21 January 2013
Two serene and silver-haired gentlemen, chins cradled in folded arms and elbows, are framed in the agape windows of a festively embellished bus, marinated in honeycomb-hues, ladylike fingers of light delicately sculpting their faces. Beneath the gentle bend of the bus ceiling, an electric image of a Hindu goddess is pinned-up, slowly pulsing between fuchsia and lime, lulling hypnosis. My faded eyes slump in the scuffed taxicab, as we snake through the jumble of pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars creeping across the Howrah bridge. The sun performs its daily ritual of Houdini-esque escape, disappearing in a trick of light, as the ebony robed curtain of night falls.
I am stuffed into a feverish, frantic dreamworld, delirious in a spell of illness. The humidity nuzzles into me, mummifies me in its sticky wrappings. Vivacious colors mushroom into my irises, as the dizzying orchestra of voices and horns erupt into my muffled eardrums.
Hot, bumbling life transforms into quiet theater scenes from the oasis of an air cooled train carriage. A child monkeys about bundled wood; smoke puts a spell on me, shape-shifting as it ascends into the fading sun; and fruit swells from baskets that crown sweat glazed heads. At two-toned poles, knots of motorcycles, bicycles, cows, the occassional curtained Hindustan Ambassador, wait, a freeze frame in this moving picture, as we slither by. On marshland coasts, mammoth row boats mourn, abandoned and belly-up, as men labor, callousing their palms under the mercy of the sun.
A gentleman passenger, pen perched in his shirt pocket, sips his coffee with the cup's base planted in his palm, all five fingers coming up around it like a dogtooth violet mid-bloom. Periodically, he dampens a finger with his tongue to peel back a page in his magazine, and I look again to impressionist palm trees, the sepias of the landscape that are punctuated by women in prismatic saris. A distant motorbike weaves through roads of ochre dust, like a needle placed abreast to a vinyl record, a sweeping waltz with the earth.