Haven’t written on QTOL in a while, long enough for QTOL to be technically non-existent. But as I was telling Lakshmi QTOL is a space I write only when something comes to me. Not something for which I can make a timetable.
So just as life would have it, as I returned home on my first day of freedom (I just quit a full time job) life presented me with a QTOL moment!
I live at a chaotic street junction. The evenings on that road are usually jammed with traffic. As I stepped out of my taxi waiting to cross the street, in the middle of all the Bombay traffic flanked with taxis, the Hynudai Santro’s, the City Honda’s the Ford Icons, the Maruti Getz and the many more of those flashy and modern age cars out of nowhere a ‘bottle green’ antique car makes its way. (Since I am horrid with cars, don’t know what particular car this was) I only know it was bottle green with a long bonnet and a small square sitting arrangement.
As the car passed me I couldn’t but give a hearty laugh!
Right inside were 5 neatly packed ‘bawa’ men (Parsee). Dressed in their traditional white ‘Dugli’s’ and ‘Pagris’ (the traditional white shirt and cap dress). The car was being driven by the oldest of the lot may be over 75-80 years with a long flowing white beard. His front seat companion was a 30 odd gentleman clean-shaven. The back seat which would have otherwise fitted two was packed with three skinny gentleman, two 75 odd years and one again in his 30’s!
As I stood there with this car slowly passing me by in traffic it almost felt as though these guys had just zoomed down from Hogrwartz! Out of their school class in their uniform being dropped back home by their headmaster. The guy on the wheel looked like an exact replica of Dumbledore! And their Dugli’s though missing the flowy feeling of the magical robes definitely had a charm of their own! In that crazy moving traffic and the chaotic street corner these 5 gentlemen in their car definitely seemed to have landed from a wonderland setting a pace of their own to the world around them!
And suddenly in the midst of my surprised laughter I found one of the back seater’s looking straight at me. In that odd moment, for the fear of not offending them I turned away to continue my hearty laugh to myself! The laugh was definitely not a mocking one but that of sheer pleasure of seeing life at full swing!
A big cheers to those 5 men in the car. Hoping they have a great ride!
P.S: As I walked back home it struck me .Why is it that if you catch a random person laughing at you the first thought that would cross our minds is ‘they might be laughing at me mockingly’ and not that ‘they might be laughing at something that made them happy looking at me?’ and also may be that guy who caught me did not think that. But why would it cross my mind that he might feel offended?
Here’s hoping that more laughter gets interpreted as happy than offensive! hehe
And for all those have yet not met a Parsee (the Zorastrian community in India) please go out there in the search of one right away! They are by far one of the most amazingly entertaining set of people I have met so far! I am sure they are the only bunch of oldies I can find packed in an antique car in Dugli’s floating along Bombay traffic!
Three images which stay in my mind over last one week, in the order that I saw them.
First- On an extremely hot afternoon I made my way out of the Kanjur Marg station (a central suburban station in Mumbai). The journey from VT to Kanjur Marg took me 35 min in the train and I found myself complaining of the extreme heat and how over crowded and stuffy the train journey had been (I did surprise myself by feeling that way!). As I stepped down the over bridge on my route to the auto, the tiny lane was also quite hot and dusty. In the middle of that lane a large steel drainage gutter lid had gone defunct. The gutter had obviously stopped functioning and the lid lay there slanting one foot inside the gutter making a slant.
A crowd of kids (ranging from 3-8 yrs) from the near by huts were surrounding this defunct gutter, taking turn to use the sliding lid as their own private little garden slide! The circle around the gutter went in circles, one kid taking the turn after the another and each having an absolute blast as they slid themselves down that 3 feet by 2 feet slide! Each kid had that expression of absolute joy and amazement as they made their way down. Only if I was not to rush to the meeting I would have stuck around there a bit longer and may be tried joining them in their game!
Second- As I sat on Marine Drive on a breezy evening, gazing at the sea and the sky, evening walkers, kids out for their evening play time and friends on a stroll gathered on the side promenade. One kid took my attention away from the sky and the sea for quite some time.
He was with the person who would be taking care of him as his mother sat catching up on her phone. The kid, about 4-5 yrs old was riding his just newly acquired bicycle (the bicycle still had fresh plastic covers which were not taken off). He rode for a bit, and then for a longer time than he had ridden his new possession he was more enthralled at pushing the cycle, beating it up, and kicking it. Lifting it again, pushing it till it went a bit far, waiting till it dropped and kicking it again.
After sometime the kicking and the hitting got the better of me and I got back to my sea and the clouds
Third- On my way back home tonight, around 7 p.m as I walked down towards my house I was passing one of those famous bookstores which lots of people keep hopping in and out of. This store has definitely added a lot more traffic and crowd to my earlier relatively quite street corner.
Just outside the store the mother carried her 5-6 yr old daughter who had just been taken to the bookstore, presumably waiting for their driver to come and pick them up. The same bookstore had an under bridge area right opposite where a lot of street families live as well.
As I walked passed the mother daughter duo, they were being daunted by one of the street kid girls begging from them. As I walked, my ears overheard the daughter telling the mother “please give her something na!”, and my eyes caught the mother quickly giving her daughter a stern look of ‘no’, and her hands trying to send the beggar kid away
Don’t want to say anything more… just wanted to share these images as they linger on in my mind… the subtleties of life as they keep popping up all around us… reiterating life the way it is!