When the shower burst over the roof of my office I was sure the tiles were going to give way and the metal below would cave in and split open and let the water from the Pune skies in on to my desk and flood the room and carry me away balancing on my desk like some ship wrecked survivor.
Since it was time to leave anyway, I cleared away papers that might get soaked, locked up and left and dodging my way through to the gate, hopped into an auto and headed for home.
‘Phew, the rains have finally come good and proper,’ I said in my best Engdi (English + Hindi) but got no response. The guy in the seat in front of me didn’t reply… so I tried again, differently, ‘Raining hard,’ I said but still no response from the captain. ‘Rain,’ I finally said in exasperation.
And would you believe it? STILL no response. I ended up saying ‘RRRRRRRRRRR,’ to myself as if I was an ancient bullet bike heading off towards the horizon and needed extra pep. Finally the fellow replied….with a question, ‘Rain?’
‘Of course rain, it’s all around us, where have you been?’
‘Look out,’ he muttered, ‘everything is dry as a grandfather’s skin.’
‘Ha, that’s what you say,’ I quickly retorted and pointed out, ‘look.’
‘That’s what I’m doing. Why don’t YOU look out?’
So I did and discover to my embarrassment that the streets were dry. ‘The heat must have dried the rain up.’
‘It didn’t rain,’ the man insisted, ‘not here. No rain here but rain there. That is Pune, the great city… it is like a country. Monsoon one side and drought another. Surya showing face one side and clouds another side, big people one side, small people other side, stinking river one side and beautiful fountains other side… see, we are meeting the rain again and everything is wet, good, no?’
The rain hammered down on us and I sat shivering in the centre on the seat trying not to get soaked, thinking of my driver who had decided to take the day off and was probably sitting with his feet up and looking lazily out of his front door at the rain or sun and sipping a chai and twiddling his toes and smiling to himself. ‘Cheers,’ I said as if talking to him.
‘What did you say?’ asked the auto guy.
‘No, you did say something.’
‘Okay I did say something, I said cheers.’
He didn’t push the matter. And I let it drop. Outside we were passing through a dry patch.
By the time we reached KP the rain had returned and the friendly auto guy stopped and picked up an oriental couple with three kids without even checking with me if I was comfortable with the idea.
The woman smiled at me, I smiled at her. The man smiled at me, I smiled at him. Two kids looked at me and burst into tears, I pretended to cry. The third kid hopped on to my lap. I couldn’t hop on to anyone else’s. I was sunk. Well and truly sunk.
The, the man and the woman shouted hysterically, indicating that they wanted to get off as they had reached where they wanted to go. The Good Samaritan drew to a halt and off loaded them. They offered to pay but he refused. Instead he replied, ‘No matter, I come see you in ...’
‘Korea,’ they replied.
‘O you look like Jaapaan,’ he said and started driving off. The couple yelled in unison, ‘stop, stop.’
When he had stopped they came puffing up, ‘South Korea.’
‘Okay, I come South Korea,’ and without asking for even their address he said, shrugging his shoulders. ‘In chuttie I go South Korea with my family. Ho, see the rain is not stopping… now it will go on.’
Once home I went out onto our terrace garden and soaked myself in the rain …knowing that perhaps it would play truant over and over again, leaving us Pune wallahs guessing.