How to Wear an Indian Village
Park the car next to a vendor selling tender coconuts. Ask how the crop
has been while you weigh each coconut in your hand. Do not smile when
you hear the water splashing inside like a secret waterfall. Wear
When they ask where you're from, say you are from Chennai. Say it with
a drawl, like it is an American word. Do not say you are from Madras.
If you are a man, have two tender coconuts even though they will make
you feel thirsty once you get back in the car. If you are a woman,
drink half a coconut and give the rest to the man.
Waylay children with bicycles. Grab the handlebars and insist you will
only take the cycle down the road and back. Ride with one village child
attached to your back and one seated on the handlebars. Make sure
someone takes pictures of you. Show your teeth when you smile.
Promise the children that you will send copies of every photograph that
was taken. Write their addresses down in English. Make them promise to
wait for your letter everyday. Make them say 'Yes, we promise' in
Do not stay more than 22 minutes. As the car pulls away, wave once and
quickly roll up the window.
Two weeks later, you will find abandoned slips of addresses under the
car mats. Stuff these into an old cigarette carton and toss it into one
of the rabbit-shaped garbage cans in the nearest park.
Keep the pictures.
Kuzhali Manickavel's debut collection of stories, Insects are Just Like You and Me Except Some of Them
Have Wings, came out last year.
To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/200902village.htm
Photo detail on main page courtesy
w i g · l e a F