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Night City

L1004519 2BOMBAY–Rush hour starts late by American standards. At 8 a.m. the traffic is light. At 4 or even 5 in the evening the traffic is insane but light by Bombay standards. 7 p.m. is a madhouse of trucks and horns and motorbikes and rickshaws and trains and buses heading home into the evening.  The city only really comes alive at night.  It comes alive at night then starts late the next day.  For all the day’s bustle of trade and commerce, it is the night that everyone is looking forward to.  It is the night whose cool shadows salve the burns of the day.  It is the night whose shadows provide a sense of solitude, a place where one can be alone or find privacy in a lover’s arm.  It is night where the long sea walk of Marine Drive is lit up like a string of electric pearls and called The Queen’s Necklace.  It is through these streets that the yellow and black cabs ply their trade.  Painted with names like, “Night Queen,” and “Speed,” they race towards assignations, strobe lit by dashboard shrines to Ganesh.  It is night where the lights of temples and liquor bars and sidewalk stores provide islands of neon gaiety in the humid blackness of Bombay.  It is a night of film stars and music and a little glamour for the millions who struggle through the day and it is the darkness of gangsters and women being sold in cages and the quiet noises of people sleeping under tarps because there is nowhere else.

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