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Sudden rain & its consequences

It has started raining here

What?

Yeah, proper rains, but (beat) it will pass in a bit.

You sure?

He didn’t reply. One of his many names was ‘mountain man’, ‘Mr. Trekker’ etc. If he said the rain would stop it would. Another thought struck me –

If it’s raining towards your end, then– i looked at the sky, grey pregnant clouds, – it could rain anytime here as well!

Find a spot & wait it out, won’t be a long one, he assured me. I hung up & thought about what he said. While thinking, I switched on Spotify & held the handle of my motor-bike. In 10 seconds I heard it say – let’s put as much distance between here & your destination – may. The racy music, swollen skies, light dust all added to the thoughts as I kickstarted the bike & off.

In exactly 8 minutes we were forced to stop.

We had reached the racecourse. Almost. There was an arc just before – traffic slowed down as I felt the first drops on my helmet glass. Instinctively i looked left – blue tarpaulin roof under which was a raised platform with cigarette packets & tea flask – road side tea stall. I thought no further, parked at the curb & ran in to take shelter under the tarpaulin.

My parked bike became a beacon of sorts – soon other two wheelers -motor bikes, scooters even cycles parked ahead, behind & even besides my vehicle. The number of vehicles that parked besides grew – it made the arch of the road so narrow that cars had to resort to a single file to move ahead. No one stopped to complain because all the regulars knew the unsaid rule during a sudden downpour – 4 wheelers slow down two wheelers halt & traffic crawls. 

Since I was the first I took the vantage point to observe everyone. The couples were the first to stop – some partners waited/helped the riders while others ran in to save their skin. A few ran in with their bags while others found the patience to store them in their storage space. Then came the single riders who were generally reluctant to get off & didn’t mind a few rain drops, but the downpour was intense. They ran in with different emotions writ on their face – laughter, irritation surprise, anger while a few still had their helmets on. Each person had one goal – take shelter from the rain, wait it out.

Soon there was a nice group of odd balls gathered – office execs, delivery guys, young couples, working women, single men, even kids and guardians. Each reacted differently – some texted/phoned on their mobiles, others eyed the skies-discussed downpours, some cracked jokes while a couple of them still refused to remove their helmets. Some of them in uniform others not wearing one but behaving like the ones wearing it. Each of us at some point eyed the four wheelers who still managed to move ahead leaving the lot of us behind to deal with the deluge.

In the middle of this – I paid special attention to the main man, the owner of the tea stall. A man of slight built, droopy eyes & permanent worried look on his face – he looked like someone used to selling all sorts of things on dusty highways across the land. But this place was so rundown I knew it was one of these reasons or a combination of them that he was there –

  1. he was a newbie fresh in town
  2. he had shit luck at whatever he tried before (this didn’t look it was getting any better)
  3. A friend/relative/well-wisher tricked him by saying the usual crap like – there’s money in tea. Sure – like justice in courts & satisfaction in manual scavenging.

Just to confirm my thoughts I had a good look at the shop & its surroundings. He couldn’t have picked a worst spot – the road would had constant moving traffic & except in such bizarre situations had no place for vehicles to park for people to get tea. The nearest shanty was at a distance & I suspected had better tea shops, plus he had a public toilet just meters away from the shop. it was a losing proposition all the way.

But that flash rain for the tea-seller proved to be a god-send.

Once they realised they were stuck, the droopy eyed seller became their go to man. Tea, cigarettes,  beedi, tobacco, supari, cheap candy everything was being sought and bought. The tea-seller didn’t know what hit him – he tried to cope as best – took cash first, put another pot of tea, asked a small boy to run away & buy more cigarettes – because he was running out of stock. He couldn’t cope – ended up serving people who hadn’t paid or worse – he refused a guy who had paid.

A fight broke out – but now he looked in his element – confident and sure – not that the guy had paid or not but, in his ability, to fight, to survive. When a couple of other people explained things to him – he understood. Things simmered down – he made and served tea to the man. Someone cracked a naughty joke about rains & rage. The school kid laughed hard shocking their guardian who dragged her out of the shelter & walked. The school girl continued laughing as she walked. On their way the small boy returned back with cigarettes & flask of tea.  The tea seller turned to his gods (placed just above the tobacco pouches) to say thank you.

That’s when the rains tricked him. It stopped just like they had started – suddenly.

The first to react were the helmet wearing guys. They climbed onto the wet seats, didn’t bother wiping & were off. The couples double checked the skies, satisfied they made their way out, cleaned their seats as best & went – the rest also followed. I paid for my tea, so did some of the others & made our way to the bikes.

As I kickstarted I took one last look at the shop. the flask full of tea, cigarettes & tobacco displayed – it was the turn of the tea seller to be dazed. He was back where he started.

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Published by appamprawns

soni writes about children and people in controlled spaces, in his quest for appam stew. homi writes in the hope of being able to buy prawns to make patiyo.

2 thoughts on “Sudden rain & its consequences

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