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  • Sometimes I get really tired of the city. I used to walk through alphabet city to relax, but the places I visited are almost always locked, and I don't want to be the asshole who breaks into a community garden. So I've settled on creating moments for myself. Yesterday I woke up early and walked to the East River. Today I spent an hour in Katinka, a tiny shop on 9th st.

    Incense is everywhere, boxes and envelopes piled high on tables. Though not lit, it gives off a weak scent, jumbling with heady rose water and patchouli to form a stale and familiar ethnic smell. Clinging to hair and skin far after leaving, the smell incites nostalgia for an indefinite country, in an indefinite century.

    Warmth billows from the small space heater and is trapped by the imported cloths that line the 5 x 15 ft. room. Crisp corrugated cotton and silk skim palms, creasing as fingers lock on garment after garment. The scents and textures of each cloth lend a memory of life on the Silk Road.

    The rich history, odors and colors begin to overwhelm, but are stopped by matching wizened smiles. The owners, a married couple in their eighties, possess impressively exact knowledge of their inventory and are always offering assistance. They weave expertly through the garments hanging on the walls while telling of a spice market in Bangalore, the taste of shrimp from the Bay of Bengal, or the ornate vimana in the Chennaesava Temple.

    Vibrant dresses are held up for judgment, and persimmon is tossed in favor of paprika, floating onto the pile of cerise, indigo, and saffron saris wedged between creaky embroidered shoe racks. It feels like Holi, until a siren sounds outside, shattering the ancient romanticism within the the shop. The wail reminds of this modern age, and of prosaic New York.
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