Friday, October 17, 2014

"The curious case of girl in the back seat"

Today, I was on board a Volvo Bus, coming back to Haridwar from Delhi. It must've been years, since the last time I used ISBT (good trains, you see). I was skeptical to see it in its new avatar till the moment I saw some buses, for anybody could mistake it for a Metro Station, if not an Airport itself. What a makeover! 
Go check.

Anyways, ISBT's not the issue here. 

Whenever I visit Delhi/Mumbai the most common difference with a smaller town is in its Womenfolk. Outward, large in numbers, publicly socializing, shopping, engaging in all those works, which in smaller towns you'll find only the men occupied with. A peculiar thing and which is on rise these days is their display of love or rather indifference towards the public at large , while doing so. Most of the times we might pay little or no attention and perhaps acts like these can as well be considered the seeds of an open and progressive Indian society. But where do we draw the line? 

A case exemplifies my concern. 

While I was discussing the stops and route of the Bus with the Bus-Conductor, stood beside me a couple. The girl had to leave and her boyfriend was seeing her off. Usual things, no big deal. 
She took(got) a window seat exactly behind me and the windows were all sealed. Another guy sitting next to me, took his copy of Hindustan Times out and got immersed with no signs of being perturbed. Nice, I had a book in hand and it was good to see him reading too. Random partners, cool! The engine fired and the bus started to roll back, making a u turn and then heading on its course out of The Kashmere Gate

A phone rang but the girl was doing her bags on the upper shelf. Moments later, settled, she picked up the phone and started off! The journey for me was then to become not mine but a narration of hers.
Bus journey, a collective responsibility.

"Anil, where are you? I cant see you, ohk dont worry, you must head back to office now. And how much money have you put into my purse? You! Ohk. Lets talk after sometime and hey! don't forget to eat something. You know one thing which I like coming here about is the fact that you eat properly because of me, else you stay like a log only. Yeah Yeah. Hang up! Love you!"

Just 10 mins later, "Hey where are you, I am crossing Shahadra Metro Station, 5 mins later I am crossing that big pile of filth, now in a Traffic Jam, not in Jam, are you in Jam? You ate something? I'll come back on 9th. Shilpa's ring ceremony na! Even if I dont come, atleast we have an excuse na. NoNo, please dont stand on the terrace, go to office instead, I dont want to see you (Wait a minute! House visible from the road, and a plan for that too? Incredible)! What! your promotion is due? Perhaps it'll surely happen if we marry. Thanks for the Wrist watch and Volvo tickets too. Love you!"

She was not to stop, like forever. Shrill voice, all over.  
I kept my book, The Clash of Civilizations by Samuel P Huntington, inside my backpack and took out the Tablet to watch its documentary instead. However, Sun played the rest of the part and I dozed off. Meanwhile the back-lady said something really good, her battery was dying off. For a moment, I thought isn't it great that Samsung gives only 6 hours of Talk time? For a moment I thanked them for this technical barrier they haven't been able work on, which I used to crib about (in college days). 

The Hindustan times was now all read (Editorials including) and the next-seat-guy joined me in the siesta. Midway through our journey the fallacy broke the hell out, when I was awaken with the back-girl still lingering on with her dismal battery over matters she was most dear to. 

"I'll eat na, I'll eat at McDonalds once it stops. Though it didnt. It was Gupta Ji resorts, she(we all) finally had to resort to, in case she did. You haven't eaten since then!? Go, or I'll hang up. Hang up? Really? Perhaps only the battery would've done the wonderful thing. But it dint. So she kept on.. I have my SSC exam day after tommorrow and then we'll catch up again in Delhi ohk ?(SSC exam? This girl is plan-marrying @ 22(say)? Great!), Hey listen I'm so sorry for this months expenditure of yours, you could have bought a Bed instead. 'Arey my company pays na!' Hey when are you buying Gas Connection? We've never had Dal-Roti in Delhi! Ohk I am sorry na! Love you!"

Then there was sudden calm. Her parents called and she talked for 2 mins! like a real sensible ward, updated her route, the interview she had come for, before the wonder actually happened and I took the book out, again. Gupta ji Resorts wasnt that bad too. 

I was a forced on-looker. It was Anil, whom I was forced to think again and again. Down faced, in his cubicle with a pile of work brushed aside trying to weave his future and the present, unknowingly, in public. Who was to blame? Was she right on her part of not giving a damn about anything else. What about the guy who sat next to her? Perhaps he was poorer than me too? Where do we draw the line? What is sensible, if nothing is insensible? The fact that, for now, she only wanted to be a Girlfriend and then very soon a Wife, was it at all connected to the expectations with which her parents had brought her up and the interview from which she was returning, back into the lap of her big eyed parents? Is this new-age-love , with technology defining intimacy, also holding the capacity to define us as an individual? And what if I had asked her to stay put for a while? Would that have worked as a solution or an irritant, to the things so dear to her? 
Oh girl!

PS: No names have been changed as luckily, she never called her own name out loud thus keeping the entire narration, practically anonymous. 


Anonymous said...

I think you yourself answered the question when you wrote "expectations" and "things so dear to her".

"When one is desperate to prove oneself to the people one loves (in this case, parents) their expectations become one's goals which one strives hard to achieve." Please don't steal that quote. It's original and I plan to use it when I write a book someday!

For majority of Indian families, "good education and settling(high paying job and marriage and kids)" is all that defines a successful life and is the source of their ultimate satisfaction and pride. The girl on the bus is the victim of this very ideology.

And in my views, the loud conversation on phone spilling the finest of details is just her way to cope up with the inner insecurities about her life. Maybe subconsciously she was trying to convince herself that she has lived up to those expectations. Maybe she was unknowingly trying to prove that she was no less than others. Maybe her too loud conversation was not to mock others but was somehow supposed to lift herself up.

PS: If you deliberately changed the name of the book, great thinking! If not, great irony!

And that "house visible from road" thing is very innocent. The world needs such innocence!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Anonymous for your views.
Name of the Book? I dint get it.