kengeri hobli/india

Every morning on the gravel basketball court near the dorms of this institute where I am posted,  on an old ripped yoga mat, I sun-salute the hot orange fireball just above the  the fringe of unmowed jungle beyond the pump truck,  It’s generator runs all day and night to reach the water table which in Karnataka has almost run dry. 

Lakshmi in a rose red sari comes up through the fields by the watermelon vendor and feral barking dogs to clean the two-room cement block house I live in, the bedroom brown and beige flowered curtains over windows the don’t open onto the pock-marked pot-holed asphalt road where brown-skinned boys on motorcycles speed by and cement lorries pass at night, the rumble thundering, their headlights shining through the closed drapes as hot as twin suns in that sweltering space.   The single bed’s scratchy sheets are printed in a riot of red and orange and pink blossoms, the pillow with a triangular burnt iron mark on the right edge,  The double clothes cabinet–where I keep my passport and wads of rupees and also hide a bottle of Jack Daniels, bought in duty free when I arrived– is fastened with my combination lock. 

 Off the bedroom, the bathroom toilet’s handle jiggles unconnected to its empty innards.  A  cold water spigot over a  bucket with a plastic cup hung by the handle has water to handwash after a pee or poop.  

In the kitchen a microwave tho no electricity,  a sink, a baby frigo where I put wilted greens bought from the ladies sitting on tarps in the open market at the turnoff to Kengeri Hobli from the main road.  After instant coffee and canned milk in layered fatigue, I walk the asphalt road up to the small office on the open air campus where I am developing a curriculum project. 

After classes, late afternoon, in the tiny front room I sit on a grey polyester upholstered box loveseat and sip my whiskey, looking out to a trash-littered lot where three sheep tethered to ropes graze and women sit crosslegged on the dry grass reading the local Hindi language newspaper.

The Journalism students I work with are writers and photographers.  This piece hobli about living in a hostel in a southern Indian village is contrasted with  devotional music honoring Ganesha and illustrated with stunning photographs of sacred Yakshagana theatre taken by a young student studying to become a documentary filmmaker.