Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The 8 billion strangers inc.

Today caught me unawares sipping filter coffee at Muthu’s. Behind the BDA complex. It was good coffee. The sort of coffee that with the right sprinkling of sunlight brings out the bonhomie towards fellow man & wants to make you pretend to be a secret agent in Russia or something. So Here I was, lost in the golden steam & warm sunlight when a white lady got off a rickshaw. Eyes locked. I smiled, raised glass. She smiled, bowed her head, went on her way.
I took another sip. I though. I took another sip. I simply could not remember when I had last smiled at an Indian woman who I did not know. Now my thought processes are a bit slow, so I allowed it some more time, but I still could not remember the last I had smiled to an stranger. I decided to redress such deficiencies without the least delay. I took another sip.
I spotted a target. She was middle aged, with some sort of a folder held in one her arm while the other one was busy pushing a cellular phone inside one of her facial cavities. Her path would cross less than a meter in front of my chair. Now women know I’m looking at them even when I’m trying not to look at them. I think I have that sort of an unlook. But this woman refused to believe what the corner of her eye told her. She passed less then half a meter ahead of me & I followed her face like I follow the motions of somebody serving me a scoop of ice cream. But she did not turn. There is not much you can smile about that. I took another sip.
I followed faces. Like some fan at Wimbledon. To & fro. To & fro. I followed, cell phones. Astonishing numbers of cell phones walking around these days I tell you. I followed, sunglasses. Tinted to tainted. I followed hair. Tied back to all tied up. I followed hair clips. Strict to strapped. I followed bindi’s. Splayed like stars to starred like the sun. And then she came.
She had flowers in her hair. Jasmine mixed with those red ones. But more of the Jasmines. And less of the red ones. No sun glasses. For some reason you never see Jasmine with sun glasses. Either you have Jasmine, or you have sunglasses. I looked at her eyes. They were looking at mine. Have you ever noticed how eyes focus at ten meters? You see the eyes lost in some internal thought. One blink. And they find you.
I looked down. Noticed a coffee mark on the table. I looked up. The Jasmine were waving goodbye. I looked down. The coffee was finished. The glass empty. It was time to go home.

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