We spent our first night in India at a hotel inside the Mumbai airport in order to catch a a very early morning flight to the much smaller town of Aurangabad, about 225 miles northeast. We then boarded a bus for a 2 1/2 hour drive through land loosely organized into many small farm plots, so our first view of India is not of a metropolis but of an agrarian community with a few tractors, a lot of water buffalo, and herds of motorbikes.
The roadside businesses along the way feature tobacco and snack shops, outdoor eating places, rudimentary mechanic shops, and an unusual number of barbershops. There are many men and very few women on the street.
People are beginning their days. I notice a man walking toward the road from a set of rudimentary structures with brick walls and corrugated roofs held down with rocks. About six feet behind him walks a woman, dressed in a colorful, full length sari and full headscarf. I could see only her eyes. Is she following the man? Are they together? Her head turns toward the bus as it passes. I am looking at her–is she looking at me? We seem to stare at one another as the seconds tick by and the bus moves down the road.
We have no idea, she and I, of one another’s lives.