Posted On Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 08:22:37 AM
The whole world’s going crazy out there,’ said Satish Jha, our local voice of doom when I bumped into him out on an early evening walk.
‘At least,’ I replied, ‘things are so bad that they can’t get any worse. They can only get better.’
‘Hmm, you are one of those Pune folk who try to see the good side. Fine, that’s okay by me, but that sort of attitude tends to shut down our responses to what is happening around us. Take this crazy bus guy going berserk for example or the murders and robberies… and of course the noise and confusion we were treated to recently with all these local netas having their chamchas drive around in jam-packed trucks and tempos screeching their support. It looked like the city had been transformed overnight into one of those damned banana republics…’
‘Aren’t you going over the top?’ I enquired.
‘The problem with you is that you expect to do everything the old-fashioned Pune way. Politely. I mean politely.’
‘What’s wrong with that?’ I asked in as calm a manner as I could muster. ‘I don’t think that’s being old fashioned. What’s wrong with taking a deep breath and pausing before one wants to let loose a tirade? That’s the best way to express yourself calmly.’
‘What happens when the safety valve of the pressure cooker goes bust?’ He grinned almost wickedly.
‘Why should it?’ I asked. ‘Just last night we were treated to the boom bang bang of music which serenaded an outdoor dinner being hosted by the neighbouring housing block…’
‘Oh you mean the ruffians next door?’
‘Yes. The music went louder and louder and so did the laughter, in fact it seemed as if people were taking turns to laugh into the mike. I sat down calmly, put my feet up and read the day’s newspapers.
But the Mrs crashed around the house, swearing that Pune has gone to ruin and that there is no hope in sight. “What’s stopping you from ringing up the cops? What’s stopping you?” So I dialled the cops and the operator told that I was in a queue so I patiently waited. Finally the line disconnected. So I tried again and again until I finally got a ring. Nirvana. The cop house phone actually rang. Then click. It disconnected. Repeated attempts bore no results.
So I returned to my chair and the newspaper. But the Mrs didn’t give up. The crashing began again so I went across to the front gate to get a look at what was happening out there. The neighbours had built an enormous shamiana which they had packed to capacity with tables of food and row upon row of face-stuffers.
I rolled up my sleeves and entered to look for the Big Mick to ask him to lower the music but I was sucked into a food queue which pushed me along to the aromatic trays and bowls of food… and the rest is history… I returned some time later, burping my way up the stairs… it wasn’t bad stuff at all. The biryani was authentic… it was worth a trillion decibels.’
‘I don’t believe this,’ gasped Satish, ‘you didn’t protest? You joined them?’
‘There’re always two ways of looking at it. Shout yourself hoarse and burst a blood vessel or join the fun.’
‘You call that fun?’
‘Well, in a way it is,’ I smiled. ‘Surely, there’s always something somewhere in this city to cheer about.’
He looked at me strangely then mumbled something and walked off. And I returned to our apartment and relaxed to the melodious sound of workmen drilling holes in walls in one of the flats downstairs whilst the young woman from upstairs screeched her lungs out into her cell phone, cursing her boyfriend for being late.
And amidst it all a magpie robin sitting on a cable TV wire high up above me, serenaded the coming dusk.
So I twiddled my toes and breathed in a perfect Pune evening.