Into the Badlands

then & now

By Maiyan Karidi

We live in a tiny village on a small island. A spec in the vast Indian Ocean.

In this tiny village is our little house, at the end of a long, narrow drive covered in red, orange and pink Bougainvillea, and yellow Allemanda. The driveway leads to an overgrown garden filled with banana, papaya and mango trees.  Our haven is quiet and hidden. We live in a bubble of art and dreams.

A ten minute drive away is a small town called Goodlands. We call it ‘little Bombay’. It is a hub of chaos. Crowded, jammed, squashed, busy, messy, noisy, smelly and packed with things you don’t want. When we really have no choice, we go there for one of two things. One, our dentist, Dr Joy, and two, to get cables for our music room.

Most other towns we call the “badlands”.  This is where we need to do all the mundane and annoying tasks of ‘modern life’. The bills, the banking, the bureaucracy. Our island is a maze. If you’re not on the coast,  you’re swallowed by traffic, people and potholes.

I leave home at 9am as business here only begins at 10am. I try to do the most pressing task first so I start at the bank by taking a number and waiting. Lets leave the details, they’re too boring. I survive it.

Next I need to find a travel agent to bring my son home. I resist the online booking option.  I google. There are 4 agents within a radius of 1 km. I begin my search. The first one is closed. The second one is elusive. I ask someone for directions. “Bonjour, do you…….”


“I didn’t ask the question yet…..lets start again….“Bonjour, do you know where……”


Ok, so lets find someone else. The man with the tinted eyelashes tries to help. I find myself in a narrow, broken street with abandoned houses. Google maps swears its on my right. It isn’t.

The third one I find but they are out to lunch. The fourth, are closed.

I have no choice than to return to the only one I know, where Preeti has a way of giving me blank stares in response to my questions and her bright red lipstick is always smudged as if there are no boundaries. We conclude our meeting with ‘let’s wait and see if anything better comes along’.

Now, I must collect three things in three different places in another jam packed, messy road with no parking. I succeed with grace.  I’m feeling good as there is only one more stop. I drive through more traffic and reach my target. I enter the store and realize my list is in my diary in the car. I run to the car and……….”Oh no……my diary isn’t there!” Where did I leave it? I retrace my missions. Now I am back in the jam packed, messy road without parking. In the art supply store? Nope. At the hardware store? Nope.  At the little kiosk? I turn the corner and almost walk smack into the glass door. The kiosk is closed. I peep through the glass and see my life in the little blue book, lying innocently on the counter. I enter the shop next door. “Why are they closed?” I ask.  “It’s 3.30 in the afternoon?”

“I think she’s gone home, she may be back at 7 in the evening.”

I panic. My life is in that book. All the gory details. I need to pee.

I leave my number with the little girl next door and drive away in distress.

As I get to the roundabout (what they call a traffic circle), my phone rings.

“She’s back” the voice says. “She’s open”.

“Oh great!, thanks you so much, I’m coming”.

I turn around where you’re not allowed to turn around. Hooters blasting, angry faces, I don’t care.

I drive back down the jam packed, messy road. There is no parking.

I slow down in front of the shop, the door is open with no one inside.

Hooters blast, angry faces, I have to move. I turn into a tiny, narrow side road thinking I can turn around there. I continue past the chaos and oops, a dead end. It’s filled with cars and junk and I cannot turn around. I’m sweating. I really need to pee.

I have to maneuver. I feel like a pie-graph. Back and forth, back and forth in a tight circle.

I enter the dreaded street once again, slow down and shout “Please! Pass me the diary!” It works. I grab it, thank her for saving my life and continue on my way. By now I have given up on the last mission and just want to get home. I take the shorter route.

But wait, I must still get a few things from the supermarket near home. I reach my almost final destination, enter with ‘the list’. My 4kg dog food is under a pile of numerous 10kg dog foods. I need assistance. Then I have great idea………a bottle of rum, that’s what I need. I reach for the rum, grab the eggs, the mosquito repellent and go to the cashier. I jump in my car and drive home realizing I’ve forgotten the dog food. No, I’m not going back. Leo will eat sardines.

I arrive home. Tovi is working in the studio. I grab him, “My love, please, I have to pee, get the stuff from the car and pour me a rum”. Tovi complies.

As I grab the glass of rum and coke, feeling relieved, he looks at me with an innocent smile and says “Do you want to come with me to Goodlands?”

To download a PDF of the Chronicle for October, click here

To read the editor’s column this month, titled ‘Why we need more difficult females’ click here

To read the most read story online in September, click here


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