The old Black Town of St. George is to me the centre of the Madras. It is a town full of extremities and here the levels of history and customs work and live next to each other as they do nowhere else.
The streets are closed in with a multitude of styles; decrepit in both their design and condition. The streets are a market place for pedlars of city goods and country produce; the exotic to the sublime.
Rich spices of Hindustan, purchased by weight from dubiously inaccurate scales, are rapped and sold in course brown paper.
Half a shop with ageing beetle nut chewing Tamil sells Tikka powder. The richness of the colours only compared to the colours of the impressionists, stacked orderly as powder paint.
The Elei sell cut refreshing pineapple next to stalls selling frothy tea and Thumps Up.
A simple shack for the bicycle man. Next door a Chakkilyer trading from little more, trouncing disadvantages and repairing and displaying a range little more than soiled or at best second hand.
And then the great delights of Hindustan, the street astrologers, dentists, letter writers and snake charmers.
In India there is no orderly divide of the street. Life spill from the pavements across into the road; havoc for the rickshaws, taxis and bullock carts. The only law is self taught preservation; each fighting to retain a part of his road, and, in so doing there is no consideration for the distorted and broken, or the decaying bodies lying on trolleys. These eyes beg for attention and just a little compassion; compassion enabling them to eat a little today.
The more fortunate are on makeshift bamboo crutches with stretch cloth for tented gutter homes; and between all this life and death, the cow, the strange Queen who meanders relaxed and undisturbed among her domain.