In a storefront on Devon between an upscale “Indian kitchen” and a store selling saris and tunics, an old woman sits alone.
She chatters on the phone in breakneck Hindi (or Gujarati or Bengali or Tamil for all you know), pausing once in a while to walk to the street outside and scream “Bread! Bread!” Then she turns back to her store, walking past the posters for Bollywood’s “Housefull 2″ and “Vicky Donor” and the large printed sign saying “Sale! Sale! Sale! Everything must go.”
She looks motherly and sweet and very, very sad. You can tell she’s a bit confused by your interest in a store full of movies you can’t understand, but she gives you a little smile as she walks up to your aisle.
“Do you need help?” she asks in a thick Indian accent.
You shake your head.
“They’re all Indian movies, you know,” she says.
You say that’s OK.
A young black man comes into the store to answer her question about what’s going on with the Dumpster out back. You realize she must have been yelling “Brad!”
It looks like a good video store for all you know. It’s a small storefront, but the stock is thick on the walls. There are thousands of colorful videos, organized by action, comedy, romance or by actor you assume must be legendary to get a dedicated section. Dilip Kumar must be huge.
There are rows of CDs, too. Bollywood soundtracks, classical ragas, Indian hip-hop, Indian reggae fusion, meditation CDs. There’s also a rack of children’s clothing for sale.
All it needs is customers.
Brad/Bread leaves and you decide $6.99 is a good price for Volume 5 of Rafi Ki Yaaden, “Sad Songs.”
“We are closing down,” the woman says when you ask about the sign outside. She gives a little “It’ll be OK, sweetie” smile and only charges you $5 for the CD.
You ask how long the store’s been there.
“A while,” she says.
She glances those sad eyes down for a moment, then looks back at her store.
“The business is not good,” she says. “I sit here all day. Nothing.”
You ask the question you don’t want to ask, the one about what she’ll do next. She gives the response you don’t want to hear.
“I don’t know,” she says.
You smile, wish her luck and leave the store. You know you’ll never come back.