I’ve been meaning for months now to take a long walk through Old Delhi’s wedding market. And finally, last week, under the pretense of “needing” to find unique and cute baby shower favors, I finally did.
In my head, I think of the wedding market as “Sparkle Alley” a mecca for all things ribbon, bauble, glitz and glitter.
The wedding market is a well-worn path on the touristy cycle-rickshaw trail–I counted nearly 2 dozen cycle rickshaws full of foreign tourists speeding through the market on this last trip.
But a rickshaw is no way to do the wedding market. To really appreciate it’s charms, its better to walk and poke one’s head into shops full of gauzy wedding favor bags, beads and trims, lace and pom-poms and just about a thousand other little things that scream “you could do something very very crafty with me, I’m sure!”
I stopped at one shop to buy 15 silver gauze bags for 6 rupees each and to oggle at the neon colored beads. I stopped at another to pick up a bevy of wooden, hand-painted necklaces for the shower favors. I told the shopkeeper that his greeting reminded me of my father and we had a nice conversation about fatherhood and parenthood and India and his astonishment that I might be old enough to have a 20 month old son waiting for me back home (to spare Will the chaos of Old Delhi at midday, I slipped out of the house while he napped and our housekeeper stayed home to watch over over him). He finally gave me requested price as he exclaimed “only because you say I remind you of your father!”
I realized when I got home that I had actually haggled for a better price three doors up from his shop and had turned that offer down thinking the price at that shop too high. I have no head for bargaining it seems, only an unspeakably naive heart for it.
In Old Delhi its not uncommon to hear the hissing and gurgling of milk foaming on old-fashioned espresso machines. I stopped in one such shop to talk to the owner and the chai wallah. The tea was good and as I carried my styrofoam cup through the market in one hand and my purchases in the other, I could hear people around me whispering “chai! chai! She has chai!”
The contrast of the deep pink rose petals and the neon green…fruits? seeds? from one cross-legged street vendor made me stop in my tracks to ask what on earth he might be selling. The vendor picked on from the top of the pile and urged, “try one!” In these situations its hard to say no, so I took a tiny bite and crossed my fingers against the unwashed specter of Typhoid.
The fruit? seed? was sweet and a little tart and wholly pleasant. I bought 100 grams but found out just yesterday that there really was no need to buy any. The worm-shaped fruits fall freely from the bougainvillea trees growing in our backyard and in the yard of every single house on our compound.
Pictures from our quiet, if somewhat anticlimatic Holi celebration coming soon.