Friday, February 13, 2009

At the red light

selected by BlogAdda as one of the top posts for the week's 'Spicy Saturday Picks'

It was a Monday morning. I woke up exactly an hour after the alarm gave up on me. I reached for my cell phone and quickly typed this message “I am sorry, I overslept. Had a party last night. Would be late to office”.

“Ok” said the new inbox message; my boss had given up on me.

It’s a twenty one kilometer drive from my home to office and there are precisely seven signals on the way. I have mentally classified them as good and bad signals, depending on time taken to cross them.

There are two particularly bad signals where the traffic comes to such a standstill that I fear ageing there.

While vehicles stand and stare the red light, a swarm of street sellers spring into action. It’s their show time. From peanuts in paper cones, to deep fried samosas, to ripened guavas, to cheap Chinese toys and cell phone chargers, to dog bone shaped head rests for your car, they sell many such interesting things. Fighting for your attention are also the beggars, eunuchs and the child acrobats with their noses and cheeks painted like clowns.

I was running very low on fuel so I turned off the ignition but kept the music playing. As I was listening to “Masakalli”, I heard a tap on my window. It was a kid wearing a tattered ‘baniyan’ and holding paper cones in one hand. I ignored him and increased the volume, thinking he would move ahead. But he kept tapping on my window harder and harder. As I gave him a stern look, he stopped tapping and came closer; almost sticking his face to the window he started saying something. There were patches of fog forming on the window because of his breath. It was really annoying.

I pulled down the window to the half and yelled “aage jaa na yaar. Dimag mat kharab kar”. Not minding my pitch, he requested “do rupay ka hai. Le lo na saab”. “Subah subah Kaun khata hai mungfali, jaa bhai” I tried shooing him away. Now he started making pity faces. A good salesman I thought “Bhai aagey bhad, yahin khada rahega to signal green ho jayega aur tera dhanda nahi hoga” I gave him a sales tip.

He refused to budge. He was looking through me. This time he spoke “ kaunsa film hai?” On the seat next to me, there was the CD cover of ‘Delhi 6’. I picked it up and showed him from behind the window “Padh Kya Lika hai”. There is an innovative mirror insert on the cover of the ‘Delhi 6’ CD, so he kept looking into it. I could see his amusement on seeing himself on it. I kept back the CD answering his question “Delhi 6 hai ye”. He didn’t get me, so I said in a language I thought he might understand “Dilli che hai movie ka naam”. “Dilli, who to shahar ka naam hai” he responded with a smile.

“Acha tujhe bada pata hai. Tu kahan se aaya hai” I asked. “Bihar” he spoke unclearly. “Arre, main bhi UP se hoon. Tu yahaan kaise aa gaya” I couldn’t believe I was talking to him. “Amma yahan kam karti hai, building ban raha hai na, wahan” . "Aur papa?" I didn’t know why I asked that. He just kept looking at me blankly. “Kitney saal ka hai tu?” I questioned him. He just kept moving his finger on the dust settled on my window, as if a kid drawing in his work book.

“Aath?” I asked. He smiled like he meant yes, but looked unsure. “Dus?” I questioned again. He gave me a bigger smile this time. I realized he didn’t know his age. Playfully I said “Tera birthday kab hai”. His eyes sparkled when he said “Happy Birthday” and then he went quiet.

“ Acha movie dekhta hai? Film?” I wanted to distract him. “Haan” he liked this topic. “Favourite hero kaun hai?” I wanted to know. “Shahrukh Khan” He said with a sparkle in his eyes. “Ohoo…mere baazigar, yeh bata ki movie kahan dekhta hai? Hall me”. “Showroom mein” and he pointed out to the fancy electronics store on the other side of the road.

I knew that the signal was going to turn green “Acha chal ek packet de de” I said. Wanted to pay him for his time I wasted. He gave me a paper cone. While I paid him a coin, I asked him “Kuch khaya subah se?”. “Nahi” he moved his head in disagreement. I gave him back the paper cone. “Yeh meri taraf se, yeh bechna mat, tu kha isko”. With a big smile he surprised me with a “thank you saab”. I could see the signal turn green. While the vehicles before me were preparing to move, I asked him the last question “Naam kya hai tera?”. “Sanju” he said and ran towards the pavement.

The next morning while waiting at the same signal, I was looking for Sanju. Wanted to see if he recognizes me and gives me any special attention.

I kept waiting but he didn’t turn up. Instead a eunuch came to my window. I wanted to ask her about Sanju. I pulled down my window and held a ten rupee note. She took the note and blessed me, while she was walking away, I asked her “who mungfali wala kahan hai, dikhayee nahi de raha”. “Who aaj nahi aaya saab” she informed me. I was thinking aloud “Aaj Sanju nahi aaya”. She turned back and asked me with an expression of surprise “tum usko jaante hai saab”. “Nahi Aise hi” I said. “Usko kal police pakad ke le gayi sir”. “What?” I exclaimed. “Usne kal chori kiya na saab, ek ladki ka mobile leke bhag raha tha toh police ne usko pakad liya”. The signal turned green.


Prateek said...

Hey a really nice post. I saw the link of your blog on my Brother's Blogsite.....Great Post sometime small snippets from our mundane life knocks at our middle class conscience,These are the experiences which keeps us rooted.

A great piece,Will visit this blog more often



gurudev prasad said...

Thanks Prateek,

Read some really interesting stuff on your blog.

Keep posting.

Vikrant said...

Random notes ... Candid thoughts ... Sheer Bliss!

... Continue to amaze!

Passionate said...

Oye guru, not bad yaar!!
Nice post!!
How you doing ? Long time!!!

Your post was a good read!!!

Sarvasiddhi said...

Good on buddy...

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Anonymous said...