Buddha in the dumps

Not quite out of sight. I guess, this is a result of spring cleaning before Deepavali. Not many of us enjoy watching a municipal bin but this is what I dont necessarily have to endure but well, it falls in my vision exercise in the morning when some maids do catch up on their saab-maedom gossip. Occasionally, a young rag-picker or a slightly older one would be seen scavenging for some stray fortune or mostly, separating plastics and glass.

Today, the Laughing Buddha has found an unusual home - the top shelf of a GHMC bin, quite the cynosure of all eyes. Feng Shui believers must have found a chink in the old man's armour ( i think he is non-violent and non-aligned!) and left him to his condition.
He is still smiling and laughing.
He is still rejoicing after being dumped.
But He stands tall despite the dregs around him.
He still spreads cheer and smiles.
He is my hero for the day, he still brings good luck to many.

No prologue and epilogue

Scene 1

As i walk into the not-so-hallowed but well-grilled gates of my college after a blissful 2 week Puja vacation, an-always-manages to look hassled and important, colleague roars in her car without a honk or a hoot. I saw her from the corner of my left eye and also, had this tiny-winy gut feeling, she might just do the impossible of mowing me down despite my awareness. In 3 secs she proved me right. Despite Tony Uncle and Nirmal Bhaiyya hey-heyying her to stop her car and also, a bevy of young girls criss-crossing her path, she chose to accidentally knock me. She did. I dint fall. i walked on, her vehicle just kept nudging me without. Weird. Finally, i turned around, she dint realise I was giving her one of those to-be-stoned looks. Anyway, the matter dissolved almost quietly. I checked her car, it was the humble humara maruti 800 and what pride she had like she was vrooming in a CRV.At the office, I slowed my pace, she could not avoid me. The apology was reluctant and my pride spontaneous. A cheeky one which would leave a seasoned one at the wheel red - " Looks like you are learning.."

Scene 2

An RTC bus breaks down,axle and brake and some handful of lives on board. I was seated behind the driver.We were asked to get off. The conductor stops a running bus and fellowspeak, we were on board the new bus without any fuss and fare. Impressed.Duty, obligation and responsibility.Public servants ( not bureacrats).And we still call them public servants. Sigh.

Scene 3

Shared rick-rides, slightly more economical and minus the precariousness of hanging on one leg on the footboard or bored hanging inside an RTC bus in the evening.The knave took the wrong road, a lil display of stern straightens a sinning snake also. But the no-change/9 rupaiya hai got me on the right side of his wrong side.He thought i was mad, yes i am but his fingers would go off if he dared to wave them at me. Saved 2 rupees in the bargain. Jaago grahak jaago.

Scene 4

Another rick-ride,i complete the 3 women in the backseat quota. One prospectively coy passenger got him greedy of 4 rupees and driver fella asks me to adjust and squeeze my companion on the right.I yelled at the passenger asking why she is keen on sitting on somebody else's lap. Then the fella and i indulged in Gandhigiri talk. He got an earful and a decent mouthful of teacher-talk. He thought i was too much when i asked him to carry the passenger on his lap.Cut the crap of ladies and gents. If he forced us, i threatened to cut the fare, pro-rate you know..

Scene 5

Home. I never spoke so much with my man over phone as much as i did with Customer Care Service for update of info related to my debit/credit cards recovery and the jazz.

A Happy Finito.

