June 16, 2005

Down on the corner

Walking down the busy street near where I live, I see something from the corner of my eye, I don't know quite what but I know it's out of the ordinary. I turn to look and a scooter flips on its side and slides along the road, engine screaming, wheel turning uselessly, the woman who was on it till a second ago sliding along in a parallel tangle of arms and legs and stunned eyes, there in the middle of the road just ten feet from where I am.

We rush to help her up. She is bruised and startled, but otherwise luckily unhurt. Points angrily at the autorickshaw that brushed her as it overtook, now vanishing around the bend ahead. Didn't care to stop. She finally smiles ruefully.

Some time later, we come to an intersection where there is some municipal digging underway. Big pile of rubble and a hole in the ground. What I surmise must be the people hired to do this digging have set up camp beside the hole. A ragged hammock, clearly heavy with a baby, hangs between two saplings. A woman cooks on the pavement, flipping a chappati as we pass. Another woman nurses another baby. Water gushes from somewhere inside the hole, flowing down the road and into a concrete grill on the edge of the road. Where the grill actually is, the water has formed a small muddy pool. The kids from the hired families frolic joyfully in the pool, one lying on
the grill and rolling around in the water, two others racing through and splashing everyone, a third apparently washing her shirt.

Past them and further down the road, a young woman in shorts, T-shirt and a peaked cap with "B" embroidered on it has the tailgate of her SUV open. From inside the car, she lifts out several steel plates with food on them, and places them in a line on the ground. Several stray dogs gather around, and one to a plate, they settle down to dinner as she looks on approvingly.

Finally outside our building, another woman turns up with a bag. Three stray cats and two stray dogs gather around her. She shoos away the dogs, then reaches into the bag and brings out some food for the cats. They eat their fill, tails twitching contentedly. She watches over them, shooing away the dogs every time they gather hope and draw nearer.

And now, I'm home.

1 comment:

zap said...

Different worlds. Now i've got EA.