On the platform – Mute man and woman chatting most excitedly in their own language. In between the conversation, she makes him have some water from her bottle, later forces a small pouch of peanuts into his hand. Meanwhile, flies continue to prance around and I try to catch some glimpses of them by pretending to look in that direction. Not staring etiquette versus curiosity.
In the train – An unexpected empty bunch of seats, on moving closer that’s because a suspicious looking paste of refuse is stuck to the floor, flies around it. Women around covering their noses is amusing. With so much filth around does this bother because of the proximity? The city doesn’t care much for cleanliness. Have seen a bus conductor drop extra paper from ticket roll on the bus floor itself. It’s not his bus after all. Back in the crowded train I wish for a back massage. As the station arrives, the crush of women behind me turns into the handbag pressing but not digging into my back. Perverse wish-fulfillment.
Off the train – On the overbridge I cross the beggar woman with wounded knees who has become a permanent fixture, with a soot-black baby next to her. Wonder if she can become a landmark, “Take a right from the beggar with wounded knees”. Couple of days ago a neatly dressed woman was talking to her, sounded like hope. The next day the beggar was at her spot but better dressed than usual and looked ready to go somewhere. Seemed like hope. Today she is back to her usual appearance, with the baby, and the extended hand.
Out the station – My head lowers on its own as I cross the station’s entry/exit. Is it my way of going pushing through the crowd? Out the station, dodging taxis and assorted fruit sellers, I ignore the usual coconut water seller as I am late. Late, late, why am I always late? Briskly walking on the footpath, snaking in and out when it is occupied I reach the crossing near my office. A two-wheeler passes with the pillion rider turning his neck 180 degrees to look at me. Yes buddy, why won’t you stare at a well-dressed woman? That is what we are for, isn’t it. I can’t do anything but make a face, hope he notes my displeasure and cross the road to finally reach the office. Daily breads have to be earned and rents have to be paid…