Saturday, September 12, 2009


We sit idling in the traffic. The intersection is jammed, and it is definitely going to take more than 10 minutes to clear. The lurid mix of diesel and petrol fumes outside leaves us unaffected, no more than a faint dribble through the air-conditioned air of the car.
Outside, a woman in a black cotton veil picked over with tiny embroidered mirrors in red makes her way past the cars. She is dressed in a colorful patchwork blouse and skirt, balancing a tousle-haired toddler on her hip and waving a pair of crossed over miniature Indian flags at the stalled traffic. She glances hopefully at us and turns away in a split-second recognition of our disinterest.
On the other side, a man in a polyester shirt with buttons missing, unidentifiable colored pant is criss-crossing the road between vehicles, waving the same type of flag. Again, no takers.
Ten minutes later, the car slowly inches into the intersection, and it finally picks up speed, I catch a last glimpse of the black-veiled lady. She is seated comfortably on the median, her toddler flat on his back, legs waving in the air. She is doing what all mothers do with their babies, sharing a moment of glee and happy gurgles, oblivious to the speeding traffic on either side.

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