Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Bollywood Star

Okay, so I'm not a Bollywood star but I sure thought I was...
When I woke up this morning I asked my cousin where the oldest market was in Meerut. He said the Sarafa Market but told me I really shouldn't go. When I asked why he said it was dirty, unsafe, crowded and so large that it would be easy to get lost in. Well, to me that all sounded like perfect reasons for going.

So after my cousin went to work I took a 4 kilometer ride in a cycle rickshaw and went to the Sarafa Market. It is  the oldest and largest market of Meerut. The area I was dropped off in is a well known jewelry market throughout India. This market is so large I've never seen anything like it. And with the maze of streets and alleys it's easy to get lost. 

I walked through the jewelry area and down some alleys and streets. The widest street here is maybe six feet, okay, maybe eight feet but no more. Most are four feet wide. I walked for an hour and a half and then decided to back track. And I took out my camera because this is an amazing place to take photos. I didn't make it two feet when someone stopped me and asked that I take their photo. Then another two feet. I had people pulling at my shirt to take their photo and insisting that I  come to their shop to take more photos. I think in three hours I may have made it one city block.

I stopped for chai and the  man wouldn't take my money. He insisted it was a gift. Then I went into a pickle shop (achar) where I was given free samples to taste and a pound of my favorite to take home with me, another gift. Then I was pulled into a spice shop where I was given a variety of cashews, almonds and raisins until I couldn't eat any more. And then.... I don't think I need dinner tonight. It was absolutely amazing. And so many people spoke English, or at least a little. No one asked for anything in return except for a few minutes of conversation and to have their photo taken. It was as if the market came to an abrupt stop and the focus was entirely on me. Everywhere people smiles, shook my hands, insisted I be their guest. Boys asked about America, telling me that one day they would go there to make their fortunes.

What am I going to do tomorrow? Oh, I have to go to the college and see if I can find dad's records. But then I'm taking a rickshaw back to the market and spending the day. Maybe the weekend. I have to many photos to share and so many updates to do to the blog that I don't know  when I'll get time to do it. Maybe on the plane ride back home.

I really don't have anything planned for tomorrow but I think I know where I might go!

Dried chili peppers

Serving up rice for lunch

Chai walla

Chai Stand

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