The inevitable fall

by Gabriella Sonabend

It was inevitable that at some point I would fall rather shamefully and no doubt dramatically into one of the bottomless potholes in the road, I just did not expect it to happen so soon.

At 6.30pm I was dressed in my new full length red hemmed white skirt with a matching deep red top ready to squeeze into Navneet’s car and head to Jessie and Navneet’s (I only just discovered then that it was also his birthday) birthday dinner. Navneet ensured us that the 7 of us from the residency would fit into the car which could fit 5 at best. With 7 large humans (either unusually big in height, waist, bust or other bulk) once we were all squeezed in (I being the smallest had to sit on Phyllis’s lap) we looked like a traditional Indian family (apart from all being foreign and generally overfed rather than under-nourished!), limbs found themselves wherever they were able to fit. Navneet who sat in the driver’s seat found it all rather amusing and complimented the situation with a George Harrison Hare Krishna sound track. The journey, which involved swinging around extremely narrow and waterlogged side streets to avoid the flooded and heavily congested main roads, certainly was an interesting experience. For the first time since my arrival I really felt like I was partaking in a truly Indian experience.

After about 30 minutes though the comedic aspect of the car journey had worn off on me and I began to feel extremely claustrophobic and quite panicky. P said that we weren’t far from a second car that would take half of us for the next leg of the adventure and so I asked if we could hop out and walk to the next car. She obliged but the whole operation was much easier said than done. I scrambled off Phyllis’s lap into the street where P helped me cross the road, we stepped from the main ‘road’ onto a paving stone but I lost my footing and was soon knee deep in murky water feeling like a silly child. I thought I might start crying.

Fortunately, I managed to hold in my distress and like a naughty child P escorted me back across the road to the car (which we soon realised was still the preferred option). She climbed in and put me on her matronly Germanic lap. Since my childhood I don’t think I have ever felt so helpless and small. P who is no less than 6 ft. and of large athletic build towers over me and on her lap I really looked like a little girl clutching at her new white skirt, which probably she should never have worn on such a sludge filled night!