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Bent at the knees

a year gone by!

I know we have not been posting for a few days now. I have been traveling on other assignments & that took up time. But today a year’s up – a year of writing, of pure joy & telling stories the way we like it. And today i thought of writing on my old man itself – hence the title – Bent at the knees. Meanwhile season’s greetings & enjoy reading!

I looked at the watch – 9.20 am – shouted, Dad, hurry up!

Am ready – pat came his reply.

Dad’s reply surprised me. Post-surgery, he used to take his time and then some. Bottom line – i wasn’t ready for him being ready. I had just fired a warning shot- it backfired. This time he got ready real-quick for his dentist appointment. Now I wasn’t ready. I jumped into the shower. There i heard him say – I’m going. You come.

And that’s how it rolls – i want to be on time, blame the old man for making me late. In the end, its mostly the other way around!

Catching up.

Quickly i showered, dressed & headed out of the building. Dad was nowhere to be seen. Fortunately, the dentist’s clinic was down the road, very close to our home. I knew he would be walking ahead towards the clinic. In order to reach him, I began walking briskly.

While I walked, I thought of my planned trip out of the city. I had to leave the next day. It was dad’s dentist appointment because of which I had postponed it. The same one he had left for without me.

Pre & post surgery effects.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Before the surgery, dad couldn’t walk long distances, had to sit down & rest at short intervals. The surgery had worked wonders & he walked without stopping. He only needed help while climbing steps. Somehow, he had picked up pace & was nowhere to be seen. I have mixed feelings about this. I really quickened my steps.

At the corner right outside the society gates, I finally saw him. I shouted – Dad! The veggie vendor at the curb, the lady shopping stared at me – in salt-pepper beard, bloated paunch, long hair-shouting Daddy! Daddy!

After three full throated calls he turns, sees me & smiles. I run up to him.

Earlier I couldn’t walk so much, dad admits.

Well done! I compliment dad – knowing that was exactly what he wanted to hear. His smile grew wider. There is still that ease between us. It surfaces very rarely – but its there.

Recollecting pet peeves & old habits.

Now I just am scared of climbing steps – his steps slow down. After that statement he slowed down. He spotted a middle-aged shopkeeper at the chemist shop. He waved, the man waved back seated on a chair. I have seen the man sit on the chair & watch videos on his mobile all day. The shop was mostly run now by his young son.

You know I used to trek hills each day – dad surprises me with that statement. We had reached the market square,. i saw my regular vegetable vendor – the old lady squatted & lost in thought. I wave- didn’t catch her eye. Quickly I put my hand down & tell dad –  

You would get up at 4am to do that each morning.

All those habits is what’s helping me now – he beams.

I agree. His walk though has really slowed. I ponder whether I should get a rickshaw. The distance is barely 20 meters. Still.

Of sudden stops & hollow promises.

We heard a commotion – looked sideways. A fruitwalla had caught a rat in a trap. The road side vendor were playing silling games. He was scaring the other hawkers by taking it close to their face & running behind them. I watched in awe as the fit agile hawkers dodged him across the busy streets. I felt jealous at their agility, vowed to get in shape. Somehow the promise rang hollow even before i could finish making it.

I forgot my health issues as Dad just stopped abruptly. He reached out and held my hand. A rickshaw slowed down next to us. I put my hand out to stop it. He immediately pulled my hand down.

It’s just gas -, he said sheepishly. As I smiled the rickshaw guy grunted & zoomed away.

I laughed, he joined me. We walked slow, our knees in solidarity with the gas.

Of fitness methods back in the day.

Before you were born, I used to walk with your mom to the market – he commented about walking long distances from the house. To save money–, he admitted, –and that helped us stay fit.

I thought of all the money I have spent on gym memberships & online fitness classes. And still am in the shape I am in.  This man at 83 bounces back from spine surgery with just gas trouble – wow.

Bent at the knees.

Photo by Kseniya Budko on Pexels.com

We are here, he pointed to the dentist’s clinic. I moved ahead of him, did the one thing for which he needed me. Helped him climb that one step up to be on the marble floor leading inside the clinic.

We walk into the clinic. The young dentist comes out, says hello & shakes my hand.

will it take time? Not at all – he says.

