They had traveled to the desert shrine in a bus, a colorful yellow creature with a red flower headdress, an iron grill for a smile, painted eyes for head lights and every small inch of its body filigreed in floral motifs. It was already packed when they got on with the luggage thrown into the air to be precariously perched on the roof by someone at the top. The vehicle slouched slightly to one side but everyone squeezed in somehow to share the aisle with children and with chickens, a couple of bleary eyed goats and several young girls of a family squatting on the floor in ochre and fuchsia dresses.
This was the slow bus to a shrine of a sufi saint from Hyderabad that huffed along and stopped for anyone who waved at it: children without fare, old women with bundles over the head and old men as thin as the sticks they carried for balance. The men, old and young, wore red scarves about the neck and women were dressed in children.
Despite the gaiety, no one spoke out loud or got into quarrels, even the children were hushed because they were all headed for the shrine of the silent dervish.
They seemed like wizened travellers who had made this journey several times over and sat contently in silence. There was no music on the decorated but dilapidated vehicle except for the drone of the engine laboring against the sand dunes and high wind, slapped by sandstorms that wiped away the road, creeping past the villages to climb the hills. The river was far away and everyone sat dusted in gold grains that flew in through the open windows. It was still winter.