I followed the sound of chanting and bells to the village, which was mostly just small blackened concrete garage-like shops strung together along the blacked concrete streets, with Indian men standing around in layers of cloth folded up like short skirts. There was the occasional fish seller, who laid his fresh kill on the side of the road, as the flies swarmed. There were also smaller, portable booths, wrapped in blue tarps, selling chai and sweet cakes.
This day, though, the village was alive with families dressed in brightly colored, starched fabrics. They were walking down a dirt road, towards intricate colorful statues of Hindu deities. I followed them to the start of the road, but decided to stay back on the peripheral. I was the only white person there and was not Hindu. This was clearly a special day for them.
Instead I ordered a chai and sat with my small paper cup full, on a mound of sand next to a cow, watching the parade. A white pick up truck backed in in front of me. Women, men and children piled into the truck bed with four-foot high sides. They shifted about until there was no space left to stand. A young girl, about eight, wearing a deep purple shiny dress and a yellow bow in her hair, looked at me. I looked at her. We smiled at each other. Our smiles softened, as lots of activity occurred around us, but our gaze remained. I wondered what she was thinking. I wondered where she lived and if she was happy. The truck slowly pulled away. We kept looking until we couldn’t see each other anymore. It was subtle goodbye.