I got the car back, but I don’t even want it anymore. I’m not saying it isn’t great to have wheels. It’s just that you miss a lot when you’re not on the street. I had to head into town today and I just left the car at home. I’m not in a hurry and my job is largely to see. So I looked around.
I walk down to Galle Road and there’s a drunk, having an extended conversation with a lamppost. He’s not asking how its flowers are growing, he’s muttering something about Kegalle, loud. On the corner there’s Tamil music from a kade, soup boys on the corner. It smells like cigarettes and heat.
The Tangalle-Trinco bus is passing by. It looks packed. That’s a crazy route. The Galle-Colombo bus is a miserable drunk tank at this hour. I can’t imagine the Trinco run. There’s a few people on the street, one couple at the bus stand. My Friend Totoro is there, closed up for the night. There’s some men waiting for what I guess is the Jaffna bus, but I thought it left from Marine Drive now.
People sleep on the streets. That’s another thing you miss. Some set up rather elaborate lean-tos over gutters, or little rooms with wall calendars and even electricity. More just sleep rough, without even a mat. And old man in a beard is sleeping under the light. Some passers-by look at him. He rouses and looks back.
There’s no feasible buses and I’m not glutton for punishment. Past the police station, I hop a three.
Head into Colpetty, bright lights big city. The Galle Road opens up to six lanes. I see a Chinese woman in silver sequins (miniskirt) and yellow hair. She’s walking through the gas station, presumably to the casino next door. About a 100 meters down the road, a Muslim woman is walking full ninja with her family.
Pilawoos is packed as usual. There’s a row of cars, most of them on shiny shiny alloy wheels. Everybody’s riding on rims these days. Even the trishaw shop has little rims in the window. Pass the Colpetty market, and people are sleeping outside there as well. Every closed gas station and major awning has somebody sleeping there. I don’t quite get it. I mean, I get not having someplace to sleep, I’ve crashed on floors often enough. I don’t get not having even a paduru, I mean, if you’re doing it every night.
Anyways, that some of the stuff you see on the street, or don’t, if you’re not on it. I’m not saying I won’t miss having a car, or that I won’t get one at the first opportunity. I’ve courted suffocation on long-distance buses long enough to know, and it’s not like we have real public transit in the city. It’s just that I’m kinda glad to be selling this one, and kinda glad to be on the street. You see a lot, you hear a lot. There’s a lot more to the city than just passing through.