The colony park is a very important place. Large parks have a walking track and I go there for a walk in the evening. Sometimes I am accosted by Seniors who love arguments and politics. That is the easy part.
Sometimes one gets tangled with things more difficult than politics.
Here is a sampler. Accents have been neutralized.
Names have been changed, to save my own skin.
- I am walking one evening and Mrs. Chakraborty stops me as a I overtake her after carefully juggling from left to right…..
Me: ‘Good Evening Mam’
Mrs. Chakraborty: ‘Nomoskaar, how is your mother?’
She stops. I stop too.
Me: ‘She is fine mam’
MC: ‘why is she not coming out to walk, is she ok?’
Me: ‘Yes mam, thank you she is Ok, she has been busy’
MC: ‘I asked you about her last time also, did you tell her ?’
Me: ‘No Mam’, I responded, somewhat tentatively, my robustness turning into a cringe. ‘You asked me how she was and I said she was fine.’
By now I am getting the sense that I have done something wrong….
MC: ‘But you should have told her I was asking’
Me: Looking apologetic; ‘Mam, you didn’t say you wanted me to convey anything….’
MC: ‘Of course you should convey that I was asking about her’. ‘I was hoping you had told her. Very bad this is’.
Me: ‘Sorry mam, will do definitely, ….promise,… as soon as I get home’
So I trailed off and continued on my round. However, I had clearly lost Mrs. Chakraboty’s trust, So when I entered our house, My Mother asked me. ‘Ladies have been asking after me?’.
It is difficult for me to explain that tone. My Mother can say many things in one sentence. It can play out any which way. One has to exercise extreme caution in responding.
Me: Oh ! so Mrs. Chakraborty called you
Mother: ‘of course,’ -With that ‘you think I can depend on you’ look;
Me: Exasperated….But it was not ladies maaaaa…, only Mrs. Chakraborty. That is one lady
Mother: That means several ladies my boy, and you haven’t told me. What sort of public dealing do you do …
2. This exchange is from around Pooja time
Mr. Sharma, very interesting person. Mercurial, and can shift stands readily. He is also highly adversarial and a very tough one to handle at 70+. Usually he accosts me, this time I had caught up with him to get even.
Me: Sir, I do not understand every year you people make big moorti and pratima of Durga and Ganesh, then you pray to them with such fanfare, then you go dancing to the river on a truck and throw them into the water…Just like that… I don’t understand
Mr. Sharma: ‘Not throw, it is called Visarjan’..
Me: Ya Ya, same thing
MS: It is not same thing’
Me: ‘Why,? you are throwing into river, just giving it a Sanskrit name does not make it any different.’
MS: Dikshit I can’t believe you are saying this, you have no knowledge of why all this is done!!??!!. What sort of a Brahmin are you?
Me: ‘Why?’ I said, clearly intending to provoke him ‘What is this knowledge? Knowledge knowledge lagaa rakha hai
MS: Arre Kamaal hai, ‘you are childish’, he said, raising his volume ‘Our Rishis were wise. They devised these plans symbolically to explain the passing away and renewal of all things’. or something to that effect.. ‘They made these rituals so that the simple uneducated could understand. Also, they wanted illiterate masses to remember God through these regular rituals’
Me: But we are not simple and uneducated or illiterate masses. So why are we doing this every year in some unthinking haze?
MS: Looking at me most suspiciously ‘Dikshit are you a leftist?’