A Visit to George Town

I drove to Parry’s Corner, parked on First Line Beach, and walked up and down the narrow streets of George Town. It’s a mess there -- mostly bicycles, two-wheelers (i.e., motorcycles and scooters), auto-rickshaws, sometimes a fish-cart or a lorry, very occasionally a private car. I did several errands, then went back to NSC Bose Road, to Ramakrishna Lunch Home. I bought sweet mixture, Karachi halwa (which I indulge in once a year or so – it’s gummy and full of ghee, and I love it) and samosas. I had to wait for the samosas, and while I sat someone brought me a glass of nimbu pani – lemonade. It was lovely after all that walking in the sun. Hardly walking, actually – rather picking my way very gingerly between one vehicle and another.

I walked back down First Line Beach to my car. In front of me was a white western couple, both with dreadlocks, and both wearing numerous layers of clothing, as though they were saving themselves from carrying luggage by wearing all their clothes at once.

I reached the place where I had parked my car, and it wasn’t there. I couldn’t believe it – I walked on and on, thinking I must have forgotten where it had been. Finally I turned and went again to the place where I’d parked it. There were plenty of cars, but not mine. I crossed the road, thinking I’d take an auto-rickshaw home and call someone, and find out what to do.

As I reached the other side, dodging traffic, and turned to hail an auto, I saw that a tow-truck had pulled up where my car had been. I ran back across and spoke to the policeman who sat next to the driver. He asked for my license number, looked through his book, and found my car. He said, "You have to come to the police station and pay Rs. 300 to get your car back." I had, it seemed, parked in a no-parking zone, though it wasn't marked as such. I said, "Where is the police station?" He told me to sit up on the back of the tow truck: he was going to give me a ride. So I sat like a circus performer on a float, stared at by all passers-by, while the truck remained stationary. Finally it did move, past all the big cars where I had been parked, and stopped only a block later, by a small car like mine. This they hitched to their truck, and then we drove off to the station. I should have waved regally, instead of keeping my face fixed in a rueful expression.

We arrived, there was my car, right in front of the station, I paid the policeman in the truck Rs. 300, got three different pieces of paper in return, and departed. I didn't mind, really -- in my mind, I was already making it into a story.

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