Monday, May 25, 2009

Peeing in a bottle!

Ro and I were stuck in heavy evening traffic. I absorbed the scene outside as the car started and stalled, unable to imagine this same journey in a taxi. Beyond my air-conditioned seclusion, matronly women decked in sari and gajra were going out with baskets for daily shopping on broken sidewalks full of vegetable peelings and human shit. Crowds were hanging about in clumps, around pav-bhaji stalls or generally loitering around, chatting or street-side shopping or throwing paan spittle. Above this chaos, Bollywood divas presided from their billboard thrones in peekaboo tops and hipster skirts, selling cars or jewellery or even insurance.

My phone rang. It was Lola. I smiled, zoning out on the view of a raggedy child knocking at my window, selling cheap reprints of Thomas Friedman and Robin Sharma. ‘So how are you?’

Lola just started telling me about some exhibition she had been to- large oils of slum dwellers, in contorted coital positions, on commuter trains and in rotting hutments, covered with gashes of colour and Sanskrit graffiti. ‘It was so disturbing’, she wailed.

I’d say! Wasn’t seeing it daily enough? Social realism was all right, but who would want to hang grotesque art above their sofas?

Rohan started jumping in his seat, bursting to go to the toilet. I rang off. It was still a long ride back home. Much against my American civic propriety, I asked the driver to stop the car and asked him to take Rohan to a slimy alley next to a poster-covered grimy paan stall.

But Ro refused to step out of the car. Home was still forty minutes away, and another twenty to the nearest hotel where a clean bathroom could be found.

Grimacing, I emptied my bottle of Himalaya!

Ughhh! Yuck! 

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