KRISHNA'S KID IVORY/ Samuel Atlee IT WAS THREE o'clock in the morning when Durning arrived for the first time in Delhi, just off the Lufthansa flight from Hong Kong on its overnight trip through to Frankfurt. Deplaning alone, he found the Delhi airport so underlit and empty that he felt like he was descend- ing through a tomb, a feeling that persisted once he'd cleared customs and was on his way to the Ranjani Oberoi in a taxi, being ferried at low speed by an invisible driver through a landscape that was dark, flat and vacant, so deserted that he wondered if this was a city of the dead. Where was the teeming India of legend? Asleep, Durning gathered; there wasn't a single cone of welcoming light in the whole inky landscape. Delhi was, it seemed, a city of operatic odors. The smell of an open sewer was suffocating, but as they drove on, it gave way to other tart scents: curried cooking fumes, wood smoke, rotting vegetables. Dazed with fatigue and disoriented, Durning saw on the horizon the black skeleton of a gallows--which turned out, as they drew abreast, to be a jungle gym outside an elementary
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Oct 5, 1997
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