Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A ten-rupee note

I was shopping for groceries with Mom one Saturday. It is the local vegetable market. Unorganized and yet organized in its own way. The vendors spread their offerings on gunny sacks in neatly piled heaps of french beans, cucumbers, beetroot, carrots, onions and coconuts. Men and women haggled alike to get a good bargain. People moved slowly from one vendor to another, enquiring about the prices, picking up a potato here or a cabbage there, checking if was worth its price and moving on with a this-is-so-damn-expensive pout. It was a welter of humanity with its myraid forms.

We stopped to buy vegetables from a lady. She had her son besides her, a lad of five. Crowded as the street was with people, vehicles played their role in adding to the commotion. BEST buses, cars, autorickshaws, and bikers trying to snake their way through the traffic, were aplenty. As we were sorting and picking up cauliflowers, a car crawled behind us. I did not pay any heed, but the little boy perked up. 

"Can we ride in it?", he asked his mother. 
"Hmm", said his mother very passively, as all mothers do when they see a tantrum coming. 
"What does it take to get a ride?", the child went on, "only money, no?". 
"Yeah", said his mother with some irritation as she tossed the cauliflower in our grocery bag. Life had perhaps taught her the hard way to avoid day-dreaming. But her son went on.
"Is a ten-rupee note enough? That thing is not as big as a bus!". 

I smiled. It was innocence at its best.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Flights of Life

An airport is never a dull place. Though it may not be a great idea to reach an airport 3 hours early, it certainly is a great time for a study in human behaviour. If you are lucky to be in a good mood inspite of the long queues at the ticket or check-in counters, you may well be surprised at the sheer variety of human species around you. There are people of all kinds - seasoned travellers, novices, well-behaved gentlemen, snooty aunties - they all add their own shade to the canvas.

There may be times when a gentleman in front is filling in for his entire family of 8 with tonnes and tonnes of luggage. Strangely deceptive, one may feel, while one spends the next quarter of an hour waiting for the aunties to sort out which bag will be checked in and where the bottles of achar should go. While it is the perfect way to a foul temper, a detached soul can smile at the predicament of the hapless head-of-the-family as he tries to fend off the embarassment and bring some order to the setup. Straight from one of Wodehouse's pages!

Move ahead to the check-in counter and one may encounter a long queue. There always is someone who has a bottle of cough syrup neatly tucked in the bag for her kid; or the lady who forgets to take her boarding pass out of the handbag before she checks it in. Then comes the long wait for the flight. One may be seated next to a Chilean family, not understand a word of what they are saying and yet know that the mother is scolding her daughter for not sitting still while she braids the kid's hair. One may see an old couple waiting patiently for their flight, silently grateful that they have each other for company. There are professionals who scream into their cell phones while pacing near the doors; and parents who have a tough time ensuring their kids do not wander off.

Humans. This grand prologue to the travel makes the flight itself pale in comparison. Its best to catch up on some sleep.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Romancing with Heels

As an ardent lover of flats, I never really understood the magic of heeled footwear. Flats are so comfortable, they are easy on the heels and toes. And so much more lower-back-friendly. I always found heels difficult to walk with. I had a pair that an aunt had gifted me. They were pretty, black, pencil-heeled shoes. I wore them the day I got them, strutted across the drawing room and crashed after a few steps. I sprained my ankle and could not wear my usual sneakers for a week after that. And the laughs my cousins had were even more painful. Since then I have been dead against heels. I would almost feel like a bohemian when I would fervently articulate the hazards of heels during discussions with my girls' gang.

But after almost 25 years of resisting, I finally fell for them. The temptation of heels was so overpowering, I was just drawn into the welter that I so hated. I must admit I was apprehensive when I gifted myself a pair of heels. The first day was very difficult to manage. I feared I would trip at every step. The distance from the road felt weird. I was extra-cautious of the uneven roads and kept a tab on my speed of walking. The second day was better. Though my knees hurt a bit because of the shift in weight, I found myself managing better. By the end of the week, I pranced as if I had walked about in those shoes all my life.

I love them. They have a charm of their own. You feel you are on a pedestal. There is a sense of power and confidence that a good pair of heels inspires. Most of it is psychological, but who cares. As long as it feels good!