After spending the entire morning analyzing data and discussing possible seminal texts to incorporate into our curricular anthology, we decided a break was in order.
We hopped onto our two-wheeler and navigated the afternoon rush hour scooter traffic, until we maneuvered our way into the heart of Mysore: the Devaraja Market. Determined to stock our mini-pink fridge with fresh vegetables, we confidently marched our way through the people-littered “aisles” to our usual vendors.
Satisfied with our heaping bags of palak, coriander, and other – mostly identifiable – plant varieties and confident with our improved bartering tactics, we rounded out our market-spree with one final stop: the mango man. Tiffany closely examined, gently squeezed, and curiously sniffed nearly every single mango, until the distressed fruit peddler became convinced that a (twenty minute) mango lecture was in order.
Taylor, meanwhile, took on his own challenge, when a teenage boy tirelessly attempted to take a photograph of him selecting bundles of spinach and was repeatedly assaulted with an image of our camera lens upon inspecting what his phone had captured. The dual went on for several minutes, until Taylor finally gave in and let the young lad “win.” The prize: a close-up of Taylor’s bearded face. Okay, fine. J
Just as the mango man seemed to be nearing the end of his oration, a precipitous rapping cut him off mid-sentence, and, within seconds, steady streams of rainfall poured through the porous tarp above us. Taking advantage of the pause, we swapped our rupees for his mangos and backtracked to the open-aired section of the market, from which we entered.
Despite the clusters of people forming in sheltered areas of the market, we decided to make a run for it through the calf-deep, trash floating, cow crowded rainwater. We emerged from the market and took refuge under the awning of a tea stall. As we were surveying the (now) knee-deep pool that was separating us from our parked scooter, the door adjoining the stand creaked open and a hand ushered us inside.
Obediently, yet hesitantly, we ducked our way into the (Brooklyn) closet-sized space, where a sardine-packed group of thirty men greeted us with smiles (and a few laughs, due to our disheveled, drenched appearance). One young fellow towards the back of the space hollered to Taylor, “Smoke?” Despite Taylor’s rejection, the bidi traveled through the mass and, with unsolicited assistance, was launched between his lips. Thirty pairs of eyes – and several camera phones – anxiously waited for a puff of approval. Taylor submitted, the men broke out into roars of approval, and the downpour ceased.
We can proudly report that we survived our first monsoon experience and made it home safe, with the bidi, still hanging from the corner of Taylor’s mouth, intact.