Sheena was a slim girl of fifteen. She was a whiz kid with wiring and sound systems. She knew how to make software programs and she was the trouble shooter for the Chawl Hotel’s laptops and desktops. She had somehow come to the conclusion that I was the richest man in the world. Yes I do have custom built cars. I do wear the ultimate branded clothes and shoes. I have a big collection of watches from all over the world. Still I am no Greek shipping tycoon. She is constantly begging me to allow her to come into my bedroom and have a look.
I know these young Delhi girls. They are dynamite. These teenagers are thrill seekers. They are the biggest gossips and the slightest gesture by a boy or man can be interpreted as an attempt at rape or casual love making depending on the mood of the hour.
‘Why are you afraid of me.’ She said holding my hand and pulling it to near her heart. ‘Can you hear it thumping? It is beating only for you. Let us go into your bedroom and inspect the paintings.’
I smiled and flopped down on the big sofa letting her be pulled along with me. ‘Talk, you can talk but no physical stuff’ I told her.
“Why are you fighting nature? Right now a million people at least are making love somewhere on the globe. In the dark depths of the Amazon jungle; on ships; in Africa even while the lions are roaring near a village; in Australia in the bush; Eskimos in igloos and even stuck up Indians are using Nirodhs at a fast pace. Why can’t you just kiss me? You owe me. I fixed your sound system.’ I grabbed her and picked her up and placed her on a chair away from the sofa.
“Please,” I begged, “we will talk about this when you are eighteen. Right now you are a minor and I do not want to be arrested for assaulting a minor.”
‘You do whatever you feel like I will not lodge a complaint. You can marry me first if you are really that interested.’ Somehow I convinced her to come out of my apartment and go for a walk with me. She slumped along disappointed till we reached the food court in the Mall.
“Badal Kar faqiron ka bhes “Ghalib”
Hum Tamaasha-e-Ahle-Karam Dekhte Hain.”
When I was younger I worked for a newspaper. Over years of reporting I got sick of the regular news beat and somehow convinced my editor to give me the assignment of a roving spy on Delhi buses. I would take a bus let us see from INA to India Gate or even ISBT and just sit down and listen. I listened to the taunts and jibes of the people on the bus. There political comments amongst themselves and their abominal use of the English language. It became a very popular column and many people copied the idea and did it for their newspapers.
Now as the roving custodian of my father’s properties I leave aside one day to roam the NCR on the Metro Rail. This way I keep in tune with the people. Over the years I have observed the gradual acclimatisation of the common people to the metro rail. At first the common man, the poor man was wary of the portals of the Metro regarding it as a foible of the rich. Now I see the democratisation of its use. Everyone uses it from the rich to the very poor beggar.
A certain behaviour inside the metro has become developed amongst the people. A non staring gaze at the fixtures of the insides is a gesture of politeness towards your looks and your behaviour. The amorousness of couples inside the train is increasing. Last night on my way back from a drink with a friend in a five star hotel I sat transfixed as a couple licked, kissed and fondled each other in the corner of our coach in utter ignorance of other people’s presence. I was like seeing a young pair of dogs play with enthusiasm on the roadside as a preliminary to some serious mating. Young men stared unashamedly at the couple while the women and older men stared away. It was uncomfortable while it lasted and everyone heaved a sigh of relief when they got off at AIIMS.
The metro demographics are changing. I watched with amusement and pride the four friends obviously from a software company who were engaged in solving an office problem while they travelled. They sat facing each other and did a brain storming which showed to me why our boys and girls are so brilliant in the world of Information, Telecommunications and Internet Technology.
On the other hand was the young man with a Shah Jehan beard dressed all in black. He was thin as a reed and obviously high on something. I could not determine whether it was on God or a drug. I was sitting down, I must admit in a very expensive Armani suit with patent leather shoes shined to a mirror finish. He took an offence to my rich look and stood in front of me and just stared at me. I was not looking for a fight. I did not look back in to his eyes. He wanted to provoke me into a fight. I am not afraid of a scrap. I am a black belt in Judo and have a solid muscular body which is not an accident of birth but a result of some working out in the gym and The Chawl swimming pool. I am sure I can take care of myself otherwise I would not ride the Metro wearing Armani suits. I breathed in and out gently and long in order to cool my slowly heating brain. Finally four stations later the modern version of a Sufi saint got off my coach and I sat back and relaxed.