I have to try and remember things. So much happens in one day that it is easy to forget. Already I had forgotten the antique filled shop (it is a bizarre travesty to call it a shop) where enormous room after enormous room opened out filled with treasures like a museum. A full bellied sculpture led me in, and once inside whole church facades opened out; huge colourful ancient chickens and gods standing in corners and on ceilings. The woman who followed me laughed in the end, at my open mouthed wonder. The same wonder as when my meditation teacher told me about monks sitting with tigers. The same wonder which made me feel part of the stars all the way I rode home. Part of it was that these objects are for sale. I imagine vast white modernist houses inset with intricate fragments of palace walls, and figuring out how much space is needed to really appreciate her fierce glare and male / female form. At the counter, the woman asks me about my hair; is this the new style? I tell her yes, it’s very common in New Zealand, and that women with long hair like hers also shave it up the sides.
Outside, my friend tells me that the huge lorry piled high with sacks is full of ginger. The way things are carried is also a wonder.
There is a ladder on the back of a motorcycle.
In the night, dogs howl in harmony, an offbeat rhythm.
My favourite time is at seven or so, when the call from the temple drifts on the air, traffic slows down, and sometimes it rains. The rain is always a relief, like breath; a pause. Everyone shelters, under awnings, in shops. People stand close together and talk and laugh, and wait. When it eases a little, two children are sent out, her long arm reaching out to take his small hand.
Suresh brings me cough sweets and says they’re ayurvedic, not synthetic.
Also, a funeral procession seen from an auto rickshaw. First, men dancing using all of their bodies, falling against the drums which beat with arms and backs straight marching them. Of course the traffic stops, and no one complains. There are uniforms blue and maybe gold, a clarinet. Suresh tells me you see, it is an expression of emotions, an outpouring. The men are drunk, and behind them, the women are sad. The black car is piled high with strings and strings of flowers. And when I say strings, I mean lush wide belts of colour layered.
Further down the street, another funeral. The body held behind makeshift sheets which form a tent outside the home. Next to it, a construction which looks like an enormous crown, with flowers covering its papier mache bones. This will adorn the procession. It is built here on the street, outside the home, next to the body.
I find the most beautiful piece of gold sequinned fabric. There is metres of it, tiny sequins like fish scales, with orange thread weaving through sections. It is old, it is not good enough for wearing, but for me, it is perfect. The edges are folded and in one corner there is still a sewing machine needle tucked in.