Venturing out of the house in the evening is a forgotten excursion. Unlike the days when it was an exciting compulsion to go down to play or meet up with school friends who lived close by, current evenings are routinely spent traveling back home from work. Today was an exception. I was at home, and in the evening I went out to buy some vada pavs for the family. Understandable that since we’re seeing off the icon of calm and genius of this city – Sachin Tendulkar – that we should have his favourite street food. Not really. I just like making poetry out of mundane things. I can make poetry out of the deflating of a bus tyre too. That’s me. Childish. Onward.
So I have spent a day at home doing nothing and a hundred thoughts have been regurgitated and churned in my mind, only to be swallowed back.
Okay, not pretty.
Let’s do this again.
All day, I’ve been thinking random thoughts in the quiet spaces allowed by WhatApp. Tendulkar, obviously has been on top of the mind. I’m not a great cricket fan, but there is a sense of closure that seemed to sweep the atmosphere when Sachin got out this morning. It’s just unsettling that I won’t be ignoring the matches he will play but watch all his ads and wonder “Wow, how can he be like that.” It’s strange that I won’t turn a deaf ear to my sister screaming while he’s batting but read all the papers when they pour out articles about his greatness. And in spite of me, I have tuned into the FM radio each morning to hear the RJs screaming his name; running contests about him; and dedicating this whole week to him. Personally I have never felt so proud as a Mumbaikar. Mumbai right now is saying good bye to its God. I am one of them. I have to say #Thank You Sachin.
I also made some important phone calls about the CSR day that is coming up in office. I have been looking up wall decals to put up in a room full of babies. I must say the search online is a pleasure of sorts. The themes of these stickers are to die for. They make me want to have extra rooms in my house.
Since this whimsical thought has the capacity to render me kidney-less and convert me into a gangster, I must stop. More rooms in Mumbai? Yes, laugh at me.
The themes rattle imagination. There is a wall-sized sticker of tree with swings hanging from its branches and two children on the swings. Imagine this black sticker on an apple-green wall. Although you can’t see the expression on the children’s faces, you know they are thrilled to be on that swing. Then there are life-sized dandelions with their pollen dispersed in air. Imagine this on a beige wall; stuff that Wordsworth wrote about. And then there is a black sticker of an ornamental cage hanging from heaven with birds fluttering outside the cages. Yes, outside. This sticker on a pink wall is stuff fairy tales are made of.
Too bad, fairy tales are worse than myths. At least in a myth a God is punished.
Enough of my cynical self.
Onto the buying of the vada pavs.
I was sitting at home, doing zilch. My self esteem committed suicide. Then I decided to partake some house chores. My mother asked me to go to the market to buy vada pavs instead of buying them at a pseudo-farsan shop near the station. I paid heed. This market is near my school, and everyone who went there would believe me when I say it isn’t exactly a shady place. But while I stood at this make-shift stall waiting for the bhaiyya to fry some fresh vadas people started to gather. No, I’m not so naive as to think it was about me. A lot of people came, ordered vada and samosas. But it did make me uncomfortable. The bhaiyya was speedily keeping up with the demands.
6 vada pav.
And on it went.
Too many men were around and a few boys. In front of me was a girl half my height. She stood there confidently with vegetables she’d bought and asked for 6 vada pavs. Two things here. First, a girl her size bought vegetables; I am no good. Second, she seemed very comfortable, I wasn’t. Then I thought it wasn’t my fault. I have nothing to apologize for. Nothing to be afraid of. I’m just buying some street food. How creepy can that get? No? Stray conversations about a seemingly unsafe Mumbai came to mind. My friend confessed to me that she was starting to feel unsafe here. Her car was being disfigured. She was being approached by shady-looking men. I challenged it saying my city is not unsafe. This is Mumbai. While all of this was going on in my head, 3 boys started screaming over the crowd for samosa pavs. As the demand was very high and the bhaiyya could only do so much he asked them to wait. They kept bobbing up and down and bhaiyya yielded. He handed out 3 samosas. One of them wanted chutney. One didn’t. One wanted only meethi chutney. The permutation was done. When it came for the boys to pay, one of them handed out ten rupees and told bhaiyya he’d pay one rupee later. He didn’t have the money.
I thought maybe I would give him a rupee, and finally the bhaiyya yielded.
When he looked for the other two boys to collect the money, they had taken off. They were nowhere in sight and even this boy said he didn’t know who they were. Silently, I kept my one rupee coin back in my purse and came home.
Now I shall think of other things.