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Our town.

Outside the Adidas store, two stray dogs lick each other, graphically, until the one covered in red sores nips a little too close. The love turns to rage and a savage fight erupts. In an underground walkway, a thin man hustles to sell red-faced tourists motivational posters where eagles soar and babbling brooks run past cottages.  His wife and child curl their bodies together and sleep on cardboard behind him. An old man limps in circles, squeezing a squeaky plastic toy, advertising his colorful wares. All day long, limping and squeaking. Squeaking and limping. A six-year-old asks to shine my shoes. A toddler waddles through a construction site, her eyes ringed in kohl. She’s looking for her mother, a wisp of woman in a green kurta totting a basket of rocks on her head. The orange sun hangs pregnant and low in a polluted sky.

Sometimes it overwhelms me.

Most days, I hardly notice it at all.


  1. Daemian says:

    Every day I head into this perceptual overload (surreal India) there is a mixture of courage, fear, exhaustion, wanderlust, thrilling danger, delicate pathos.

    The wildness of India leads a dual existence in my mind: intense absurdity, and, knowing it as ‘my home’.

    As your poem-like close captures, Melissa, what’s marvelous about living in India is how it emboldens one’s sense of reality to the point that the INCREDIBLE can sometimes seem familiar. But we’re always liable to get a broken heart just walking down the street, seeing that deformed puppy wagging its tail (or a million other ephemeral shocks). That risk is part of India’s profane allure.

    I’m now a fan of your perceptions.

  2. Melissa says:

    Daemian, thank you! And I agree about the perceptual overload. Think it’s one of the reasons we stop looking around. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to actually do much more than look at it all. All best, m

  3. Your klutzy sister says:

    I just read this. And realized how similar we are in that. And, thus, are the reasons I can’t even comprehend leaving it. Sometimes it defeats me. But mostly, it heartens me.