The Old Ways in a City of Whims

“Go, go. Get the cardboards. Can’t you see how the mosquitoes are all over the saab? Go go.”

We were on a street near a historical monument in a city that’s known all over the world for the most beautiful mausoleum any man has ever built for his beloved wife. The monument we were outside, however, wasn’t that mausoleum. It was a fort, some of whose inside walls had been red once and then yellow and finally white. Clearly, the father ruler hadn’t liked what the grandfather had built and in turn, the son ruler hadn’t liked what the father had changed. Yes, I was in a city of whims, where more stock was given to fancies of the emperors than was to the realities of its citizens. Continue reading

Goodwill Counting

“If an apple costs five rupees and a lemon costs three rupees, how much will you have to pay for both?”

I was sitting outside Raipur railway station, near a fruitseller’s pushcart, trying to teach a bunch of street kids a bit about money and how to count it.

“Don’t bother with them, Saab,” said the fruitseller, a greying man who somehow reminded me of hailstone lemonades that my grandmother always talked of but never made. “They are only here because you offered them each a small platter. What do they care about all this?” Continue reading