Little India: Spice Corner

Little India spans a few blocks on Lexington Avenue between 24th and 30th. Unlike Little Italy or Chinatown, both popular and tourist infested ethnic neighborhoods, Little India is relatively unknown to tourists and most Manhattanites. The only street walkers are those who live there, mainly Indian or Near Eastern descent, and students at Baruch College. The streets are lined with Indian curry houses, grills, and formal restaurants. On the corner of 29th and Lexington, a little Indian and Middle Eastern grocery store occupies the lot: Spice Corner.

Two men, presumably the owners, eagerly and warmheartedly welcomed me when I walked into the store. I scoped out the general feel of the store – clean and organized. I asked for couscous and basmati rice, to which one of the men directed me to the shelf and offered a discount. I asked about olive oil. Another direction and discount offered. The back of the store was lined with spice shelves (pictured above): beans, powders, relishes, dried fruits, spices, seasonings. You name it, it was there. I found the bread aisle and was amazed at the selection of poori, naan, and other Indian and Middle Eastern breads. I found package of 10 naan flatbreads. “For you, three dollars,” the man said. I brought it to the counter and handed him three dollars. He walked behind the cash register and came back with a small and sweet looking baked good. “No, no. Just the naan,” I said. “No, for you and your friend.” He sliced it and handled it to me. I don’t know what it was, but it was delicious. It was about a three inch ball of a dense, fried dough, sweet and sugary. I was tempted to buy a pound’s worth of it.

I was amazed by the collection of currencies under the counter glass. I stared at them for a while, hoping that I’d recognize one. At most, I saw a Lebanese note, but I couldn’t confirm as for it was on the Arabic side and I didn’t see any French writing. I didn’t look for long, but I’ll be sure to ask questions next time I am in the store. It’s truly fascinating to see bank notes from other countries. I want start my own collection when I study abroad next year.

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