Reflections and two wheels

8 Jun

India. Vellore.

Tonight I hear the breeze for the first time, it is cool and mild and reminds me of a Sydney summer evening, it sifts through the heavy leaves and it could lull me to sleep but I hear echoes of song and bus horns and eerie chanting, backed by the thorough yet monotonous sweeping of pavement with straw brooms. The breeze carries with it delights and surprises of the open drains; rotten egg tonight, quietly slips in through our window, and settles around me like affectionate, sleepy cat.

I rode on the back of motorbikes (something I wasn’t meant to do, knowing too well  I probably would take that risk), embracing the moment and my relentless affiliation for two wheels and having something between my legs. Gripping my laptop under my arm, wrapped in my shawl, flowing clothes taking on a loose unchoreographed dance of their own, threatening to reveal parts culturally unacceptable such as calf or neckline – not enough hands to hold on and control the fabric, I surrender to the clever fingers of the wind and smile and see hurtling buses and crawling ox, projectile auto-rickshaws and slightly cautious scooters balancing the family of four, slow motion cyclists and focussed women in a sunset smear of saris, sidestepping to avoid the lazy cows and hungry goats making their home on the medium strip. The second time on the bike I sat with a 20 L barrel of water between me and Mal, it was evening and he rode carefully but that was about as much as I can recall – you can tell a lot about a man by how he rides a motorbike, and I was too focussed on holding the water between my thighs and holding myself to the bike that I paid little to no attention as to how he rode, only that we got there with no near misses.

I find the people immensely respectful, I was anticipating that I would have a problem with the men and get frustrated with being stared at, made comments at, or even followed – such as my experience in Singapore’s Little India. But nothing of the sort has happened; It has been lovely, the women are beautiful and if you smile and wobble your head a little they beam back at you. The men glance and look away and may glance back, but it doesn’t feel threatening, I don’t feel unwelcome, I don’t in any way feel unsafe. I love covering up, shawls and scarves and long clothes, there’s something feminine and powerful (!) about it. What is revealed somehow carries so much more significance (holy crap there’s my elbow! My forearm! My ankle!)

[to be continued. that’s enough for one post]

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