My friend Deepak Bawa is all revved up, on a high, whizzing around like the wind. I wave when he zips past me in his post office red four-wheeler. He screeches to a halt and hops out to shake my hand. ‘What’s up boss?’ I ask, ‘what’s all the excitement in aid of?’
‘Oh, I’m busy,’ he says. ‘That’s interesting,’ I reply, ‘what’s cooking?’
He looks at me quizzically. ‘Does a card player show you his hand?’
‘No. But I’m not your opponent.’
‘Sorry, I was just being cautious,’ he sighs.
‘So what’s it all about?’
‘Helmets? You mean the ones bikers wear or don’t wear?’ I want to know.
‘Yep. Spot on.’
‘So what about helmets? Are you planning to go around trying to make bikers wear helmets? That’s a losing battle here in Pune. No one really cares. Believe me. You’ll be wasting your time.’ I look at him and shake my head.
‘You think I’m such a fool?’ He asks curtly.
‘I’m anything but a fool. I’m a smarty pants,’ that’s what my father always called me. I’m not stuck in the present, I’m thinking ahead.’
‘Okay, so you’re a smarty pants Bawa, but what’s this helmet thing about?’
‘I’m designing helmets, never before seen in the Pune market. Come on, hop in.’
‘I’m on my way to do a bit of shopping. The wifey’s given me a shopping list.’
‘Ah, come on, stop being so henpecked,’ he mutters, discouragingly.
‘I’m not henpecked. This is participatory management.’
‘I’m sure your co-manager won’t know that you’ve gone for a quick spin with me.’
‘Where do you want to take me?’ I ask uncertainly.
‘To my design studio just down the road.’
So I agree and we shot off, nearly flattening Mrs Ghosh’s pug. ‘Hey, slow down,’ I warn.
‘Right O,’ he says.
A moment later we land up at the place where he is designing his so called revolutionary helmets. Four designers sit staring at screens, hissing and clucking as they work.
‘Here is where it’s all happening,’ he says conspiratorially.
“Three months and we’ll have our prototypes out there being tested. Six months and we’ll flood the market. Bikers will kill to wear one of the many helmets we’ll have out for sale. There’s the Anna style ones for the socially conscious, the Shivaji Top for the patriotic ones, there’s one like a cricket ball for the wicket freaks, another known as the Cop Top…can you imagine what will happen when these hit the market? They’ll become instant best sellers, cult symbols…helmets will be in…’
He is glowing as he dances around the place from screen to screen. Then MSEB plays spoilsport for a while. Standing there in the dark, I hear him waffle on excitedly. I try to calm him down by doing the wet blanket job, ‘but this must require huge investments.’ But he isn’t deterred at all. ‘If the idea is good,’ he crows, ‘the means to make it happen will follow.’ The lights come back.
‘I’ve heard that somewhere,’ I say.
‘Can’t be, it’s my line. And what’s more I have a host of promotional ideas up my sleeve.’
‘For example?’ I am curious.
‘I’m going to have a mega fashion show. All Pune’s beautiful people will be there on the ramp, showing my helmet designs…there’ll be…’ and he shoots of a string of names that are meant to impress me. But it’s wasted on me and I smile blankly, ‘Good for you. Maybe you could have a summer range too, air conditioned ones, think about it. The possibilities are endless.’
He opens his mouth to say something and I walk out, leaving him standing there with a sentence still dangling on his lips.
This is what I love about this city. It’s never short of dreamers.