The Wait

Whenever I spotted them coming my way from a distance, I usually averted looking at from close. It was on my Sunday morning walks that I crossed them, the father and the daughter and the mother on rare occasions. On some days it was the evening outing to the market. The girl – she was probably in late teens, somewhat chubby, wore a salwar-kameez; the bib around the neck, the far-away look and the shuffling gait gave her away.

It was always an unhurried pace, no carry-bags in hand, no pausing on the way to exchange pleasantries with anyone. They always walked side-by-side. I don’t recall seeing him hold her hands. No slouch or slack in his posture. He wore his t-shirts tucked in. The face had traces of pock-marks softened by age, small tufts of white hair on the sides breaking up the monotony of the bald pate. The deep-set eyes were steady, alert and showed no ire or despair.

I thought about the parents – kind, patient and sensitive, round the clock, day and night, all days of the week, all of the months and the years. Really, angels on earth. My incorrigible mind did not rest with the angels. The question popped up: What would be her plight when her parents are no longer around? There are homes, I hear, though mighty expensive. I never sighted a sibling who could possibly take care of her later in life. I moved away from the depressing thought – all I could do.

I felt like a mouse in the basement, in this regard, going back to when my daughters were young and growing up – their minor infractions over my notions of what was good for them would get me into an uproar.

And what about them giving care selflessly to who are not even their own? Can you help me with a word, Non-Believers?

One day I even saw him praying in the Temple. I was sure this wasn’t the first time. I wondered what made him keep at it after his years of prayers had not yielded any relief. After all prayers are believed to be answered with reward or relief in quick time or near about.

Under man-made jurisprudence, even a prisoner has his space. However, paying for some bad Karma in her previous birth, she was mercilessly denied as much as elbow-room for herself. Inscrutable are the ways of divine dispensation, you agree, Believers?

Some weeks back, suddenly I came up on him sitting at a bus-stop in the market, all by himself. I didn’t trust my eyes until I saw him again a few days later at another bus-stop. He certainly wasn’t waiting for a bus. Was she not in town? Taken sick? When I crossed him on the road next, I mustered up enough courage to ask him if she was alright.

He shook his head his head and walked away without a word.

It has been a month. I wish for life to restore status-quo, for sighting her again walking by his side on their customary rounds.

End

Out To Watch ‘The Movie Of The Decade’ – Impressions

Part 3

My wife did not appear entertained as the movie lacked any large scale drama with the usual quota of turns and twists. I somehow liked it for the very same reasons!

There was no a) father lying on deathbed extracting promises with dear ones standing all around in tears and a solitary violin going loud and sad, b) a comely bride stoically suffering at the hands of the in-laws, c) speeding cars on hair-pin bends d) guys chomping on raw sugarcane and spitting out or e) gun toting baddies sent flying through the air by a mere toe contact or variations thereof. My wife interjected these were time-worn, demode, passe. She did not elaborate on what were the current templates in place of the above.

It was all about a boy and a girl growing up together and fond of each other. The boy wants to tie the knot with her. The girl doesn’t know her mind. At one time it is ‘Never let me foolishly drift away from you, please’ and at other times ‘I need my space’.

There were breaks all around starting with the title: dishes break on finding the floor or meeting the walls, the same with ashtrays and flower-vases; their relationship breaks up from ‘engaged’ to ‘friends’. There were breaks of the other kind too – the girl gets a break bagging an international acting assignment, the boy breaks away from his father’s mould and into the league of restaurateurs (restaurant owners). The one significant exception: The duo does not break into a duet in the entire length of the film as far as I could recall.

Guys and gals all showed up as weak, fallible, vulnerable and likeable – shades of Wodehouse.

Most scenes were framed around the two. It might be slow and boring to some. For me it was refreshingly different from what I see in the ‘action packed’ or ‘emotion-laden’ snatches on the TV, though it was a missed opportunity, I thought, to have invested more depth and credibility without the usual melodrama to the somewhat light and frothy treatment.

The one thought that stood out in my mind from what I had seen: If this is what it takes to woo and marry a girl – energy, application, technique and perseverence – most of us would never stand a chance in our lives! Thank the Lord for arranged marriages!

Suspecting I was well on the way to announce ‘Break Ke Baad’ as the ‘The Movie of the Year.’ my wife hastened to caution me this wasn’t the first of its kind in recent times. I did better by declaring it as the ‘The Movie of the Decade’…… after all this was the one movie I saw at a movie-hall in all of the decade coming to close on 31st Dec of 2010!

End

Out To Watch ‘The Movie Of The Decade’ – Impressions

Part 2

They cannot see or hear you while you can. No one can tap you on your shoulders or hold you by the scruff of your neck and neither you. You could still mingle, travel, live with people, and be where things happen and remain untouched. Who would you be? Most certainly a ghost, won’t you agree, from whatever we’ve been led to believe about ghosts? Why am I turning a poor unsuspecting you into a ghost which you’re clearly not? Kindly stay with me, I’ll clear it up right away.

All I’m saying is seeing a movie is very much the same thing – you sneak into the scenes of a different world, unobserved, unheard and untouched and watch the show. Well, if that doesn’t make you a ghost…So it is little wonder you look ashen, dazed and other-worldly when you troop out at the end of a show. Of course it is another matter that some of these movies may be giving even the ghosts the fright of their lives(?).

