Posted On Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 09:07:26 AM
I returned one evening to discover our apartment block draped in innumerable strings of multi coloured twinkling lights. There was music in the air and large groups of people milled around in the open car park area, making it impossible for vehicles to find a place to rest. ‘What’s going on here?’ I asked one of our security guards, a little bewildered.
‘Party,’ he replied and stuck a box of pedas under my nose.
‘What party? Whose party?’
He grinned like a Cheshire Cat and said, ‘If I was in their place I’d build a Taj Mahal right there in the Club House garden.’
‘Why on earth would you do that?’ I was baffled by his enthusiasm.
‘If I had a son like they have who is stupid and a good for nothing and only roams around the place with a gang of other stupid boys and I get the news that he has got 95 per cent in his SSC exams.
I remembered the young Bedekar, Satish, affectionately called Raja by his doting parents and all the antics of his growing years. From wrecking the garden with his wretched cricket bat to breaking green mangoes to letting out air from the tyres of cars to throwing water balloons down on people from the roof… to smoking behind bushes… the list goes on. ‘What are you staring at?’ I asked the guard.
‘You sir, you look so surprised.’
‘Maybe you should get on with your work, you are on duty. Go on, do the rounds, find anyone of the Bedekar army and tell them to take down those lights. Look, someone has even hung a flag from my balcony. Anyway, where’s the other fellow?’
‘He’s inside the building.’
‘What’s he doing inside?’
‘Gone to help Bedekar Madam.’
‘Yes sir.’ He smiled, ‘we are all so happy. Now the boy will be good and we’ll have no more problems with him.’
‘No more problems? What do you call this then?’
Just then Mr and Mrs Bedekar, faces smeared with vermillion and necks garlanded with sandalwood flowers, emerged through the crowd along with their grinning son on the shoulders of a couple of strapping young fellows, waving to the crowd like a winning prize fighter. They headed in my direction. ‘Can you please move out of the way?’ voices called out to me, ‘the blessed parents are doing a parikrama of the society premises.’
Fiercely outnumbered, I dodged out of the way and watched the procession move off on its way, wondering what sort of a parikrama they were going to do…
Confused, I pushed my way through the crowd and headed to the elevator which, busily crowded, was on duty going up and down. People queued up to get in.
Once into my own apartment I asked the Mrs, ‘do you agree with all this?’
‘I’m not surprised, everyone seems to do it in this city,’ she commented. ‘Last year there was a family that took their daughter on a cruise because she got 75 per cent and the other family that treated their super successful offspring to a Bharat Darshan. Over the top, if you ask me. And this is supposed to be the Oxford of the East. Where’s the learning in all this? Isn’t it supposed to be the process and not the end product? Bit of a joke, Oxford of the East.’
‘And why all this fuss over this boy and his 95 per cent?’
‘Excuse me, who says 95 per cent? According to Mrs Chopra its 59 per cent. And the fuss? He’s the first grandchild in the family to have cleared a public exam in the first attempt so he’s inherited his unmarried grand uncle’s property in Satara. Because that was one of the clauses.’
‘And what about the crowds?’
‘All from their village. Some land developers thrown in. Oxford of the East…ha.’
‘Okay, okay, you don’t need to rub it in,’ I respond but she isn’t listening to me.