Pock-marked streets snake their way through power-line jungles and street sign overhangs. Waiting hopefully on the street-side alley, tattered rickshaws with juice-bottle horns and glittered awnings honk occasionally, at tourists and each other.
A Suzuki Sprinter weaves through the human mass – honks and puffs, impatient and alert, it stops then goes.
Shisha, Gorkha, hot breads and mountain gear: Arts, scarves, gold and silver, patiently wait while the owner sits on his curb, occasionally throwing out buckets of water in a fan-shaped spray to keep the dust down and the loitering money-belts on their toes. Meanwhile, a street-sweeping lady bedecked in flowing colors of brilliant reds and purples moves the dust and debris to the next shop, then on to the next, then on to my feet as I wander by.
Smells of curry, kerosene, coffee and construction circulate and settle.
As I stand unconsciously aside, uniformed packs of laughing children dart and play between tiger-balm doctors and mercenary musicians strumming tunes on cheap Sarangi’s.
Whistles and horns and occasional Om’s flood the alleys and still I stand. Of, and a part.