The Trip That Wasn't: Part II

"Are we going to Agra this evening?" I said to Mawii, when we woke up the next morning.

"I suppose," said Mawii, putting a pillow over her face.

"Right!" I bounded out of bed, brushed my teeth, and opened our door to cross the garden to the main house to get some breakfast. I blinked. The sun was pouring down, the sky was impossibly blue, everything was still and oppressive and...hot.

It takes less than thirty seconds to cross the garden but I swear by the time I did, I was already sweating.

"That's it," I told Mawii, over Times Trends. "I'm not going to Agra."

Mawii looked relieved.

"But I really don't want to waste this weekend sitting in the PG," I continued, despondently stirring my coffee that comprises a pinch of coffee powder and a lot of milk and therefore isn't coffee at all but it sort of grows on you. "I want to do something."

Mawii was silent. She wanted to do something too.

"Why don't we have a weekend in Delhi?" I suggested after a moment (or maybe she suggested it, I don't remember, but I'm telling the story).

"Doing what?"

"We could go to nice places to eat, we could visit places we haven't been to yet. Like Humayun's Tomb and the Purana Quila."

Mawii brightened. "We could do that!"

And this was what we decided: it really was unbearably hot and it was already ten o'clock, so we'd watch a nice movie together that afternoon, a mindless romantic comedy, and then, in the evening when it got a bit cooler, we'd go to Dilli Haat and cheer ourselves up by buying out the place, and then we'd go to Hauz Khas village for dinner. And then, the next day, which was Sunday, we'd wake up really early in the morning before it got hot, and visit Humayun's Tomb and Purana Quila, and then have a nice lunch at Big Chill because the thought of cheesy pasta just then was inexplicably comforting.

Excellent plan. At least we were doing something, we were taking initiative, we were being pro-active, instead of feeling sorry for ourselves. Alright, we were still feeling sorry for ourselves, but at least we were going to feel it while shopping and eating and absorbing History, instead of sitting around in our room drinking ourselves into a stupor.

So we watched Mama Mia that afternoon - and sang along with gusto if not finesse - and then we had a bath and we put on nice clothes, and slathered on eyeliner and a bit of lipstick and lots of mascara. Mawii looked beautiful, as always, and I looked quite attractive too although this was possibly because I had only one contact lens on (no way was I going to be wearing my glasses) and so when I looked in the mirror, my features were blurred and I couldn't see my nose properly. But why quibble.

And off we went to Dilli Haat.

We got out of the metro station and asked an auto driver where it was.

"There," he said, pointing towards it and heaving a sigh that seemed to imply he thought we were imbeciles.

"Where?" I said, squinting. I couldn't really see much. Just the sky, already fading to pink, and a few blurry shapes I assumed were cars, and other blurry shapes I assumed were people.

"I see it," said Mawii. "It's ten steps away."

She took me by the arm and guided me firmly. I closed the eye that didn't have a lens in it and that helped my vision. I also told myself that it made me look like a one eyed pirate. Lying to myself is what keeps me going.

"Oh look," I said, pointing to a couple of women in brightly coloured saris who were busy wrapping strands of people's hair in shiny ribbon. "I want to get that done." I was thinking of the time I got my hair braided in Bali, and how happy I'd been there, and I figured that getting strands of my hair wrapped in ribbon would bring me close to that happiness. I know. My logic bewilders even me sometimes.

I actually meant to get it done on the way out, but I made the mistake of making eye contact with one of the women while we were buying tickets to enter, and she strode determinedly up to me, wouldn't take no for an answer, insisted that by the time I came out all the hair wrappers (not braiders) would be gone, and that my life would lose all meaning if I went around with the hair I currently had.

So we mooched over to the low stone grey wall where the hair wrapping was going on. Mawii declined to get her hair done, I picked blue and purple ribbon (it was more like shiny string) for mine, and the woman started wrapping. She stood on the wall behind me, grabbed a chunk of my hair, twisted it, and then started twisting the paper around it, taking very good care to yank my hair as hard as possible. I don't want to be mean, but all this while she was bargaining with Mawii and the more Mawii insisted she bring down the price, the harder she tugged at my hair. After she'd done one lulu, Mawii took a picture and I decided to get only one more. Four, which I'd originally planned, was going to be too much. The lady accepted my decision with very bad grace, but I think she had quite a good time pulling at my roots so I'm sure all was not lost.

