India (part 1)

A story from “Appointment in the forest

In India you will go…
On the eve of the publication of my first comic book, at a time when I still used to draw without the light of the flashes of journalists and when the idea of inviting me to speak to an audience would only have occurred to a desperate organiser, a man telephoned me. That voice (as well as the person to whom it belonged) was completely unknown to me back then. He told me amongst other things that he had had a vision of me speaking to thousands of young people and that (just like that, in passing…) God would send me one day to India…
(?…okaaay… thanks for the call).

The discovery of a plane ticket to India in my letter box ten years later leaves me speechless. Simultaneously, my recollections also place in the letter box of my memory the circumstances of the events described previously. Yet I believed that I had lost it in the annals of my brain, which is as messy as my desk (and that says it all!).

The strange sender of the ticket is a mission by the name of ‘Empart’… Aha? …A few months
ago, I was invited to do drawings in conjunction with an Indian speaker. We had all had a good laugh because I had drawn a caricature of him on the big screen and he had shouted out this joke at me from the stage:
‘Hey, you, buddy, you’ll get what’s coming your way!’
The invitation is from him ; I phone the head of the mission based in my country to find out more :
‘Er… why do you want me to go to India ?
What are you expecting of me?’
‘We would just like you to come so that you are influenced by what you see there…’
‘ … and that’s all ?!’

They are not asking me to be a speaker, to repaint walls with Mickey Mouse, to dig a well
or save any hostages (and that’s just as well, cos I really don’t know how that’s done!) …but just to come!?!

india WC
Where are we now !?
From the moment I walk out of the airport, I am greeted by that distinctive smell (spice and piss) and that permanent fog (dust and pollution) which, like the roadside vendors, will never give up following me around. The scene which imposes itself on my gaze is completely destabilising. Aarrrgh!!! It must be that stupid pilot who must have gone through a space-time corridor!! What I discover gives me the strange impression of having gone back in time. But it is different from the space-time continuum which has been ours, as in this one several aliens live in collusion with humans! Guys with enormous turbans on their heads, others, cut in two, moving about on skate-boards with the help of their arms, magnificent women decked out in rainbows…

Keep moving, there’s so much to see!
In the street, it’s no better : the roadway is teeming with an abundance of giant yoghurt pots with a number of random wheels, serving as vehicles. The English car, straight out of another century, which serves as my taxi, glides along, like an enormous boat in the cascades of a river made up of motley assorted vehicles, at the speed of the current of traffic. Here, drivers are completely freed from the constraint of the most rudimentary traffic regulations. When the taxi plunges in the wrong direction on to the motorway to gain a few unnecessary minutes, I stay cool (my brain has gone into ‘So what’ mode anyway, all that just can’t be real!)


To be continued next week (Part 2 – out of 4)
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