i leave the book i bought for kanika at the gallery. 'A book for a book!' written in pencil on the second page over snow orhan pamuk with a visitng card. it's something i'd been planning for a long time. i walk out to the road and walk to a rickshaw, the farthest one towards the road. i feel heartless as i ignore the other rickshaw wallahs calling for me. i remind myself i'm not being partial. d block, 1403, i tell the rickshaw man. he nods, minute acknowledgement of the address and possibly knowledge of its location, i get on and we begin our journey. there're a set of tapes i have to pick up from the address, a gift from long ago.
the houses in NFC are a disinct south delhi 'i have a farmhouse in mehrauli, a bmw and no taste' sort. going down these roads makes you ashamed of your shoes and your lack of interest in commerce. the guards outside these homes look at you with disdain. and your rickshaw wallah feels srangely intimidated. after recieving directions from several helpful bystanders/shopkeepers/guards, a passerby informs us that d-1403 doesn't exist.
my rickshaw wallah decides he's had eough and flees the scene. the place looks familiar so i trudge along, deciding that the number must be 1043.
d 1043 seems more achievable than 1403. i follow a d 991 to a d 1011 in a more relaxed residential bylane. this place has trees and almost no traffic. a porsche cayenne parked by the side reminds me that i should have stuck to my plan of doing an mba. the road decides to split into two. i ask a reluctant wachman which one i have to take to d -1043. the watchman tells me i can take either. i pick the one on the right. i walk along conemplating this grand alley. this is probably where the term boulevard comes from. i'm looking at these palatial 3 BHK company lease only dream homes when suddenly i freeze in my tracks. before me is the house i was looking for. i don't know why, but i'm horribly certain. i go to the watchman perched on a small wooden chair blocking the security entrance. 'bhaiya ye kaun sa makaan number hai?'
what do i do now? a name suddenly pops to the surface.
'sher shah honge?'
'sorry, sher singh?'
'haan, sher singh hain'
he asks me for my name. there's nothing i can tell him that'll make any sense. i tell him to tell sher singh that i've come to take the tapes. regarding me suspiciously, he walks in. a few yells later, sher singh appears.
thankfully, he recognises me. he's at once respectful and apologetic. he tells me i took too long, and that the tapes are gone.
i tell him it's ok, and that i was just passing through. i thank him and walk on, asking for directions to the NFC community centre.
a gift was delivered, another wasn't. -1, +1, a balanced zero, like it's part of some greater symmetry that i'm too small to understand.
'seedhe chale jao', he says. it's a long road down ahead. thankfully i have my walkman. mark knopfler is singing true love will never fade.