Friday, December 30, 2011

In 2012, may you have everything you need 'on your backside'

My trip to Delhi in December was a long and beautiful one. Got a chance to go to Agra with the folks. Somehow, all my memories of the Taj are very tactile. Yes, Taj is of course a visual opus of sorts. But Taj, for me, is lodged in my fingertips, on my palm, on the soles of my feet. I remember the feeling of deep inlay work, smooth expanses of marble, cool grooves of the jharokas, and pricks of sharp grass in the gardens. I also remember the shy warmth of light. When you see the Taj, pay attention to how light behaves around it. The light, both sunlight and moonlight, wafts around the monument the way a poem wafts around a poet's head before he puts pen to paper.

I was thinking of something ethereal to wish all of you for New Year's. But somehow, something else keeps coming to mind. It's a memory that has managed to dislodge the magnificent impact of even the Taj. The memory, surprisingly, involves Delhi. The memory, alarmingly, involves an auto-rickshaw fellow.

It was around 10 p.m.one night and I was on my way to Hauz Khas village. I'd seen a beautiful canary yellow stole woven with light gold and baby-pink silk threads. I had a feeling that the shops would be shut by then but I decided to take a chance anyway.

I got an auto after walking a fair bit in the biting cold. The rickshaw guy was wearing a cut-off tee shirt (that should have been a clue into his manic tendencies) and was humming 'Deedar De' loudly (that should have been my second clue). I got in and he took off. Not took off the way other autos take off. Took off the way a small, cheap plane would. I'm pretty sure the auto rose two inches above the ground before we sped away into the mist and fog that only the headless horsemen of the world would like riding about in.

Now, the streets were empty. Shops were closed. Restaurants were open. Police was out. On the way, the auto almost collided with a cow. Since cows are big and important, the auto swerved and almost hit a massive divider. "Bachh gaye!", the fellow grinned like an idiot. My knuckles are smashed a little bit and I'm sure the stress has shaved off 3 months from my life. But what does that matter to the lout who starts singing "Deedar De" again? I was really pissed by then and yelled at him to go slow or else! I, of course, had no idea how to finish that sentence.

The fellow got a little impatient with me and for some reason, pegged me to an NRI or something (because, you know, Indians don't mind being casualties in rick-cow collisions). "Madam, don't worry. Kucch nahin hoga. See your backside."

I had a good mind to thwack him on his head for such impertinence. What did he mean? That my backside was so huge that it would cushion any kind of fall? He pointed somewhere and I looked.

At the back of the auto, in hot pink glitter (and I'll repeat that slowly: hot. pink. glitter), was a sticker that read: "Yadav da chhora". That, to my friend, was like a talisman that would protect us all from grave and dangerous things. I guffawed loudly and told him to take me back home. It was 10:30 already and somehow, I'd gotten my souvenir from Delhi.

So, this is what I wish for all of you. May you always have a crazy, strong, force behind you that takes you to places where you feel no fear. And may this force be with you. (Or on your backside, if you prefer it that way.)

Have a superb 2012!







2 comments:

Vinita said...

You have a happy and wonderful new year too. Wonderful souvenir indeed!

Mukta said...

:-) hey vinita! thank you!