Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Having promised I'd phone Jency when I was in Tirunelveli, I did so. She was in college and said she'd come to meet me at 6:30. It was only 3 by the time I was back at Tirunelveli, so I decided to have an adventure. I picked a bus at random and asked the driver where it was going. "Smurfville". Suits me. I climbed aboard and took a seat in the ladies-only area at the front, alongside two young women. Kathi and Vanita engaged me in as much conversation as their limited English would allow, bizarrely phrasing almost everything in the past tense, "where did you go?" "where did you stay?". When I told them I was going to Madurai a look of concern crossed their faces, but I assured them I didn't expect to get there on this bus.

The driver liked to relieve the monotony of the route by pretending he wasn't merely a bus driver, but a Hollywood (Bollywood?) stunt driver, and we slalemed through a set of police checkpoint barriers (possibly intended as a traffic-calming measure during the resurfacing of the road).

We arrived at Smurfville, I bid Kathi and Vanita goodbye, and trotted off to explore the tiny town. Much of it was painted a delicate shade of powder blue, which pleased me. I passed a shop selling wicker baskets, twig brooms and plywood coffins. A bored-looking sacred cow. A small puja procession to the temple.

I stopped to take a picture of a schoolgirl drawing a kollam outside her home. I was invited in, and given some unidentified fruit juice (it wasn't orange, it wasn't pineapple, it wasn't apple, grape, passionfruit, mango, sugarcane, or any other fruit I could think of).


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