One recent morning I was riding to Ramana Ashram along Bangalore Road when I saw ahead of me a stationary public bus and a swelling crowd, including policemen and their vehicles—clustering around a white female lying motionless in a vermilion pool of blood on the side of the road. From a distance she looked so like a close friend of mine that I let loose a silent scream and involuntarily hit the brakes—right in the middle of the road.
A grim policeman waved me over to the side. I obeyed like a robot, struck dumb by a mélange of dark emotions. A cop who seemed to be in charge asked if I knew the dead girl—he wanted me to identify her. They had no clue, of course, what a coward I am in certain visceral ways. Too shaken to look at her face, I suggested instead that we identify her by inspecting the contents of her bag. Inside her faded cloth bag, we found a diary and a cell phone. And so we discovered that the name of this lovely girl, killed by a bus driver in a lethal hurry to reach his destination, was Miriam Franziska, and that she had recently arrived here from Berlin in order to savor the varied pleasures of Tiruvannamalai. Continue reading