Mumbai. Non-stop rains. Non-pause rains. Non-'hell, I won't even slow down'-rains. Some roads flooded. Some roads free. All roads packed. One wonders those kind of smart people are extinct - the ones that stay in on this dreamy day and sip ginger tea, looking at wet gulmohar trees. Nowadays, everyone seems to be out and about.
Bandra. I took a bus to Marol. Easy-peasy. Also, empty. Unfortunately, the catch was that it wasn't coming to Marol, for some reason. It would stop at Regency. That's a 25 minute walk to my office. 'Walk' is slightly erroneous. Trek, is more like it. I'd have to climb over rubble, hike over some insanely huge dividers, etc. etc. Also, I was wearing a dress. (It was sky blue with a nice, classy silhouette. Looked very pretty in the confines of my warm, clean home. On the road, as I hitched it up to skip from one pile of stones to another, I recieved a lot of attention. Mainly along the lines of 'Look at that freak!')
I didn't wait for another bus - too much crowd. I didn't hail an auto - I knew better. I did try to ask a motorcyclist to give me a lift. But those creatures seldom stop or slowdown. They are like rain on wheels. They keep moving like these little molecules of matter that have to take up every single inch of the road. I just couldn't get close enough to a biker to stop and ask.
So I walked. My umbrella flew. Its handle broke. One part ripped a little. My dress, just to join in the fun, started flying about. Ordinarily, I would've enjoyed it all. But I had to get to work. And this was no ordinary day. As I would soon find out.
I heard honking behind me. At first, I dismissed it. Thought it belonged to the general cloud of cacophony of Andheri East. It persisted, though. Again, I didn't pay much attention. Was trying to get my dress to not defy gravity. Finally, the honking got rhythymic. I turned. There was an auto-fellow, peering out. "Chalo, madam, main chhod deta hoon", he said.
I blinked. Hard. Was it really an auto-fellow inside a functioning auto? Actually asking me to get in? In...sputter sputter...Andheri East? In Mumbai scope, that's as believable as seeing Santa Clause riding a unicorn. Or, you know, a pothole with a cover.
"Chalo, chalo", he said again.
Out of habit, city conditioning, and refusal to believe my own good luck, I told him, "Nahin bhaiyya, mujhe Marol jaana hai."
He nodded and said, "Main Marol chhod doonga. Chalo."
I almost glided into the auto in joy. I could hear weepy violins in the background, and see credits rolling for some European film - where a war widow, after being amputated, brings up her blind twins in abject poerty. Then these twins, who also get amputated, win the Nobel Prize for inventing a see-through cape. Life prevails against all odds, etc. etc.
I wrote is meant to be...am not sure...some kind of an antidote, perhaps. A disclaimer to all the flak I've written about auto-fellows in the past. When, I have tarred and feathered them in the same brush and generalized without mercy and cursed their ilk without impunity or exception.
Today, even if nothing else goes my way, will be special to me. It came with a sweet sudden reminder about life. Not just shit happens.