I knew we’d found Amar Colony when I saw the rats’ nests of chair legs tangled above a roofline of blue plastic tarps.
It’s an eclectic little market, to put it mildly, wedged into a muddy space next to the neighborhood gurdwara. A fine patina of dirt and grime covers every square inch of the place and lends a convincing air of antiquity to even those pieces still reeking of freshly-applied varnish. The tarps overhead bathe the aisles in a freakish blue light but do little to keep the ground from turning into slime when it rains.
Overstuffed baroque-inspired armchairs share an alley with brightly painted Tibetan trunks. Mid-century modern end tables and kitschy brightly colored picture frames all compete for real estate and attention. On our trip yesterday I saw a fuzzy 3-D art piece depicting a Mongolian herder and a framed display of reproduction miniature pistols–among other unexpected finds.
We don’t know exactly when my husband will receive his next paycheck, (#thankyougovernmentshutdown) so it was probably for the best that I wasn’t in the market yesterday for anything more than a few photos. Were I to make any purchases though, some of these leather and embroidery fold-up stools would have been at the top of my list:
While we wandered, my friend and I stumbled upon a chai stand set up just inches away from the furniture for sale. The husband and wife team were friendly and relieved to hear that we already have one son.
“You will have another boy! Boys are good, girls you don’t want!” the chai-wallah’s wife lectured as she handed me a packet of tobacco to pass to the men waiting behind me to be served.
“I have a little girl!” my friend protested. Perhaps fortuitously, the chai wallah’s wife lapsed back into Hindi before we could find out why we females are such a terrible burden unto the world.
This is my second time being pregnant in a country with a serious “missing girls” problem and yet I’m still amazed at both the matter-of-factness with which women (always, always women) tell me that boys are better than girls and the surprising lack of rage I feel as I deflect their comments. As a woman myself, I suppose I should be bothered when a person of my own gender proclaims the world would be better if none of us were born. And yet, in the moment, I can never seem to summon up the indignation I feel I should have. For millions of women in India (and elsewhere in the world), it really does suck to be a girl. Who am I to say whether the chai-wallah’s wife meant what she said or was merely repeating what she’d heard her entire life? Who am I to judge if the women who speak to me sincerely wish they’d been born boys or never born at all?
There is so much more I could say on the subject that sometimes I feel like I could write a book by now about changing gender relations in China and India–though I’m sure there are far more objective researchers to be found than a pregnant woman living in country.
Anyways, back on topic, if you find yourself in Delhi and you don’t already have a good carpenter to rely on, Amar Colony is a decent place to find some inexpensive furniture–though some Hindi and haggling skills are helpful as prices may be up to half of the original quote. And if you aren’t in the market for something substantial, Amar Colony is a very fun place to walk around and perhaps “window-shop” for a stool or end table or mirror that you never knew you “needed.”