Two and a half hours into a meeting that is running late. Clever things are being said, lightly peppering the waves of noise blaring out of people who must be heard.
Thirty frustrated people. And a couple of angry ones. And a State Minister who is very much asleep.
It’s 7:45 pm and it is divine outside.
This morning, the first thunderstorm came, leaving small lakes, clearing the air, and dropping the temperature.
For several hours this evening, the sky was heavy and filled with promise.
And then the deluge came.
As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Spend an hour cruising around the alleys of Uttar Badda in Mitu’s rickshaw, completely lost and surrounded by dug up roads. There is a nice vibe in these little local areas, all of the world is in the dirt alleys that are too narrow for cars – vegetable sellers, chai wallahs, barefoot construction labourers, and a bazillion people asking themselves if a white woman really did just go past on a rickshaw.
A lovely aspect of the Holi festival, is that gender, age, status, caste and nationality do not apply – it’s a free for all. If ever a rickshaw wallah wants to shoot a white lady with a super-soaker filled with dye, today is the day.
On any other day, this would be a grave no-no.
I couldn’t help but scamper into the kitchen, and was delighted to meet the cooks. The men were working barefoot over large pots, balanced over fires.
The ladies were in the back of the kitchen, sitting in a circle, industriously cutting up vegetables. They invited me to sit with them.
They mentioned Hari Krishna quite a bit.
Last month, I was targeted by miscreants with small explosives. The media always refers to such types as miscreants. The word has really caught on. I digress – a miscreant threw a small explosive device at the rickshaw I was travelling in – it exploded underneath me, and really scared me. The rickshaw puller and I were unhurt.
Better luck next time, buddy.
The rickshaw puller was just amazing – We both leap out of the rickshaw.
‘Enough’, he said. ‘It’s enough. Shesh’ (finish).
We have been told to keep a supply of food and water in our flat to see us out for seven days. There is a mass evacuation plan in place, should the need arise. No one really thinks it will come to this, but it is in the back of my mind.
It makes you stop and ask yourself what you really value. – And if I left, would I be able to smuggle Barry The Bathroom Lizard out with me too? We have really bonded.
Bangladesh has had a week of strikes (hartals), blockades, a few bombs and the occasional riot. It’s the anniversary of last year’s elections, and rival political groups have been going head to head. One group refer to 5 January as ‘Victory for Democracy Day’ while the other group insists it is actually ‘Democracy Killing Day’. There have been a few people killed by the police, and lots of busses burnt. I’ve been fortunate to not really be impacted by it directly – working from home most days and avoiding the tricky areas.
Riding on the back of a motorbike with a local through the night – warm wind making my eyes water, quiet darkness out in the open between the villages. This was my favourite thing to do during my last visit to Goa: elated, and excited – not knowing what adventures the night will give.
I feel like myself again. I am happy in this moment.