The recent heatwave had us confined indoors for more than a week. We did try making a couple of trips to the mall but after a night walk around the neighbourhood left us sweating profusely, we gave up all together. This weekend however the tenperature took a turn for the better. The humid haze lifted on Sunday to reveal a cheerful day which incidentally woke us up way early than usual with its brightness. I think it also went through the bones and did something to the spirit because we were at our "DC Explorer" best throughout.Our first stop was the legendary DC eatery-Ben's Chilli Bowl for lunch. If you come out of the U Street Metro station through the 13th street exit you can't escape its cheery red, white and yellow frontage. The interior with its high ceiling and ceiling fans, peeling paint and 60's counter tops is reminiscent of much simpler times. Its only befitting that the food they serve has the same simplicity and timeless quality. Now, normal human beings would think twice about eating hots dogs and fries on a hot day but after more than a few 100 F days, the weather seemed balmy to us and we proceeded to plow our way through a Jumbo turkey dog (for the Boy), a chilli dog for me and an order of chilli fries. Those are the sorry remnants of our chilli fries. Our verdict - the food is so-so, nothing to write home about. In retrospect, we should have ordered the half smokes which Ben's is famous for and the meaty chilli. The vegetarian chilli which was generously smothered over our hots dogs and fries had no texture. However its the insitution and history that matters more than the food and we plan to recommend it to our out of town friends, nevertheless.
Our other stop was the Eastern Market in Southeast. Right outside the Eastern Market Metro station, this is one of the oldest markets to be continually used in DC. It reminded me of Crawford Market in Mumbai and the Old Amish Country Market in Burtonsville. Most of the produce was more expensive than my local farmers market, but the quaintness of it all was worth the visit. They also had an arts and crafts section were some enterprising Indian was busy ripping off people with cheap knick knacks purchased on the last trip home. They also have a weekend flea market where the Boy got a good deal on a graphite tennis racket for himself and then proceeded to buy me a pair of hand made ear rings. The sheer number of Tibetan prayer bowls on sale here was just hilarious. I am sure most people mistake them for fancy mortar pestle sets like yours truly! The Tibetan fellow selling those had the same hustle that one encounters on the streets of New Delhi. He tried to soothe our souls with his muiscal prayer bowl and if had shown any interest I am sure he would have gone the "Ma-daam, only wan phiphty, super special price for you Ma-daam" way.