Friday, April 6, 2012
The Mundane Walk
The Mundane Walk
“Stop Stop Stop, stop the bus god damnit”, I shouted at the bus driver as the burly bus driver just slowed the bus down to about 5km/hr but didn’t bring it to a complete halt at the designated bus stop.
If I was of the fairer sex the bus would have come to a gentle stop by now and the driver would have waited till I stepped down completely and moved a few paces above from the bus but alas, being a guy seemed like a curse right now. Taking God’s name with a quiet breath I jumped out as the next stop was 3 km’s away. I ensured that I run backward after landing from the jump to balance the effect of Newtonian laws on motion, in lay man’s terms, this would ensure that I don’t fall face front on the road.
After having I stabilized my walk, I took a few deep breaths to calm my down from the excitement of jumping from a moving bus. I started to walk back home which was about 2 km’s away from here.
The way to my home was similar to a treasure map trail you would see in a lot of Hollywood movies. One would have to traverse through a posh up-market colony, a children’s park and a slum before reaching the huge rusted broken gates to the chaotic middle class colony where I lived with my family.
I call it chaotic because that was one factor common to everyone living in that colony. There was chaos of living standards as everyone wanted to be one step ahead of their neighbors. There was chaos of vehicle parking as everyone had more cars or two wheelers than the parking space allotted to them. There was chaos of essential supplies as almost everyone had illegal power and water connections to meet the demands of the slightly rich middle class of this city. There was constant chaos of driving faster than the rest on the small narrow lanes of the colony. So, everywhere you would turn your head there would be some chaos or the other. I had started walking toward the chaos.
As I was walking through the first posh colony, along the road dotted with bungalows the size of palaces, my eye caught the sight of two teenage girls playing badminton. They were playing badminton in the car parking in front of their bungalow.
“These guys must be really rich if they can afford such a huge car parking outside their bungalow”, I said to myself. I stopped to see them play a few strokes. Since I was still dressed properly from my day at work, I wasn’t sneered at to move on.
I was amused to see the way they both played badminton. It was totally “prim and propah” as the British would say, with delicate and deft strokes. “If Saina Nehwal would have seen this, she would have quit playing badminton”, I chuckled to myself. Along came a gust of wind and the shuttle cock got stuck on an adjacent tree. Both the girls looked cluelessly at the shuttle cock on the tree, then at the trunk of the tree and finally at each other. Had they made the effort to shake the tree together, the shuttle cock would have fallen down on its own, after all it is feather weight literally but then two spoilt rich girls putting in the effort to shake a tree was a big NO. I was looking at all this with certain amount of amusement was I wanted to see what brilliant idea they would come up with. In my mind, I imagined one of them come up with an idea and shout “Eureka” like Archimedes did centuries ago. Finally they turned and looked for help, and unfortunately they spotted me looking at them. I quit smiling and looked towards the side so that I could portray that I was not watching their game but then I had lost that moment.
“Excuse me, can you please help us in getting the shuttle cock down from that tree”, said one of them as she took a few paces towards me.
“Sure”, I said not knowing what else to do.
I walked towards the tree and assessed the situation from a closer spot. The tree trunk was not very thick and a few shakes would ensure that the shuttle cock falls down onto the ground. I got down on the task ahead and shook the tree. Amazingly the shuttle cock fell down in just one shake. Seeing that, both the girls jumped with joy, picked up the shuttle cock and went inside their palatial home.
“No thank you, nothing, what a bunch of ungrateful people”, I snapped at them in my mind and started my walk again. Soon I crossed the sea of Audis, BMWs and Mercs of all sizes and shapes.
As I entered the children’s park, I felt a cool breeze hit my face. The park was well made some swings and a small football ground for the kids to play in. The cool breeze made me feel relaxed. The effect was so strong that I forgot about the weight of the laptop bag with heavy office files I was carrying on my shoulders. My boss had given me some work to complete by tonight and hence the heavy office files were part of my take home today.
A few kids were playing football as I walked by the football ground. They were mostly 8-9 year olds and so full of energy. They were running after the football together with all the energy that Boost /Bournvita/Complan or Horlicks may have given them. It was such a pleasant sight to see the kids play in the park as otherwise they mobiles and dating hardly give them the time to experience any extracurricular activities.
“Uncle please give the ball”, shouted the kids in chorus. I hadn’t realized that one of them had kicked the football towards me by mistake. I quickly went towards the ball and gently kicked it back to the kids.
“Thank you uncle”, they said and got into a huddle to see who could kick the ball first.
I smiled and started walking towards home.
As I crossed the park, I saw the final frontier ahead of me, the vast slum. The road to chaos was built along the periphery of the slum. The slum was inhabited by mostly Bangaldeshi’s who had come to the city to find a decent job and in turn had ended up working as maids and servants in the nearby colonies.
The slum was an abode for drugs trafficking, illegal liquor sales and a safe haven for the petty thieves of the area. Walking on the road alongside the slum at night, all alone, is scary enough to keep all the humanly possible senses on their tip toes. Thankfully, it was just evening and the darkness hadn’t completely engulfed the road. However the daily drinkers not that of tea or coffee at this evening hour, but of the country made liquor had already started to line the footpath along the road with their 170ml bottles and pouches. Dressed in vests and pants or torn, dirty shirts and pants they sat, drank their magical elixir, gossiped amongst each other, rolled around on the pavement and kept the vicious cycle going on.
As I was walking on the road to my home, I saw a familiar face coming towards me on a bicycle. The man was cycling hard considering the cycle was not only carrying his own weight but also the weight of the 4 milk cans attached in a 2 by 2 formation on either side at the back of the bicycle.
