Five Minutes in Delhi

DELHI, India—Midnight in Delhi swallows all light except the dim glow collected by headlights rushing down the highway out of the airport. From the window of the taxi—we're sitting three in the front, and I'm squished against the left door, all my hair flying out the open window—I can only make out the faint outline of some gates, officials on the dark sidewalks, construction sites, trees. Even at this time, it's 40 degrees Celsius.

I focus on the street for a better view: flashing lights on the side of the road by the guard-rail as a warning, rickshaws, bikers, and every few seconds someone crossing amid oncoming traffic. This is action-movie, video-game-swerving past trucks and through other cars that speed towards each other from opposite directions. The honking is constant and substitutes for traffic signals. I should be terrified, but it's so surreal that all I can think about is how absolutely incredible it is—how impossible—that a few hours ago I was literally hurled through the air at hundreds of miles an hour, crossing an ocean and an entire continent, to land here on somewhat more solid ground. How ridiculous, and how almost insane, it is to travel at all—as a truck speeds by, a few curled up bodies asleep on its roof.

I think of where where those men are headed, if they know any better than I do. The truck disappears just as quickly in the darkness, and I wonder how much travel—the rush, the speed, the blind focus on an endpoint—will let me see.

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