The air is tinted with every conceivable scent; woodsmoke, coconut, waste, construction, sweat, ripe fruit, curry, masalas or spices.
It’s HOT. And so humid the sweat literally drips down your spine.
And it’s loud. The noise is constant – cars rumbling, trucks and motorcycles buzzing; the baaing and bleating of goats and sheep, the barking of dogs; the nonstop, flowing babble of languages like bubbling water.
Most important: Imagine a people as open and hospitable and as shrewd as you can. Everyone’s eyes are bright with humor, curiosity, ease and alive-ness. Their gait and posture tell of a life filled with laughter and hard work, a very matter-of-fact life. Nowhere will you see a fake smile, or hear a laugh intended to break an awkward silence. Just the simple basic facts of life.
Now imagine everything that I’m going to tell you happening in a place like this.