As the taxi speeds home from my friend Jacinta’s dinner party, I get the distinct impression that I am riding through a Ridley Scott film. Dark, damp, glistening streets, buildings in some dilapidated state of disrepair or construction. Men huddled in the shadows around fires and dim bulbs. Colorful women, dingy children, murky pools of standing water.
Streetlights flash green and red but the cab plows through the intersections, dodging dogs and slowing only for deep potholes and cement construction barriers.
We are going much too fast on this slick and uneven street, but the taxi driver is calm and confident, unflinching and unflappable as he blows through red lights and careens in front of rickshaws.
As is often the case in the backseat of cars in India, I have no seatbelt. I simply plant myself behind the passenger seat so that there will be something to slow me on impact. And then, I sit back and marvel about how far away I am from Silverlake, Los Angeles.
Somehow, I am not particularly afraid. Perhaps it’s the lychee martinis that have dulled my senses; maybe it’s just that after having driven with “Salim the Maniac” for more than 2 weeks, something very precious and critical is broken.