Not Knowing

Once out of the Grant Road station I went to my usual, route 155 bus stop. I have been using it for more than 2 years. It takes me to Films Division at Peddar road for my work. Sun was strong today, making it a rather warm day. I pulled out my cap from the bag. Felt better. I was feeling as calm as uncomfortable and warm the weather was. I saw a bus turn into the station road; but stopped at a distance. The queue was getting longer. Ladies were grumbling. Old men were frowning. They should also carry a cap or an umbrella in such hot and even sometimes wet weather. Most people had discarded face mask. I could see. They think Covid 19 has gone away. But they should know that numbers have stated rising again. I had my mask, cap and glares too. Bus moved again towards us. Stopped at the pit stop for the conductors. Here they take paper instructions. I guess records of number of rounds they made.

Once at the stop, door opened and people started climbing in. I was lucky to get a seat. Seat ahead of me was for Ladies, a woman in red sari was sitting and a guy joined in, in the empty space. That was not going to be allowed in such crowd. Another woman immediately pushed him off. AC wasn’t effective at all, more so with so many people. Sun was towards my seat. But something was keeping me calm, didn’t I did tell you? I did. We moved. People were buying tickets. Conductor was moving easily through the aisle. They are used to it. In about 10 minutes bus stopped at the Tardeo bus depot. The place famous for ‘Sardar Pav-Bhaji’. BEST staff changes here. Both driver and conductor. It gets done in less than 2 minutes. I am used to it. Somehow today the clock went beyond two minutes… then 5, then 10! Women in seat ahead of mine started, “where is the driver? How much time?” Many passengers in the aisle had started making a lot of noise. They were getting louder and rowdier. Someone went on ringing the bell. My eyes were fixed at the depot gate to find two men in khaki walking towards us. I gave up. They were nowhere to be seen. Sun was on my side and the AC seemed to be on ventilator.

I took photo of the bus identification number. The woman in front also did the same. I was thinking where should I post it? I said, “Hello, are you going to post it on Instagram? She said, yes. A good 25 minutes later staff entered the bus. I heard a woman saying we have to reach in time, otherwise they mark us absent. Other said we can’t afford to be late in our jobs. Next stop was Jaslok Hospital. I knew they both will get off there. I was sure they were medical staff. That is why so much insistence on punctuality.

But after being convinced in my mind that they were medical staff, none got off at the hospital! Why! My stop was next. I stood up and got off. Outside I noticed the woman also had come out, perhaps from back door. You need to be fully alert while crossing Peddar road. Traffic is very quick and dense. Once across the road I noticed the same woman had crossed the road too and was walking in the same direction. Now I felt that something quite unusual was happening. I entered ‘films division’ gate. She was already signing the entry register. I saw her entering the building. I saw her waiting for the lift among two more people. Some guys got off on 5th floor. 9th floor light was on. She did not chose her floor.

On 9th floor I went to the person who guides me which cabin is assigned to me for watching the film. Person told me to go to 8th floor. I walked down one floor and took a comfortable seat. Documents about the film were placed in front of me. The lady entered the room and took a seat behind. Grabbed her papers and started filling details.

Lights dimmed. The movie started.

Infectious Goodness

I met my friend Gautam yesterday. Like me he too is very regular in his exercise regimen, especially the walks. His doctor has told him that at his age, one-hour walk everyday is a must. If he wants to go to a gym, do Yoga, learn karate or any other activity, it has to be ‘walk’+ that activity. During one such walk something strange happened with Gautam. He narrated to me the story next day.

Gautam had already completed his daily walk quota in the morning. He had come out again in the evening for a stroll in the park; maybe just to stay a little ahead in life. He was only half way down the track; he spotted a wad of money on the ground. He stopped right next to it, keeping his shoe near the neatly folded notes and looked down directly at it. Watching an awkwardly static person in the jogging park; other walkers too followed his look and also saw the money. Gautam looked up at some passing men engrossed in serious walking.

Gautam: does this belong to any of you? He stayed near the money. But it seemed that those people had already started breaking their carbohydrates into glucose and water. So, no one was in a mood to break the pace for little money that didn’t even belong to them. A tall man just nodded ‘no’ and walked off without slowing his pace. A dark lady in short hair said smilingly, ‘finders keepers’, not bothering to stop. Gautam picked up the money. Watchman from his cabin had also noticed this. Gautam walked to the watchman, showed him the money and told him, “I found it (pointing to the spot) there. Did any one inform you about their lost money?”
Watchman: “no (extending his hand to grab the notes); but I will keep an eye.”
Gautam: “wait, let me count it (he counted the money). It is 110 rupees. Keep it but if I cannot find the owner then I will take it from you before I leave. It is 110, ok?”
Watchman: “ok sir.” But just as Gautam was about to hand over the money to watchman, Gautam noticed a large bunch of women entering the garden. He stood at the edge of walking area and raised his hand with the money.

Gautam: “anyone lost this… any one?” Most ladies laughed and passed him by; but a thin woman with graying hair said, “you are giving so much of your time for someone else’s money. Everyone is not so nice.” Gautam: ‘

“that’s no problem; I will give it just a few minutes more.”
Thin woman with graying hair: “good luck to you” (she walked off laughing away).
Gautam: (trying his luck again) “hello any one dropped this right here, any one?”
Next was a group of four women, chatting loudly. Among them there was a fat lady in yellow suit, “Yes, it could be mine. I had a 50 rupee note with me when I was shopping.” She showed her empty handkerchief. So careless! Gautam thought.
Gautam: “you should have at least tied up the money in your handkerchief.”
Fat woman in yellow suit: “yes. I don’t know how it slipped.”
Gautam: (placing money in her hanky) “here, take this.”

Other women started complimenting him and smiling, as they always do. Gautam was hugely relieved; but by now he had lost precious five-minute walk. So he picked up speed thanking women for their complements. The women too continued walking for a while. Gautam paced faster in the next two rounds. That group of women was now sitting on a bench and chatting. So every two minutes Gautam passed them, he knew they were looking at him. He felt very uncomfortable.

Soon there was a surprising twist in the tale. A small made woman had walked to that group of four women and was talking to them. As Gautam passed again, group of women stopped him.
Fat woman in yellow suit: “actually the money belongs to this lady. She has come back all the way from her house trying to find it.”
Gautam: “so now you are giving it to her?”
Fat woman in yellow suit: “yes. I thought it was mine; but it is surely hers.”
Gautam: “but what about your fifty rupee note? Do you have it or is that lost too?”
Fat woman in yellow suit: “no, it is in my bag.”
Gautam: “sure? Otherwise tell me I will keep an eye on the ground for your money too.”
They all laugh aloud. Gautam coolly started his walks again. He was pleasantly surprised at what had happened.

Dark lady in short hair: “you can’t go on finding money in every trip.”
Gautam: “yes I know. But even if I do find more money, it will be a big headache to find it’s owner every time.”
Dark lady in short hair: (laughing) “true. I don’t think anyone thinks like you do.”
Gautam was moving away from her.
Gautam: “oh that’s no big deal. Bye.”
Dark lady in short hair, “bye.”