I once told my two friends, Arun Jay and Arun Patnaik, that Indians don’t sleep. They laughed hard, because they knew exactly what I was talking about. Delhiites don’t sleep, and neither do visitors to Delhi.
The autorickshawallahs don’t sleep either. They’re like dogs – one eye open, the other closed. You see them doing anything but sleeping; they sit, stand, smoke biri and chat away. Or they gather to talk. Maybe about Bollywood, or about the Nepali girl one of them saw yesterday. Sometimes I wonder if it’s the overpopulation of the city that makes it so hard for the people to sleep.
Before I left Nigeria I used to think that Lagos had a great nightlife. Now I think that it needs to get a life. It needs to buckle up. It needs to clean itself of those miscreants who disturb it in the middle of the night and make things seem awry. I wish I didn’t feel that other cities are pushing Lagos aside – it’s annoying when another city outdoes yours.
Last winter I was out at night, leaving north Delhi for a party in south Delhi around 1.34 am. There were still many autorickshaws hanging everywhere, even though it was foggy and cold. The autorickshawallahs were drinking and smoking as usual. Their life is just crazy, I thought. Not that anyone forced them to live like this; they love their lives. They don’t lack customers, because the Africans are always awake too. After all, most of them are from cities where there is no nightlife…
I needed to choose the right one; the right driver who would not spit the nonsense out of my head. Of course the fare would be inflated, it was night time. I found one, and we took off to City Walk where the party was holding. The club was filled. The lights there shone brightly; it felt like early morning. Africans everywhere. Happy. Excited. Clad in winter coats and sweaters. It was exciting. It’s still exciting to live in a city that has a nightlife.