The market was a maze of alleys with bumpy roads, pockmarked with ditches. Narrow streets intersected in a big open space in the middle, the heart where beggars, balloon shapers, and cotton candy vendors convened amongst the cars lucky enough to find parking spots.

Haldee Raam’s shop was the third one in the middle of the third alley way. To the right was a used bookstore, a tiny place with walls of Mills and Boons, Georgette Heyer’s, Agatha Christies, Enid Blytons, and in the towering stacks Byron, Keats, Coleridge, a dictionary or two, Gulliver’s Travels, Treasure Island, the odd Ghaalib or Iqbaal to be found, Shakespeare mixed with Borges, Rumi, Haafez, Saadi, the random Purple Fairy Book, Peter and Jane, Burda magazines. To the right of the bookstore, on the corner by the open center, presided the naan wallah with his platform built above and around the wood fired pit, in and out of which moved fresh bread, hot fluffy moons that cooked in a minute. The two stores to Haldee Raam’s left were always shut, the ridged metal grates pulled down and locked as long as memory serves. Continue reading