of allergy.  So far, I am spared.  And hence my endeavor with street experience continues…
OK hair dresser!
By the way….
Day before, I got a small dental surgery, partial tooth extraction.  I believe that all dentists have a peculiar habit of talking while they maneuver a large drill in the mouth and they expect the patient to converse during the procedure!  Following is the conversation we had, about 10 minutes after the surgery started (I am pretty sure that you all must have had a similar experience):
Dr:  Now…let me assure you that this will not hurt at all (a blatant lie)…
me: (while it was hurting very badly and I was profusely bleeding) …uh… hug… oogaulps…!!!
Dr:  I told you, every thing is going to be al right, you were needlessly fearing
me: @#...ou…grrrrr….dolp..dolp…
Dr:  What do you think of this babri masjid judgment?
me:  $$&***@##...eah…aehaa…ughhe…umm…shi…ugh ugh…glop…(all I was saying was:   damn…finish of the work fast and let me get out of here)
Dr: (what ever she understood of my talk) ummm, I thought as much, even I have the same view!!!!
And such meaningless conversation went on for next 23 minutes.  Some body please tell me that is it part of the training of dentist that they make their patients (read: victims) talk while they shove the deadliest of the gadgets in the mouth?

See you after 10 days with more street experiences


  1. i love the way how you have detailed each and every little aspect of your excursion. Right from the nail-polish brand to the tobacco.....
    gives a real time experience while reading as if i was right there along with you :)

  2. Great going Samir....really enjoying reading your posts...God Bless!!!!

  3. …hmm. Good for beginners, I mean our amateurish, fun seeking; street life adventure has some promise after all. Paying attention to details, hun Samir? Good, the devil does lie in the detail. But my friend the detail tends to dull the taste buds doesn’t it? Buddy you still have to go a long way. Abhi Dilli door hai. Waise bhi agar aap in magribi restaurants ko tawajjo nahi denge janaab to un bechare 5 star numa hotleon ka to janaza hi nikal jayega. Who will support the elite then? Baaki in gareebon (bhatiyar gali walon) ka to guzara ho hi jayega, aap ki inayat ho …ya…na…ho.

    OMG! My delicate friend, worrying about medicinal aspects and safety? Safety has no thrill mere dost, aainda se zara etihaat barten aur in pancreatic, neurotic, hypocondriatic numa alfaazon se zara khud ko door hi rakhen to accha hoga. Aisi mashroofiyat se waise bhi aap guzarte hain din apne ki chand lamhe jo aap khaana badoshi ke liye muhaiya kate hain khud ko (bohemian u c) unme pal pal ka maza len galiyon ki awaam sare aam wahi se bahar aake dekhen ki awaa, sare aam wahi nagawaar kkhaane ko kis josho kharosh se nosh farmati hai bina pancreatic dosh ke. Riyaaz ki zarrorat hai mere dost ye aag ka dariya hai…ek to wo bichare bakre aur murgiya gaye apni jaan se aur unhe haasil kia hua? Vaaiz (informed kanabadosh) ke taane and all that? Un chand khaansaamon ki tohfanawazi aur mehmaan nawazi ko aap sare aam yun nilaam na Karen. Balki unki hauslaafzai Karen ki gurbat me bhi kaisa umnda aur lazeez khana aapko parosa unhone.

    Hah ek baat aur…hajamat ko quamat me mat tabdeel kar den, labbolabbab (crux) ye hai ki when in Rome behave like a Roman. Bekhauf ho ke maz len sarak chap hajjam ka, uski meethi meethi baton ka, aur wo ½ chai ka.

    Dentist ne jo nikaal phenki wo kahin akl daar to nai thi. Wo to kahin zaaya hahi ho gayi? Aapki akl ke to sabhi kaayal hain, wo chali to…..?

    Any ways, enjoyed reading your blog, where is the recipe?

  4. I wish I could have sent in my post on Bhadra before yours, you beat me to it. Your perception of Bhadra is certainly different from mine... You have encouraged me to blog my Bhadra experience too.
    I just loved the Katrinas and the Ladrinas, Bhatiyar gali may be a second home for a connoisseur of good street food (Mumbai’s roadside snacks - something which I really miss is the epitome of street food – I intend to blog this in the near future). The last time I went to this gali was on the day of Uttaryan, when everyone had gathered for kite-flying at a “friend’s place” nearby. I had to do the honours of getting lots of ice, this was the place which had lots of ice (yes the Bhatiyar gali had ice to store meat, chicken etc.) but my friends were really glad to cool their vodka and peach drinks that morning. Samir I know you are a good friend and you will keep this a secret.. Cool unhh

    Your experience at ‘Monopol Jents Salun and Beauty Parlur’ is amusing, but confusing, your usage of words like “infection”, “allergy”,”rubbed it in his palm”, “shoved it in his mouth”, “sank in my chair with palpitation”, “after the job was done” leaves nothing to imagination.
    As for the dentists, this one is no different.

    Most dentists are females and are cute, the problem is their habit of putting fingers in our mouth. I once came across a dentist, who said “now open your mouth, I want to look at your “teeths”, I wished I could have told her, “so do I”
    Also, I equally enjoyed reading Alpana’s comments in chaste urdu (translation of some words sought).. Keep on commenting.

  5. It has been long, we (readers) deserve a new post!
    Come on, take a break from the work and shoot some pics.
    Some glimpse of my final work will be up soon...