Posts Tagged ‘Little India’

After my initial shock and disappointment of my first foray into little India, I decided this time to go directly to the source.  The famous store whose name is not Pakistan or Afghanistan but another –stan.  Well known for its wide selection of Indian, Asian and Oriental goods ranging from spices to ghee, and even wildly exotic honey’s whose aroma can trap the average shopper into buying 10x what they came in for.  But I was on a man on a mission and resolved not to be swayed.  I walked around the store with a sense of purpose, taking in the unbelievable variety of Olive oils and walking quickly past those aromatic honeys.  My ‘aha’ moment came when I spotted liquor on an obscure shelf at the back of the store.  Cautiously optimistic I studied the contents and quickly realised while there were many Sherries and liqueur’s but no Monk.

Dejected, I walked over and going against my man-nature decided to ask the old man behind the counter for my Monk.  As I was walking over I saw an older woman approach him too.  I noticed that she looked rather pleased as punch with herself, beaming as she strode right into my path.   She waved her empty basket for his attention.  I was now within earshot and second in line for his precious knowledge.  She exclaimed “I have an idea and was hoping you can help me”. Unenthused, the old man nodded but it seemed like she was ready to proceed irrespective.  She glanced over at me, almost as if to ensure that I too could hear, and then proceeded to spill the ever building beans.  She said, “I have been invited to my friend’s 20th wedding anniversary party tonight and for the 20th you are meant to give a piece China, but they really don’t need another plate…” Again she looked for some signs of enthusiasm or encouragement from her audience but the old man did not offer one.  Without hesitation, and again with a glance to ensure the peripheral member of her audience was still around, she said, “…So I thought instead of giving them some boring old pieces of China – why not give them things Made in China!  Can you point me in the direction of things made in China?” At this point I could swear someone put one of those stage spotlights on her as she was beaming and glowing brighter than a shooting star occurring during the Aurora Borealis.  The old man however, did not blink, smile or show any signs of encouragement.  He quietly walked out from behind his counter, and still showing not the slightest reaction to this brilliant idea, simply said “OK, this way”.

As I stood there waiting for his return, I realised that I don’t have any friends approaching anything close to their twentieth wedding anniversary.  In fact I am not sure anyone in our generation ever will, given the high divorce rate today.  With regards to the idea itself I felt the lady deserved get an A+ for effort but a C- for creativity.  Especially, since these days you are hard pressed to find anything in US not made in China – in fact with the growing popularity of Chinese adoptions there will be soon be a whole generation of kids also made in China!

I guess if I ever wanted to get creative about giving a “piece of China” to someone then I would probably buy them shares in a major Chinese corporation or Chinese government bonds, and really give them a PIECE OF CHINA…meanwhile its onwards and upwards on the quest.

Found myself in Little India today rather fortuitously as I was meeting an old college buddy for lunch.  He had just moved into a new office and asked if I wanted to pick our lunch destination.  So naturally I picked my favorite South Indian restaurant a few blocks away from his office.  If you have never tried South Indian food you most do so, the only caution I have is that if you are White you will need to either have a very high tolerance for spice or a brave and adventurous palette.  In my estimation it is the only purely vegetarian food that is not just edible but actually tastes amazing.  Of course there was one other reason why I chose this location and that is because I was sure that I would end my quest here.  I was convinced that I would see The Monk sitting fat and happy on many a shelf, in one of the multitude of Indian stores that litters this part of Lexington Avenue.

We had a wonderful lunch, and I had yet another convert to South Indian food.  As we parted ways I could sense the sparkle in my own eyes and the quickening of my heartbeat.  The moment was very near – the end of the journey, the completion of my month long quest.  I walked into Jaganlal Company (names of people and places have been changed to protect their identities) the place where I loyally come to do all my Indian junk food shopping since discovering it many years ago.  Now I was not expecting Jaganlal to carry my Monk but was sure that they would know where I could find it nearby.  As I got to the register, in what seemed like an age, to check-out the many items on my wife’s shopping list I asked the clerk rather nonchalantly (while secretly filled with a barely containable and now bursting glee) where I could find a bottle of Old Monk.  He put down the Garam Masala packet, stopped punching the register, pondered for the briefest of seconds and then looked up at me with the blankest stare I have seen in my life and said “Whaaaaat Monk you waaanting?”  I stood there in complete disbelief, completely lost for words and staring at what was left of my happy little moment now shattered and smashed into a gazillion little pieces of WHAAAAAAT