Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Corn Man

In moving my blog to its new domain, I noticed several drafts that needed publishing. Since I'm planning on heading back to India again this summer (and hopefully years beyond that as well), I decided to write a post which will contain links to all previous posts and to also publish the two drafts that hadn't been finished. :-)

This is a scene from one of my walks around the West Patel Nagar neighborhood in Delhi, India. The serenity of the scene so transfixed me that I only snapped one photo. I had been walking for a few hours in the unforgiving Indian sun and rather desperately wished to sit down and to drink something cold. After looking a while, I came upon The Chocolate & Cake Studio. It had a great open window-front in a café style and had people-watching potential. I also assumed that they offered cold drinks so I came on in. After discovering they had no bottled water and that their drinks were not actually that cold, I decided to get a cappuccino and sat down to try and cool off. Maybe something hot would help me pretend it was cooler outside... There was no air conditioning except for a fan, BUT THAT WAS GLORIOUS! Soon, I fell into peaceful laziness as I watched the steady stream of cars, tatas, carts, motorcycles, and bicycle-taxis speed by. The Delhi streets are more like arteries with blood flowing through them than our US streets. The flow continues from several directions in spite of lights and whilst it may slow at times, the pulse keeps up without as many stops as we have. When it ceases, it has all the uneasiness of walking into a forest alone and the birds stop singing and all is mute. It makes you careful and slightly nervous. We often have to see US street footage sped up to see this kind of pulse though. The loudness also gets a bit annoying at times with all of the incessant honking. I sat and enjoyed watching people walk by and folks occasionally appearing from surrounding apartment balconies to look over the world below, hang laundry, or sit and drink tea. It's a special treat to observe the world and its energy from time to time.

From my personal observatory, I noticed an elderly man pushing a cart full of something yellow under a grey-brown blanket. This was unremarkable for the area until he stopped outside a sports clothing bodega and pulled the blanket off of a huge pile of corn. He then took two pieces of corn, pulled back the husks gently so as not to pull them completely off. Next, he removed the top from a small plastic container and dipped a rag into it. I surmised that he was washing the corn at first, but no....he was actually buttering it. He took great care with each ear and took his time so as to get every bit slathered just right! It was a moment of buttered zen. When he held up the corn, it glistened apart from the dusty Delhi afternoon light. He took the two shiny, buttery ears into the sports shop and came out with money! He then stood for a moment. Meanwhile, there was a woman (pictured below) three stories up in the neighboring apartment complex who had been doing laundry earlier. She caught my eye now because she came to the balcony edge and was starting to lower a blue basket. She hesitated and then pulled it back up a bit. 

I had a flashback to the great movie Rear Window where the women in the upper apartment lowers her dog down to the garden. I also keenly felt kinship with the spectator, Jimmy Stewart, as I was now watching someone on their balcony from across the street! Suddenly, The Corn Man turned and looked up and saw her. He walked over and she lowered the basket. He was definitely expected because the timing was such that the woman was here with her basket in time to catch him! 

The Corn Man didn't call his wares like The Black Olives Vendor down the street or The Rice Cooker on the corner. The Blue Basket Woman enjoyed the heck out of that corn. It was her most favorite food in the world. The Corn Man put back his blanket over the corn, covered the butter and began to slowly roll away.

1 comment:

  1. You tell a story in a way that makes me feel it intimately.