Madrid musings: El Rastro ke Raaste…


Day 2, morning:

Woke up at an ungodly hour of 5.30 AM to the sound of police car sirens. Peeping out I saw four or five police cars at a distance with lights flashing and groups of young men and women dressed in trendy clothes all over the place. No idea what happened. One can only assume. Could not go back to sleep. Our body clocks are still on India time.

First on our list was El Rastro, the Sunday flea market which is held on every Sunday and public holidays. Wikipedia tells me that El Rastro means “the trail”. Personally, I think it also has some connection with the Hindi word ‘raasta‘ meaning ‘the road’.

It was crowded, hot and stretched through myriads of lanes. There were old books, LP records, paintings, bronze statues, porcelain figurines, old toys, dolls, cast iron pots and pans, old books, posters, cheap Chinese electronics, Buddha figures and other statues from Far East, Jaipuri bed sheets and dresses, African sculptures, and lots and lots of clothes both old and new. I am sure, somewhere in this global melting pot of mass-produced monstrosities, there are genuine valuable antiques if you care to look hard enough. But it was too hot to hunt.

Browsing through a shop of tin toys, I suddenly heard ‘ kyaa aap Hindi mein baat kar sakte hai’. I looked up to see the young good looking shop owner speaking to us. On hearing that we were from India, he told us that his father was from Amritsar and his mother Spanish. He spoke a few more sentences in his cute accented Hindi. We thanked him and moved on. If he was hoping to make a sale he must have been pretty disappointed.

The girls wanted to have the famous calamari sandwich of Madrid. The most basic (and most traditional) ‘bocadillo de calamares‘ consists of crusty, fresh bread loaded with flour-coated, deep-fried rings of squid.

As Indians, we are used to a riot of flavours in our food, so the sandwich seemed pretty dry and bland. The fact that the family-run bar was overcrowded and hot did not help matters either.

Amidst the hustle bustle, I noticed this majestic bronze sculpture hidden behind trees. I googled to find more information, but sadly very little information was available in English.

This bronze sculpture is located in  Plaza Campillo Mundo Nuevo (New World Square Campillo). Thanks to Jim and Paula’s blog, I found out that it was made by German sculptor Knipp to represent the needs and social responsibility towards the protection of children. It was just beautiful in all its glory.


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