An Indian woman emerges from a cottage, heavy hair swinging down to the backs of her thighs. The green valley rises around her, and her orange sari flutters in the wind. She pulls a comb through her long, dark hair, and from the way she stands, her silhouette round and unguarded, it is clear she thinks no one is watching.
Two Tibetan monks walking up the dirt road. Their flowing robes are crimson with yellow peaking out. They burst with happiness, the desire to speak and share their joy. I flash them a smile, but then duck my head, shy. Moments later, after they’ve passed, I have an urge to turn around and run after them, but I don’t.
A little boy squatting in the middle of the road. He is tiny, perhaps three. He wears a checkered shirt of white and blue. His black hair is shiny, and he sings to himself under his breath. When I get closer, I see him fishing around in the front pocket of his shirt. He pulls out a cell phone, and as his humming gets louder, he begins play-dialing in time to the beat.
A troop of monkeys swinging from branches, and strolling across the road. They are brown, with red asses that they flash indiscriminately, tails held high. A mother is cradling a baby, his head smooth and shiny. His tiny ears are folded in on themselves, and he hardly seems sentient, except when he reaches up to cling ferociously to his mother as she begins to lope away.
Two little girls tearing down the road. They stop in front of me, panting, their hands on their knees. “Don’t go up there!” one of them says dramatically, flinging her finger in the direction from which they came. Her eyes are huge, and she is very serious. “There are bad boys up there, and they chased us down!” The other little girl nods solemnly, her hands on her hips. I put my hands on my hips, and shake my head in disapproval. “Bad boys, eh?” I say. They nod, and start pulling on my hands. It’s clear they want to save me. “It’s okay, girls,” I say, stopping them. “If the bad boys start trouble with me, I’ll beat them up!” I make my eyes huge and show them my fists, and they dissolve into laughter, clapping their hands and running away.
Sitting on the steps of an empty yoga hall. Birds chirp and butterflies dance. Wild roses climb the walls, and I feel like I’m in an English garden, not in India. Only the Om signs painted on rocks give the location away.
From around the corner of the old brick house, a floppy brown dog appears. He sniffs the ground intently. I make the universal come here sound by softly clicking my tongue. He looks up and comes bounding over. I am knocked backwards by eager paws and a sloppy tongue. When I manage to sit back up, my face is wet and I am laughing.
“You’re easy to make friends with, aren’t you?” I ask the dog, and he wiggles and begins licking me all over again. I decide then and there that I must have a dog when I get home.