There are no public loos that are open before ten am in Colaba. I specifically asked the old Fiat cab to drop me off in front of Coffee Cafe Day, and as I alighted a sign hanging from the door greeted me with something like–“Sorry. You’ve come at the wrong time. Come back later.”

I proceeded to skip to Kala Ghoda, hoping to find the Elphinstone College open, making an inner compromise to use their squat loo. No luck. Then I remembered S, a fellow workshop participant, telling me that she would always use the Westside’s (a department store beside Elphinstone) bathroom. Darn! Still close!, the padlocks indicated.

It’s times like this when I miss Manila. We have a Starbucks at every corner, open at 6 am, providing cafe lattes and spotless bathrooms.

Then I remembered my mission, the reason why I decided to come early. The installations! I thoroughly enjoyed taking photographs of the installations a week ago. They marked the streets of Kala Ghoda, and intrigued me because even if many of them weren’t aesthetically pleasing they made me think, and they brought a spirit of curiosity that I haven’t felt since visiting the museums in New York state.

So I decided to ignore the pinching pain in my bladder, erase the memory of Starbucks and cross the street to the island where many of the installations stood proudly.

A crow a crow a crow. I confess that I don’t even remember seeing this a week ago. I’m not sure if they installed it after February 5 or I just didn’t notice. Didn’t care. Why would someone spend so much time and resources recreating a common bird? And not a pretty one at that. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to photograph this installation.

But I read the explanation–

The idea that the dead needed to be saved piqued my curiosity and made me scan the details of the installation. I also like the idea of a crow, an animal that Hindus believe could save, experiencing common human problems.

I appreciated the installation more when the details were magnified under my lens. As I look back at my photos and try to guess what problems Sumeet Patil tried to depict, the stories he was trying to tell, I’m more curious, more inspired to ask and perhaps spin some tales myself. Somehow, I get a vague sense that the stories are about alcoholism, pollution, slum life. Maybe greed. And drought. Fodder for a novelette.

I also like how something or someone who saves becomes a common man, in contrast to human beings reaching for gods that are out of their grasp.

After clicking the photos, I looked at my phone clock–9:55. My workshop, which was located in Elphinstone, was at ten. It was time to put my camera down. It was time to stop clicking photos of frozen crows taking sips from broken bottles. It was time to check if the building was open.

The pinch in my bladder turned into a pinch of guilt as I thought about my needs and how everything was relative.

I walked back to the college, used the squat loo with my scarf, camera and bag hanging from my neck. Knees bent, feet balanced on two narrow footholds.

I used the squat loo without complaint.