shrill voice echoes

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

40tude

It had been a while since I had travelled to the city. Staying in the small town where I know all the locations like the back of my hand hardly gives me the chance of using the google maps or taking the public transport.It would have been 12 noon. I took the metro from ChandniChowk to Maidan. I got down at Maidan metro ,took the metro plaza shortcut to Camac. Waited at Jyoti Vihar which was crowded being a Sunday afternoon. Chucked the idea of South Indian lunch and instead bought fruits from the baba downstairs. As I crossed the US embassy, I could feel the tenacity of observation by the security forces. They were corresponding on walkie talkies. It had been only 4 days to Paris attacks. Security definitely would have been on high alert.One even followed me shortly.  A lone woman in salwar suit wearing shades was definitely a profile suspect. Funny though I thought to myself.  I had ventured out  late in the Kolkata noon and reached Westside. Ah! the joy of a starved  shopper. Ever wondered what gazing at the colours of dresses in a variety of cuts makes us feel? It's  soulful and blissful to a woman much like that whisky on the ice blocs is for a man. To each his/her own temptation.
     Little did I realise that it was time for me to get ready and rush back to the hotel.It was already 4.My train would leave at 5:30pm. I called out to a few taxies asking them to take me to the United Bank,near Dalhousie square. Initial few didn't get the location. At last an old uncle got it. He asked me to sit. I hopped and asked him to hurry. At the next signal somewhere near Park, it appeared. I have always been wary of Hijras. They get me $#!t scared. The yellow old taxi did not have powered windows. The Hijra had inserted his hands through the gaping open space in the half pulled down window and was touching my purse and asking me to depart from 100 Rs in my bag. I said I didn't have 100. I said I wouldn't pay more than 40.(I know that's lousy bargaining) He said "Give me 100, I'll give you change" I was looking at the signal with a hope that it turns green and the taxi gets ready to leave. 20 more seconds left. Not willing to undergo any further confrontation I parted with 100 Rs and the Hijra indeed gave me 60 Rs back with a plethora of blessings for my future generations.
   After the signal turned green, my driver asked me in Bengali how much I gave the Hijra. I said 40 Rs. He went crazy. He said" Didi, that's way above his standard income from per person.  They should not be given more than 10 Rs. You should have asked me Didi ."
I told him I had no change.
 He said" I would have given you change worth 10. These Hijras get money for no work and here people like me work day and night and earn peanuts". He kept sulking remarking,"Every man has his fate and at times even Hijras". I snapped at him saying "Dada you should have intervened while he was trying to force his hands inside the car aiming for the money." He countered saying " Didi, I thought you would have given him 10 rupees and left him. That is what normal people in Kolkata do.Moreover I didn't get your Hindi"
  By this time I had reached my destination.
It was 4:30 and I had to rush for the station. The Taxi Driver clocked the meter. The meter had clocked 40 Rs. I handed him out 40 Rs. He smiled sheepishly.I knew why.

    I felt stupid at myself , angry at the Hijra and had mixed feeling for the taxi driver .

1 comment:

Shaswat said...

I too share this dread. Although don't know whether to smile or wonder !