I was finally able to take a breath of fresh air after climbing up out of the machine-embroidery unit. It was dusk, and the atmosphere of Hauz Rani had changed. The lanes were full of children playing. There is no park or open ground in the colony, nowhere to play except the narrow alleys.
The stalls were becoming more animated, people were emerging from the upper storeys of the houses and strolling along. Women in burqas as well as Western clothes were moving from shop to shop. The big dhabas were starting to prepare dinner. Persistent motorcycle and autorickshaw horns seemed to be forcing people through the congested twists and turns.
The dim street lights came on. Vendors who had napped away the afternoon were becoming active again. Radios blared from cigarette and video rental shops. Small knots of people gathered at the corners were chatting in groups; others stood at hawkers’ carts and ate snacks.
The barbershop was full; customers waited in the street, watching the television in the shop, while the tenants of the two adjacent compartments were absorbed in transactions with customers.
The torpor of the afternoon had vanished entirely. My own fatigue slowly dissipated as I walked through Khirki’s lanes in the evening.