The astrologer has chosen the spot under the tamarind tree mainly because it has a lot of foot traffic passing by it all day and into the night. The spot is flanked by a path running through the Town Hall Park. Apparently the astrologer has to work late in order to pick up enough small coins to support himself, his wife, and their young child. But he does not start work until midday. The tamarind tree also provides him with shade during the day. No doubt the traffic is heaviest in the evening because people who live in hot climates like to come out after sunset.
It was a remarkable place in many ways: a surging crowd was always moving up and down this narrow road morning till night.
Another reason the astrologer likes his location is that he gets some minimal lighting at night from neighboring shop lights.
Half the enchantment of the place was due to the fact that it did not have the benefit of municipal lighting. The place was lit up by shop lights . . . . and one or two, like the astrologer's, managed without lights of their own.
The last customer, whose name is Guru Nayak, does not appear until the astrologer is ready to quit for the night. The matter of illumination is important because Guru Nayak, a rough customer seeking revenge, might otherwise have recognized the astrologer as the man he was seeking with the intention of killing him.
The effect of Narayan's story hinges on the fact that he can recognize his client but the client does not recognize him. This is largely due to the dimness of the lighting and also to the manner in which the astrologer paints his face in order to look more impressive.
His forehead was resplendent with sacred ash and vermilion. . . . The power of his eyes was considerably enhanced by their position placed as they were between the painted forehead and the dark whiskers which streamed down his cheeks.
The astrologer decides to go home when his nearby neighbor, a nuts vendor, blows out his flare, leaving the astrologer in almost total darkness.