2007 #3: The Terrorist Sinus Spray Issue

Our new tailor is a wonderful Muslim guy of great style and an excellent sense of fashion. His name is Saleem. He took us to his thinking room’, which has about as much room as the average kiwi toilet. It’s loaded up to the gunnels with samples of clothing he has either made or collected, which appear to have been thrown against the walls until they have piled up near to the ceiling. There’s about 3 square feet of floorspace and once all three of us are in there there’s not enough room to swing a teabag, leave alone a cat. But he really knows what he’s doing, charges very reasonably and has a hilarious giggle. I reckon he’d fit right into the Hollywood scene, no problem. Always he wears his own designs and has far too much panache to sweat. How he manages that I don’t know – once I’ve been wearing clothing for about one minute I’m dripping already. This is not an exaggeration!

Sunday night we dined on the rooftop of our guesthouse again and we actually counted at least six stars. We were amazed – the last two times here we would say ‘all the stars are out tonight’ if there were three! On Monday I had a horrible head cold. A really bizarre thing to have in the middle of summer in Delhi. I sort of flopped around feeling sorry for myself in the morning and alternated between having cold showers and lying under the fan while still wet, blowing my nose and coughing. I blame the air conditioning on the airplanes. This always gets to my sinuses! Last year I brought sinus spray with me and it worked a treat, but this year because of the security measures with liquids and whatnot, I had to toss it away at the airport. So really, it’s the terrorists’ faults, darn them.

In the afternoon, we went to the R-Expo shop, where the esteemed Mr Om holds court. His name is apparently Mr Sharma, but he calls himself Mr Om to make it easier for the tourists. What’s hard about the word ‘Sharma’ to pronounce I don’t know, but there we have it. As usual, he was incredibly charming whilst charging me like a wounded bull for the things he kept (most unchivalrously) showing me that he knew I couldn’t resist, and as usual I found myself buying two of some things that I didn’t really even need one of. A man of great talent.

On the way back to the room an older man on the street said to me “You are a teacher”. “How did you know this?” I enquired. “You have the face of a teacher” said he, with a look that bespoke both humbleness and wisdom. I didn’t have the heart to say to him that I had already told a few people here what I do and it’s not that big a neighbourhood. (Gossip is a national pastime here and moves faster than water downhill.) It was much more fun to listen to him try to have me on with his apparent insight and they do spin a good tale around here.

(Teacher is easier to say to these guys than trying to explain you are a literacy tutor and listen to them trying to get their tongue around it. I tried that once and it made me wince a lot.)

Anyway, this man, who hails from Bhutan, failed in his attempt to get me sitting down for a chai. I used my old backup emergency exit plan of “My husband is waiting for me and tapping his foot” and disappeared. When I got back to the room, Paul said “Ah, yes, the man from Bhutan.” Turns out Bhutan man has a few things to sell and strolls about the bazaar looking for fresh, untried tourists whose grip on their rupees is not quite as strong as it should be, or will become after a few days of dwelling in this circus. It’s nice to know that my wits are getting sharpened in this area of things.

Speaking of our room, I had a bit of a giggle when I realised that the curtains were both floral and completely mismatched. The ones on the other window are completely different again. There should be a sign on the wall – “This room and probably all others in this establishment were proudly decorated by Rough as Guts Interior Designing Co.”.

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