In the Thick Of It

Infinite games of Frogger would prepare no one to navigate 15 white kids through the tanned 7 million of this city. So we went to the most difficult place to cross the road – the roundabout near the Charminar. The four-pillar archway was built as a memorial to commemorate the riddance of a disease in the city in the late 1500s. Currently, it functions as a roadblock in the central old city.  Tourists infect the area now and we contributed.

Did not realize I had to climb this until I was climbing it.

Did not realize I had to climb this until I was climbing it.

We stumbled up 53 hot and crowded arterial stairs of the minarets. My legs almost failed to reach up some of the step inclines. Then, ducking below the low stone ledge at the edge of the cubbyhole, we emerged above the city.

The top of the Charminar forms a donut. Chew is readily available (and ubiquitously enjoyed by rickshaw wallahs) so if desire you could spit on the people lounging in the shade on the base below through the middle drop or those coming in on all sides from the outer edges without leaning very far. You’re stuck up there as you are at the Arch in St. Louis, but here you can topple out with poor balance. A bright yellow dome caps the middle and gives the center a bright glow without origin. The place is crowded too – the trolling security guard told our group to disperse because too many people were crowding around to take our pictures and clogging the small corridors. I feared more than once that I would be backed straight off of the structure by a horde of Indians taking surreptitious photos on their cell phones.

Charminar dome

Charminar dome

I found an unoccupied space to claim from a safe distance. From this height, the city’s manners display themselves for judgment. The rickshaws murmured and clustered as yellow jackets around the red, blue, green neon signs of the bazaar. Across the street, a mosque presides behind a large fence; blacker pigeons dismounted from its globular points and swirled in its tan archways Further, you could see into housing colonies of the surrounding hills. From this distance they all looked white until the hot smog screened them. They remained unattainable and unknowable even at this elevated glance.

Flowing to everywhere

Flowing to everywhere

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