First Night Delhi '93

#1 Jan 28th, 2009, 22:29
Join Date:
Jan 2009
Noo Yawk
  • Keshava is offline
....Tonight the pollution is beyond comprehension — the magnitude of the environmental damage is difficult to absorb. Looking like ship wreck victims, a family of five is cooking dinner out on the two-foot wide traffic divider oblivious to the swerving Tata trucks, the constant honking and billowing clouds of noxious smoke.

....Along the way we stop to buy liters of mineral water and little cartons of ice-cold Mango Frooty Drink. Initially the driver makes good progress along Panchkuin Marg, but encounters especially dense traffic as we merge onto Connaught Circle. When at last we come to a complete halt the driver kills the motor and seats his chin in the palm of his hand. The rickshaw-wallahs co-driver lights up a Gold Flake cigarette. On the ground not two feet away, a man is seated in full lotus, his emaciated legs like delicate onyx tubes folded before him like the legs of a teak card table.

....His whole being is focused upon the small candle at his feet as he prays in the midst of bumper to bumper traffic with no apparent concern for the cars and trucks whizzing by inches from his folded legs. I look down to him from the back of the rickshaw, tall cold bottle of mineral water held between my legs; I'm impatient at the delay; I'm anticipating his pitch. But he's not begging just now. This supplicant on his prayer rug made of newspapers filled with stories of car bombings, wife-burnings and political corruption, looks up into the cab of the tempo, face just inches from my feet. He looks like a man who's just been informed that his suffering will be over shortly; his mantras have been heard in the durbar of the Gods; his petition answered; no more confused and painful reincarnations await him; no further additions will be made to his karmic tab; his bill will be marked paid any day now — the eternal accounting done at last. With a beatific and guileless ruin of a smile he looks up at me.

....Conjuring up an imaginary champagne glass, he pantomimes the gesture of drinking to my health: Salute! Bottoms up! Bon voyage mon ami! See you in paradise. Our rickshaw thrums to life; we rush on, rumbling and clattering over loose flagstones. Like a sunset at my back, the man's smile follows me through the twilight down long tree-lined avenues and we are quickly lost in the swarm. The sun slips away, the sky is a smoldering rose collapsing into ash.
#2 Feb 2nd, 2009, 12:42
Join Date:
Nov 2008
20 miles from Alaska
  • westernrain is offline
Keshava, your writing is mesmerizing; what an awesome picture you conjure up with your words,

Thank you.
#3 Feb 3rd, 2009, 05:01
Join Date:
Jan 2009
Send a message via AIM to Ranranami
  • Ranranami is offline
I expected some sort of joke or humerous experience. But instead I got a very beautifully written observation of both the chaos and that secret beauty hidden within the hearts of so many human beings. And India.
#4 Feb 4th, 2009, 02:44
Join Date:
Dec 2008
  • greenman183 is offline
That brought back some very intense feelings from my Indian adventures that I could not express so eloquently.
#5 Feb 5th, 2009, 18:50
Join Date:
Oct 2008
The Abode of Snow
  • livinhimalayas is offline
A lovely account Keshava, you summed up india beautifully in these words!
He that would live in peace and at ease must not speak all he knows or all he sees. - Benjamin Franklin

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