Thursday, March 25, 2010


Standing on the pavement outside the Bank of Maharashtra, I was gazing at a shack on the opposite side of the road, called "Narasimha snacks and real estate" and trying to imagine what the payroll at this establishment would look like - Cook, realtor, waiter, appraiser, tableboy, mortgage agent - when one of those Pune Municipal Corporation tow trucks pulled up to the curb and began loading up two-wheelers that had violated the perimeter of the two meter wide strip on the pavement allocated for parking purposes.

Immediately, bank customers started to fly out of the building, most of them women, most of whom were already zipping open their purses for the expeditious disbursal of bribe money. The truck driver watched the moneyed mob approach with a look of open disapproval on his face, shook his head to frantic pleadings for mercy in a glorious display of honesty and impeccable work ethic and drove off. Drove off slowly. Very slowly. Slow enough for the delinquent two-wheeler rider with the amplest of proportions to be able to keep up with him comfortably by trotting alongside. After reaching the other end of the strip mall, he stopped. I was not able to see what was transpiring but apparently business was conducted that was deemed satisfactory by all parties involved. Two wheelers were unloaded from the truck, purses were no doubt made lighter to the tune of a couple hundred rupees and everybody disappeared from the premises including the honesty and the impeccable work ethic.

A little old man with two teeth, wearing a Sherlock Holmes cap, who'd been observing the scene at my side, spoke up.

"Sala police, why do they have to do that, why do they have to keep troubling the public with their nonsense?", he said.

"They're just doing their job, uncle", I said.

"What job? When there is a crime, they take thirty minutes to arrive and thirty days to tell you they cannot do anything. But for taking our two-wheelers, they are always ready", said the old man.

"Mmmhm", I said.

"They are here to save, but all they do now is eat our money. Instead of Rakshak, they have become Bhakshak", continued the old man.

"Bhakshak instead of Rakshak", he repeated, obviously liking his idiomatic creation.

"Yes", I said.

"They are very naughty fellows, very naughty", said the old man, switching to English. From the expression on his face, it was clear that he had very little patience with naughtiness.

"You are correct, uncle", I replied.

The old man then took out a pouch of tobacco, a vial of lime and began mixing together the contents of both in his palm in a pensive manner.

"No one does farming anymore", he said, abruptly changing the topic. "Who is going to farm now?"

The old man continued to till the field of tobacco in his palm. Finally, gathering up the tobacco-lime mixture, he stuffed it into his mouth. The puzzle of the two teeth was finally solved.

"My bus is here", he said.

And then, he was gone.


Anurag said...

I feel like having a paan after reading this post.

zambezi said...

are you back? call me

Perception said...

Did you see this old man again? Nice one!

RukmaniRam said...

I think I have seen this uncle. In Trivandrum.

Ramaa said...

My first visit to your blog. Love your narrative style - easy and laidback without falling over yourself to make a point. Nice. Shall visit again.

aRghya said...

even its ma first visit to urs..weird name,may b thts wat got me here. But nice experience haan !!

Anonymous said...

First. or maybe not.

Vivek Rao said...


lookin at his attitude and cribbing style, the old guy must've been a 'shikshak' in his younger days.

my dad's been a teacher all his life, so i know... :)

Erratic Thoughts said...

What was interesiting here was "Narasimha snacks and real estate" odd combo...snacks n real estate i mean...

Post reminded me of an old burly guy telling me "bacche, tumne abhi zindagi dekhi hi kidhar hai..." at a bus stop...well I knew then, i had been living dead... :D