Monday, April 02, 2007

The Romance Of The Gaslight

Around the time we children grew up in King's Circle in Mumbai all the lanes had gaslights. During monsoon I would stand in my balcony and watch the rain at twilight. I was a short five-year-old boy then and barely came up to the verandah railing so I would have to stand on my toes to watch the street. As the lane would get darker, the 'gaslight-man' would come cycling into the lane wearing a black Duckback raincoat with a large hood - somewhat like the murderer in I Know What You Did Last Summer.

At each streetlight the lightman would alight from his bicycle and then slosh through the rain with a tall bamboo pole in his hand. The pole had a metal hook at the top and once he reached below the lamp post, the lightman would peer through the rain at the gaslight and then pull a lever with the hook. The rain would be falling hard and the light would come on slowly, ever so slowly, becoming brighter till it became a blazing glow. But by that time the lightman would have already cycled to the next street light, the rain pelting mercilessly on his shiny wet black raincoat.

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