Namaste Delhi

Namaste Delhi, what can I say?
Your streets are so smelly, complete disarray,
with dirty, uneven - trip - smells you can taste
and a million to live off the things that we waste.

So, it's first to the airport, no garland of flowers,
just a queue for the luggage for hours and hours!
Pacing the Number 1 baggage-claim floor
with an angel who's suffered this four times before.
Then it's chai and a taxi (prepaid's the best)
and in search of Pahar Gange for a shower and a rest.

Did I say 'rest'?!

Well, the room's like a prison and the shower's a joke
but we roll up a splif and we each take a toke
and a plan starts to form while we sit there and smoke.

So, we left Chrissie sleeping while Angel and I
take a stroll round the market and jump at each cry,
every horn, bell and klaxon that fights to get by.

I'll mention in passing, since that's what we do,
a bubbling caldron of mutton-hoof stew
which we guess from its colour is boiling for glue
(but neither is sure if our surmise is true).

I neglected to mention the busses we passed,
their side-pannels missing or slung at half-mast,
you could see through the treads to the steel in the tires,
their dashboards dishevelled, they haemorrhaged wires.

We arrive in the morning, in quiet and cool,
though I can't say it really was quiet at all.
By the time that we'd wandered and found our way back
the heat was beginning to force me to crack
so I went to my room and I lay on my bed,
energy drained, I was this far off dead.

I thought I could sleep through the heat of the day
but it all seemed so urgent and not far away.
I must have been sleeping, 'coz later a man
came into the room and he took down the fan.
The one that he left to stand in its place
could have won the cup in the Isle Of Wight race.

There's more to this story that's yet to be writ
and I still haven't got to the interesting bit.
I've only expressed in an over-brief way
the sights, smells and sounds of our very first day.

- by Prajna Pranab, 1999