Dad walks in with confidence. The dentist closes the door, draws the curtain. As i sit down, i find myself panting. Also my knees are hurting. My mind rushes back to the thought of dad at my age. He was already a father of three kids, plus a full time job. Still he found time for his walks each morning.

As i sat there, i rubbed my knees thinking of the times ahead. For dad, for me. I sat there resting, watching the road. As i waited for dad to get back. not sure who would be accompanying whom.

Post credit – Soni Anthony.

Photo credits – Pexels.com, Soni Anthony.

A heart to heart conversation.

I am sitting in a veranda overlooking a forest. Not any forest, but one located in the heart of a Tony neighbourhood in Bombay. This post is not about the forest. It is about the heart – or rather what the heart says to me right now.  

In the vista before me, I witness a spectrum of emotions unfold – hunger, fear, deceit, love & anger. It is one swooping piece of art work, one giant canvas that is tied together with strings. They are knotted and attached to a beating heart – mine.

It may be because I watched a pair of parakeets struggle to hold onto a branch for some privacy, or the old Parsi couple one floor above us, that never tire out of fighting with each other raised arms & voices et all. It may also be the beautiful book I am reading, ‘Heart, a history’ by Sandeep Jauhar.

A big bob cat attempts a climb up an Ashoka tree as I recollect my date from last night. The last dredges of my coffee hit me bitter-sweet. R, my friend whose house I am a guest at, is busy with his daily grind, a major part of it includes taking care of an aging parent. In a while we will share pun filled jokes & make fun of each-other’s lives, an activity we both enjoy. Such activities make me feel lighter. Of late, that has been rare to find.

The heart heaves…

My heart heaves – just like the 55-year home nurse who travels for 5 hours each day back & forth to reach R’s house & help him care for his parent. From knowing that I will be starting a new venture in writing, that I will have to find a balance again. Also, that I would have to not go on dates for some time again.

I feel the forest grow within me – the branches enter at different nodes, intertwine making me one more extension of them. On them swing bobcats, parakeets & R hanging onto each other’s limbs at different points. They hold onto each other in desperation as elements float around them – sleep medication, train passes, rotting carcass, sexual grunts. And above all is the Thump-thump sound. When we listen closer as one collective, we hear –

So what?

So what?

So what?

Musings of a confused soul.

Its been about 5 months from when i last wrote. It took a long time to come to terms that i am a writer. And yet for varied reasons that did not happen. Now i begin again. This is a free write session – and it stems from confusion and turmoil. Hope the writing untangles my confused soul- as it does most times.

The drudgery of routine.

If only I could make time to write down a few words everyday – the problem is the daily routine. Food, wash, clean, stuff, keep & repeat. This is what happens when you have been on the road too long.  when you say writing can wait. and now I am at one place again – brimming to start. But that will have to wait – there’s garbage to take out. Till her thought pops up. I saw her Insta post – Did she write a love poem?

Me in love? Nah!

I’m not in love. I love her – sure but am not in love. She’s not my type (Read fat & sad) anyways. Even though I am a convicted man (matter on appeal!), without any real attachments, overweight, suffer from a heart condition, live from favour to favour, always looking for the next gig, next job fix. Yeah sure – she’s the defective piece.

Helps & unhelpful landlady.

Almost 9ish. The help comes in by 10 am. She should be coming earlier. This house is pathetic, its unclean & uncool – a 12th floor apartment in a far- flung suburb. Except a few security guards & couple of neighbours, I don’t know anyone here. Maybe that’s exactly what I need. That’s what will get me writing again. I have not written in months. No, the small thoughts & odd poems don’t count. This place is exactly what I need. Still, it’s far.

Do i belong?

What happened to me? When did I become such a busy body? Travel cities, stay in unknown dorms, interview strangers, comfortable sharing my past with absolute strangers? Why am I doing this? I should contact K soon. He will know about the job opening. But then what about the shift to Goa like P suggested. The south of Goa is good – not many people, especially near the border. P spoke about building an outhouse where I could stay. That would be good. Even though I cannot stand P!

