A small bulb, powered by a faulty generator, flickered on and off. We were sitting on thin pillows, exhausted. The day had been long and we were waiting – half awake – for dinner. There was a TV in the corner of the room and, because we were all too lethargic to make conversation, I turned it on. Despite the several satellites on the roof of the guesthouse, there was only one functional channel. An Indian soap opera was on. More melodramatic than Bollywood (yes, that’s possible), every scene was inundated with gunfire, pouring rain, screeching music, or a frightened, sobbing heroine. Because the show was run on a local network, the bare backs, legs, and arms of the actresses were carefully blurred out. Blurred such that you could still make out their tone and shape – but not their definition. A formidable task for the editor, I thought, as I watched several extras in shorts and fuzzy legs walk across the screen. The love story itself was scandalous, and a number of swears were dubbed over. Wouldn’t it make more sense to not air the show at all?
I pondered that for about a half-minute more, before the cook came in, rolled a tarp out on the floor, and tossed us each a naan. I ate whatever I could, quickly, and then headed to the room opposite the main one – reserved for the women. I climbed into a twin bed, with worn, unwashed sheets, and pulled out my flashlight and War of Necessity, War of Choice. The buzz of the generator outside matched the light snoring of my roommates. A new village waited for us tomorrow.