Homeward bound and anchored

Mom and my mobile alarm woke me up at 5, a call from 7 seas away brought a smile. Early morning haggling with the auto guy to reach the airport shuttle point, some festival tip to the maid and in 10 mins I was there, took my ticket and was too too excited to reach the airport - home, in some hours. 40 mins of light sleep and there I was, wheeled my stuff in, got my boarding pass. Looked around, a lot of Bengalis on flight, lot of saree bags and gifts for loved ones, newly-weds returning home for their first puja and some first time parents who din’t know how to keep their baby quiet thanks to wrong carrying postures or just plain indifference to understand what the toddler wants.
Kolkata stopover was brief but cool, I boarded the flight to Ghy and realised my wallet was missing. All my cards, 2 grand in cash and my identity papers were there. Flashback dint help me either. Tense and restless, the plane also hovered mid-air trying to dodge bad weather. Ghy was relieving, ran into papa’s arms. He still looked as handsome and vibrant as ever. The journey to Shillong brought back a flood of memories. I feel I am no longer as resilient, god, I threw up a couple times. I had not eaten a thing. Reached home, chilled to the bone. Mom looked a lil aged but both of us were so happy to see each other. Mama’s hug and I wept like a child. The missing wallet story upset everyone. I was busy calling helplines and blocking misuse of my cards. All well and a quip from papa, that I had extra money and some taxes to pay…that’s why divine intervention of the missing wallet. The precious things were my family pictures and a Ganesh ji pic given by a loved one. Dinner and I was fast asleep. Mobile switched off and bags half unpacked.
The next morning was a huge surprise, I saw papa in a kitchen apron wake me up with my toothbrush in his hand and asked me to go freshen up and that breakfast was ready. Woohoo, a propah English breakfast and we were expected to finish all ablutions before 11am. I did nothing but unpack and handover gifts. I slept again some unfinished sleep. The next one week was pure bliss. Mom and papa went to see the doctor, happy tidings. Mom wanted to cook and doc was more than happy she should do some light work. We took care of the heavy cleaning and washing. The only cooking legacy I took from Hyd was how to prepare upma and yes, one morning was upma breakfast. They thought it was the quickest preparation. The only thing missing was curry leaves and almonds.
Mom prepared my favourite momos and noodles. Week long feast. They insisted I must shop for a puja dress and shoes and of course, a wallet. I must have had some 20 at one go, chutney was home-made. Tongue-tickling and whacking.
Puja was fun, I met Surajit and his folks. I caught up with Koyal and Sujoy, Digvijay and Doyel. Bro and sis wanted to treat me. Both days of eating out, I paid the bill. One at Bar-be-Q and the other, my personal favourite, City Dhaba. Met some old students. We were asked to come have khichhdi at some mandaps. We got home dabbas of them, had them for breakfast. Mom and papa wanted to have dosas. Jeez, I was so taken aback. I packed 2 masala dosas and one paneer dosa from Madras Café, Chennai Junction dint serve very good chutneys. Lot of sweets, mishti doi and kheer.
I begged my sister to get me some aloo chat from that old time bhaiya who sits near Lady Hydari Park. She informs, he no longer sits there but near the Survey gate. Whatever, she never had time to get any and I was never motivated to walk there alone. So mom and I prepared something similar at home, it lacked the street side masala-tic appeal but it was many times safer and hygienic.
So, I approached my brother to get me egg-rolls from the Keatinge road chap, and yes, he dint disappoint me. Trust me, it is the best in India, it beats the Kolkata guys on Park Street. All for 9 rupees. I remember paying 3 rupees when I was in class 2. But it still had the same charm and taste, that small place is still a furnace and people don’t stop coming there. I had loads of egg rolls.
The Glory's Plaza pani-puri man has more competitors, I went beserk having a plateful at Lite Bites. The stuffing is glorioius and the pani tangy.
Irresistible weakness for eggs, I became a lil’ conscious and I was petrified of some break-outs on my face. They did. But my puja was not ruined. I still had more of them.
On Navami, I wanted to be at the Polo Matri Mandir. My favourite Lord Shiva and Ma Durga. I did some spring cleaning at home, since my feet were sore from walking in new shoes.
My bro and sis were pretty mad with me coz I dint walk enough with them. Shillong is ageing. The road-car ratio is the second highest in India. We waited for ages to get a cab, the Maruti 800. We paid 50 bucks, more than 3 times and came in an auto. How we laughed at our grandness. In Shillong, you cut a sorry figure if you travel by auto.My sis vowed to do pandal-hopping the next year in a car. Papa does not want to buy one now coz there is no parking space.
Lunches and rendezvous with dear friends. Some frozen moments for keepsake. I felt a lil’ miserable to be not waking up to papa’s brush alarm.
There were those sibling fights and they made it lovingly ouch for me by calling my age aloud that I have not changed nevertheless. Of course.A Shillongite never does.
Shilllong, I love you.
Mom, dad, I love you a lot.
Bro and sis, muah muah.