Need to get back to exercise – went for a walk yesterday. It’s really hot though. This place is as good as any across the state. There’s a heat wave across the country. I did start cooking, although that was a disaster. While straining the rice, I had left it unattended. The clips holding the vessel slipped & the rice fell into the sink! Salvaged what I could. I should call N to learn how to strain it properly. But then who leaves their kitchen so bare! So, what if they have shifted? She took all the utensils away. Like there are no utensils to buy in Goa. Anyways this will be just another short stint.

Unpaid passions & much needed partnerships.

Should begin writing fast- so many things to be done. S should be getting back to town. There is a load of work to do. I have to tell him that I will be working fixed hours now. Also ask him for money. Hope he hasn’t spent it all on his vacation.

Wonder what do I begin writing about? The artist interviews, research the pandemic, places that I visited, or just start afresh. There’s so much else too that I should look at – pending work, possible job offers (so what if I cannot take them, would be good to know what’s out there), my money situation – have to pay attention to it all. But I do know that I have to write – have got to get up each day & put pen to paper.

I want people to leave me alone. Still have the freedom to call them. Hopefully this will be the last week that I get out. After this I should not be going out much. I should put my profile up on Bumble. God no – I’m one confused soul!

My fitness dream

My fitness levels

I had become unfit – horribly so. Especially post Covid. My strength was sapped, neither motivation nor desire to do much. I lazed in bed all day watching weird web series & eating. A lot of eating. Junk, fast food, sweets even ice-creams (a complete no-no for covid). Now, having broken my new year resolution in record time, i was stuck. My fitness dream was fast becoming just that. A dream.

Now the weight showed, I felt bloated & unhealthy. But that didn’t stop me. Till i realised something else. I had stopped writing. And thats when i decided –

Seeking help

I need to do something man, i told H over the phone.

Dai! H admonished me. I heard him, made the right noises before i hung up. I closed my eyes. What H said made sense. I needed to do something – but how? The watch-eat-sleep-repeat vortex had consumed me.

My eyes shut; i imagined an eagle circling the skies. It soared around refusing to land. Scared that once it sits, it may not fly again. I had to make a move.  

Of move-making

Get fit

Should get new clothes–, H heard me out as i reached out to him again, –that will break the jinx, i said barely convinced myself.

Without judging me, H told me where to get them from. F street –  despite the pandemic, it was open. Old city, old school, narrow by lanes – in that it was another narrow lane – very risqué, dangerous. Hence, very alive. Just what i needed.  

I didn’t waste time, got into a train. I continued talking to H, he had given me directions. Soon i found myself in the narrow lane. There i found this clothes cart. Something H has spoken about. Or maybe not. Who cares? Here i was, in this narrow lane, at the cart with clothes. and right ahead stood my –

My Doppelganger

Photo by Emre Can Acer on Pexels.com

A young man stood there – side parting hair, t-shirt, gold chain, brown skin. Bling, glib, smooth talking. Mr Snake-oil. 25 years ago, I knew someone else exactly like him. Me.

I smiled at him. He nodded, asked me what i wanted. I eyed the goods – white shirts & denim jeans. Not exactly fitness clothes. Still, i didn’t want to argue. Not now, not with him or H.  

Confession – there was another reason i didn’t move away. In a day was M’s birthday. M was my ex. Maybe we would meet. Even though i had to steer clear of her. But that’s not how it works.

Anything in size 40? I asked.

You need a 44 – he said without missing a beat.  

You sure? I wanted to ask. But i didn’t ask. Because i didn’t want to know.

You won’t get that size easily–, he confided, -this is a young man’s market. I looked around; people milling around, all in T’s, caps-denims, showing muscles, vigour. Most were young, most were men. and yes – most were fit.

I know just the  place, he said as i turned to leave.

Take me there & i will give you 200 to just do that, I cracked a one-liner. He heard me, laughed, said – wait a while. So, i did. I hope he hadn’t taken that line seriously of

My false promises

I watched Mr. Snake-oil at work. He kept directing customers to a particular shop called Reliance. He never sold anything himself. Still a lot of stuffed white envelopes came his way. He nodded at the men who got it to him before pocketing it. The men were all wearing a white t’s-denims & caps. On their T-shirt was the alphabet R.

I was getting hungry, restless. I wanted to sit down. no chance on that busy street. So, i waited. Even though I didn’t really want to.

