SAD STORIES FROM THE CITY OF JOY
Sign,’ she hissed and pointed to an enormous ledger. I was surprised she could lift her arm. Her hand was weighted down with gold; golden rings on every podgy finger, bullion bulging in the folds of flesh around her wrist; I imagined her poor sweating husband adrift at the mercy of those thighs…
I don’t know why there are naked Armenian men wrestling on the banks of the Hoogli, but there are. Well, not quite naked. They are all wearing a tiny scarf wrapped around their loins and, without meaning to labour the point, seem to have had their todgers cut off. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth of it. Perhaps dawn wrestling does that to your vitals. It certainly would to mine.
They were everywhere; young, British, blonde and gap-yearing, diverted by Mother Theresa on their way down to Goa; the Europeans, bronzed, independent and fiercely naive, the Asian students, wide-eyed, no-brained and relentlessly facile, inexplicably drawn to India and not-so inexplicably drawn to Indian men.
I met the Devil in a cafe on a corner in Kolkata. Rather disappointingly, he was dressed as a man – but I guess even a hijra needs a holiday. Now he looked exactly like a man who dresses as a woman dressed as a man on his day off. I don’t know if he had a dick or not. I didn’t really care. I needed a hijra-fixer, with or without willy. Of course, I didn’t know he was the Devil at the time.
Someone had killed Kolkata. This city has a hum, a distant roar of car horns, tram cars, a million voices – it’s a constant, the white noise of this place. Today there was none. I must have been hallucinating. I could hear birds. The end of the world had come.