On a steaming hot afternoon in the middle of summer 2006 in Meerut, India, life goes on without a trace of regard to the fierce sun.



While I sit in my air-conditioned taxi, a ‘tempo’ – the ubiquitous metal contraption that serves as secondary public transport in several small towns of north India – splutters to a halt next to me. It’s packed to the gills and several people including a stout old woman disembark. The ‘tempo’ waits for more passengers, it’s engine running all the time, spewing putrid fumes into the hot air, threatening to leave any minute.



The tempo is designed to have two sets of three seats facing each other, behind the driver’ seat. This one has two men seated on either side of the driver – each half in, half hanging out from each side of the tempo. The rear seats meant for six had at least eight, until the few passengers disembarked.

And then I notice the two extra seats apparently retro-fitted in the back – facing the back of the tempo. The only two seats, which are not shielded from the angry sun. Two men sit in these seats, trying to keep out of the sun out but barely succeeding – sweating and barely awake as the sun saps them of life. One of these men was intently, though not surprisingly with a big grimace, trying to pull his tooth out. Or so it seemed to me.

A little squeamish from the sight, I look the other way, and almost jump out of my seat.



A movie poster advertising the Bolloywood movie -‘Pyaare Mohan’


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