Saturday, September 29, 2012

Life Goes On

The San Jose Flea Market off Berryessa Road is one place I would not miss visiting every time I landed in the Silicon Valley. To me, the market is a perfect place to buy knick-knacks, cheap stuffs and a place to kill your weekend. Yeah, I have heard people say that second hands are sold there; who minds? To me, its a cultural hot pot. Where else would I find Mexicans alongside Chinese and Peruvians and Pakis; selling their wares.

I have loved shopping there; never mind if it really were used stuffs.My first camo print trousers; or the I Love San Francisco T shirts to give it to my friends back home, the $5 Shades, the $5 cotton socks or the $5 fedora. The last time I visited was with Gautam and he freaked out :) I have found genuine Mexican leather belts and Peruvian Lama wool knitted bag there. And many more; ballet shoes, tiny Machu Picchu traditional dolls, Chinese purses......

Anyway, the flea market has always been a mystery to me. Where do all these people come from? Are they legal migrants? Why do they have to sell their wares cheap? Who buys them? Old and broken, used stuffs. Crowds are mostly Mexicans, Indians, African Americans; maybe looking for cheap stuffs.

Anyway, what got reminded me of San Jose Flea market was the novel The Kite Runner. The flea market gets mentioned there. After migrating to US, Amir and his Baba live in Fremont and make some money selling off old wares in the flea market they accumulate as garage sale.

Now I was thinking; those Mexicans, Peruvians, Pakis; did they all migrate to the land of opportunity in search of a better life? Now living in welfare and using food stamps distributed by welfare offices? Living in a part of town allocated for immigrants? May be, was I haggling for a $5 T shirt from such folks? Those withered look on their faces; haggling and bargaining, jarring and loud clothing women and men; selling whatever they could sell away to have a life better than the land they left?

Once when I decided to visit the market alone, I called up Harpal to drop me there. Harpal is a Sikh cabbie in the San Jose area; he deserves a separate post. I instructed him to pick me up exactly 3 hours later. I was not carrying a cell phone. 3 hours later; when I walked out; I realized it would be difficult for Harpal since the section of road was blocked for reason I dont remember. I was not sure if I should wait or not. Public transport is not good in the bay area as NYC or LA. Now I don't know which bus to take back.

It was 6 pm; the sellers were packing and pushing off for the day. Well, I was stranded; not something new I somehow find a thrill in such situations. I noticed a man packing off his things and loading it in his truck. I just requested him if he could drop me back at my hotel; my cabbie has not arrived since the road was blocked. He agreed to my surprise. We got talking on the way; he was from Pakistan. Living for 11 years now; no green card, not a legal settler I guess. He makes his money by selling wares in the flea market. He was so happy after learning I was from India. The talks were about how close and yet how far we are; the bloody K issue, how people are separated and all that emotional talk. There was no bit of animosity in him. He was sweet to drop me at my hotel; why should anyone do that?

Maybe their struggle in life is too huge to hold on to simple grudges and petty issues.

31 comments:

  1. Interesting!

    :)

    I was reading a book and it has been mentioned how close Indian & Paki will become once they are out respective countries.

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    Replies
    1. Hmm maybe. I have one or two encounters and it has always been long lost brother like of talks.

      What I am trying to tell here is not only specific to the Pakistani; but about the sellers at the flea market

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    2. I get that, just mentioned out of memory recalled it imm.

      Flea Markets are interesting places indeed.

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  2. Problem between india and Pak is not Kashmir,it is not religion,it is these politicians on either side.
    The cottage industry called K has been created by them to keep manufacturing activities on,lest they go out of business

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    Replies
    1. Very true sir. You create a problem; else we wouldnt need them to solve it.

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    2. what is cottage industry K?

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  3. I had some good Pakistani friends when I was working in Kabul. People are good as individuals...Its only when they gather as a mob or a nation that they become vile....

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  4. I didnt get to the flea market over there! But seems like an interesting place to get to ! :)

    And about Pakistani friends, well the world is full of people who have heard just one story !

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    Replies
    1. Kavi,

      Its a very nice place; dont miss it next time. Yeah :)

      Delete
  5. That was a nice account of the Flea Market in San Jose! Write more:)

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  6. Interesting! And all the while I was reading this, I had the flea market shown in the Kite Runner movie running through my mind... Very lively and fun shopping experience zone, I would say!

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    Replies
    1. Shilpa,

      I doubt if the scene was shot at the original San Jose Flea market. I dont think. Yeah, anyway, the experience is fun. You dont have to shop, just go there and soak in the culture and experience. Its great; I discovered the flea market accidentally. No one recommends it

      Delete
  7. 2009 T20 World Cup Cricket. We were at the Oval. June 13, 2009. Pakistan vs New Zealand. Pakistan won by 6 wickets. We had the best seat in the whole Oval stadium. Very very close to where the Pakistani players were sitting. Before the start of the match someone came and informed us that this is the Pakistani VIPs cheering area. They said they would be glad to give us a different seats if we wanted to. We declined their offer.

    We had a wonderful time. Especially with the Pakistani players and their entourage. Nice guys. We were impressed with Umar Gul.

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    Replies
    1. People; at heart are good isnt it SG? Its the circumstances that forces them to behave otherwise

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  8. Oh One more thing I forgot. A drunk New Zealand woman removed her blouse and started to dance. I don't remember if it was a Pakistani player or a supporter. He removed his jacket and covered her immediately.

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  9. Your post is great. You are the best blogger I have ever seen. From India

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    Replies
    1. We both will fight brutal and often meaningless wars which accomplish nothing then stand idle and watch when innocent people are being murdered.

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  10. I met my first Pakistanis in US as well and it was such a warm experience. It makes one feel so silly with all the hyped enmities.

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  11. You see B, that little moments and things , experience, incidence we forget as trivia are often beacons of wisdom and revelation. don't you think so?

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    Replies
    1. I have lots of such little moments Anil. And yeah, they have taught me lots.

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  12. Frankly speaking the common man in Pakistan does not have anything against their brotheren across the border.
    Its the politicians (from both sides) that keep fanning the hatred policy.

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    Replies
    1. Exactly; they need a problem for them to exist.

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  13. Wonder how we all ended up giving so much emphasis on Pakistanis in this post. It has very little to do with the post? Anyway, I love pakistani music!!! I first heard pakistani music when my dad purchased a new philips stereo cassette player in 1991. We started with 3 cassettes. Michael Jackson's Dangerous, Strings, and some weird african disco. Strings have been in my heart ever since. Recently, Coke studio pakistan (not india) is simply awesome! Do check it out.

    By the way, Bindu, high time you write a post about Harpal. I have been waiting for a long time. His personality, his gentle gait, his soft voice, his friendly smile, and his safe driving. :-) What a gentle man. No pressure. Think about it.

    Did we get a fedora hat for Rajesh? He would have loved it if we did.

    Please don't mind if I don't read your posts immediately. I feel really nice when I am the only guy reading it. Call me a idiot, but I feel a deep sense of attachment to your words only when there is no crowd around them... No offense. :-p

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  14. :) It reflects what people take from a writing. :P cant do much about it

    Yes Gautam have been procrastinating for a long time now. I will soon write a post on Harpal. he deserves it

    Yeah we got a fedora for Rajesh. He loved it :)

    Haa hugs to you. I also like to feel that way. I like it when you read it.

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