When I arrive in a city that's new to me, my first desire is to take a day-long, mapless walk. I start wherever I am, pick a general direction that leads me more or less toward the center of things, but then let my route can be guided my hundreds of tiny impulses about which seems more interesting, this way or that. In short, I try to be a flaneur -- "a deliberately aimless pedestrian, unencumbered by any obligation or sense of urgency" in Cornelia Otis Skinner's definition. (I wrote here, a while back, about being a flaneur in Sydney.)
This trip to India is made possible by a consulting project in Visakhapatnam, the second city and port for the large central state of Andhra Pradesh. While travelling on the project budget, we had a very nice hotel on the beach.
If this were California or Australia, the beach would be awash with people on a sunny day. Here, when I walked on the beach near my hotel, I was struck by how few of the locals were there. I didn't expect to see young people in thongs; I understood India's notorious modesty about dress. But I'd have thought that the beach would still draw them as a place where half of the sensory sphere is blown open, free of the intensity that is so much a part of daily life.
The boss sits behind his desk, a wall of awards and diplomas
behind him. A long table extends from
the front of his desk, so that by sitting at his desk he is also at the head of
the table, but across the desk from the nearest of the others sitting
there. Opposite him, at the far end of
the table, is his top deputy. We sit
along the long sides of the table: people who need something or people hired to
The autorickshaw to the zoo left me on the wrong side of the very busy street, uncertain how to cross. Perplexed, I looked around and saw a red stone facade. Fitted to its arched opening was a large heavy wooden gate, painted dark green. In the gate was one of those
small box-like doors, a metre high, just big enough to climb through if
you lift your leg high and duck. It looked like it would be quiet
inside, where I could at least relax and think about crossing
the street. It was.