My first day out solo, I venture a long walk to shops to buy shampoo, looking for a shop recommended by my hosts. The streets are hot, dusty and crowded, and there are almost no other westerners so I attract quite a bit of curiosity. I return tired but pleased with my small but successful adventure.
The stores are frequently quite small and specialize in rices and legumes or shoes or saris.
I have been awake since 2:15 am, and read, happily immersed, many hundreds of pages from Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh, recommended by Joan Livingstone. It's an entangled tale of many characters swept up in the madness of the 1830's Indian opium trade.
All through the night, the four dogs who live here in the compound bark sporadically, as well as neighbor dogs and the wild ones, who set up a chorus of howling sometimes between 3 and 5 am. Also at 5, lovely, dissonant harmonies from a nearby mosque and the scent of onions frying for an early breakfast.
When I finally go downstairs at around 8 am, the 11 year twins are dressed in their green and gold school uniforms and are having their shining dark hair brushed and braided.
I eat with Bhagya and Anjali a delicious, abundant breakfast of dosais and flavorful vegetable cream of wheat.