Usually, there is a crowd. Today, is no different. Infact, far more pronounced. The pavement is blocked. Nobody cared. Everybody standing and chomping away at varieties of dosas and idlis. “Chilli Cheese Palak masala dosa”. ( That is one dosa). And such else.
Everybody standing in his or her bathroom tile space and chomping away, with the ferocity of a marine commando and focus of a nuclear scientist on the verge of something big. “It is better left to conjecture”, would be the truthful answer, if you , the ever intelligent reader posed a question like : “Are you sure that you ate only from your plate ?”
It gloriously reaffirms a curious hypotheses that’s been playing on the mind : national integration is best achieved through the alimentary canal. Yeah.
It is at that time, we hear a sound that pierces through the din of incessant order taking and chomp chomps.
Whiplash. Theres this small kid. Barechested. With bones and a scatter of bones to show for an upper torso and a colourful flowing skirt kind of clothing beneath. Today, he has an accompanying well built lady, who works on a drum to beat up some music, as this chap beats himself up. After whipping himself up,walks up to the well rounded uncle, and asks for money.
Now, obviously, people who are midway through the delicious cheese palak dosa could have a consternation of sorts just as the dosa is nestled between the tongue and the right cheek.
For, here is a drumstick contoured body, whipping himself up, and asking for money from a pumpkin contoured body slurping on cheese palak dosa. That is sure to serve you a platter of guilt and even as the dosa descends.
The man standing next to me emits noises that go like “chomp chomp ‘standard’ chomp chomp ‘guilt’ chomp chomp chomp…” and other such incoherent sounds. It wont be far from the truth to assume that he didn’t think of this as anything beyond a standard ploy to cause guilt and therefore make some money.
His wife makes similar noises amidst what seemed to be an effort to swallow one lump of a potato I Or whatever it was. And proceeds to let whoever who cared to listen know, that this happens EVERYDAY, letting go of a burp. Ofcourse, one isn’t sure, if the lady is speaking of the burp or the whiplash.
Another gent while plunging what appeared to be a truckload of ghee dripping Kesari down his throat, makes similar noises. The sum and substance of which translated to : “This is a standard ploy. The whip doesn’t touch their body. It’s the noise of the whip as it hits the road.” By now, the sheera had sunk in. Silence follows..
My friends, kind as they are, immediately buy the kid a plate of idli-vada. Much to the consternation of others there. There are hush hush whispers. However much the ears perk, nothing much can be clearly heard. Between the chomp chomp and the hissing whispering all that come to the ear were, “spoiling”. “No other work”. “Big time drama”. And such else.
General public sentiment is palpably evident.
The kid, on his part, picks the idli-vada plate and vanished.
In a short while, we hear the ‘Phataaak’ again. (That ‘short while’ is a large expression for a fleetingly transient moment).
The kid is with the whip lash vengeance. God knows where the idly vada plate went. Theories abound that such items are quickly stored in a vessel that is kept nearby, of which there is no corroboration. Yet.
Inbetween the dosas, there is now a glowing arc of evidence and vindication in the conversation.
“See see, Eating couldn’t come in the way of business. These jokers who feed them are the real idiots. Lets focus on the dosas. Aren’t they delicious ?” Now, they didn’t say all that. But surely, you get the drift of the arrow piercing comments, just as the dosas disappear from the plate and perhaps find a good homely place in the inner recesses of the fat on the hip.
Our friends, by now, a tad guilt free, concentrate on their dosas.
Amidst all this din, is an old man, who uses a cane and his wife to prop himself up on either side. He is a clearly old and retired uncle. (The normal practice here : every man or woman who sees you as older to him or her, has the prerogative to call you ‘UNCLE’).
This uncle, with a certain level of work to his ageing vocal chords spoke, like a Mark Antony presiding over Caesar’s body.
“This kid here whips himself up publicly”.
“I wonder how many people whip themselves up privately and work on a job that they don’t quite like, but do so to make a living and pay off the loans and EMI !?! “
Half a dozen throats that splutter and a cough. Dosas getting stuck in the esophagus like a traffic snarl due to a traffic signal malfunction.
Many metres away, as if on cue, the kid let go of another whiplash.