Car 2

Mr Savi Gupta

Outward appearance

Large, fleshy Indian man in loose brown shirt and camel-coloured long coat. Slightly bouffant hair with waves. Holds a rolled, unread newspaper. Sits sprawled and relaxed, like a laundry basket of expensive clothes.

Inside information

Manager of Emil's Window Displays, a shop selling mannequins. Its front window is crammed with sexless, bald effigies, mostly of children.

What he is doing or thinking

Savi is amusing himself by imagining what the other passengers would look like if they had been born as the opposite sex.

Passenger 50 transforms into a much prettier person, petite with a retrousse nose, the kind of bad girl that produces a naughty tickle. Passenger 51 becomes a very nasty customer, the kind of male relative Mr Gupta most hates dealing with: obdurate, religious. Passenger 52 turns into a heavy-cheeked labourer, with broad features and bigger hands wearing two layers of clothes and reading The Sun instead of a letter. Passenger 53 turns into a neat, prim, disappointed man with a pale lined face. Passenger 54 is much improved for being male. Her pink-cheeked jollity, would suit an athletic if boyish frame. She would still wear an AIDS ribbon. And the policeman, well, he becomes a frumpy housewife in pastel clothes that are meant to make her look more feminine.

Savi's family were turfed out of Uganda so long ago that he cannot remember, and he runs an unlikely business by accident of inheritance located for no discernible reason on Waterloo Road in London. For him, all fate is arbitrary. His white-faced, sexless dummies await him. He gets off as always at Lambeth North.

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