It was not that late, 11pm, when I returned from dinner with Brigitte, in Amber, but the drive made me aware of how different India is at night. It becomes quite frightening, and I sat in the back of my comfortable Ambassador taxi and mused as to why.
Leaving the house to go home we passed lots of dark shadows where no light could fall, and suddenly, looming out of the blackness was an enormous elephant with a huge branch in it’s mouth. Usually they have cyclists straps on their ankles, if elephants have ankles, but this one did not and it made us jump and swerve wildly. Next a large bull was just standing, ruminating, in the middle of the road. Magnificently profiled against Amber Fort. Down the hill into Jaipur there were just dogs, packs of them running on the road and then we were at the first traffic light in the city, one of those strong yellow ones that changes the colour of everything. Along the side of the road there was a fluffly white dog trotting beside a huge, really huge, black rat. Having recently read Neverwhere by Niel Gaiman I was slightly startled by the site. There was no animosity, no chasing, just travelling companions.
The only lit areas are the shops and traffic lights. Everything else shrinks into darkness, and there are men lying asleep under blankets like shrouds, dotted along the road side. Rickshaw wallah sleep on their rickshaws, precariously balabced on the handle bars and the seat, security guards sleep in chairs, plastic chairs under naked 100 watt bulds, taxi drivers all park their smart white cars together in a huddle and sleep across the double front seat. The whole place shuts down and becomes spooky and scary. One feels as though the bhoots, spirits, lurk in every shadow, curling around the darkness waiting to jump out and scream Boo!
But it did not happen. We had no reason to stop. We just drove sedately past and I thought about what is and what could be and the choices we make that take us to our current life experience.