I just had a bikini wax. It involved a butter knife, wax so hot I assume they climbed the nearest volcano and dipped their wax tub in a flowing lava bed to warm it up and two women. All behind a shower curtain. You want to hear about the rest of my day?
I staggered like a drunk who’s just popped 10 vicodin out of bed at 10.45 this morning. I’m getting better. Yesterday was early afternoon. Day before that late afternoon. I hopped in a rickshaw, the driver didn’t have a clue where anything was – Mt. Mary’s steps – no. John Baptist Road? – no. Domino’s Pizza (running out of landmarks) -no. It became clear they don’t do the Knowledge in India. Eventually we made it. I thought about asking for a discount for the time he spent getting lost then realised that wrangling over 3p was ungenerous of me.
Then I was piled in another rickshaw, sandwiched between two people I’ve just met who work for Ashoka. When you’re sandwiched in a rickshaw it’s like being the spam in a sandwich where you have taken both palms and flattened the bread down. But in this instance it’s actually quite comforting because it’s like having air bags on both sides. I love the way they drive. It’s insane. I used to think that if you learnt to drive in South East London you could drive anywhere – including Baghdad but now I’m rethinking that. I wouldn’t drive in Mumbai if you told me that Alex Skarsgard and Javier Bardem were going to be at the end of the road waiting for me. Or a pot of gold. No way. It’s mental. The rules seem to be thus:
– There is no side to drive on – you drive on whichever the hell side of the road you like
– If you are a rickshaw driver you OWN the road
– You have to beep your horn the entire journey or you lose
– There’s a point system for how many pedestrians you can mow down and the winner gets dinner for two at the Taj
Yet for all the craziness there’s no road rage. If this was London and people were cutting you up, overtaking on the inside, bumping into pedestrians and beeping at you for not running a red there would be blood. The rage would be apoplectic and dangerous and deadly. But here, not so much as a middle finger or a snarl. Just head waggles. I love that.
I was taken to a restaurant that’s like the Indian version of Wimpy. Or the BHS cafe my mum used to take me to when I was a kid. And we chatted about evaluation. I’ve been in Mumbai 48 hours and I’m sitting discussing monitoring and evaluation and youth led social action. That’s me. Dedicated to the cause.
After lunch I go to the waxing place. After that I wish I had popped 10 vicodin.