…The Musings of a Strange Guy

Today's boring news…

::: Aaj ki samachar ::: Today’s news ::: Les nouvelles d’aujourd’hui :::

This assignment was an undeterrable itch that I simply had to get rid of somehow. The problem, with silly me, is that i can’t submit a work if I suspect I haven’t done my best. Of course, by the time I have submitted it, I always remember things I ought to have added in but bleh, let’s not get into that now.

Because today, as from now, I’m in holidays!!! Hurray!! Yeah, right! Tons of reading are awaiting my bleary eyes, though I shouldn’t be mentioning that in this way, given that I do most of my reading with much pleasure. But now that I’ve thought seriously about the coming 4 weeks, I perceive that most of it will be spent doing as much reading as possible and trying to write more on my dissertation. Anyway, that’s one thing off my mind now. I’ve not been sleeping very well these last few days, so maybe Friday night will be a quiet night in bed, perhaps.

I actually had to refuse two invitations to go out tonight. Why is it that invitations never come when I’m fine and fit? I feel very weak tonight, perhaps because I’ve mostly been running on willpower since yesterday, and very much because of a slight fever and cough that’s been troubling me for three days now. My stock of oranges ended last night, so i probably need to buy more tomorrow. Honey is going very low as well, since my palate got used to me having yoghurt and honey as dessert :p.

I went to the supermarket straight from uni (after I’d submitted my assignment), which means that some of my books and stuff were still in my bag. It’s amazing how quickly bread disappears in that stomach of mine. I haven’t cooked rice for a long time. Perhaps, if I have enough time tomorrow, I’ll make some hybrid biryani to see if I’m getting rusty as far as kitchen matters are concerned. So, I was in the supermarket early this afternoon (around 2 pm) looking for portable stuff (on my grocery list) that I could carry away in my bag without looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I’d nearly finished and was heading back towards the milk section to pick up a carton of milk when someone called out to me.

It was a middle-aged lady, dressed in what at first seemed like disparate layers of colourful cloth. I stopped to listen. Imagine what she asks me: she asks me (pointing to a packet of hybrid interchangeable chappatis/wraps/rolls she holds in her hand) for a few tips on how to cook chappatis. I mean, obvious skin colour apart, would I, with the bored mindless look sported by many youths around here, be a suitable candidate for an instant Indian cookery tutorial? Oh, but she’s still talking to me: she’s now asking whether ghee is much better than butter; I, taking the assured air of the connoisseur and fin gourmet (but laughing inside) assure her that butter would be equally as good as long as she uses the proper doses (an advice freely given but of which I’m very sure I do not know anything about).

Has she finished with me? No, not yet! I’m very amused by this episode. It’s very rare that people stop and talk to you out of the blue around here. I just wish this conversation hadn’t started with such an obvious stereotype: Indian-looking guy = Indian = Curry-freak (which I am, hehe, but, heh! That’s but a coincidence :p).

Oh, and we’re still talking by the way. While my eyes are scanning the shelves for items I need, that lady is chatting on blithely, enumerating the items she’s going to prepare for dinner tonight. Lamb curry, with chappatis, if you please, and onion bhajis. Even I don’t cook as Indian a meal as she proposes, single-handedly, to conjure up by this evening. She shows me her shopping list: quite impressive – it looks like an old parchment with secret alchemical sigils and what seems at first hand like cuneiform writing ; she points at her shopping bag, overflowing with items. She even gives me tips for my future shopping; I thus get to know where I can get bread at the city market at nearly half the price at which I’m buying it now. What else? We discuss about the relative merits of powdered garlic versus the real thing, which is a topic I proudly introduce since this has been on my mind for quite some time.

