Sunday, September 18, 2011

Of People and Places! – Part 2

My previous attempt of assault received more flak than cheer and mostly it was from my close aides complaining of my non-adherence to what the Wren and Vodka had to say.  If you didn’t found it last time, chances are you wouldn’t found it even today!

So this Wren and Whiskey, oh wait, I think I got their names wrong, it was Wren and Martini ,or some allied drink name, have taken their revenge and added me to their latest list of victims. You ask me revenge for what? So the story goes that these two, who were children of British officers residing in India, were deeply in love with each other. Since India did not have any law supporting such marriages, the society cruelly separated these two lovers. Then they decided to take revenge on every offspring produced by any Indian marriage by making this book a part of curriculum and today, almost 85 years after, I too have been victimized. (Yeah I know that was made up. And I also know that was not funny.)

So, coming back to the point, I was given this book 'Elements of Style' to improvise and when I skimmed through the book, I read something in the preface that made this self-help grammar-cum-write-sensible-stuff book completely useless to me. It read 'Omit needless words'. I mean what will remain on this blog if I were to follow that... I have just filled in three whole paragraphs without making a single valuable point.

But nevertheless, trust me on one thing; I will never fail on the assault -

Scene 2-
Most of my city explorations were always through public transport, mainly local trains and in some instances, city buses. But then one thing led to another - I started working, the companies pretended to pay me and I upgraded to rickshaw. That’s where the woes started.

Mumbai –
I am late as usual so I am speeding on a rainy day, holding my cell phone in one hand, umbrella in another, coordinating with her on phone and scanning for a rickshaw. I cross the road to get to the stand and hurriedly get in the nearest one I see.
Driver – “Madam, I can’t come with you. There are others in the line ahead of me”
I am amazed! I get down and start speeding again to the front of the line jumping over potholes.

When I reach, - “Since this is a crowded route, let’s take the parallel road to avoid traffic. I am in hurry and I need to go to …….…”
He cuts me sharply - “Madam, if you don’t want to come, it’s perfectly fine. Don’t use swear words!”
I am shocked. What did I say I wonder? Then it dawns upon me. Grave Mistake!!!

Mid-scene Learning – Finally after 27 years, I have proved my mother wrong. She always tells me – You need to know the local language in any city.

Me- (I translate it into best possible Mumbaiya Hindi that I know of) “Oh no. I was just saying that lets take the alternate road”. He is not fully convinced so I shut up and say “Bhaiyya, Talaopali jaana hai”

Phew! He nods. I keep my mouth shut for the rest of the time. He drives through potholed roads with utmost precision taking shortcuts I am unaware of. When I reach, he takes out the tariff card “11 ruppess 75 paise”. I pay and escape from there as soon as possible.

Learning (For all my folks from other cities who have never seen an auto meter working) - A whole lot of distance can actually be covered in 11 rupees J
Learning (For me) – I am still grinning over my mid-scene learning…

Pune –
It’s a hot Pune summer and I am relieved by the fact that the rickshaw stand is at a stone’s throw away from my house. Yet I wrap a scarf all around my face almost suffocating me to death just to look one amongst the other terrorist lookalikes hovering in the city.  After my Mumbai learning, I walk straight to the first rickshaw in line but am surprised to see a long line of deserted rickshaws so I walk all the way back to see a highly interactive card game in progress. I interrupt –
(The conversation will obviously be in Marathi)

Me – “I need to go to Sadashiv Peth”
One of the drivers disgusted due to my interruption – “SO?”
I go blank at that expression. When I recover my consciousness - “So will you come?”
Driver – “No it’s too far”
I realize the futility of any further arguments but since I see no other autos passing by, I call up a friend to pick me from a nearby area. He agrees.
Me- “Ok. Just drop me till Deccan Gymkhana”
Driver – “No, it’s very near”
This time around, I lose my patience so I scream – “So how many kilometers is an appropriate distance to travel at a time”
Driver – “Ok. Let’s make it clear. I am a specialized driver.”
Me – I try to be sarcastic. “Specialized in not going anywhere it seems”
Driver – “You can be only so ignorant if you are from Mumbai. I am specialized in Teen Patti. The only other rickshaw stand that promotes this game is that Dange Chowk one. All other stands play kiddish games, below my level. Therefore I can commute only to that place.”
(I don’t remember much after that because I fainted. Apparently my roommate saw me fainting from the balcony and took me home. She tells me that she had to apologize in writing on my behalf to the drivers for my inconsiderate behavior)

Learning - Rickshaw stand is a place where an auto rickshaw (only) stands (for the rest of the day).

Moral of the story – Do I need to say it!! Though I haven’t been able to defend Mumbai too well, yet …Mumbai Meri Jaan !! :-)



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