Through the grayness of this concrete city, streams of tin-box vehicles flow ahead languidly – and like at a river’s delta, distributaries of little hatchbacks and dented yellow taxis branch off from the main road, spreading in varied directions. From your roof, you can see the whole city, you can feel it’s pulse – yet, there is such a strange silence around you, it’s as if the noise below is far, far away, so far that you are actually longing for it. And around you, tall dull skyscrapers finger the sky and the rusty old bridge looks almost toy-like from a distance. You can see everything, whatever you wish to see – yet, when you lean out clasping the coarse iron railing, look down to see if you can see the temple spire underneath, butterflies flutter wildly in your stomach – one swift glance, the heart starts racing fast, the head spins, the eyes blur – you promise to never peek below again, though you know, it’s the vertigo which pulls you once in a while to the roof. The temple: it’s not huge, now though, quite popular, nourished by the generosity of the local politicians and the shopkeepers in the neighborhood. If you are driving by, on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays, you’d be stuck in the snarling traffic jam for quite some time, people in hordes on the road, jostling to get a view of the pantheon of gods and goddesses inside, people with hands folded, lost in prayer, seeking the almighty in deathly desperation. On some days – I am not sure which days – but on some days, they feed the impoverished ones at night – and then, there is more chaos, dirty men and women in a haphazard line are served khichri on paper plates, mangy dogs with hopes of leftover wait behind them, saliva dripping from their tongues. The young men are the chootiyas, the temple volunteers say, they are able-bodied, none of them are cripple, yet they beg in tattered clothes, these cunts, if they just invested in a plastic bucket and a piece of cloth and stood by a tubewell at some street corner early on mornings, they’d have made a fortune washing taxis, but these buggers, all they want is enough money to buy a few tubes of adhesive, that’s all, bloody animals, they even fight for food between themselves when meal is...
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