An early morning doorbell ring is usually not good news. This time it is Ram Bahadur, the maali, our super gardener who must be one of the few old-style maalis still left in the city. Instead of me, it is he who cries when monkeys smash through most of my pots to get to the cool mud during the burn of summer, (they spread the wet mud like a sheet and lounge around all day—I kid you not!). But today the normally reticent guy is vocal and obviously in great distress. He’s lost his identity papers—someone stole them from his bag on the cycle—and that includes his school leaving certificate (a piece of paper that you need to show that you are indeed alive and of a certain age). To get a duplicate will now force him to intersect with the “sarkar”. One can live peacefully in a bubble in India, but one intersection with a government office where you want something will leave you poorer, humiliated and harassed. I promise to help with the advertisement he has to release to announce his lost papers (what ancient regime do we live in?) before he can file an FIR. What the police will do for this favour is anybody’s guess. His voice and face tell me he knows what his next one month will be like.