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90 minutes

I probably haven't walked 20 blocks alltogether, yet am already
overloaded by the sights, sounds, press of Paharganj, Delhi.  In my
first five minutes outside after leaving the last internet place I was
so shocked by the presentation of an enormous bull in my path - which
was afterall a busy city street - that I was nearly stepped on by the
elephant when it went past.  And that was no miniature either!  As if
dodging the people, dogs, cows, rickshaws, motorcycles and cars wasn't

The bull, in its prehistoric proportions, was shiny white and taller at
its shortest end, the tail, than the top of my head - which barely
reached past its spectacularly straight legs in the front, far, far
below its regal chin.  It was harnessed to a huge wooden cart loaded
high with densely packed sacks, pressure guided by the barefoot of a man
perched on top of it all, and led with a thick length of rope passed
through it's wide nostrils.  I've since seen several of these incredible
animals similarly harnessed, but none as large as that first - as if it
was brought out specially to make my first impressions of town that much
more surreal.

Then the elephant.  Also a giant, though I wouldn't hazard a guess as to
its exact proportions - the platform on its back and the 4 people riding
there in spacious comfort probably made it look larger than it was. 
And, like all the other vehicles here (motorized and otherwise), it
assumes you will get out of its way rather than the other way around. 
Much frantic dodging by me and others to escape being flattened by its
enormous plodding feet.  If "frantic" and "plodding" look a little
incongruous together, then you've probably never tried to get around an
elephant, a prehistoric bull, a handful of zooming motos and several
dozen people simultaneously on a road approximately as wide as an
elephants shoulders before!

Taking a deep breath and ready for a sit-down after this excitement, I
was lured to a corner curd stall.  Indian curd, plain, tart yogurt, is
produced right where it's sold, displayed in large silver bowls covered
in cheesecloth.  They serve it as a side-dish to spicy curries at meal
time, mixed with fruit in lassis, or plain, as a delightfully light
snack or breakfast food.  This one came in a gleaming and frosty bowl,
sprinkled liberally with rock sugar. Mmmmmm.  Heavenly.  

As I write this, a troublesome black cow across the street is attempting
to thwart the good-natured efforts of a shop keeper to keep its
slobbering nose out of his display of cane sugar.  The turbaned sikh in
the nextstall is urging the cow on laughing, happy for the reprieve to
his piles of green peas.

Running in a diagonal line, almost parallel to Main Bazar, is a
vegetable market.  So peaceful!!  Stall after stall of eggplant,
peppers, peas, beans, lentils, cauliflower, potatoes, red onions, red
carots, spice.  With a paneer (cheese) maker at each end.  How it
manages to escape the press and throng of the main road, so close by, is
a happy mystery.  A good place for a cup of chai with the amiably silent
vendors, watching lazy particles of dust adrift in the slanting rays of
sun penetrating the muslim-detailed walls at our backs.  Perhaps two

On my way out of the market, paced by a lanky youth eager to chat.  A
multitude of similarly begun conversation over the last 2 weeks have
made me weary of this.  "Where are you from", standard opener.  Today,
"Tanzania".  "Oh, nice country.  I have a friend there.  How long you
stay in India?"  Always a friend.  Always.  "17 years."  "You've had fun
here?  Do you have time for some chai?"  Uh oh, he didn't think 17 was
absurd.  India must be making me look old.  Oh well.  "I just had some
chai." "Oh.  Can you just buy me a chai then?"  Startled.  Brazen ending
startles me, breaks the mold.  "No, I can't."  Said chuckling.  Kid
fades into the backdrop of carts and vendors and creatures, an actor
playing a tired role, awaiting the next actor to enter stage right,
repeat the same lines, wait for the same response.

More, more, so much more, but for now, this is enough.  Enough quiet so
that I can face the street below renewed.  Enough words to keep you busy
for far longer (this being the 3rd message of the day!) than you
probably have to spare today!  Be well!!  Roberta