This past February, I hired a cab for a pandemic-fatigued trip with a friend to the Himalayan hills in Himachal Pradesh, down the Old Manali road. It was a drowsy afternoon, the summer heat landing thick on the windows. My friend and I drifted in and out of sleep as our driver wound along circuitous roads. Listening to old Hindi songs, I started counting the Semal trees on the roadside, perched on the hills. Also called silk cotton trees, they blossom at the end of winter: leafless trees holding vibrant clutches of big red flowers.
Tiffany—“like Tiffany & Co.”—has lived here her whole life. Her hair is woven into a neat French twist. “Cops come and sit in here,” she says, waving her hand at the shadows on the small plaza around us. A white plastic bag rustles in a spring tree. Tufts of white flowers cover the branches like a sweater, against the chill of early evening. We raise our voices over the noise of a generator, one of a score of rumbling machines across the city that has flooded housing projects with chemical light, noise, and the guise of safety for five years.
Tiffany needs to fix dinner; her kids are hungry. Her forty-first birthday is coming up. Tomorrow she’s going to a pole-dancing class with friends. “You look good,” I say. She tosses a hello to a passing neighbor who’s pushing an overflowing grocery cart. Her gold hoop earrings sparkle.
1.Without their torches and semiautomatics, the alt-righters appeared aesthetically adrift. They had their gloves and flak jackets but, lacking the accessories wielded in Charlottesville, their domineering image suffered. Perhaps this is why they hud [...]