The condo we’ve moved in is in the developing world of Bengaluru. That means there are still open spaces around. But they won’t be open for long. All around us, massive multi-storey buildings are coming up, just like the one we are in. But the infrastructure is still poor. There are no street lights, and after dusk only tired workers in dirty clothes carrying yellow helmets are seen trudging back towards home along broken, muddy apology of a foot path.
The nearest supermarket where you can buy anything from papayas to pressure cookers is about a kilometre from our home. But as far as I know Bengaluru, lots of shops will come up along the road in a year or two. The first one came up a few months ago, MAYURI BAR AND RESTAURANT. It’s doing good business.
This evening, as I was walking along the dark road towards the super market, a fortyish man wearing a seven-day stubble in a lungi and florescent yellow T-shirt stopped me at particularly dark point, and with great dignity, asked me in Hindi, ‘Sir, do you speak Hindi?’
When I said yes, he responded by saying, ‘Could you please help me out with twenty rupees?’
Instinctively, I wanted to tell him to get lost, but I checked myself at the last moment and instead, asked, ‘How much booze do you get for twenty bucks here?’
At that moment, the man’s face was lit up by the headlight of a truck coming from afar. In that light I saw a range of emotions wade across his face: anger, frustration, sorrow …. Finally, he put on an air of deeply injured innocence and said, ‘Saab, Daaru?’
He uttered the two words with such pathos, and looked so dumbfounded that you could think he had heard the word daaru for the first time in his life. Then he said with difficulty, ‘No Sir, I don’t drink, I have hungry children to feed at home.’
I said, ‘That’s too bad. I booze, every day. I love my booze and I help only fellow drunkards.’
Having said my prepared line, I turned around and started walking. He almost fell at my feet and said, ‘Saab, aap jaisa deotako jhut bolna paap hai. It’s sin to tell a lie to God like you. Sir please ….’
What could I do? Well, gods are supposed to be benevolent, aren’t they?
Bengaluru / Monday, 06 February 2017