My neighborhood has a very predictable morning. Flowers bloom in March. It rains in July. It’s hot in May and cold in December. Regardless, the municipality cleaning ladies roll their cleaning trolleys up the streets every day, parking it from time-to-time as they sweep up plastic and other garbage from the streets and fling it into the trolley. The edges of the streets are always strewn carelessly with cars and bike- free roadside parking under tree shades for my neighbors. Hawkers selling bananas and vegetables push their carts, shouting out to attract attentive housewives. Dogs walk their people, searching for familiar places to resolve their morning business. Maids in multi-color sarees walk by, stepping over puddles and potholes, to their jobs.
Occasionally, and almost intentionally, nothing happens on the streets. That’s the time for leaves stirring, reminding me of their existence. The pink flowers join in, waving to the gentle breeze. Occasionally, I see shiny globules of raindrops hanging on by sheer force, unwilling to be vacated so easily. Sometimes I see them descend on an unsuspecting victim after a strong gust of wind or merry children shaking the tree and running away.
A gong from the 6X6 feet temple at the intersection breaks the reverie. All of a sudden, bikes rush to and from the main road, cars honk their warning to blind turns, goods carriers race to restock local retail stores in time, and hawkers resumed their announcements. An old man walks out to his porch in a sleeveless undershirt with a cup of tea and the day’s newspaper folded under his arm. My neighborhood is fully awake by now. I hear shutters opening and employees heading out for the day. By noon, the neighborhood is silent again, save for the whistles of pressure cookers and the sound of television in houses. The regular hopeful morning is replaced by the regular sleepy afternoon.
It has pretty much been this way all my life. My neighbors have devised routines of comfort and have found comfort in routines.