I’m desperate to escape after a long, frustrating day. I give up on trying to secure an auto-rickshaw, and call a driver. Unable to adequately explain where I am (the Old High Court, it seems) I pass my phone to one of the many police officers resting under a spectacular tree.
He is an obliging man, and explains to the driver where I am.
It will take the diver an hour to retrieve me, I’m told.
Sitting under a tree with sixty policemen. As I sit, he pulls his boots back on, and adjusts his rifle. I am grateful for the occasional gritty, soggy breeze.
I’m in a bubble – beggars, pervs and the curious are kept away.
The man sitting beside me purchases two small bags of peanuts. They are diligently weighed out on an ancient hand-held scale.
As he passes me a bag, the ice is broken.
The police are amused, and perhaps shocked, by my clumsy efforts to shell the tiny nuts.
In the world of International Development, we call this a capacity building opportunity. The police begin demonstrating the delicate skill of correctly shelling miniature peanuts. Phase Two is learning to scoop a bit of salt off a square of newspaper with a peanut shell.
Eventually I develop basic competency.
The men are interested in my fictitious husband of seven years who works for an equally fictitious environment NGO. We are happy together, despite the fact that we have no babies.
After some time, the men load themselves onto the decaying busses with their weapons and bullet-proof vests. They wave as they leave.
The higher ranked police stay to keep an eye on my peanut-shelling skills development.
I give up on the car after an hour and a half.
The stress of the day has melted away as I sit under the tree with easy company and not too much conversation.
One man strides into the incredibly busy intersection and retrieves an auto-rickshaw for me. They all insist that I’m to stay under the tree until they have secured transport for me.
Smiles and handshakes all round.
And finally, finally, finally home.