route 66, oklahoma
I was in my guesthouse’s communal toilet smoking my pipe when I first heard the drumbeats.
I was getting stoned and had the vague plan of going for a bicycle ride afterward, a leisurely roll around the streets of Fort Kochi, perhaps down to the fishermen’s wharf, where I could drink coconuts and people-watch under the banyan trees. That was my plan, anyway. But when I heard the drums something inside me woke up, the approaching drum brigade had set me alight.
I rushed downstairs to grab my bicycle. I pedaled past people emerging from their homes, past hurrying women in saris, towards the source of the commotion. When I reached the main street, I halted.
A fat shirtless man with a sun umbrella and an enormous mustache, a veritable king, was marching towards me up the road. Directly behind him were five rotund men painted head-to-foot like psychotropic tigers, all dancing and mashing and stomping along, followed by an assortment of drummers, stilted men and dancing Keralites.
I rolled my bike to the side of the road to watch.
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