The family of pigeons that have made my windowsill their permanent home have been unusually noisy this morning with their hoarse gruff and grunts. Grabbing the house keys, phone and wallet I am greeted with a cold gust of wind as soon as I open the front door. Zipping up my jacket, I walk down 18th Main and take a left on the by-lane towards the park. This morning is chillier and windier than the usual monsoon days. At the end of the lane, I turn left again and start walking up 17th Main towards 100 Feet Road to meet a friend for breakfast at The Ants Café.
A lone cuckoo is singing in tandem with the Oranges vendor pushing his cart in front of me and calling out his wares. The branches of the Gulmohar, Ashoka and Coconut trees on the road side are swaying in the gusty wind with droplets of water falling from the leaves onto the pedestrians below. The trees look vibrant and fresh and the few dried long leaves holding onto the ends of the branches give an impression of Wisteria, albeit less colourful. A group of school girls in brown chequered skirts and beige shirts tug along their heavy backpacks and lunch boxes. One small girl, the youngest in the group, is all teary eyed pleading to a slightly elder girl to not take her to school. Looking at her, I am reminded of how I too as a child, used to cry every morning before the school bus arrived.
A woman in a red and yellow sari with neatly braided hair adorned with jasmine flowers crosses the road and my eyes catch her visibly turmeric yellow palms and ear lobes. This custom here in South India had quite often baffled me initially but slowly it has become a routine sight. Few motorbikes and cars pass by me as I reach the HAL Community Park. The grocery and vegetable shop opposite the park are just opening up and young shop boys are carrying out mats, buckets and water containers to be displayed outside the shop. The vegetable vendor is busy sprinkling water on the tomatoes to clean them up alongside issuing orders to the delivery man unloading the fresh stock of vegetables from the pickup truck parked outside. People still prefer shopping for groceries and fresh vegetables from the neighbourhood stores rather than supermarkets in this part of the world and sights like these are quite common across the country.
The park on my left has a few early morning walkers. A man, busy talking on his cell phone, stands outside the park gate with his Dalmatian. Inside the park, a young girl in black track-pants and bright pink jacket with an iPod plugged to her ears hurries past the group of old women taking a leisurely walk. Few older men are sitting huddled up at the gazebo in the centre of the park observing another man in the middle of the circle displaying some yoga postures. Two children are swinging and giggling in the play area which is otherwise deserted with wet sandbox, see-saws and slides.
I take a right after the park and reach the junction of 15th and 16th Main. The Ganesh temple at the corner of the street has just opened for the morning prayers. An old lady sweeps off the standing water from the steps and courtyard inside the complex. The head priest lights the diya and waves a bunch of Sandalwood incense sticks all over the idol. A younger priest meanwhile is busy decorating the idol with garlands of Marigold, Jasmines and Roses. A lone man stands with folded hands outside the sanctum sanctorum with a backpack on this shoulders, waiting for the priests to finish their rituals.
Ahead of me the road has a blind bend towards the right and as soon as I turn the corner, I can see a commotion of vehicles. A woman in the driver’s seat of a Hyundai Indica learner’s car is struggling to get the ignition going and seems to be stuck in the middle of the narrow lane. The instructor seated next to her is guiding patiently on what do to. Behind, a water tanker, two cars and a motorbike are constantly blaring their horns in agitation. I wait for about 5 minutes for the commotion to subside and then decide to meander my way through it. I see a half open manhole on the right of the car and jump over it, almost bumping into a young boy in white karate dress and yellow belt on his bicycle who has been invisible all this while behind the car. Catching my balance, I straighten up and carry on walking along the lane and then turn right to another by-lane. The cacophony of vehicles is now far behind.
Soft notes from a wind chime catch my attention and I follow the sound to an upper level balcony of the bungalow on my left. The pink butterflies of the wind chime dances in the wind along with the fluttering string of Tibetan prayer flags next to it. An old man, sitting underneath it is reading the morning newspapers and sipping on his chai. My focus is broken by the familiar voice of my friend standing below the café a little ahead. A flash of smile and a warm hug later, we both head upstairs for an inviting English breakfast.
## Note: This was part of the assignment for the Travel Writing Course at MatadorU
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