October 30, 2004
DAY 376: Bedridden again, this time in Delhi to rest my leg from the bacterial infection I contracted from a weird insect bite (and the mild "operation" I had to get it cleaned out), I sat in my room as the penicillin did its thing. For me it was a time to catch up on world news with CNN International and BBC World, with its always catchy breakfiller background music (RealMedia file) so jazzy that I think I even heard it in a club once.
After seeing the same reports over and over again -- Arafat has a tummy ache and is going to Paris; Cambodia swears in a ballet dancer as its new king; violence on the Thai/Malay border; and those missing weapons showing up in Iraq right before the election -- I flipped around the other stations the way guys normally do; faster than two channels per second, unless there's a hot chick, which warrants at least a once second glance. Eventually I tired from nothing good being on (even in India) and watched Will Ferrell in Anchorman again from the bootleg I got in Beijing. The movie gets funnier every time I watch it -- finally a movie that understands the intrinsic comic value in the phrase "pants store"!
I THINK IT WAS AGAINST DOCTOR'S ORDERS, but by afternoon I couldn't stand being in bed all day and went for a low-impact walk to the Connaught Place district (picture above) of town (fifteen minutes by foot from where I was in Pahar Ganj) to see what was there and to find a replacement sleepsheet since I had lost mine. Connaught Places was the central area of more Western stores in Delhi (unlike the more "authentic" vending stalls of Pahar Ganj), all situated around a rotunda surrounded by another rotunda surrounded by another -- sort of like Main Street Suburbia, USA meets the layout of a big international airport. There were plenty of restaurants, bookstores, music stores and of course, a pants store. A sports equipment store led me to a bed sheet store, where I settled on a plan single bed sheet instead of a real "sleepsheet" which she said I'd most likely not find.
After a taste of the Indian ice cream flavor Zafrani Badaam Pista at the Friendly's-like Nirula's, I head back to the hotel to rest up again in front of the TV. The news headlines were the same. Later, I checked back at the doctor's clinic to get an assessment of my leg. Dr. Gupta said everything was going well. He redressed my wound (showing me the big puncture in my leg he made to clean it out, which was much deeper than I thought) and got me more antibiotics and told me to take two of them and call him in the morning.
A mixed couple -- male Indian, female French blonde -- who had married when she was thirteen and he was twentysomething, sat a table nearby. As eager as I was to meet new people I soon discovered I was happy that they struck up a conversation with someone else: an innocent enough Spanish couple on vacation in India. The conversation started normal, but the strongly-opinionated Indian man (with his young wife backing him up) just kept on getting more and more vocal about the flaws of modern European society and the poverty of India, and eventually started attacking the Spanish couple for simply being who they were. The Spanish guy (who was better with English than his girlfriend) kept a level head, agreed with some points, disagreed with some, but the aggressive hippie-types wouldn't stop preaching their opinions. The Indian guy didn't even know the Spanish couple really, and suddenly he was saying that there's no way they could be in love 100% because they live in European society, yahta yahta yahta, and that he himself had been to every corner of Spain and knew better than the Spaniard. I could tell the Spanish guy was just getting aggravated -- he and his girlfriend just wanted to eat and possibly meet a new person -- but the whole thing escalated out of his control. The hippie guy tried to convince them that they weren't in fact "happy" like they said they were because they weren't complete or something like that. He went on and on about society's problems, much like this paragraph getting too long.
"Okay," said the Spaniard to the aggressive hippie Indian guy. "Then what is the solution?"
"People have to share more."
"If you think it's that simple, you're crazy," he said in his Spanish accent. "You're a crazy man." Eventually they hurried with their food, got up and left.
I went to sleep but then woke up in the middle of the night for some reason. I turned on the news and the new surprise Osama Bin Laden video had just been aired, featuring the Nine Eleven terrorist addressing the American people right before the election. Wow, real life is turning into a suspense movie again, I thought. This is like when Cobra Commander used to address the world in the G.I.Joe cartoon.
The video, which showed Osama's upper body at a podium, left Americans to contemplate a new question before Election Day 2004: Has Osama Bin Laden been to the pants store in the past two years?
The world may never know.
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