#17 – Sleep uninterruptedly in a city in an area that has a residents’ association
Cities are dangerous places. But it is at night that they become truly scary.
And Indian cities at night are the realms of dreadful nightmares, particularly for respectable folk that are constantly in danger from the vile depredations of lower-class louts. Which is why groups of sensible, like-minded neighbours are increasingly realising the need for protectors, and have been banding together to find heroes.
And such heroes. Fearless, mighty warriors who defend them and theirs. Dedicated souls who have trained hard to transform themselves into the one phenomenon that no nightly terror can even hope to withstand:
The Wearer of the Blue & Gray.
The Disdainer of Wailing Canines.
The Scourge of the Enveloping Dark.
The Carrier of the Mighty Staff of Resounding Echoes.
Modern India’s greatest, newest weapon – The Whistle-Blowing Night Sikyurtee Guard.
You will find him in every walled-off enclave, every gated society, every semi-private road. You will rarely spot him, master as he is at the art of camouflage and misdirection, of being where you least expect him to be. But you will always hear him, and you will know his approach by his unmistakeable, unstoppable, and inescapable signal –
Oh, you will hear him. All through the night, every night. On the hour, every hour. A clarion call that announces his approach to any ne’er-do-wells, causing them to flee before he even comes within half a mile of them.
Driven by the desire to chase away all evils and the fear of the General-Secretary-ki-Warning, he is ceaseless, unflagging, and ever-vigilant against any scurrilous attempts to silence his voice. He will resolutely wander the limits of his appointed beat just so that you can lie in your bed comfortably at 3am, secure in the awareness that he is out there. Somewhere. Everywhere. Waiting, waiting, ever-so-patiently, before once more unleashing the Horn of Doom.
Do not be deceived by his slight physique or his slow, shuffling gait – he will be there with his piercing tones when you least expect it, and just as you’ve stopped expecting it. Do not be deceived if he claims that he does not need to use his mighty weapon, that it is forced upon him by paranoid home-owners to ensure that he hasn’t deserted them – this is just a cunning ploy to lull any miscreants into believing the joint forces of middle-class decency are ridden with petty-mindedness and resentment, so that those evil-doers will be tempted to attempt some villainous deed, only to realise the trap when they hear the inevitable hunting call …
PRRRPPPPP PRRRRPPPPPPPP PRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRPPPPPPPP!
And with the dawn, he will silently drift into the shadows, not asking for any gratitude, content with tending to his weapons as he prepares to emerge again that night and renew his vigil.
Outside your window.
Inside your head.
All night long.
Lucky, lucky you.