Meanwhile, she is frantically looking for chickpea flour (for her bhajis? I restrain myself from asking). Her husband comes from Transylvania, she informs me, conspiratorially, and he’s of noble blood. I make the obvious connection, asking her if he is related to Cousin Vlad, also known as Dracula. I must have raised my eyebrows a tad too far, for she drily responds that he’s related (on his mother’s side, mind you) to that queen who used to (in her own words) bathe in the blood of virgins. And here I was, not long ago, bemoaning the fact that I no longer talked to strange people these days, as I sometimes did back home…

I am also informed that it is more of a bargain to purchase those Bettabuy food cans (potato, tomato, she reveals me all the wonderful Secrets of Shopping for Less) – yes, the same Bettabuy as in my Bettabuy Noodles icon. *sigh*

Far from being bored, though, I listen to whatever she says with much interest and respond, often with questions and comments of my own. I’m after all, in no hurry, and we’re in the aisle I’m supposed to be browsing, so I talk to her while looking for my stuff. She’s a vegan as she discovered a strange and belated allergy towards milk and derivated products. She likes cashewnuts; her husband used to buy that often before. They’re having lots of salad for dinner; her husband, who’s been abroad, has brought (on his magic carpet?) lots of green vegetables and exotic fruits. “Melons, like this”, she displays, opening her arms at a very improbable obtuse angle (unless, as I begin to suspect, her husband resides in Aladdin’s lamp). We’re reaching the end of the conversation and I’m considering some red lentils. ‘Brown ones are better’, she informs me with a wink. I tell her that I’m much aware of that and proceed to take some of the notorious chappatis we started off with.

Her final words are about the merits of these chappatis. I think I’ll never be able to go down this special aisle again without thinking of that odd lady and those poor chappatis – some of them must have instantly expired, out of shame. The chappatis/rolls are quite good actually; packs of 6. I had some when I came back as a sort of overarching unique meal of the day, since I’d neither had breakfast not lunch. I was considering whether to take two of those chappati packets (they were on offer); before she goes, she asks, ‘how many of you are there?’
‘We are 5 flatmates’, I reply civilly and we part our ways, the lady still muttering about things she yet has to buy.

This conversation has taken, I think, around 5 minutes; yet, I was bombarded with information and so many facts (but in the words of Kate Atkinson, whose excellent book, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, i’ve just finished reading, ‘who is to say which of these is real and which a fiction?’ :p). It’s strange how the people here never talk to each other, how they flit from point A to point B to point C and back without looking back or looking sideways. I always do my grocery shopping in a very leisurely fashion, which gives me time to look at people closely. Not that I do this as a sort of enlightened figure who is removed from it all and watches everything with a knowing smile. No. I just watch these people because it is the one of the rare places where you see English people in some space where they are not about to rush off in a hurry somewhere. Even then, you can see them rushing about with their trolleys, as if they had only one last minute left to do all their shopping..

But i like talking to people; the odder the better, methinks! i obviously did not like the fact that she immediately equated me with an Indian. After all, there is really nothing Indian about me; I haven’t been to India yet (though I plan to) ! Nor do I speak an Indian language. She did the rapprochement because and only because of my appearance. Which is demeaning. But she seemed harmless enough, half of what she said barely made sense (to me, at least), and she was indeed a very funny and colourful character. This reminds me of the drunkard in Edinburgh who asked me for directions and was utterly convinced that I was teasing him by hiding the fact from him – he kept pleading with and talking to me long after I’d left his side and was more than 30 metres away…

Ah, funny, funny people. One day, I’ll sit next to a young’un, and talk to him/her, and he’ll have something like that to relate/write about… <Met a crazy guy today!!!>

Anyway, to end, three ‘things’ (among others) that caught my eye during my trip to Edinburgh…

1) I’m still wondering if that’s scientifically possible…and whether British Coaches should stop running altogether, out of shame…(Fuzzy pic because it was the first taken in Edinburgh that night)

2) *Clasping hands in fervour*: “Yes! Show me the Way!”

3) Someone mentioned this not long ago (on the Terry Pratchett Message Board), and I Disbelieved. Now I stand corrected. For Lo and Behold! Mars Bars Fried in Batter Shall Exist and Thou Shalt be Content!

This really exists ( and I hear that it’s delicious). I am ready to believe in aliens and their secret base in Antartica now.

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