"Let's go outside. I need some air," he suggests. Amina nods. "It is going to take a long time before we can finish here."
They walk back through the halls. When they emerge into the open there are local people around. This building is abandoned, but people walk past it to reach stores in the town.
"They are looking at us strangely," William says to her.
"All my life, being a Dalit, I am used to it," she tells him.
"As an expat I get the look too," William explains. "But, living in an expat compound, education was superior and mandatory."
"It was a struggle to stay in school," Amina insists. William looks at her with a question.
"There was pressure to drop out. Most of my Dalit friends dropped out," she clarifies. "It is just expected that Dalits will not get much education. But, I was determined."
William nods and looks around the street. The smells are different from inside the building. This beginning of monsoon season raises the odor of earth. Clouds are in the sky, the seasonal winds have brought them from the south. There is kinda of a yeasty smell that carries up from the river that mixes mud and waste and fertilizer. A cow walks by and William notes a pinch of cow in the air. The smells of food are on the passing people, cumin, garlic, coriander and pepper.
William talks to a police officer at the front of the building. "Please keep everyone out, except library investigators," he instructs him. I will be back tomorrow to continue the scene reconstruction."
"Yes sir," the uniformed man agrees.
"I was trained to search an evidence scene at the library in Jaipur just last year," William relates to her. "I am officially the youngest investigator working for the Librarian in Northwest India. That is not so impressive considering I have lived at libraries since I was little." He thinks about how he does not remember any life outside of libraries.
"Investigations like this happen several times a month," he continues telling Amina. "Someone comes forward and says a crime has been committed. If the authorities suspect books may be involved, they pass it on the the Librarian. It is a way for the authorities to lower their workload, at least temporarily. Most investigations by libraries turn out to not be related to protected books."
"What was it like growing up as an expat?" Amina asks him.
"The Librarian of Goa had been a small girl when the Collapse happened and has been supportive of the xpats left behind," William informs her. "As you know, the mass of foreigners trapped in India were granted permission to stay by the Kingdom of India." She nods.
"I enjoyed being a ward of libraries," William insists. "I studied every day and enjoyed never being finished with learning."
"Amina, can you show me to your library, I need to take a break."
She leads him down the street. sweet and pungent, madhura and katu, are qualities of taste, and indeed they are given in the list that follows the smells, which tastes.
Sandalwood There are pungent smells in the air. musky, cedar woodsiness with an acrid, almost vanilla-like sweetness, this sandalwood from Karnataka smells of goat pee. There are the smells that are heady and strong of some sort of jasmine that mango blossom.
"It smells different here in Pilani, than it does in Jaipur," Amina nods in agreement.
She points up at the sky. "See those cirrostratus clouds up to the north?"
"Yes," William tilts his head up.
"Now, during the early monsoon season, as the wash of life-bringing liquid has come north from the winds from the Bay of Bengal, those clouds of water and ice will stack up against the Himalayas, and begin cover our land with rain."
"You can smell the mud, infused with wastes from human consumption, like garbage, excrement, and chemicals. That mud has a deep musty-yeasty- dirty water kind of smell that hangs in the air. Then, there are smells of cows. It ranges from a small pinch of odor wafting at a distance to the glops of cow poo from the cow standing right there," she points across to the cow in the street near them.
"We also smell food odors, including hot frying oil, curry, garlic, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and pepper," she point to the open doors around them.
"Finally, every person adds their own fragrance to the mix," She smiles at him. "Perfume, cologne, and incense is carried into the street with the passage of people walking by."
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