The Bizarre Bazaar
by: C.C. Keiser
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During the writing of Poly-Solipsism I had this strange dream. Of course the concept was haunting me day and night, so it's not a great surprise I would have a dream about it. What is strange is the form my quest took in the dream.
The first thing I remember about the dream I was standing in an arid desert someplace in the Middle East. From the feel of it I knew it was thousands of years in the past, and stretched before me and all around me was an ancient Bazaar. There were tents of all different shapes, sizes and colors, with the door flap of the tents tied back to allow a view and easy access inside. But as I walked along the main avenue between them I could not see inside of any of them. The sun was at high noon and shining glaringly bright and all I could see of the insides was a dark emptiness as I walked down the middle of the avenue. Sometimes I could just make out a shadow of movement and a faint glimmer of light from a few of the open doorways, but there was no way of telling what lay inside without venturing inside.
In the front of each tent were tables and stalls displaying a sample of the wares to be found within. In front of many of the larger tents were all manner of men and woman performing to entice me to enter their tent.
There were Belly Dancers, Sword Swallowers, Fire Eaters, Jugglers, Magicians and Conjurers. There were tables set with retorts and stills, selling spirits of all kinds, and I swear I saw Albert Einstein himself wearing a turban holding a small crowd of onlookers enthralled as he levitated stars, planets and moons all swirling around in an expanding globe of darkness.
There were stalls with monks in robes who sat motionless meditating in the Lotus position, while at the next tent a small group sat on pillows smoking from a bong with spiraling whiffs of smoke rising to the heavens.
There were tents with different styles of crosses in front, and Preachers admonishing the sinners to repent. There was a tent where young men with shaved heads and yellow and orange robes danced around with tambourines while chanting and singing.
There were Sirens in gossamer gowns, and Nymphs hardly wearing anything at all beckoning seductively to enter their tent.
I'm not really sure how I picked a tent to enter, but it had a large Greek letter Delta above the doorway, and Hams, Sausages, and wheels of Cheeses hanging outside. An elderly grinning Greek with a glinting gold tooth held back the tent flap with one hand while he ushered me inside with a slight bow and a wave of his other arm.
There didn't seem a need for haste as I was the only one entering, and from what I could tell there wasn't anyone else hanging around this particular tent, so I stood for a moment just inside waiting for my sight to adjust to the dim interior.
When they finally did I found I was standing right in front of a table behind which sat a rather bored young Gypsy girl cheating at solitaire. She barely noticed me, and without uttering a word she casually handed me a pamphlet with one hand while she continued turning cards with the other. I could not make out the writing on the flyer, but I could tell by the palm and Zodiac printed of the front it was an advertisement inviting me to have my fortune told by Madam Somebody or other. I shoved it into a pocket, and with a slight nod of my head to the disinterested young Gypsy, I ventured deeper into the interior.
I didn't get very far before running into a set of tables with scattered dust covered odds and ends of old and empty bottles, a few tankards and tarnished trinkets. It looked as though at one time they may have been for sale, as each bore an ancient and yellowing tag whose value had long ago faded from even the keenest vision. Perhaps when the tent was new these were the hot items, but by the looks of it their days of interest were long gone and nobody cared enough anymore to even stash them away.
As I wiped the dust from my fingers on the side of my trousers I saw the reason for their neglect. The tent had no back! The once treasured objects lost their appeal to the more enticing treasures that lay behind the tent.
The glamour and glitter of the main avenue in the front of the tent paled in comparison to the riot and revelry taking place behind. It was like going from black and white to landing in the full Technicolor of Oz!
None of the tents had a back. You just had to pick one to go through to enter the real party in the back. Each tent spilled into the common arena where everyone mingled more or less together to celebrate and peddle their wares. To either side of the tent I had exited intermingled denizens from the tents next to them. Each blending together to produce a combination of flavors and colors.
It was a Fair, a Circus, a Festival, an Extravaganza! It was Carnivale!
There was a mass of humanity as far as the eye could see engaged in every activity imaginable. There were stalls selling fish and foul and cooked meats of every kind. There were stalls over flowing with fruits and vegetables, and stalls with breads and pastries. And everywhere was the aroma of spices and cooking, all mingled together with perfumes, the smell of baking beads, and the sweet scent of roasting sugar.
"Now this is more like it" I thought, as I drifted bewildered by the diversity into the fray. I was famished and the aromas of all the different foods tugged at my hunger.
I stopped at the first vendor I came to, who was dispensing a barbecued something or other wrapped in a pita. It smelled Devine, but tasted like hell! I think it was lamb and had too many funky tasting spices. I moved on to the next and the next, but it was always the same. Everything looked good and smelled wonderful, but tasted strange, and I could not eat but a bite; if that much. At one stand I nearly gagged with the first bite and spit it out wiping the remains off my tongue with a napkin.
This was noticed by a patron standing next to me, who seem to thoroughly enjoy what I had found so repugnant. "Don't like huh? I love it! It's all I ever eat." He said as best he could between shoving in great mouthfuls. "Perhaps you will find the food more to your liking at one of the other tents?" He mumbled with a wave of his arm in the direction of a crowd some distance away. I could just make out a whole series of other vendors over the heads of a sea of revelers. I was wondering what my chances were of maneuvering through this mass of humanity, when my new friend notice my calculating expression. "Just go back through the tent you came from, and find another tent to enter. Every tent has their own flavor. Hope you find one to your liking." he said has he turned around to order another serving.
With very little difficulty I retraced my rout and found the tent with the young Gypsy girl still cheating at solitaire, and passed the grinning Greek with the glinting gold tooth on my way back to the main avenue.
I surveyed all the different tents, trying to prophesize without a clue, in which one I would find just the right flavor for my pallet.
Time and again I entered a different tent only to find myself back out in the main avenue and still famished.
I tried them all to no avail. Not a single one offered anything I could make a meal of for very long. There were a few that didn't taste all that bad, but none of them were what I was searching for, and none of them quenched my hunger.
It had been an exhausting search, and as I stood there once again in the main avenue, I realized that if I was to find just the right flavors, I would have to put up my own tent with my own colors and flavors.
If I could not find what I was looking for; what I needed to satisfy my hunger, I would have to make it myself.