Look, you can see that my eye is rolling in pain.

Anyway, we went in after that, and it was already dark, and the Haat was looking lovely with all its colourful stalls and lanterns and faery lights (man, I love faery lights. They make me so happy) everywhere. Mawii made me swear that I wouldn't let her buy more than once piece of jewellery, but as it turns out, I was the one who went beserk.

I went to the first shoe stall I saw, tried on four different pairs of shoes, told the guy (who was already growing impatient because I kept saying, "Eesh. So ugly" to a pair, only to try them on two pairs later) I'd come back and buy a pair on my way out. A lie.

Mawii was roaming around all the jewellery stalls searching for rings because that girl is obsessed with rings. She bent over the displays intently, examining each piece with precision. I leaped in, bought the first necklace I saw, and leaped out again. I was also going around taking bad photos with my phone.

The chess sets really tempted me. They were so pretty. Luckily for my - well, my mother's - bank account, I realised just in time that I don't know how to play chess, so I refrained from buying one. But that didn't stop me from buying other things: shoes, that seriously look like slippers the Sultan of Turkey would wear, two heavy lead pencils (I bought one for Mawii but she said she'd used them before and they wrote badly and wouldn't take it. Ungrateful chit), a green patterned skirt (It took me fifteen minutes to choose between the green and a red one, and I actually held one against Mawii and the other against a mortified salesboy and well, the green looked good on even the salesboy so I figured it was a winner), the necklace, and - a pipe. I bought a pipe! Dark polished wood. It was beautiful. I spent ages looking for an ashtray, but couldn't find one, so I ended up buying a tiny little wooden coffee cup that matched the pipe (bada bing bada boom!) instead. 

"What are you going to do with a pipe?" said Mawii grumpily. She hadn't bought a single thing yet even though she'd been round to all the jewellery stalls at least twice. She was being too careful in my opinion. No point shopping for frivolous things if you're going to be careful. 

"I'm going to use it to quit smoking," I said proudly. 

"Come again?"

"I'll stop buying cigarettes and instead, whenever I feel like I'm about to die because my lungs feel too clean or whatever, I'm going to put a little tobacco in this pipe and light up." I didn't add that I thought I'd look extremely cool going around puffing away at it. 

The nice thing about Mawii is that she plays along with my idiotic notions, so apart from a brief snort, she didn't try to dissuade me. She also refrained from mentioning that I'd bought an ashtray (or at least an object I intended to use as an ashtray) which was a pointless purchase if I was going to quit smoking. Then again, she knows I lie to myself a lot, so perhaps she was just playing along. 


We finally left, me lugging three heavy bags, and Mawii empty handed. It was a turnaround, I can tell you. 

Then we headed to Hauz Khas village because Mawii had heard of a really nice restaurant there where you get South East Asian food and we both felt like eating with chopsticks. We got an auto to drop us off in the middle of a dark street. 

"Where is it?" I asked her.

"I'm not sure," Typical Mawii. 

I googled the name on my phone and got an address and we went around from person to person asking where the restaurant was. 

"Never heard of it," said a man, scratching his beard, when we asked him where the restaurant was. 

"It's at number 45?" I said. 

"Number what?"


Blank stare, and this was followed by many blank stares, so we decided to forgo the chopsticks and ended up at The Living Cafe (?) and it wasn't too bad at all. Dim lighting, lots of candles, dark wood, a very nice bar (we skipped the cocktails) and one of those menus where you kind of have to go, "Hm. I'll have this. Or should I have this? Or this, or this, or that? Alright, I've narrowed it down to this, this, and this. What do you think?" 

The food was delicious, and then we went to this tiny little terrace outside and had coffee there, with a cigarette (I'll quit tomorrow, I told Mawii) and by the end of it we were in a very good mood because mountains or no mountains, that's what shopping, good food, and people who don't get on your nerves even though you spend practically every waking moment of your existence with them, do to you: they put you in a good mood.

We were even humming on the way home. 

"Tomorrow," I told Mawii as we got into bed, "tomorrow we'll wake up at seven thirty and go sight seeing. We'll be tourists." 

"We'll be tourists." She agreed.

"First thing in the morning,"

"First thing in the morning." 

"It's going to be - "


Haha. Ha. 


Anonymous said...

Serialize more!!!

vinieuxx said...

That Living Cafe(?) is TLR Cafe where I DJ on Tuesdays you nit...