From Bombay to Trivandrum in the night

September 26th 2010

I woke after a two hour nighttime nap at 3:30AM. Everything slept while I turned on the hot water heater and ate muesli and curd out of the yogourt container.

Then I phoned Lallan, a rickshaw wala who had driven me and little Pree home from a walk along Carter Road the night before. I had asked if he would come and pick me up in the middle of the night, to go to the airport. He said call me fifteen minutes before you want to leave.

Now, he said thik hai, mai abhi a raha hoon. I’m on my way.

One man who lives in the courtyard of our building stumbled to the bathroom. He wore a lungi and scratched at his stomach and looked as though he was in a dream. I saw from my windowsill.

Lallan called a moment later, to say I am downstairs. I closed my compact and turned off the fluorescent bulb, leaving my awakeness as the only contrast to the asleepness of the six other human beings inside. Opening the door, fluorescent brightness from the hallway spilled into the apartment, illuminating the the slight breathing movement of the four girls who slept in the front room.

The rickshaw hurtled down the bare highway in the dark, and I loved the night weather.

Of course I was first to the airport. There, begging kids put on a show of clutching at their stomachs. They shared half a bag of kurkure, divided as evenly as unevenly-sized chips can be.

Kartik, Prasad and the other girls arrived in a van from Royal Palms, where all of the Russian models and dancers live in flats together. The girls wore heels at 5AM and dragged their bags out of the van. Anna’s five year old son moved to the front seat with Prasad, and they smiled and waved and drove away.

We foreign girls joined a pack of Indian models and flounced through the airport. The models were more special than anyone else, and thus behaving like wild people people. A flight attendant asked if one girl was drunk.

Dekh na, Anjali has gotten a coffee! Kya VIP hai, wow, I also want one.”

We are having so much of fun!”

Sun na? How Priya hogs, how she eats! But still she is slim!”

They kept their sunglasses on for the flight.

Once in Trivandrum, we all piled in another van, folding the models’ limbs in half to fit. We listened to their CD for the evening’s performance, Euro trance pumping into the thick jungle. From the van to a simple boat, and a plain man paddled us along the backwaters while we watched Kerala’s beauty. The models continued their continuous photo session until we arrived at the hotel, ate fancy buffet food, and then went to our rooms for a nap.

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