And so it is. Lightning has struck twice. Every time I go out of my bleddy way to do a good deed, it blows up in my face in the most unbelievable manner. (Okay, not every time. But two big shockers is a lot.)
Let me hark back to my Mumbai days, where I lived for all of one month - December 2007. I was taking the morning train as usual from Andheri (home) to Lower Parel (near work digs). And more often than not, being one of the earlier stops, I'd get about 5 to 7 inches of seat space between corporate type ladies reading the Economic Times and college gals and other assortments, which I used up very gratefully. Lulled by the slow train into a semi-doze, I was whiling away the minutes and mentally preparing to claw my way out, visualising a way out as it were; this is probably the toughest part about riding on a Mumbai local.
Came a stop and a flood of women entered the compartment. As is the norm, with a lot of gentle nudging, tsk-ing, shoving, squashing of toes and other acceptable forms of Mumbai train etiquette, the ladies were arranging themselves in all the available gaps they could find. One lady established herself in front of me. I shifted back and assumed a ramrod straight posture to make more space available to both, the party of the first part: me, and the party of the second part: newly established lady. And that's when.... eeeks. My insides started an uncomfortable churning thing that had nothing to do with digestion. I began feeling extremely uncomfortable and not happy with myself. I felt I had to DO something. You see, the lady in front of me looked very preggers. She was youngish, not yet 30, with an otherwise slim bod except for her very cute protruding tummy. I estimated her to be at 6 months gone or so. And here I was, sitting pretty while a pregnant lady was balancing herself precariously using the rails and the hand-holding suspended thingamajigs that all trains have. Anyway. So.
Now by this time I'm getting increasingly antsy. You see, motherhood and pregnancy and all the beautiful miracles that come under that umbrella affect me very deeply. *sniff* (I would of course be equally ready to hand over my seat to elderly women, or frail, sickly, swoony anorexic types who suddenly couldn't breath, others injured/bleeding profusely or in a similar predicament, SO DON'T BE JUDGING ME!!!)
So now I'm thinking, "She's pregnant but how do I KNOW? What if she isn't? Won't she kill me if I'm wrong? But what if she IS pregnant? How dare you sit there with your young, fit, strong bod and let her stand by in her delicate state...?" And so on and so forth for about 5 dreadfully long minutes. (All this while I'm also checking her out scientifically to satisfy myself that yes, she is very much carrying another precious life inside of her.) Finally, I can't take it anymore. I steel my guts and prepare a face to meet her face etc. On the point of tipping over, since I've made up my mind to stand up and offer her my seat, I ask her (very casual, like so), "Hi. Are you pregnant?" And just as my toes are about to propel up the rest of me, she looks embarrassed and smiles sweetly and shakes her head and.... *sob! KILL ME! KILL ME!!!*, she says, "No." Aaarrrghhhhhhhh!!@@@#$#!!#!!!!!!!
Noooooooooooooo..... Don't be NICE to me, I want to screech. I am a horrid, horrid, nonsense person and I put you on the spot and made a fool of myself and you have every right to give me withering, dirty looks, but you just smiled and looked away as if it was your fault. Naaahiiiinnnnnn. That was not a good day for me. I felt like shit for at least a week after.
Moving on. Many months since.
Today's episode in the life of the Saab is another case in point. August 2008, Bangalore.
Had just finished fabulous lunch with the Insaneuptas and Co. at Nanking, Sigma Mall (aside: had the best crab ever... Overall meal experience gets 9 on 10) and was heading homewardly on my sputtering ride.
Reached the traffic junction down past HOSMAT, just before hitting the approach to the Army Quarters and Vivekanagar (you know, the junction one where the Mahindra service station is), and stopped at a red. A few other cars were stopped ahead of me, some waiting to turn left towards Airport Road, some right towards Lifestyle etc. I was calmly waiting to go 'On Straight On', like a true Cottonian. Suddenly, as is the wont near traffic signals in Bangalore, all the cars in the left-most lane started making a godawful racket, honking and cussing and gesturing at Car 1 waiting to take a left. The young man in the driver's seat of that Car 1 was being a doll and following the rules and staying put because the traffic light visible to him was showing red. But from a little behind where I was, the traffic light on the other side of the road(where he couldn't possibly see it) was signalling green for the left lane. Which is why everyone else was showering him with the choicest abuse and honking and pissing me off in the process. So, Heroine Sabbah decides to help everyone by going out of her way and putting the young man out of his misery. I vrrrooomed up confidently to him, snapped up my helmet visor and said cheerfully, "Hi, they're all making a racket because the traffic light's actually green. Back there." (Self pointing to traffic light behind.) Young man does not know what to do, he says, "But this light shows red." Advocate Sab persists with her case and says, "Yes, but it's probably faulty. These guys are honking at you because they can see the left is green. You can go. Cheers!" So he says, "Thanks," and takes off turning left..... and noooooooooooo....!!!!!!
Before my very eyes! A traffic cop with standard unhealthy paunch and half-asleep-obnoxious-expression emerges from the foliage on the left turn and stops him! He charges him with flouting the rules and breaking the law and all such things. I can only imagine the young man's confusion at what has just happened. With mouth agape I'm watching this unbelievably ridiculous turn of events. I'm still at the traffic lights waiting to go on straight on. But I can't take it anymore. I swerve off my route, take the left and stop next to the cop.
The young man is still stunned and looks quite emotionally wounded. And now the most unreal scene starts to unfold. Here I am trying to explain to the paunchy, inept cop that, "No, no, this guy was stopped at the red and everyone else was yelling at him to go, and the other light was showing green and he didn't want to go and he's innocent like anything and wait...! I TOLD HIM HE HAD TO GO," etc etc etc. Hah. Fat chance the cop registered anything. He looked at me with utter laziness and said, "You go, maydum." Nawwwwwww.....
I of course start apologising to young man and his wife/gal pal, and they smile sweetly at me and say, "No, not your fault," "This happens," etc. I try hanging out and explaining to the cop again, but he just totally disregards me and tells me to be on my way. Young sweet couple shrug and wave me a "No problem, you carry on," and me and my broken heart, feeling extremely guilty and stupid and very angry, make our way home (having to take a wide detour because I had turned left etc etc). And what really gets my goat is I'm sure there were folks in the cars behind Innocent Victim who had a good laugh at what happened to him on account of their nonsense. Sheesh.
That's what happens when I go looking for sawaab any which way I get it. Grrrowl. I'm mad. As in, pissed off with what happened.
Remembering (and Re-Introducing) Vinod Khanna
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