As he neared me he said “Hello, Rajveer sir” with a gentle smile.
“Hello, Suresh”, I greeted politely.
Suresh was one of the official milk suppliers to our colony. He was the most honest amongst the dishonest lot of milk suppliers who existed there, as he only mixed 15% water in the milk he supplied whereas the adulteration of water in the milk ranged from anywhere between 25%-30% of water for the rest of the milk suppliers cartel.
“Have you given the milk at home?” I asked.
“Yes sir, I am coming from your home only. I just gave fresh buffalo’s milk full of healthy cream at your home sir”, he replied with a big smile.
“Ok Ok, very good. I hope you didn’t mix any water in it”, I said knowing that it was already adulterated with about 15% of water.
“God swear sir, I don’t mix anything in the milk. I am an honest guy”, he replied with a slightly fake look.
“Ok Suresh. Thank you”, I replied and looked towards the road.
“Thank you sir, thank you very much”, he replied and started cycling ahead.
I had walked a few paces when I heard a loud crashing sound behind my back.
I turned back and saw that Suresh had collided with one of the slum kids trying his hand at cycling a toddler cycle.
The collision was so severe that it led to the fall of Suresh and his heavily loaded country ride while the kid picked up his toddler cycle and made a run for his home to the safety of his mother in the slums.
I walked back to help Suresh get up and as I neared the accident site, I was left speechless.
One of the containers on his bicycle had opened up due to the fall and wet the surface of the road. The surface of the road had just become darker instead of white, as the liquid that had spilled out was water and not milk.
I started at Suresh with flaring nostrils. I didn’t give a damn about whether he was hurt or not. I was angry, he had just told me that he wasn’t adulterating milk like a gentleman. I still believed him knowing that he was lying but since I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I still believed him. Now I knew, he was adulterating milk and it pissed me off.
He saw me staring at him angrily; he quickly got up, closed the container, picked up his cycle, got onto it and paddled as fast as he could to safety.
The way he made a run for his life, was so hilarious that I lost all my anger and ended up laughing. After all, this is something one sees mostly in Jackie Chan movies, where the bad guy makes a run on cycles in the narrow streets of Chinese towns.
I turned back, looked up at the skies, wondering what was in store for me next, took a deep breath and started walking.
Finally I reached the gates of heaven, rusted iron gates, more like hell I would say but then I had made my peace with that.
Standing on either sides of the gates were two guards. Tall, slim, with long flowing hair, dressed to kill were all the stuff one would want to associate with them if the gates were to heaven but reality was different. Both of them were short, ugly, almost balding men with huge beer bellies. They were constantly chewing tobacco and spitting it all over the place. The wall next to the gate seemed as if a bloodbath had taken place there but it was the red colored spit of the tobacco which had bathed the wall.
I made my way inside the gates; my home was a few paces inside the colony.
“Stop them, Stop them, thieves”, shouted a lady
“Stop them, they have stolen my purse”, she shouted again.
The shouts were coming from the deserted market street on my left. I turned to see a lady probably in her mid thirties running behind a motorcycle with two men on it. They had stolen her purse and were now making a run for it.
I saw them coming towards me, and I looked around to see what would be their exit route as surely they wouldn’t exit from the main gates and then I saw it, about 10 metres from the gate, there was a small gap in the wall, big enough for a small motorcycle to go by.
The guys on the bike pressed on the accelerator so that they could run away with the bounty through that gap. I looked at the security guards; even if they were slimmer they wouldn’t have made it to that gap to catch the thieves.
“Stop them Stop them my purse my purse”, she shouted again.
I looked around, there was no one else who could have helped the lady. I don’t know what came over me and I quickly walked near the gap in the wall. As soon as the guys came neared the gap, I swung my laptop bag in the face of the guy riding the motorcycle. Not knowing what hit them, they lost balance of the bike and fell down on the road while the bike collided in the wall.
I quickly picked up the purse of the lady. In the meantime, the guards had managed to come to the accident scene and caught hold of both the thieves.
“Well done Rajveer sir”, said one of the guards.
“Thank you so much, these two thieves have been creating a lot of havoc here”, said the other one.
“Call the police and hand them over”, I said in a stern tone.
“Yes sir”, they both said in a chorus and took the thieves towards their cabin.
“Thank you son”, said a ladies voice from behind me.
I turned back and saw that the lady whose purse had been stolen had made her way toward me.
“Here is your purse madam”, I said with a gentle smile while handing over her purse
“Thank you son so much, you are an angel”, she said smilingly.
“In today’s times no one comes to help in such situation. I thought I had lost all my money and important documents today. You are a good man. Thank you once again”, she said.
I felt like as if I was superhero from an action comic who had just come to the aid of an innocent helpless woman in a crime infested street.
“No problem madam, good people are still there, don’t worry. Please take care of your belongings and be extra careful”, I told her reassuringly.
She put her hand on my head and showered blessings on me.
I bowed, accepted all the blessings, smiled at her and turned to walk towards my home, my superhero abode. I was on a cloud nine, I had done a good thing, I felt like a superhero but just that my home didn’t feel like it was a superhero’s abode. Only if it was like a Bat Cave, I wished to myself with a chuckle.
Finally, I made it to my home, greeted my mother and went to my room to change after all I had pending work to complete for my boss.
After changing I sat down on my bed, opened the laptop to work on the presentation.
My mother came to the room and handed me over my cup of tea and went back to her kitchen.
I held the cup and said to myself smilingly “Cheers!! Finally a relief from the daily mundane walk, hopefully tomorrow will be better”.