Indians have nans and dosas, puris and chapatis, but not the kind of bread we’re used to. They have a feeble attempt in a small white-breadish type loaf, but it is barely passable. When Helen, the Consul General mentioned that there was a new German bakery in town, we took note. A few days later, Jerri called the number. She had an hysterical conversation with the owner, Pia, who indeed was German but who didn’t actually yet have a commercial space. We arranged to meet her anyway and took the train, figuring it was an easy walk to her place. How were we to know the road had a different name on one side of the street than on the other? She said she’d pick up on her bicycle.
Her bike was a motorcycle and she and Jerri roared off into the crowd, Jerri hanging on, visions of German bread alternating with visions of speeding taxis and trucks heading straight towards her.
We couldn’t squeeze 3 on the bike, so I walked—past guys who made wooden ladders by hand; Muslim butchers working on half a goat; a liquor store (behind bars); used furniture places; an ancient jail and…ladies of the evening. I wasn’t sure, but it seemed odd to have so many pretty young women, all by themselves, sitting on a bridge and eying passersby. I decided to keep walking, both disappointed and relieved that I wasn’t approached.
Pia’s place was a few blocks further, in her apartment. She runs a special program training ex-sex workers to bake bread. It’s a terrific program that Pia started that not only trains the women in a new, safe, and potentially lucrative field, but also teaches them rules of hygienic cooking and baking. They stand a good chance at a legitimate job after her training. And we benefit by having decent bread to eat and helping grow the program. It is always amazing to me how many good people there are in the world. She’s one, although a bit nuts, with a room-filling laugh. Pete Seeger says that the happiest people are the ones doing impossible things to make it a better world. He must be right.
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