I stepped out of the airport at 5:30am to find Delhi colder than I had imagined. A few days ago the temperature had touched forty. It was 20 but felt much colder as I searched for a taxi.
We drove by open fields in an Ambassador with the windows rolled down on a smooth wide road; the contrast with Bombay could not be greater. After living with the smog, the clean morning air is overwhelming. The driver was a stocky man with a cheerful countenance and he came here from Uttar Pradesh. The usual inquiries were made and, when talk turned to cricket, he said sharply, "They shouldn't have called him here." He was referring to Musharraf. I explained that he had invited himself over. "Still, we don't know what he's going to do when he returns. All that nonsense will begin again."
It was too early to speak of politics or anything other than birds chirping and declarations of landmarks - "To your left is IIT! The road there takes you to the Qutub Minar! Jama Masjid is one hour away!" - so I stayed silent.
Then he spoke again, with as much feeling as thought: "But who knows, maybe something happened to him during partition. Even then, don't you think the problems of the past should be forgotten so we can move ahead?"
It was surprising hearing this. For no reason other than the one that a dissenting voice - one that doesn't advocate blowing Pakistan to smithereens - is rare. As I thought this and slipped into a glorious daydream where Indians and Pakistanis were all bhai-bhai and all, he snaps me out of it with a cheeky, "But then if he didn't have Kashmir to talk about, how would he justify his political existence?"