Monday, May 10, 2004

Rainy day 

I live in a crazy neighborhood. Every house, a story and every story, louder than the next.

At the top of my not-quite-a street are a couple of low thatch roofed brick shacks. I am friendly with Parvata-Ma, a lady whose face has spilled down in a cascade of burnt-flesh scars. I have not had the guts top ask her if she survived a “wife-burning” incident, but suspect that may well be the case. Parvata-Ma does laundry for much of the neighborhood. I know this, because she makes mountains of drying clothes everywhere- saree fabric up and down the length of the patch of grass near my place, piles of tshirts on patch of grass in front of her shack, mountains of petticoats and skirts on the hills of gravel for the new-construction, vying for a dry patch in the humid air. She owns the happiest dog in Southern India, naughty-Ramu who is well-fed and petted and gets to go off the leash and run around, free, a couple of times a day. He does get a lash of his chain leash if he is being super naughty, but he take sit in stride with a lowered tail wag. I visit them at leats once a day, preferably when Poossie is around. She is Ramu’s beloved, and they curl up and sleep and play together. She is a small bushy-tailed orange tabby cat, and shy of me. Sensing my interest in her, for several days, Parvata-Ma’s little boy (who is about the cheekiest of the cheeky-boy gang, but his eyes are kind) would see me, run to wherever the cat was napping , hoist her up by the front paws so her torso dangled down the length of his body and scream at the top of his voice “LOOOK AUNTIEEE! POOOSSIE! PHOTO!” At which point I would respond with the sternest of NOs I could conjure up and walk away so he would release the limp animal swinging from his hands.

Going downhill, my place is past the shacks, a beigey two-story affair with burgundy trim and gates. My landfamily, comprised of parents plus teenage kids, boy and girl, quietly inhabits the ground floor. The entrance to my place is off to the side, past their entrance and the little gated garage/driveway that can just fit Scooty and the dad’s Vespa if they park it. Which they do, every evening around 8:30 when he comes home. If I get home while they are still up, one of the kids materializes as I kill the engine and expertly maneuvers it up the driveway, with two swift turns of hte steering wheel, perfectly parallel parked. I am duly impressed, since the few attempts I have made have been pretty pitiful, with Scooty’s nose smushed up against the Vespa’s behind. Thus, when I do get back after pumpkin hour, usually 9:30 or 10pm, Scooty gets to sleep under the stars, double-locked and parked across the street.

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