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Signs


I’ve been reading all these books about signs along the road, serendipity, causality, synchronicity, like we should pay attention to the environment for the events it presents and for the clear signs it sends our way. So this is why I started capturing images as soon as I could, to see if I could see the signs that would answer my questions. I had so many. Outside finally! and the smell is nothing short of what I’ve been told by Kelley. She said curry, I say yeah curry but what do they do to it? There is something else in the fog, a certain burnt smell. I found out later it was cow patties that are burnt every afternoon to keep people warm and cook with. Suddenly standing in the crowd, we see a man holding a sign with the name Troy. Our driver is here to pick us up. Good thing because we would have no idea how to get anywhere in this city. As soon as we step out we’re surrounded by children, all of them yelling in Hindi, “Baksheesh, bakshees! Thank you please, baksheesh madam. I carry..” All of them put their hands on our luggage, I guess touching the luggage meant they had helped in some way. We finally make our way to the smallest car I’ve ever seen or been in, among the swarm of little kids that laugh and banter all the way there. The trunk opens and it looks like a small shoe box, there’s no way we are fitting our three large pieces of matching samsonite luggage anywhere in that car. The kids start pushing the luggage onto the roof of the car and tie it down. I laugh at the picture, it’s like something I’ve seen in a movie. We give them a few hundred rupees and they get so excited they start putting their hands out for more. Come to find out we gave them about 5 dollars which over there is a fortune. About the price I pay for coffee at Starbucks. We get in the car and the driver turns on the radio as loud as he can, it’s the most lacerating voice I’ve ever heard. He starts off as if we were in a race. The song “Bollywood love” as background to our first drive through Mumbai. He drives frantically down a very narrow street swerving and trying to avoid the cows on the road. A man is pissing on the street, a few dogs run across the road and we almost kill them. Welcome to India! Troy and I can’t stop laughing and can’t believe we are finally on the other side of the world. All I could think of was, is it true water runs the counterclockwise? So we’re driving in the middle of nowhere, it’s dark out and there are no street lights. We are driving down a very dark back alley for a while, and suddenly the thought crosses my mind that all we did is give this guy in Mumbai the address we’re going to. That didnt mean he was going to take us there. He speaks no English and we speak no Hindi. But suddenly at the end of the dark alley after a long 15 minutes, a lit porch springs up. We drive in and yes indeed it’s a hotel. We manage to pull our luggage off the roof of the car and pay him. He blesses his bill and leaves bowing, namaste. I guess it’s my first lesson in trusting Indian people. They’re nice. After checking in, we get in the smallest elevator I’ve ever been in. I guess this place is into small means of transportation? Is it because people are so small here? Anyway, Troy and his 215 pounds could barely fit in the elevator with me and our bags, so the bags went with a boy up the stairs (that makes sense....) and we painfully went up sweating at a mere centimeter a minute speed in the tiny elevator with the bell boy. We got to our room and could hardly believe the moldy smell, but all of Mumbai was a big mold spore. It was just after Monsoon season so this kind of humidity was normal. The bell boy got his bakshees and once again blessed it against his forehead. How nice they are, I said. The first thing I did was try to turn the air on, it was really hot and as soon as I touched the knob I got thrown back by an electrical charge. Troy being the man that he is, thought I was joking and just couldn’t do it properly, so he got up and tried himself. To his shock, literally, it was alive! We managed to turn the knob by grabbing it with a towel while standing on a wooden chair and finally got to sleep breathing. The next morning we woke up with a freezing room, my saliva had frozen my face to the pillow, I already had a cough and Troy already had the runs. I opened the window so the room would warm up and as soon as I turned my head a crow came in and sat on the window sill. It tried to caw, but apparently he was having phlegm issues. The air there is bad even for the native crows. So after he cleared his throat he managed to caw as loud as he could. Troy came out of the bathroom with the call, and was amazed to see the audacity of this creature. It didn’t flinch. I took out my video camera and interviewed this friendly crow. What was he trying to say? He cawed some more and then flew away. Troy and I looked at each other and laughed. We went down to the lobby looking for some food and warm tea or as they call it here CHAI. We found a nicely set up buffet with all sorts of exotic dishes for breakfast and some cereal. We sat down and got the newspaper, the headline read. Helicopter down, no survivors. We read on only to find out that sadly our dear friend from the plane ride, the one that lived in the oil rig, had most likely died. The helicopter carrying the crew out to the oil rig had crashed that night. No survivors to speak of. It was a sad morning. I thought of his family and how hard it must be to lose someone so far away. After breakfast we had a meeting at the Production Office, Troy would finally meet his employers.