Bunty Ji

Paharganj, Delhi 10:04 p.m.

Bunty runs a little roadside restaurant on one end of the Paharganj Main Bazaar called the Madan Café. He can be seen above while accidentally walking into the frame as I was trying to shoot the beautiful blue and white cotton-clad cow who was pulling someone down the road right in front of his place. Over the last couple years, as I’ve spent various weeks-long stretches working Delhi from one or another base camp deep in the grimy, relentless scam-o-rama that is the colorful but stark neighborhood of Paharganj, Bunty has felt like a good natured friendly connection, nourished over many meals eaten at his establishment.

Last year, Bunty bailed me out of a really bleak late night drive to Rajasthan, when my pre-hired driver showed up in a rickety rice-rocket with broken windows exuding all kinds of sketchy—not exactly a confidence-builder while embarking on a six hour overnight journey on the Delhi-Jaipur highway. I had stopped by Bunty’s to grab some road food, and he saw my predicament and hooked me up with a much safer ride on the quick, and saved me a few bucks to boot. (I paid the other guy a few hundred rupees for his brief cameo, and advised his boss to fix the car and take away the driver’s beer privileges if he wanted my business.)

This trip, Bunty seems to be evolving even more into a fixer of sorts. When today (in Chapter 8 of the India Electricity Follies, for those of you keeping score at home) I discovered that my Apple MacBook’s power supply had apparently fried. First I was grumbling about the suddenly dead wall sockets, then after the hotel guy came and scoped it out, it dawned on me that my problems were deeper and harsher: I checked all the combinations of adaptors and lo, it is my poor power supply itself that is illing. My brain can scarcely imagine the productivity-crushing results of trying to do all this work without the benefit of all the data, spreadsheets and history I have in my laptop—no power supply = doom.

Guess I’ll swing by the Apple Store and grab a fresh supply—d’oh! Well, maybe not—no Apple Store in India. But get this: Bunty was the first person I thought to ask, as far as possible technicians or repair solutions; he dropped a dime to a computer wallah friend of his, and he thinks I can get an actual, OEM Apple-made power supply by sundown tomorrow. I am dubious, and seeing is believing, but he seemed quite confident. That would be truly amazing, and at a cost, he says, of at most 2500 rupees, or maybe $65. Shit, if Bunty can pull this off, I’ll have to put him on retainer!

But enough bad news. Well, not quite enough. The day held several shreds of productivity, but after checking out some of the Tibetan singing bowls, we had barely begun our explorations in Old Delhi when Sara came down sick unto needing immediate horizontality. Don’t get me wrong, I do think she has been relishing the continuing unfolding of her “bathrooms you never want to have to throw up in” tour, but today it was time to come home and put her to bed until it clears. We quickly bailed out of the shop we had just entered, hailed a quick motor rick, no time for bargaining, and bolted home. I got her settled in sick bay, gave in and lay down for a brief nap myself—we are both exhausted already—then got out later in the afternoon for a little bit of further work in the neighborhood.

Now, pushing midnight, I am back and happy to find Sara on the upswing, though not fully spry quite yet. The worst seems over though, and that is reason enough for rejoicing. For me, I will go down shortly to the Hare Rama guest house internet room and post this latest journal entry online, then do my daily data entry: what’d I order, or pay for, or spend on expenses along the way. If I don’t note this kind of stuff down the day it happens, forget it. Once I start guessing later, I know I’ll pay dearly later in costly confusion and fuzzy pricing. It’s part of what makes the days so long on these buying trips.

Tomorrow I go make a pilgrimage the Greater Noida Expo Center, the relatively newly opened black pearl way out in the Delhi ‘burbs. If I’m lucky, the car won’t be tiny and I’ll grab a few winks during the many hours of heinous, stop and go rush hour traffic we will experience going each way. I already can’t wait.


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