The Tupperware of crabs is warm in my hand. I am warm in the taxi. It is nearly midnight and the taxi (fecking surprise here) is lost. So lost that I think I might just try looking for the hatch and perhaps Sawyer to keep me company. I am sick of taxi drivers waggling their heads and telling me yes, they know where they are going and then getting lost. If I empted the warm crab curry over his head I wonder what would happen. But I just wonder about it because I’ve read Shantaram and I don’t want to go to prison in India.
I know, you’re wondering why I am holding a Tupperware container of warm crabs in the back of a taxi at midnight in Bombay whilst we cruise the now emptying streets asking strangers the way to Pali Naka. Well so the hell do I.
I went earlier in the evening to meet one of the unLTD India award winners. She then took us home and fed us an eight course meal with crabs as le piece de resistance. This is my doggy bag on my overstuffed lap. Anyway she runs a programme that provides support to the night schools in Mumbai. These night schools are basically for young people from the slums like Dharavi who work all day and who then come at night to study to get their High School Equivalency (like GCSEs). With this certificate they can increase their chances of getting more highly paid work. Or just work. So we went to one of the night schools in a building so worn out it looked like it needed putting out of its misery.
And all the kids were bent over their work, scribbling away (actually they were momentarily bent over their work and then they were one and all staring at the weird white girl come a visting) and I felt so depressed all of a sudden. There were fluorescent lights and crumbling walls and I knew that the kids had already worked a twelve hour day and were staring at me wondering what overprivileged planet I came from. And I was wondering the same thing to0 (white girl has eyes opened in India – it’s like a headline from the Onion).
Then we passed by hundreds of shacks on the way there. From two storey solid ones, to corrugated iron and plastic ones down to cardboard and tarpaulins stretched over the pavement to just people lying sleeping on sheets of newspaper. To finally people just lying stretched out on the pavement. And then we saw a kitten so newborn it was still covered in mucus. And it tumbled onto the pavement mewling and then fell under a car.
And now in a cab with my crabs. Lost. It all feels a bit much.
Guess that’s India for you.