Madrid Day 2 continued
After seeing the Palacio Real and the Almudena, I thought that I should now come down from the sacred to the profane, and worship my belly by going to the Mercato San Miguel and eating local Spanish delicacies.
It was only a short walk - but when I reached there, I was shocked by the crowds! The place was as packed as VT station during rush hour! I pushed my way in, and shouldered my way to the oyster booth where I was jostled here and there until I got my hands on two oysters.
The last time I had oysters in Spain, I was so overjoyed that I beat my chest like an animal and ended up breaking my sunglasses. (See ‘The man who washed his passport - and other stories’ for the full story)
But this time, I had no such reaction. It was more of a meh.
What a pity!
Maybe it was the crowding and shoving, maybe it was because the novelty was gone.
I suppose you can’t lose your virginity more than once. The magic is gone.
Nah - I decided - it was the crowding. How can you enjoy a foodie experience when you feel like you are getting a full body massage all the time?
I decided to abandon the Mercato and come back the next morning right at the opening bell.
What to do now? I wandered around a bit and found the famous Plaza Mayor - but that was also crowded as hell. They were running a Christmas bazaar in there and so they allowed sellers to put up stalls and sell various stuff.
While I was wandering there, I was accosted by a big black guy (black as in African).
He was a peddler of some sort and as he passed me, he did a double take and came to me.
‘Ka-ching!’ I could just hear his brain ring with cash registers. ‘This fat guy looks like a complete idiot! WOOHOO - my payday has come.’
‘You from Africa?’ He asked.
‘No - India’ I replied happily. It was a pleasure to meet a wannabe con-man in this country of straitlaced people.
‘Oh right! From Moombay or Daalli?’ He asked
‘Oh good! My father - he from Moombay!’
‘You eendo or mooslim?’
‘Hindu’ I wondered whether he would now say that his father too was a eendo- that would be so cool.
‘I like the Eendian people - here I give you a gift!’ He said and handed me a wristband.
‘Oh no no…’ I said - but he insisted and put on my wrist. His hand looked so big that it looked that he could have broken my wrist with two fingers! But there are an awful lot of cops around with an awful lot of guns, so I had no fear of any violence. This was strictly a con operation.
‘I give you one more for your wife too…’
I was tempted to say15 kids, just to see if he would offer me fifteen more bands.
‘I give you gift - now you give me gift - Yes? So I can eat!’
‘Er…Sure.’ I replied - and his eyes lit up. Payday! payday! Ka-Ching!
I shoved my hand into my pocket - and offered him an M&M.
He gave me a very dirty look and snatched the band off my wrist and disappeared! Clearly it was dirty pool to look so stupid and not be an easy mark.
‘Hey…what about my gift…your dad being from Mumbai and all…’ I called after him - but he was long gone, probably thinking black thoughts.
Ah well, that was a bit like home.
I was done with the crowds and took advantage of my hotel being smack in the middle of things by going to the room and lying down for a bit.
Bharathi’s plan for the evening was that I should go to the famous Regina Sofia museum at 6 PM, when entry is free for a couple of hours.
I decided to read up a bit on the museum - and discovered to my surprise that the museum closes at 2.30 on Sundays!
Arre! What is this? A hole in the pukka planning of SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED? How is this possible?
I sent her the screenshot of the timings and she couldn’t believe her eyes!
‘YOU ARE WRONG! THE MUSEUM IS WRONG! THE CALENDAR IS WRONG! THE DAY IS WRONG!’
‘HOW CAN I BE WRONG? OH THE IGNOMINY! OH THE DISGRACE! OH THE SHAME!!!’
‘Hey - it's right.’ I said ‘Anyway, the free entry would be terrible. There were so many crowds even with the paid entry, the crush during free hours would be unmanageable.’
‘YOU ARE WRONG!’
‘Er…Ok…What else can I see here in the rest of the day?’
‘YOU ARE WRONG!’
‘Er…YOU SHOULD BE TAKING THESE CALLS YOURSELF! YOU ARE WRONG WRONG WRONG!’ And if she could have banged the receiver down, she would have. But since we were chatting on WhatsApp, all she could do was to press the screen in a marked manner.
Clearly it would take some time for her to recompose herself. I went to TripAdvisor to see what else was possible - but nothing really appealed.
Oh well - I always mocked people (cough..Bharathi…cough) for doing ‘tickmarks’ - going around ticking off the tourist sights. So why should I do the same?
I mean, I would have - but there was nothing to tick in striking distance…
I decided to go on a long and aimless walk and explore the city around me - no map, no sights to see…just enjoy taking in the place. And it was great fin - the crowds thinned to zero as soon as I was out of the tourist hotspots and it was fun to walk freely.
And what a pleasure it was! I had no idea where I went - I was just aimlessly strolling and taking whichever turn looked interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the beauty of the city - the architecture, the artwork, the people, the graffiti…
I loved the look and feel of the city - the architecture and colour scheme of the buildings, the little plazas dotted here and there…some had sculptures, some had fountains, some had little play areas for kids.
And lots and lots of cafés and restaurants and bars. Every street had at least one, most had many - and all of them seemed to be full of locals having a good time. I would have loved to join them, but sitting in a bar all alone didn’t sound very enticing. Better to be a voyeur and keep watching.
I like good graffiti - artistic graffiti. General ugly scribbling on the walls is just vandalism - but when you create beautiful art on the walls…that’s exactly the definition of a ‘mural’ - something you paint not on a canvas, but on a ‘muralla’ or ‘wall’.
And I even discovered a little India! A whole street full of ‘Indian’ restaurants - though I suppose many were Bangladeshi or Pakistani. There were a few stores as well - I assume they were selling Indian ingredients - masalas and condiments and such like. I wonder how many Indians there must be in Madrid?
And I even found a tarot card reader who could have read my future! WOOHOO!
Unveil the future and all that !
But I suppose she saw me coming and shut shop and went off!
I blog about my travels - and the thoughts they set off! Sometimes the simplest destinations can be the most thought-provoking!