Off on a Tangent
Beef Vegetable Soup and Fragrant Orange and Peanut Orzo Salad
My mind works in strange ways. Often it races faster than I can speak. Frequently it has no recollection of important and necessary facts, but always, it’s filled with rambling words that want to make sentences of what “sounds” to me like clear thought. Sometimes what rolls around, banging up against the gray matter comes together in cohesive, understandable thought that can be put to paper. Frequently it’s the beginning or middle or end of a story only, with no understandable introduction or way to get a reader from point A to point Z. And such is the story of the book(s) I’ve been attempting to finish writing.
It’s a stream of consciousness thing. A need to practice everything I say before it flows off the tongue which has helped me to, without purpose, perfect this process, but it does not always work so well for live conversations. As a matter of fact, it’s been pointed out, and dare I say rightly so, that I don’t listen, that I don’t read everything before I question or comment on a thought. This new technology and my mull-it-over-before-I-speak mind and the fast as the speed of light fingers I have, have turned me into one of those thinking-of-the-next-thought-without-really-hearing-what-you’re-saying types that I despise so much. And when I’m distracted, which happens so often when I am online, hell, when I’m not online too, I easily lose my train of thought. This is just what happened to me about 24 hours ago as I was writing the blog post and recapping some of my life in Bangalore.
What resulted was a piece about friendship and phone calls and tough times in India, but it trailed off without finale. I recall having a really difficult time staying up and I did not take the time to proof read the piece, so until I opened WordPress in the morning and saw the comment from TheBaker, I had no idea that I left the story about my rug merchant friend, Yasin surprising me with a phone call while I was in Jerusalem on business without a conclusion. It just trailed off leaving readers to scratch their heads and say, “Did I miss something?” One reader and loyal Justopia.com viewer asked just that question when she came into the broadcast tonight. Texgal was confused. No wonder. I was sleep-writing and it got to the point of making no sense.
So, now that I’ve finished watching a live ECV broadcast — from USTREAM — Go figure — I am ready to tell you the rest of the story. And it goes something like this:
Yasin working his rug-selling magic on a colleague that was in town for a few days. A beautiful 100% silk on silk 1000 or more knots per inch work of art … and small enough to pack in a suitcase. Sold!
Early in my life in Bangalore I happened on a friendship by accident. How does someone happen on a friendship and how does it come about by accident? Good quetions, both of them. Well, I wasn’t out looking to befriend anyone, and although I was interested in Oriental Rugs, but I could not have imagined a lasting relationship would come out of my desire for a silk rug. A girl at work mentioned having found great store for rugs and other hand crafted Indian treats. She gave me the address and off I went the next weekend. I hired hotel car … I had not yet hired my own driver, nor had the car been leased. Off I went to the store where I was told I would find incredible silk rugs for fair prices and there was going to be other “stuff” to browse as well.
The driver took me to the street parallel to the shoppers paradise — Commercial street. He pointed to the steps and I got out of the car and began my ascent to rugs and pashminas and Kashmiri Christmas ornmaments and more — enough stuff, more treasures than I could have dreamed of.
The man who would be known as Yasin looked genuinely delighted to have a customer and before the afternoon was over, I had a coupl of rugs and I had been offered and had accepted a cup of Kashmiri tea and I walked out a few cigarettes shy of a full pack, a little lighter in the wallet and in possession of one silk on cotton rug hand crafted in Kashmir for $1000. Not bad you say? I am happy I got this rug, that it began my obsession, but it was a hefty price to pay for a 3’x5′ piece of art.
I’d venture a guess at the fact that Yasin saw from that very moment that he had “a live one,” and he instinctively knew I’d be back for more. Over the course of living there for a year I bought all but 2 of my collection of rugs from Yasin. One evening though, I must admit, I stepped out on Yasin and purchased two spectacular pieces at the new shop in the resort hotel — the Leela Palace. I could not help myself and went home with two 4’x6′ silk on silk rugs that rival the ones purchased at Yasin’s.
What I hadn’t expected was that Yasin would hear about my purchases. I don’t know, do you think there is a rug seller’s trade show and they all exchange info about their customers? Surely I was one of the few repeat purchasers and before all was said and done, I was the proud owner of 10 Kashmiri rugs, and very happy about it!
Each weekend I’d make a point to head over to his shop, no matter how oppressively hot I knew it would be up on the 2nd floor, unairconditioned retail space. We’d regale each other with stories about our countries. He is from Kashmir and travels back a few times a year to see family and to go on buying trips. Once I passed the 4 rugs and countless pashminas purchased mark, the invitations to travel to Kashmir to stay with his family began. I so wanted to be able to take him up on his kind offer. I knew that my purchases were helping to put food on his table and I suspected on many others in whatever village he hailed from, but due to safety reasons, I was advised by corporate security not to travel to his country — that I would stick out like a sore thumb and it would be more than obvious that I did not belong. I’ve heard and read about the beauty of Kashmir and so wanted to go, but I behaved and followed orders. I don’t recall hearing about any US hostage-takings in Kashmir in recent memory, but I knew that had to do the responsible thing and decline.
When Ramadan came around, Yasin invited me and the other expatriate AOL’er I worked with to his home fora feast. It was a delicious dinner and a great experience. Yasin stepped out onto the balcony of his small apartment for a cigarette and discussed religion and politics as our friendship continued to develop. There I was, a Jewish woman from the US living in Bangalore and enjoying a post Ramadan feast while sitting on the floor as the women served the guests and everyone else sat watching.
Orzo Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts and Peanuts
I loved it. The food was superb and plentiful and listening to stories of life in India and Kashmir and the hardships and disappointments of raising 4 girls, with no boy in sight was an experience I could never have imagined having just one year prior.
A big smile would spread across Yasin’s face whenever I’d climb the stairs to the shop. I am sure that he saw dollar signs, but I also knew that he looked forward to our tea and cigarette breaks as much as I did and as much as I enjoyed watching as rug after rug were rolled out for me to view. Without fail I’d exclaim, “Yasin! Don’t do this to me, don’t sell me another rug!” To which he’s respond, “Oh no, Madame. I am not selling you these rugs. The rugs sell themselves!” And he was always right, but he knew exactly which rugs to unfurl — which colors and patterns would get me all giddy and have me reaching into my wallet for the credit card. Yes, Yasin is a pro!
And the salesmanship did not stop once I’d left Bangalore. He’d call and tell me about things in India … the heat, the economic woes, the requests to know when I would be back in town. We’d chat for a few minutes, always in the middle of the night — the time zone thing just did not register. Most surprising, and ironic of all was the call I received when sitting at the restaurant at the King David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem a little over a year after having moved back to the US. I had no idea who would be calling me and when I picked up and heard his voice a big smile came across my face and I knew I’d shock him when I let him know where I was. Here we were. Two unlikely friends chatting about rugs and our countries as though we were just a few miles apart.
Oh the joys of modern technology! How did we ever live without. Now, if I could just get word to him that I have a live cooking show each night, I am sure we’d see India or Kashmir represente in the room.