You never lack for them you know, first times. India has lots of them, first times. There’s the first time you’re stupefied when a full grown adult just cuts the line in front of you like it’s the most natural thing in the world to do. Then there’s the thrilling first time you freaking yell at that idiot of a person, that, HELLO? there’s a line? And they either stare at you like you’re some sort of idiot too or they have some shame and get back in line behind you. Oh yes, sometimes, you get to your payment counter to pay, pull out your credit card and the cashier will take your credit card and walk it up to the register upstairs because that’s the only register that will perform such a transaction (BANGS HEAD!) and walk it back down so you can sign! And then of course there’s the first time you call your driver to bring your car around and pick you up on the highway because the mall pick up is a traffic snarl. And so as you’re picked up and swept away into the easy air conditioned confines of your car you walk past a small child, no older than your seven year old son, sleeping on the sidewalk, while Mumbai churns around him.
You deposit your bags on the floor of the car and try not to stare but your driver is honking at the rickshaw he is stuck behind that is stuck behind a bus that is stuck behind the cars that shouldn’t have turned before the signal turned green or red or something and so your car is stuck, and your headphones are on and the music is some godawful Hindi movie nonsense mashup and all you can do is stare at that boy and look at what you bought and look at him laying there with the sun in his face and people just going about their day. That’s a freaking kid! Sleeping in the middle of the sidewalk!
I picked my daughter up at the bus stop. The other mothers came. There was the usual banter. I wonder where his mother is.