And it takes a while for you to shed your ghostly coil and return fit in faculties to the world of flesh and blood. Here is where the discerning would see the design reaching great heights- in metaphorical as well as in physical sense! These halls, I’m told, are customarily perched, by precision design, on one of those higher floors to give you just the time needed for recovery, as you trudge several floors down by half-width stairs to the street level. It’s all worked out to the minute using computers. If you think about it, you’ll figure out it’s the same design principle applied when they make you walk a mile after disembarking from the plane to the baggage collection at any airport of the newer kind; and when you reach the baggage collection, your suitcases regard you disdainfully as a hopeless laggard, having already made several rounds on the belt unclaimed.

Quite neat, eh? All, achieved by the simple expedience of putting the right distance between two points! In fact I would go so far as to urge scientists, engineers, sociologists, economists et al to consider this as a possible solution to many problems proving to be otherwise intractable in their respective fields.

I’m digressing – let me come back to us. Working to the design, the color was back on our cheeks, pupils in the center of our eyes and feet on the ground as we climbed down five floors and spilled out on to the street, leaving behind all ghostly resemblances. As we picked our way out I noticed something unusual – the way out took us right through the belly of a shop in the mall selling dresses! It was quite an innovative way of luring the affluent, discharged from the hall above (does that make them the effluent?) at the end of every show into seeing the goods on display. Full marks to the architect who conceived it or adapted from the west! Or, perhaps it was discovered serendipitously by the ’pioneers’ specially invited to the maiden show at the hall as the only route available to them – short of scaling the walls, breaking glass or squeezing through trap-doors – at the end of the show to reach the street and their homes. I was in no frame of mind to ask around whose doing it was – the innovative architect or the unstoppable ‘pioneers’.

We were lucky to have the first auto that I flagged down mercifully consenting to take us back to Chembur. Only when we settled down as much as the three-wheeler would let us and were hurling past Kala Nagar in the easy Sunday traffic, the conversation opened up on the movie.

(To be contd.)

Out To Watch ‘The Movie Of The Decade’ – Impressions

Part 1

Quite out of the blue, blew in a couple of tickets and refreshment coupons to a movie in Bandra – it was from a nice kid at my bank remembering me. Mind you, I’ve not been in money since my retirement and have not talked business with her for quite sometime now. On an impulse I decided to take it. My wife was properly surprised at this sudden lapse in form. Anyway the word was out and the tickets were in and so there was no going back.

The movie was a Sunday matinee show of ‘Break Ke Baad’ that was released a few days ago. Frankly going out in the hot sun – this November was unusually warm – after the heavy lunch and the glucose-rushed postprandial nap was an unwelcome prospect. Somehow we pushed ourselves onto the street, helped by an invigorating glass of freshly brewed ‘filter’ coffee. We reached the movie-house almost in sweat and a tad tired after the long ride from Chembur by an auto (three-wheeler) whose rear springs had given up the ghost quite a while ago.

The movie-house wasn’t difficult to find – the shopping-mall-movie-house combo was on the main thoroughfare. We had hit a little early as they were still into the cleaning act. As we waited out gawking at the young crowd, I felt like a priest in a pub. We were the only grey-haired elderly couple all by themselves. I double-checked the posters to confirm if the movie wasn’t some animated panchtantra story or a Lion King genre or about one-eyed aliens sporting antennas and kidnapping unsuspecting earthlings.

My wife sweetly suggested we have a ‘dheko’ (looking around) of the shops in the air-conditioned comfort of the abutting mall. The avowed purpose, more often than not, is misleading and turns into purse-bleeding. I cautioned her in time I carried only a few hundred bucks in my pocket and no credit-card. It was just as well for all my money was good for purchasing at best a couple of pile-less bath towels at this up-market mall. This time I felt more like a priest in a stripper club. We hastily retreated thankfully unrelieved of our cash and headed for the movie-house now admitting its patrons.

The movie-hall was smallish – its rows stopped much short of even the basic course of A to Z, in two small banks. The tickets cost 180 rupees a pop while popped corn at 50 rupees a scoop and sandwiches 60 rupees apiece! Well, if a single rose-on-stem, only a little bigger than a button, could cost 5 rupees, why not? I got it later from an acquaintance in the production business these jaw-dropping prices are ‘very reasonable’! He also revealed the mark-up on these refreshments are nothing to laugh at – the business depends on them to boost the bottom-line.

I remembered the national anthem was always played at the end when half the crowd despite all the admonishment still pushed its way towards the exits. Here they fixed it innovatively by playing it as we entered the hall – everyone dutifully froze where they stood.

The ubiquitous ushers shining their torch lights were not in usual numbers. As we were shown our seats and we had settled down, I looked around. Even for its small size the hall was only half-full. But it was nothing like I had seen before. Air-conditioned, plush seats thoughtfully designed with a drinks-holder at the end of the arm-rest – they let you even have refreshments inside the hall, a large screen from which images jumped at you….though the sound was uncomfortably loud.

I noticed they don’t anymore play the colorless Films Division news-reel. Perhaps today social messages are anachronisms? After a couple of noisy but short trailers – we couldn’t make out who was chasing whom and for what – the main movie commenced.

(To be contd.)