Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Too much fuss over shit-all

Where Vasant Vihar  ends, the rocky outcrops of the Aravalis are home to a cluster of jhuggis, an area known by its topography, as a pahadi. Bored with the metalled roads of New Delhi, I turned my cycle onto a dry path of bleached ochre, making way for the odd motor-cycle heading to work, towards the tarmac of the city.

Through the keekar, the thorny acacia, I skirted the settlement, then a wider arc to stay away from the stagnant black water, the installation of plastic refuse and the wandering pigs. Near a clump of bushes, the path forked, and I hesitated. A 10-year old boy, with the most beautiful honeyed eyes asked me where I was going. "Just wandering", I said.

 "Hmm - if you take that road; it's a long ways before you exit."

"And this one?", I asked.

"It leads to the jhuggies."

"I think I'll take the longer track then. You're sure it doesn't trail off?"

"Of course. Have a nice ride." His liquid smile was echoed by his friend, a somewhat more reserved lad who had stood quietly by.

I pedalled on, shifting into the lowest gear, as the track narrowed and headed up. A minute later, a grown man emerged from another clump of keekar, empty Bisleri bottle in hand. Amused, yet sympathetic, he pointed at my front tire, to which a thorny twig had attached itself. "I think you had better turn around. You won't be getting very far with that!"

"True!", I grimaced. I dismounted, pulled out the thorn, and watched the tyre collapse. I turned back, towards the two boys.

The same honeyed eyes, the same liquid smile - "What happened?"

"Puncture - keekar."

"So, are you heading back?"

"I guess.

"Ah well. Have a nice day!"

"Thanks." I said. His friend stood by, still quiet; my little friend still squatting, his posture exactly the same as when I found him, his dark little pecker a few inches from the ground. Around him, rags and plastic, stones and thorns littered the underbrush. They both waved, and went back to being together, one squatting, one not.

Why do we make so much fuss about shitting in private?

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