Tag Archives: reasoning

Each as they want, choose or feel forced to do.

Vehicles carrying animal and human lives line up at the junction of two major roads. They are in a staggered row, depending on each driver’s anxiousness or impassiveness to get going as soon as the light changes. The drivers lean back in their seats and spit to the side.

There, each person is doing as he or she chooses, wants, knows, thinks or has done before. They are at an intersection on the road, at an intersection and crossroads in life.

In one rickshaw is farmer and his son and their goat. They live in a dairy colony in Gurgaon but had gone to collect their goat from Bombay central, first arguing with a taxi wala and then rickshaw wala.

“My rickshaw is new,” complained their present driver. He was uneasy to pollute his brand new rickshaw with the smell of a dirty goat, at least not so soon! But was won over by a bribe. He, like those dyeing fabrics in Dharavi or those folding paan leaves in Mahalaxmi, is doing what he has been born into.

A child pushed a miniature merry-go-round made for children between a rickshaw and a cab, leaning with the whole of his weight and all of his skinny self to make it move. The paint was chipping off of the merry go-round: its colours were faded and the whole thing was not as joyful and fun-looking as it was originally intended to be.

The little boy is doing the only thing that he knows how to do, except for also being able to curse back at the rickshaw walas who curse at him for cutting them off. He came voiceless to Mumbai four years ago from a village in another state, but now his Bombaiyya Hindi is perfect.

In one taxi is a gaggle of Bandra babes, girls going out on the town. They laugh and pass around an illicit cigarette. The driver eyes their bare legs from his mirror as the cab jerks to a pause. The girls are too drunk on their beautiful young lives to notice.

They are doing what they want. How delicious.

A Sunni Muslim man sits on a motorcycle next to the cab. Behind him and sideways is his wife, peering at the world through heavily-lidded, kajal lined eyes. She’s hiding every lovely part of herself except for these eyes, and these she shows off.

Her sisters are more like the girls in the taxi, dressing modestly at home but sneaking off to flirt with older boys on the weekends. But for this married woman, honoring the tenements of her faith is more freeing than skirts or blouses could be. She is doing what she chooses to do.

An elderly couple stands at the curb beside the rickshaw with the goat, waiting to cross the street. Sir has placed his cane in front of Mam to prevent her from being too close to the traffic.

Mam’s fingers smell like the cilantro she rubbed between them at the market. She’s carrying a bag of ripe tomatoes and onions, unperturbed by the alarming price increase.

Sir was born in another time and place, slept by the highway and worked in tea stalls before succeeding in his entrepreneurship. No reason to have servants, to do everything differently now that things are different, he reasons. And so still, he walks to and from the market with his wife every evening to select the vegetables that she will cook for dinner. He thanks god that he does not have to worry about onion prices, that actually there is very little he has to worry about anymore. They together are doing as they always have done.

When the light finally changes everyone moves forth: some are faster than others to gun their engines (having had more opportunity or inspiration) and some slower, but each does move ahead.

All except for an orange tabby cat that is rust-coloured with dust. She had been wandering in front of the vehicles until the engines roared to life again. She jumped and hightailed it to a place on the roadside where there was a very pleasant texture of ground: round pebbles in soft dust. Rather than running the race with the others, she’d rather roll over there to scratch her sides.


anything could be happening at once

This day was over for me before it began for you, he says, addressing a girl through a computer screen.

She talks with him, someone far away that she cares for, because it brings a sense of hope and wonder. He talks with her, someone far away that he cares for, because it brings a sense of calm and security. Then, he wishes her a good day, and she him a good night. Then, he goes off into deep sleep (into his good night) and she goes off reassured, but hesitating to have her good day.

Anything could be happening at once. Everything could be happening at once, and it is. All over the world, people do different things for the same reasons, and the same things for different reasons. It just depends.

In Vancouver, kids attend a jumpstart preschool program at a community centre in their neighbourhood. They sit watching a Baby Einstein video, sucking on their fingers. They have popular names like Ava and Madison.

In Mumbai, toddlers sit in a circle in a preschool built by an NGO on the construction site they live on. A teacher enlists one boy to help her distribute stainless steel bowls, a healthy snack of chana and curry leaves. Repeating in English ‘one bowl, one friend.’ The kids smile as they receive their snacks, and wait for prayer before they eat. They have Sanskrit names like Pragati, progress, and Mayuri, peacock.

In New York, students might trek through the snow in winter to get to a coffeeshop. Inside, more people sit at a row of tables. Each has a laptop: if the lights went out, you would only see a row of lit-up apples. They also have some cell phone, some mp3 player, some sort of coffee. Having felt like they are a part of this community, they sit down to get work done.

On Panama’s west coast, lean-muscled fishermen haul boats out of the north pacific ocean and separate their catch into different pails depending on the size of fish. Then they sit on logs and smoke cheap cigarettes and laugh. Having gotten work done, they now feel they are part of a community.

Someone might speak, and another might avoid speaking, to exactly the same end. It would depend.

A man might shout and it would be for threat or warning.

A child might shout and it would be for anguish or uncertainty.

A woman might shout and it would be for a song.

It would depend.

In Canada, an Indian girl might dance sexy in a nightclub because it is her perogative, it is fun, and she feels like it. In these moments she loves her life the most.

In India, a Russian girl might dance sexy in a nightclub because she is being paid to do so. In these moments, she doesn’t feel much. It’s not fun, but not bad, but not good either. It’s nothing, it’s just a job.

In Paris, two lovers might might come to know each other without words. Through their two month relationship, they have mostly known one another through physical closeness. The young man wants more than this arrangement. What an assumption to make, he considers, that because you came close to someone’s body you had come to know something about them.

In Varanasi, two lovers might come to know each other without touch. Throughout the length of their nearly three years together, they have only been able to steal six kisses. The young woman wants more than this arrangement, but is anguish over these feelings. How can she assume to know him having never known this other part of him? She wishes to feel that this should be enough, but doesn’t actually feel that way.

The French lovers come close to one another because in that way, they love each other.

The Indian lovers stay distant from one another, rather than risking all that they have built, because in that way, they love each other.

Someone might touch, and another might not, to achieve the same result. It would depend.

In Delhi, a man in a suit stays in a glass building all day on the phone, because in this way, he earns money. He thinks this about money: aaj hai, kal nahi, phir a jaega do din ke baad.

In Jakarta, a man in a sand-stained shirt and shorts toils in the sun all day on the reconstruction of a Mosque. Because in this way, he earns money. He doesn’t think about money so much.

A man has moved across the United States from one city to another. He came to this new place by choice, encouraged by his family to go. He might be falling asleep in an enormous bed, in an enormous room. With one leg falling over a pillow, and thrashing searching arms, it is obvious that he is unused to sleeping alone. He speaks into silence, asking his god why.

A girl has moved across India from a village to a big city. She came to this new place by force, stolen from her family. She might be falling asleep on a lumpy mattress on the second floor of a brothel in Mumbai’s red light district. She speaks into a cacaphony of car horns and fuzzy old love songs, thanking her god that tonight she is sleeping alone.

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