Annawadi’s one-time slum boss, Robert Pires, stables nine horses in the slum, on two of which he paints stripes, using Garnier Nutrisse hair dye, to rent them out as zebras at middle-class children’s birthday parties. Boo’s book describes how, one day, the horses bring the media to Annawadi:
Suddenly, Annawadi was in the news.
The proximate cause was a cheerful, if illegal, June tradition—a Sunday afternoon horse-and-carriage race on the gleaming Western Express Highway. Small bets were placed, and people lined the highway to watch.
The deposed slumlord, Robert the Zebra Man, was running two of his horses harnessed to an undermaintained carriage, freshly painted red and blue. Late in the race, as the pretty cart reached the crest of an overpass, one of its wheels rolled away. The carriage veered, harnesses broke, and the unnerved horses plunged off the bridge. A newspaper photographer was on hand to capture their grisly landing on the road below. And so began a campaign to find and penalise the horses’ negligent...