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Children and the fumigator

Ten past seven in the evening. Delhi.

We were having chai and biscuits in the living room when I heard children screaming in high pitch voices against the backdrop of a loud motor gradually fading away. My wife dismissed the whole scene as “The fumigator must be here.” The fumigator vehicle drives around the neighborhood block every evening and spews clouds of smoke to repel mosquitoes during the humid season.

And then I don’t know what possessed me. I deserted my chai, jumped out of the sofa and ran outside chasing the fumigator with an iPhone in one hand and my nose in the other.

What I saw was surreal. You can’t see such a scene anywhere else but in India. As I was running the neighborhood blocks chasing the sound of the motor, I was wondering what was so fun that the kids would want to run into a cloud of unhealthy smelly smoke. And then I realized, they are children. They don’t ask questions like we do. They simply go out there and experience life for what it is.

The white smoke was lit yellow by the street lights and red by the stop light across the road. Children were running into what seemed like a ball of fire. For a moment, it felt like a volcano had erupted and everyone was running in fear. Quite the opposite was happening. These cheap thrills and little joys is what makes life.

Life is more alive in India.

[In this little video, you first see the scene as it was. Then, I slowed it down. I picked 10 frames from the footage in 10 frames and replayed them with the same sounds. When you slow things down, you tend to see more. When you see more, you enjoy more of life. So, let’s not be in a hurry to live.]

When you’re in a hurry to live, you don’t live. You’re just in a hurry.

Published by Arun Muthu

In 2019, I relocated to India after having lived in California for more than two decades. These scribbles attempt to capture my observations at what I call home through a foreigner's eyes.

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