Highways that are jousting grounds. Markets full of sweat, dust, bangles, cycle rick-shaws and lassi. Lit alleys that lead into dimly-lit alleys, where children play gully cricket and a white 1983 Ambassador chassis stands on bricks by the side. And these side-alleys lead into dark, “load-shedded” alleys, which open up into an airy courtyard, which many tiny aangans face; and grandmothers idly fan themselves with hand-fans, and loafs stare lazily, while bahus watch you go past from the safety of dupatta-thin pink or blue purdas, thier ghoonghats held fast by thier lips.
And there are tulsi plants placed at the centre and in front of many entrances, and like the frangrances of the evening were tugging for my attention, so was Time tugging at me; whispering stories, and insisting it had stopped still, many centuries ago.
But there was a sense of joy, of peace, in that courtyard full of people who were strangers, but felt like kin. Sometimes, the Hindu in me makes me want to re-think all those forms where I dutifully fill in Athiest.