I am Indian, as some of you may know. I am quite Indian, but I will also add that I am a refined Indian.
Recently, I had to buy some medicine for my mom, and decided that it was too much effort to drive, struggle through the traffic, struggle for parking; and, then to repeat the process on the way back.
So, I decided to walk. It was an interesting experience, because I decided to be in the moment. Moments. That would be more accurate.
For one, when I am walking with my camera, I am acutely aware of what is happening around me, but my brain is busy processing the information from a photographic perspective. When I was walking ‘in the moment’, as it were, I was processing the information but more from a random array of perspectives.
For one, I observed my behaviour as a pedestrian. When I was walking and crossing the street, I slid between the oncoming cars, and muttered under my breath – ‘bloody car drivers.. Who the hell do they think they are?’
When I am driving, I mutter under my breath – ‘bloody pedestrians…. Who the hell do they think they are?”
You see, we always see the world from our perspective, and we are always in the right. Damn. We are always in the right, and don’t you tell me otherwise.
It was a humid evening, and we North Indians hate the humidity. My face had this icky film across it, and my shirt was stuck to my back. My jeans were heavy with sweat, and I was reminded of the virtues of nakedness.
Now, I am a really nice chap, and would never walk naked on the street. All the women would sigh with lust at the sight of me, and the men would end up with broken hearts. So, I wear my heavy jeans, and sigh for the sacrifices that I am making for humanity.
Walking in India presents you with an array of smells. Smoke. Sweat, Cow Piss, Human Piss. Even for one such as me, with limited olfactory powers, it can be quite the refreshing cocktail.
Pavements used to exist, and we all share the romance of the road. Shops, vendors, consumers, vehicles, bicycles, cows, blobs of cow-shit, pedestrians and vehicle fumes. The road is quite accommodating, and so are we Indians.
When you cross the street, look carefully at the side to which you have to cross over to. The wet smudge on the road may be water. Or, may be…. Oh yes, the accommodating road also acts as a urinal.
People walk, and horns blare. Cows moo and brown people stare. They pat the cow, they whack the cow, and then they move on. Oh yes… After they whack the cow, they bend down in the middle of the street and pay obeisance to it. Imagine a paunchy Indian in the middle of the street, praying to a cow, with his bum waggling and wiggling in the air. This is not an edifying sight.
Life moves on.
Our politicians, meanwhile, have no clue about how to control this flow. So, sometimes the police put up barriers on the road to catch thieves and terrorists. Since they spend their time picking their noses, or sticking it into the front of their trousers to play pocket billiards, I am not sure they succeed in catching their prey.
So, their prey gets buy, and the police pray that they themselves don’t become the prey of their intended prey.
Ha! Now, try and untangle that sentence if you can!
All in all, a sociologist would have a lot of fun on the street. He.. or she.. needs to sit at a chai stall. Have a chai, observe, and have a blast.
That is what life is for!