Car 5

Mr Gurdev Dhollin

Outward appearance

Tough, perhaps sour, middle aged man. Black hair streaked with white. Jacket, shirt with broad blue stripes, no tie. Light blue-grey trousers too tight. Briefcase.

Inside information

Runs a small dry cleaning shop on Kennington Road. Lets his staff do the work while he goes through his business papers. He has a phone in his briefcase and one plugged into the cigarette lighter of his car.

Grew up in the Punjab, where his family now are. Has carefully mapped out his return in five years' time.

The money from the shop is enough to finance property developments in his native state. His eldest son runs the casino in one of his hotels. The other runs a series of housing developments, building homes for the new middle class.

What he is doing or thinking

Dismayed by the invention of Hindu fundamentalism. Where does this come from? The term Hindu refers to geography not belief. No one in India calls it Hinduism. It is the dharma. People can worship Rama or Durga. All religions are individual and personal.

Gurdev blames the failure of politics in India, and he blames that on corruption. He intends to return and enter politics for the Congress party.

India should be a number-one country. It has the resources and the people. Why are they licensing foreign car manufacturers? Give the contract to Indians.

But the image in his mind is this: a slow, sluggish river winding through a hushed, hot landscape, patient, heavy, like a pregnant woman; and a giggling boy shimmying up a tree: himself.

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