Follow me, he abruptly said. Then he got up, began walking away. I had no choice but to follow. His shop was left just like that, unattended. But i knew just like him – nothing would be missing.

We entered narrow lanes, funny shops with fuzzy names. They all seemed to be selling whites & denims.  Till we reached the corner. And there it was.

Now the corner wasn’t so narrow. A wide highway ran next to it. At the curb was the building. Its name board caught the winter sun & shone – Reliance.

Oh, oh! it’s closed. The moment for a major ….

Face Palm moment

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Mr Snake-oil’s words shook me. looked closely at the shut shutters. Dejected I turned to go. Wordlessly we walked back to the narrow lane. To a tea-shop. He ordered tea. I drank, he didn’t. He didn’t disturb me as i took my first sip. Then he said –

The 200 you promised.

I looked up. He was smiling.

Yeah right – I didn’t smile. Then i finished my tea, got up to leave.

You said it not me, he chided me. I shook my head. Turned to walk away cursing him, cursing Reliance, cursing….

My fitness dream.

Cursing the dark, i opened my eyes. In my room the darkness refused to die. But i knew it was over. In the distance my laptop lay shut.  

Write fit!

The morning sun rose as i finished writing this piece, . In my fitness dream, i did pay Mr Snake-oil. Not just two hundred but three hundred. Because now i had written. All thanks to him. And thanks to my fitness dream.

Post credits – Soni Anthony. Photo credits – Pexels.com, Soni Anthony.

New year new plans

November – journey begins

All the planning was about this journey through the length breadth of the country . Two months of bus, train, cars and what have you journeys to conduct in person interviews with artists across the land wow . Really looking forward to this and cannot wait to show the new year plans unfold. Until…

December end,

Last two months on the road – people & places, sights & souls. All that i could imagine and so much more.  . I travelled, saw, met, learnt, did everything that could possibly be done by me to be happy. Feeling blessed. And then…

Jan beginning

Happy new year!

Was at a special place with special people to bring in the new year I had all these big plans for new year’s, both personally and professionally.  There is a new blog in the offing (keep you posted), a new pet care venture in invested in, plus looking for freelance writing gigs again. Plus would be shifting houses and plan to date again.  going to start being out there again. Mu tickets to get back to my city are confirmed. Wishing me all the luck. Yet…

Jan 8th .

I’m in my room  it’s the third day after travel  The folks are out  u haven’t written a word or transcribed any of the work I did last year. No, i have not spoken to anyone for new work either. All I have been doing is gorging on food  and binge watching stuff on Netflix.

Because i got Covid .

Not to worry I’m fine. I got the report yesterday. This is my third time- asymptomatic – been there done that kind of feeling. 

I still got a smile on my face. Still feeling blessed. I know the best of plans can be sidelined. And am okay with it. Another one of life lessons. The fact is that i. Am writing this blog again and thats good reason for the smile. I know one thing – if I’m writing, it’s all good. Everything will come back in line. It’s all good.

Once again a happy new year folks and hope to read write love and be loved all over again this year!!

Blog post & photo credits – Soni Anthony.

7 rules of CHANGE.

This is about pocket change. But it is also about change. Looking at change through lessons on pocket change. Hence named – 7 rules of pocket change.

Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata on Pexels.com

Me – How much?

Fruit seller (FS) – 25

Me – 20

FS – 25

We locked eyes. like stubborn lovers, neither budged.

Me – last 22.

FS (sighs)- 23 & it’s yours.

I won. I extracted my wallet to give him 22 bucks which I knew he would accept despite his protests. I searched in my wallet – came up with a 50. SHIT. 

I hand over the money. He looked at it, said –

FS – change nahi hai.

Now he had the upper hand. He took my 50 & handed back 27. He won. And that is the first rule –

Rule no 1: CHANGE always – or someone else will have the upper hand.

ready for change.

Buying small stuff for home early morning is always a pain. Just as I would be getting out of the house the requests would fly –

Get milk

Apples for dad

Get curds!

Early morning, vendors like brisk business, no room for negotiations. So, I would round off the amount to the nearest ten digit. Example –

Me – How much for the eggs?

Eggs guy – 67 for 6

Me –(in best no-nonsense voice) 12 for 120. I don’t have change.

