Washington DC, a grid-like city, is simple enough to navigate. But I am focussing on the sky, the little green patches overflowing with lilies and lavender, the magnolia lined pavements - and I get lost - once in a while. I'm here for a few days; the weather is pleasant with a few fierce storms thrown in. Somehow, each time I try to walk through the rain as the weather channels predict the beginning of a storm, I end up reaching home just as skies begin to clear. Oh well, nothing like a nice hot cup of tea and hazelnut chocolate after a wet walk.
I visit the zoo with my nephew (a tall, strapping youth who accompanies me to show me his favourite animal sections) - and we promptly get lost. Blame it on the lack of GPS, says he, for he uses only his cell phone to find his way. I blame it on all the wonderful distractions along the way and my overriding desire to see the komodo dragon (which is ensconsed in the invertebrate section for some unknown reason). The bonus of going in circles is seeing all kinds of amazing monkey action - gorillas thumping their chests, orangutans ambling on overhead bridges, tamarins - tiny, rust-gold in colour, leaping about excitedly.
On Saturday we visit Eastern Market, a semi-covered market, with some permanent stalls and some temporary ones. Saturday is when farmers come to sell their local produce. I am amazed by the colourful vans standing outside and delighted by the rows of fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers that I see. Inside the market, my nephew incurs the wrath of a German cheese seller as he looks at the cheeses while talking to her. "Look at me when you are talking to me!" she yells and I intervene, to pour oil over very troubled waters. Outside, I incur the wrath of a large black woman as I bend down to click two tiny dogs resting under a table. "My property!" she yells. My nephew swiftly propels me away. I am amazed at the number and variety of dogs in this place and how placid they are despite being miles from home, immersed in a sea of new faces and scents.
|Fiddlehead ferns, freshly harvested|
|Different kinds of basil|
On Sunday we do a typical 'DC brunch'. It is asparagus, mushroom and goat cheese quiche with a green salad for me, omelet (as the Americans call it) with rock shrimp and mozzarella for my nephew and eggs, grits and home made bacon for his wife. And a plate of doughnuts, without which no true American breakfast is complete. Everything is delicious but equal to two Indian sized servings. I plan to starve the rest of the day, but of course, succumb to the delights of dinner (a hefty pizza)!
DC looks prosperous and glows with purpose. Despite this, I detect a sense of isolation amongst several people on the streets and in the buses. How else can one explain sudden unwarranted bursts of temper and rudeness in public places? Nothing like NY, which surpasses all cities in rudeness and frazzled nerves. But enough to make one wonder if things are as smooth as they appear on the surface of this capital city. I suppose everyone needs something nice to come home to. We come home to a large television - online streaming is swift and efficient and delivers to us new and wondrous BBC shows (which we watch as we tuck into our dinner). Only on days when the NBA games are not being screened, that is.