every day, to get to my office close to the new friends community centre, I have to ask the auto wallah to turn right from the red light.
‘right?’, he always asks.
my office, at the tribhuvan complex, is situated behind a hole in what used to be a wall before the mcd’s sealing drive. you’re supposed to follow this hole to a beaten path to a gate that leads to a garage cum general store cum lingerie store cum call center cum advertising agency.
the hole is towards the right. towards the left is a proper road that careens off to the community centre – easily a more noted social venue. So when I say left, the man driving the auto is confused. his mind says: ‘what this loose headed spectacled beardman saying? nothing being on right. does beardman be demanding u-turn. isn’t taking a u-turn philosophically inconsistent with the idea of progress’ and so on and so forth.
the man bespoke such and I convinced him that there was no alternative but to turn right. we reached the red light and waited for the traffic coming from the other side to stop. the dancing children who beg around this area started dancing for money. finally, the light went green. the oncoming traffic stopped. the traffic behind us waiting to take the u –turn and cross over into the hole started. however, we realized that we couldn’t. it was the angle maybe, or the rush overtaking us that disallowed us the space to move, or both. we just stayed stuck. the waiting tore on my constitution. if I had a cigarette, I’d smoke it, if I had a bottle of wine, I’d drink it. I was on the verge of considering drugs when the light turned back to red. the oncoming traffic, hitherto building to a manic crescendo, started again. there was traffic behind us again, building up with a ferocity that I hadn’t noticed. then the light turned green again. and the traffic started overtaking us again. we found we were stuck like the last time. after what seemed like forever, the light turned to red again. the autowallah sighed and shut his engine. one of the dancing children, now resting against the light, smiled a quiet knowing smile at us. what had been ten minutes turned to hours to days to weeks to months to years. the auto wallah grew bald and lost his teeth, my clothes grew dirtier, my beard grew larger, my spectacles smudgier. after contemplating suicide for the nth time and a few affairs with interesting passerbys, I started writing.
for jayant, avinash, kingshuk, abhinav, riyazat, deshwal and others who've suffered nfc with me. our office moved friday.