had been to alperton, a town on the piccadilly line last week to collect a parcel ashish’s sister had sent for him. you have to change at least three trains to get somewhere from waterloo or victoria. the underground is an experience! each flight of the escalator taking you deeper into the bowels of the earth. it is an engineering marvel, a feat of humanity that is beyond praise. but then as ashish said, it is a screwed up system of transport, all messed up and illogical. will do some research on that.
well, i arrived to alperton in the afternoon, met a guy named harsh, took the parcel and decided to explore the area a bit. my trusty nikon is always with me! i am not exaggerating, but the entire town is overrun with indians! in the 2 hours that i was there, i saw three white people! imagine that in the UK. everywhere i turned, there were shops selling cheap punjabi suits for 18 pounds, which you could get for nothing more than 200 rupees in ‘gala matching center and cloth merchant’!!! the shops were all like the ones goyal shopping center in borivli is full of. there was a shop named POPAT STORE selling kirana stuff, plastic chairs and everything in between. since diwali is round the corner, even the medical store was selling fireworks! and the people – hordes of them dressed as they would for a morning walk on a chilly bombay morning – the women in punjabi dresses with sweaters, shawls and SPORTS SHOES!! and the men, striped shirts with the trousers high up on their tummies with all sorts of warm clothing wrapped around themselves. it was really funny and heartening to see so many indians in this part of the world.
and yes, did i tell you that they were all gujaratis??? yes sir! the type you would see in a crowded train, playing cards on a suitcase held between laps, or creating a ruckus at the train door, or ‘sopping’ in the market. everywhere i pointed my nikon, there were shop names in gujarati, even the church message was in the language!!! damn! i’d have been in surat or ahmedabad and wouldn’t have noticed the difference!! i am bloody sure the shops must be stocking manikchand and goa by quintals!
had a really good chicken tikka with naan and salad at a restaurant there. was back home in the evening, hopping around in trains, remembering POPAT STORE, the constant chatter, the 18 pound dress, the horrible sport shoes worn with sarees (hahahahha!)…remembering so much of india in such little time…
…remembering all that in a train full of people who didn’t play cards on suitcases, who didn’t chop vegetables on their way home, who had no open doors to stand at, and feel the wind on their face.