Excerpt from ‘Nabelichting’, Chapter 24, The Spirit of India
Smoke curled up from little fires alongside the narrow, two lane road.
Continuously hooting trucks and busses were driving at high speed through a crowd of men on donkeys and bicycles, pedestrians, wooden carts pulled by camels and oxen.
Everywhere we looked we saw the rusty remains of crashed vehicles, like carcasses of dead animals, corpses not taken away. Pigs, dogs, goats, barefoot little children and large groups of monkeys moved around the wreckages, looking for something to eat.
Holy men with painted faces, unclear whether it was wisdom or madness in their eyes, were aimlessly wandering around. Skinny women in faded veils carried toddlers with soiled faces, spiky hair and runny noses. Others were hauling bags and boxes or carried huge bundles of firewood on bent backs. Men in rags, their merchandise on wooden carts, offered goods to customers who weren’t there.
A living inferno. The spiritual India.