I've been remiss in mentioning my other half. My "husband" of less than one year. We've been on this trip together after all. As the days lapse the story of my dear one are growing more elaborate. You see before I left I had been cautioned that when traveling if you aren't married I should sport a gold wedding band as a means to explain myself. I've been wearing one and it's on my list of smart moves for this trip--after Cipro and malaria medication (the mosquitoes are quite hardy all over India during the monsoons).
While I took the visible action of trotting into a jewelery shop with J.C. who wisely advised that the band should be gold as India favors this metal, I didn't think through the questions I would get. All over India one of the first things ask after, "What is your good name?" or "Are you alone?" is "Are you married." Yes, I say as I raise my left hand to rest just at my neckline.
Today in Delhi while being sold a magic carpet I was asked to talk about my husband and our plans for children in great length. The saga Charles, my workaholic but successful Silicon Valley venture capitalist spouse took a turn. Charles travels a lot to Mumbai for business and we want children but he's never home. He also dislikes it when I make major purchases for our three-story Victorian. We're newlyweds, married on New Year's Eve. He's romantic and he loves my cooking. His favorite is my fish curry.
Seriously, all these responses rolled off my tongue as fast as the
questions interrogation over saffron-cinnamon-cardamom tea with the shop manager. He thinks that if I can bring a boy into the world for him my life with Charles will be happy. For good luck I should purchase a magic carpet from the small artisan village in Kashmir. So I did and now I really need another suitcase. Also the only way I was able to take the image above was so that Charles could see the many available choices as I really "should be buying many magic carpets." Good thing Amir, the sales manager, likes software people, "they have very good love in their hearts and smart in the head."
My other highlight from today is diverting from the outlined itinerary with my local guide and driver. I may or may not have seen Asia's largest spice market in Chandi Chowk. I saw a lot but when your guide is not food oriented and it's 98 degrees with 80% humidity patience is a commodity. He had also just misplaced his mobile phone--the one with a snake charmer ring tone.
The images above were taken in the market--the one with the cheese speaks volumes. It's on the ground, but so sweetly wrapped in a tea towel at the feet of a stray dog. Cheese anyone?!
Vivek, the 27-year old guide, does suggest that you only need to be rich in your heart in life (I am finding Hindus poetic...) stated that he doesn't take tourists there. I replied, "that is exactly my reason for wanting to go." Today's adventure also included a harrowing bicycle rickshaw ride where we got into a 3-way collision--no damage at all but a lot of wobbling of the heads and discussion.
Tomorrow it is off to Agra with my nerves-of-steel driver, Mr. Singh. His prescription for driving in Delhi is that "one must have a good heart, a good horn and great luck. Oh yes, He has a boy and a girl and has been married 21 years. He's 43.
Charles if you are reading by the time we get to Bombay we'll have worked things out through precious gems of India--rubies most likely.
P.S.: Mike Pardus of the Culinary Institute of America was on the Kerala Spice & Culinary tour and has begun the first of several posts (not sure of the next posting but it'll happen--he took a lot of notes. He runs the Asian Culinary education program at CIA so having him on the trip was great as he could help out in elaborating on the "why" and answered a lot of "what's this?" in the markets. Check out his first post here.