Monday, April 5, 2010

Some weird sides of a Home

There are things that we know. And then there are those things that we stumble upon. It is like spotting a little blue blob on a painting which one had seen for years, but never noticed. Public transport in Kolkata gives me the strangest views of a city I thought I knew by heart. Here are some rather random observations. On hindsight they might not be that funny or random, but worth mentioning all the same.

Curiosity No. 1:
Camps can be found all around you. I was sitting in an auto, one summer morning. The auto driver was merrily chatting away with the auto driver who was moving alongside. In fact, both the vehicles decided to move at an equal speed in order to carry out their talk.
The subject: The commercial status of My Name Is Khan. (No sniggers, please!)
For convenience, I shall refer to them as Ad1 and Ad2.
Ad1, while driving the auto I happened to be occupying, was evidently an ardent SRK fan. When Ad2 asks him whether he has seen the film, Ad1 enthusiastically replies that he had seen it, and loved it.
Immediately he is interrupted by loud groans from Ad2 who says that he had needed aspirin. "Pata hai ?", he says. "Poora hall mein sirf sola (sixteen) seats bharti tha! Mein to soh gaya tha beech mein. Koi accha naach-gaana bhi nahi hai." (There were only sixteen people in the theatre. I had fallen asleep midway. There are no songs or dances in the film.)
Not to be outdone, Ad1 replies, "toh kya hua? Ye sab filim videsh mein bahut accha chaltah hain. Tu nahi samjhega yaar. Yeh sab filim pe sochna partah hain. Dimaag lagtah hai, aur tera woh cheez ki kami hai." (So what? These films do very well abroad. You will not understand because these movies require the use of a brain which you don’t possess.)
Being part of the Ad1 camp, I suppressed my cheers as Ad1 proudly zoomed off after this admirable comeback. I turned back to see the miffed face of Ad2 and resisted the urge to pat my heroic auto driver on the back.

Curiosity No. 2 : Studious mother along with bored son.
I was nodding peacefully in a bus when this priceless sight caught mine eyes. A schoolboy boarded the bus along with his mother who dutifully carried his schoolbag on her shoulders. They sit down, and he occupied the window seat. Suddenly, she whipped out one of his copies from the bag and started perusing it intently. He continued to stare out of the window. She kept reading and occasionally poked her son to ask him something. I am presuming it had something to do with some class work. He simply shrugged her off, fending her questions with consummate ease.
Throughout the entire journey, she updated herself on what was done in school. By the time her son's exams start, I am sure she will be well prepared.

Curiosity No.3: Goats who stare at men.
The auto was trundling down a dingy lane near Park Circus. All I could see were goats. Ram-chhagols, from the look of them. There was a boy perched atop his shiny bike. He was chatting with a friend who was squatting on the pavement. Both of them were unaware of the presence of a rather mean looking chhagol, who was quietly chewing away at the front tire of bike. It must have made for a good mid-day snack for a "tire-d" goat. There was another Zen-looking chhagol I spotted near a shop. A crow perched on its head and the goat bleated not a word (bleat?).

Curiosity No. 4: The jet-setter buffalo.
I firmly believe that things like this can only happen in Kolkata. I was leaving the airport after a sad farewell. A friend had just left. I don't quite remember the details as it happened a while back. However, I was in a taxi and we were passing the entrance to the domestic terminus. A huge commotion was ongoing. For no small reason, though.
A huge black buffalo was trying to fit itself through the entrance.
Since the door was obviously not meant to cater to the space demands of a super sized buffalo, the animal got stock mid way. The huge belly refused to move an inch further. No one dared to give the animal an obliging push. The prospect of nudging the backside of an angry buffalo is not a tempting one. Neither is the idea of pushing at the horns. I wonder what happened to the accidental jet-setter.
My cabbie promptly decided that the sight was unfit for the eyes of a little lady and zipped away.

Curiosity No. 5: The mobile dog.
Those who say that dogs lead a dog’s life are sadly mistaken. No mode of public transport will let you board for free. Dogs, on the other hand, have it better at times. I was aboard a cycle rickshaw near South Kolkata when I saw this rickshaw puller trundle slowly past me. The seat was vacant but the rickshaw wasn’t. No, there is no typo here. A handsome street dog stood proudly on the rickshaw. What was admirable was the deadpan expression of the man pulling it. All n a day’s work, I am guessing.
I could have sworn the mutt sported a broad grin.
That is all I can think of, for now. Shall add more later. Feel free to chip in with yours.


Kabya said...

a wonderful post...indeed..things which fails to occupy our mind...for me this was a portion of a portrait of my Calcutta...

Shine on,

Rudrani said...

Thank You!

rukmini said...

Oof the studious mothers are quite infuriating actually! I come across such specimens every now and then, especially on public transport.

commongreyumbrella said...

This is from Bombay, now Mumbai. Travelling in a local train one night, something curious happened. Curious not because it was unique; curious because I was not familiar with what was happening. In retrospect, I'm sure it happens on a regular basis. It's worth a thought, the sheer number of things that are so common in occurrence, yet we are not privy to. Sometimes because we're not around to see it happen, or sometimes because we just don't care enough.
At Mumbai Central or Mahalaxmi station, a couple of 'chakkas' (eunuchs) entered the second class bogey I was sitting in. It wasn't crowded, but there were a fair number of people travelling that night. They began their rounds with their quintessential loud claps and unwelcome touches, soliciting money (Rs.10 at the very least, though Rs.50 is the norm)from all those in the compartment.

commongreyumbrella said...

A couple of stations down (I think it was Lower Parel), a Mumbai Police constable entered the compartment. It is likely somebody who got down at that station complained to him in view of other passengers and perhaps a senior police officer. Anyhow, he got in and insisted that the eunuchs get off the train at once. From the lack of enthusiasm in his voice, it was clear that he was following orders or doing his 'duty'. The eunuchs brushed him off, continuing with what they'd been doing. So, the constable repeated himself, a little more firmly this time. At this, one of the eunuchs turned on him and said, "Kya re? Tu humko bolta hai ye sab mat karo, to phir kya karein? Tu humko naukri dega, kya? To phir de na!" (What, man? You tell us not to do this, but what are we to do? You will give us a job or what? Then give!) The constable, clearly intimated by this tirade, changed his line of approach. In a subdued tone, he began muttering non-sequitur comments about 'duty' and 'not in my hands' etc. All this happened in less than thirty five seconds, which is how long local trains usually halt at stations. Before the train began to move, though, both the eunuchs as well as the constable got down. I don't know what happened after that.

commongreyumbrella said...

I have expanded the comments above into a post on my blog.
Do have a look and let me know what you think! :)