From my old hood, Battaramulla. I don’t know why (or how) you’d spray paint a cat
When I first came to Sri Lanka I was like three or four. My dad tried to take me for a walk but after a while I refused to go any further. ‘No sidewalk’ I said. My parents still laugh about that. Yesterday my girlfriend and I tried to take the kid for a walk, him on his little bike. The sun was going down and the sky was a palpable pink. It seemed like a good idea. But it’s not. I was right when I was a child. Streets is mad.
He’s right. The subcontinent has pockets of greatness, but they are only accessible through corridors of death. We avoided the main road and ended up on a narrow street. Trishaws plied the road blindly and cars also proceeded in an ad hoc manner, sometimes on one side and other times on the other, depending on livestock, potholes or pure whim. A big flatbed truck was parked, blocking the road. Three stories up, laborers were dropping bits of stone and brick directly into it. It was loud, and a bit disturbing.
On these roads, a vehicle can appear from nowhere and go anywhere. Hence we were freaking out when the kid wavered even a foot from his path. Which is not especially fun for anyone.
We got nicely lost and finally ended up on a main road at which point we had the kid get off the bike. It was dark and blinding death machines appeared out of nowhere. It’s not that there are cars on the road, it’s that they could be anywhere on the road at any time. Colombo traffic cops have taken to putting up traffic cones to keep people in their lanes. On side streets there’s no such compunction. Depending on potholes, cats, rats, cows, cell phone use or whim, a car can run into you. And, aside from putting your foot in the gutter, there’s nothing you can do except get squashed against a wall.
Anyways, where was I – venal trishaws trying to squeedle in along their sides, pedestrians be damned. On the main main road, a huge tractor trailer holding like 200 canisters of flammable gas passed us, at which point my nerves were completely frayed. These roads are no place for human beings.
I counted three prominent poops, one of which the kid ran over. We saw a weird stupa hovering in the air and walked by a canal to check it out. That sounds picturesque unless you swap the word ‘canal’ with ‘open sewer’. Which is how it smells. On the way back a motorbike sped up the tiny footpath we had just used. The stupa was cool though, they’d built it on top of a four story building.
I didn’t see any dead rats but rarely a week goes by without me seeing their corpses in various states of decay. For reference, there is the, ‘just died and covered with flies’ stage. Then there’s ‘getting picked apart by crows’ stage. Then there’s the ‘even crows are disgusted by this’ stage. Then there’s the ‘what the fuck is that? A shoelace? Oh, it’s a tail and a corpse, pounded into the pavement.’ Stage. FML.
Besides that, the roads are just dirty and guttered with open drains. The walls are dirty. Ran into a chicken coop at one dead end. Chickens also dirty.
Next time I’m not walking around the hood. I’m getting in the car to go walking, somewhere like Independence Square. That’s Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s hood. At least he keeps it clean.