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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Settling in Delhi.

“Why Delhi?” Owais messaged. His astonishment palpable.

“Don’t become a Delhi boy or I’ll have to beat you up.” Savni’s warning was as clear as it gets.

A sizeably many more well-wishers sent their mixed greetings, and concerns and tips on surviving a city that we, the Mumbaikars, the people of the maximum city, the creatures who know no sleep, who spend 40% of our cumulative lifetime travelling from home to workplace and back, have grown up to think as of being one of ravages, fed both by our sense of superiority in being the more civilised of the races and media’s constant pandering to that thought.

“Blah blah blah. More blah blah, blah blah. Hence, Delhi.” I replied.
“Why Delhi?” Owais persevered with his CID style interrogation. Now, I was lost for words.

Savni has been kinder and more compassionate though, I must add. She just calls twice a week to put me in line.

But the bullet had left the pistol and so there was no looking back. Till so far, Delhi has been kind enough. The climate here has just turned supremely pleasant – hot and superhumid – just the way we like it back in the Gateway to India, where the philosophical bath time thoughts revolve around ‘why do we bath? So that even as we’re drying yourself, we get drenched in sweat again. Karma is such a pet canine of the female gender. ‘

In a couple of days I managed to rent out a lavish palatial estate to establish my retreat, found palatable, nutritious and hygienic (?? !! OK I’m making this up, but mom also reads my blogs na!) food which taste’s just as good as home food (paneer power).

Now, there are some people who blabber about things like “We Eat to Live”!! I don’t know which mad dog has bitten them. As far as I am concerned,” I Live to Eat.” And good food I’ve sniffed out (I repeat, my mother reads this blog). So when my seniors ask,” Have you settled?” I give an emphatic “Yay!!!” (P.S.: There is, in fact one senior who’s kind enough to spoon feed us, but that’s mostly food for the mind, but food nonetheless.) Spending almost 12 hours (i.e. all the daylight hours) in the hospital, I return to my royal abode, sink into my Jacuzzi (wishes are horses that beggars can ride, I’m just bathing in a Jacuzzi at the end of an exhausting day) before laying asleep in my king size bed.

“So have you settled?” another senior asked loving.
“Yes Sir!” I grinned from ear to ear. But something felt uneasy. So much concern was pouring in my way from home and otherwise, I wondered if was I missing something. Was I so lost in happiness that I was overlooking something obvious? Was I in a misery that I was unaware of? If I had flower at my disposal I would have plucked off its petals,” I am well settled...... No I’m not...... I am well settled...... No I’m not.......” But, alas, this was not to be my luxury.

A few days later, when my Mercedes had to be sent to the garage for maintenance purposes (sochne ka paisa nahi lagta. Insaan ki soch badi honi chahiye), I had to hop into an e-rickshaw, a Delhi commoner’s horse ride. The traffic was no worse than Mumbai’s. Across me were seated a gentleman and a fair lady in her twenties, who probably had delayed neurodevelopmental milestones. The gentleman was kind and tender and polite and probably the girl’s caretaker.

“O look! Wa-all-me-ate!” She exclaimed in her monosyllabic speech as the ride passed across the store. “Wa-all-pe-per-s! Ti-il-es an-d Fl-oo-ri-ngs!” She read the tagline out loud.

'Awww!!!' I thought out loud. The gentleman was unmoved. Some stone-hearted fellow. It isn’t unusual for caregivers of special kids to get frustrated. But, they courageously persevere nonetheless, for which I respect them a lot. There are human boundaries, and they brave them on a daily basis.

“Mu-naa-faa- Ma-rt.” She started again. “Aap-ki ba-ch-at ka des-ti-ne-sh-n. Babu, here we can get good discounts na!”

Babu! She said Babu!!!! She wasn’t no retard! I had been hijacked!

And then, the misery began. I had to bear through her reading aloud all the shop names along with their taglines and a monologue on their meanings. My schooldays flashed up out of the blue. ‘Sandarbhasahit  spashtikaran kara’, used to be a question in which we were supposed to build up on a couplet from a poem and explain its meaning. Though what we ended up doing always was just writing down the poetry into plain text. Just a couple of days ago, I had ventured out after dark (like Akbar used to) against percolated wisdom, to get to know the locality, its lanes and by-lanes and markets and shops. Had I know that I’d be stuck in this ride in heavy traffic; I wouldn’t have risked my safety, my belongings and my life.

"If someone comes to mug you, just give them everything" is all that Savni comes up with anyway.

Medical practice is very different in a government setup than it is in a private set up. Just that morning, I had asked a patient’s relative to sign on the consent form and pointed it out where Relative’s name, Relative’s sign etc. were written.
I can read.” He had snapped at me, not taking kindly to my patronising instructions. Karma, my pet female canine had turned up wagging her tail to bite me that very evening. I apologise dear Sir, if you are reading this, I now know how irritating patronisation can sound. “I can read.” I too wanted to snap out. But, alas, this was not to be my luxury. The caregiver Babu had well developed biceps whose giant compressive strength I didn’t want to ask a demo of.

“Babu look......” she continued. “The light is red, but it is blinking. So the signal is kharab na!!” I couldn’t take it anymore. Looking away at a right angle for such a long time was giving me a neck strain. So, I looked straight into the caretaker Babu’s eyes.

“Wait baby/kuchiku/sonu/monu whatever....., I’ll go and find out. You don’t leave the rickshaw. Aapki chappal maili ho jaayegi na... Aap thak jaaoge na.... Fir mujhehi aapko utha kar ghar le jaana padega na. Bhaisab, aap jara saath chalenge...”

In the year 2006, when I wasn’t even a week old in Ruia, I was chatting with Rishabh while being seated on the first bench, under the then Hindi teacher Mr. Trigunayat’s nose. That was the first time I and Rishabh had met each other. Mr. Trigunayat didn’t appreciate people socialising in his lectures. He used to ask his disobedient pupils to ‘canteen jaao aur mere naam se chai pi aao.

“Uthiye” he had said. I was about to stand up, but Rishabh stood up instead. “Kya batein chal rahi hai?”

‘Sir, iske pass textbook nahi hai, is liye ye mujhe pooch raha tha ki pichali baar aapne kya padhaya tha.’ I would’ve answered. I made eye contact with Rishabh as he arose taking one for the team, which was yet to be forged.

“Sir, mere pass textbook nahi hai, is liye mai isse pooch raha tha ki pichali baar aapne kya padhaya tha.” he answered. We hit it off that very moment and have been friends till date, sharing some great memories.

In the year 2016, I tried to telepathicunate with the caretaker Babu. But, alas, this was not to be my luxury. Too bad Babu, we could’ve made great friends.

I sustained my gaze for a few more moments. Babu was unmoved,by me as much as he was by his pestering baby/kuchiku/sono/monu/whatever. No pain, no angst, no embarrassment. Just pure, divine, serenity (Or maybe not). Seers roam about the world in search of the divine. Divinity comes from misery they say. Must be true.

The human mind is such a sadist! It finds satisfaction in others’ agony. I had been perplexed, if I was settled or not. I still am. But, I am relieved, that if it turns out that I am not, my suffering is nothing compared to that of some of my fellow human beings having to put up with so much misery and face so much judgement in their quest for the elusive divine.

More power to you bro (Your soul and spirit, I mean. Your biceps have a lot of power. Any more and that tendon will rupture). Thank you, if you are reading this.

(P.S.S: Please get the miss to read this out loud in her monosyllable speech as well. Mere aatma ko badi thand milegi.)

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