There is something about the folks from the Old City. They live life on their terms. Absolutely. Resolutely.
Wearing a lungi and a banian and sauntering over to the nearby newly opened supermarket is a part of everyday routine. To do it while riding a motorbike fitted with a music system is only a matter of convenience. Discomfort, here, would mean having to pay for the goods purchased.
The police also have a style of their own. More so when they operate a station in the Old City. Usually, the two are at loggerheads. The police wanting to set things right if things affect them, and the denizens of the Old City looking around to do things that would affect the police and watch the fun.
Like the time, one of them managed to steal the spark plug off a police motorcycle and sat around and watched the officer trying to start the bike for a full ten minutes before he figured out that the spark plug had been removed. He gave it back to them when one of them attempted to sell the same plug back to the gent.
And then the police also had their dig at the residents by booking all of them for driving without a valid license. None of them, of course, had licenses except one. And he was told by the law keepers that a license obtained by him in Muscat was not valid here in India.
Obviously, the camaraderie between the two groups was running along as smoothly as one would expect from the friendship between a kennel full of canines and a barrel full of cats.
In such a scenario, the police setting up an entertainment facility at a cross roads for the benefit of one and all was being thoroughly enjoyed.
I am talking of the Mehdipatnam Cross Roads. Not exactly in the Old City, but just about the blurred line between the old and the new city. Half a kilometre of travel from here would take you either to the SD Eye Hospital or into small by-lanes selling piping hot chai and Irani samosas.
Depending on which direction you were headed and of course on what you had drunk. In the latter case, you might end up at both the locations, either of them, or in the Legislative Assembly.
One would argue that there is absolutely no place for any entertainment in this region other than the family of cows that used to park themselves anywhere on the street and nonchalantly observe the traffic pass by, while chewing on the cud. Much like the old timers who did the same job sitting in the corner Irani hotel, while sipping chai and enjoying a fine biskoot.
What I am talking about is the traffic signal installed at the cross roads. It surprisingly works! And not very surprisingly, the folks driving around it look at it as a kind of discotheque.
Any time the light turns red, they all start inching forward, as do all the others from different directions who face the yellow and green lights too. It is a very adeptly controlled movement of manipulating the clutch, the brake and the accelerator in small spurts and hard jams which gives you the feeling of jiving at the disco in a vehicle. John Travolta, trust me, would pale into insignificance in the face of such skill.
The police, not very surprisingly, choose to ignore it as their station is a full hundred metres away.
The cows, however, enjoy sauntering over to scratch their back against the pole. Adding to the disco movements! The old timer, sitting in the cafe and sipping his chai, wonders why they did not put up a designated dance floor too.
Month: August 2010.