Bangalore traffic jam.
Shadows play on scorched asphalt.
No peeling rubber,
just madness and sputtering engines,
and the flash of Lord Ganesh
bobbing from rearview mirrors,
in the seething current of 21st century India,
one more swirling pinpoint
in a stationary river of stagnated transportation.
Part crushed rock, part yellow brick road,
bearing the eager hopes
of a billion people,
rolled out on slow wheels
dotted with curbside Hindu temples,
where people believe in a four-armed god
with the head of an elephant,
good fortune to new ventures,
and the prosperity brought by machines.
No skill required here,
only luck, and the priests ritual blessing.
Lighting coconuts, circling vehicles,
in the encroaching hazy dusk,
chanting, flowers, sacred flames,
and the ritualized smashing of burning husks.
Crushed lemons under wheels,
no drivers licence required,
a discarded bag of turmeric powder,
kerbside chai boys, green-banana sellers.
No screen-wash hustlers.
All seen through the cracked and grimy
bounced about through potholes
on patched up tyres.
that jump from Bangalores' shadows
and vanish when you look.
The flank of a bony cow.
A mound of carted hay.
The crow-pecked corpse of a dog.
A scarf-bedecked ghost on a weaving motor-cycle.
Hindu teenagers chewing
high-octane masala tobacco,
scratching old bedbug bites,
to the screechy soundtrack
of Bollywood love songs,
on tinny speakers,
screaming over engines,
waking the dead,
same as it ever was and ever will be.
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