In Uma Devi‘s celestial playground
in Moulding Lane,
the architecture bubbles upwards
in pastel plastic ganglions,
culminating in a pantheon
of opulent deities staring unsmiling into space.
At the entrance a stall sells you
African yellow marigold garlands,
a bunch of green bananas,
a bottle of oil, a coconut;
for fifty baht a tray.
You take it down the passageway,
past gilded animals and deities
and sellers of miniature (and not so miniature) idols,
until you come to the inner sanctum.
Here a hospitable sign tells you
DO NOT ENTER
and a Brahmin takes your tray,
dabs a blob of red
randomly on your forehead
and sends you blissfully on your way.
Your offerings are discreetly returned
to the stall that sells them
for economic(al) recycling.
If the secular world had learned
the secret of Uma’s lesson
in husbandry and housekeeping,
we might have avoided this downward-spiralling