Fuck. The plastic gave underneath my foot, a Harry Potter scar trickled down the left lens and that was the end of my Ray Bans. I’d have to go down and get a knock off pair from Roy Bunn Ravi, who also sold elephant bags, pashminas and bags of greying curry powder.
I pushed open the door into the hotel garden and the heat hit me in a blast as if I’d opened an oven door followed by the usual wave of noise. The beeping, the shouting, the screech and clatter of roller shutters, the roar of engines, the call to prayer brought the street to life around me. Clive dangled in a hammock, reading Cujo, stoned already. He raised a dozy hand to me as I stomped off bad temperedly into the midday sun.
The sun was blisteringly hot. Dazzling. The road was lined with watchful, filthy dogs sprawling underneath rusting rabies vans with pictures of happy pets painted on the side. We eyed each other warily as I picked my way along a path brimming with tuk tuks, garlands of brilliant orange flowers, cows, people and streams of open sewers that threaded their way along the gutters, sometimes breaching them, like an overflowing bath of crap. The air smelled of incense and spices, of smoke and excrement and jasmine and petrol.
I batted away offers of chai, cheap scarves, strings of colourful elephant beads and tuk tuk rides as I entered the bazaar. They fell upon me immediately - ‘come and look at my shop,’ ‘nice pashminas, good price’, ‘looking is free!’ and I navigated my way past them all until I found Ravi’s stand. He was there, as always, drinking his tiny paper cup of coffee.
“Good morning!” A brilliant grin “what do you need? Some toothpaste? Maybe chocolate?” He brandished a soggy bar of Cadbury’s at least a year out of date. If you needed something here, Ravi was the man who could get it for you. It might be broken, or fake, or melted, or rotten, but he was a man of his word and he would, given time, produce almost exactly what you had asked for.
“I need some sunglasses - what have you got?”
We got the obligatory business of haggling out of the way and when I left I could hide comfortably behind the fake designer shades Ravi had dug out for me.
Perhaps it was because I wasn’t used to the darkness of the fake shades, or perhaps it was because I felt protected behind them that I didn’t notice quite how close the dog was. And so I fell over it. I landed on my hands in the dust and was so concerned about not cutting myself there in the street filth that it wasn’t until I felt its teeth sink into the flesh of my leg that I realised I had made a terrible mistake. Fuck.