Take it or leave it. I would put my carry bag forward. Nine times out of 10 he would give in.

Rule No 2:  Say NO CHANGE to make others see your way.

Photo by Denniz Futalan on Pexels.com

She – Use G-pay.

She – my regular veggie vendor was at least 70 years old. I was shopping for tomatoes. It came to 18 rupees for half a kg. Of course at 7.30 am she didn’t have change. But what surprised me more would be evident when i said –

Me – You have G-pay?

She showed me her QR code, hidden behind the pumpkins. Phrases like data protection, privacy violation, support local- pay cash flew around in my head. Reality – she had google pay. I did not.

ME – All these app companies are not good.

She – It’s great! They solve this CHANGE problem once & for all.

I bent lower to get closer, intimidatingly so & lowered my voice;

ME – Today they have your change. Tomorrow they sell your veggies.

I heard the gears turn in her brain- stop -CLICK. Her eyes shine.

ME – Will come back later, saying that I begin to leave.

Wait, she stopped me. Retrieved a small purse from within her blouse. Threw me a dirty look & gave me change. PHEW!

NO 3: Beware of applications that can change you.

As a child, mom would often send me out to run errands at the local grocery store owned by a Marwari guy. She would give me a 100 with strict instructions to get the exact change back.

But if bought goods worth 48 and gave him a 50 rupee, I would expect 2 rupees back. The thrifty shopkeeper instead of handing me change we would give me candy worth 2 bucks. Now which kid in his right mind would refuse candy?

I’d go back home & show mom the candy. She isn’t so thrilled, but what can she do? Later after lunch she would give me the candy. Shopkeeper happy, me happy. Which brings us to –

No 4 – When people expect CHANGE it’s an opportunity.

Photo by Sharath G. on Pexels.com

Auto-rickshaw guy – Don’t have change for his.

ME – Your fare is 300. I am giving you 500. That’s more than half your bill.

I stood my ground. He sighs, mutters stuff – finally reaches for his wallet & extracts change. So again –

No 5 – You get CHANGE only if you bring value to the table. ‘

As a kid I was never given pocket money. I would end up stealing change. I had turned pinching change from my mom’s till or Dad wallet into an art form. I would leave the big notes only pocket the change. This went on for some time. In a while I had enough change & got greedy. Now I wanted it converted to a 10 rupee note.

I asked another known crime master – my elder brother. Without exchanging a word, he knew this was a secret deal, no parents involved. On the house terrace, I handed over 10 rupees worth of change. He handed over cash – one 5 rupee, & two 2-rupee notes – added up to 9.

Me – Where’s one rupee?

Bro – Commission.

5 Slaps 3 blows 1 continuous wail & 1 irate dad later – change gone; money gone in exchange for a sound thrashing plus being branded a thief. Hard lesson but has to be said

No6 – CHANGE has to come the right way

I was at a sandwich guy near the bank. A little girl with her mother were about to enter it when the mother stopped & turned to the daughter. As mother & daughter were wearing masks, I could only see the eyes & hear the angry voice of the mother. I only caught the end portion which sounded like –

Mother – Grhgo!!! ## Go! @#$#& !!! WHY you brought it !!@@##% GET IT %@&#!!!

Mother entered bank leaving the little girl outside. Then in noticed the transparent plastic bag in her hand. She looked around before heading towards the same sandwich guy where I was standing. The man was busy on the phone. I saw the contents of the bag – Change – loads of it. All 5- & 10-rupee coins. \

In all probability her mother had asked her to change the coins outside the bank. She twiddles her feet – looks at me, I pretend to not notice. She peered at the sandwich fellow still busy on the phone. She felt conscious – clutched her coin, & ran back into the bank. At that minute the sandwich fellow (SF)turns –

Me – That small girl was waiting for you.

Sandwich fellow (SF) see the girl disappear into the bank.

Sf – What? Did she need a sandwich?

Me – She had change in her hands, wanted it exchanged.

SF smiled, shrugged.

Me – How much?

SF – 90.

I extract my wallet. I have 1 hundred & then all five hundred. I know if I give him 500, he will give me change. I’m good for that. I hand it over

SF – Don’t have change?

All I had to say was a simple NO. Instead, I said –

Me – I have. But if I give you, I don’t have any left. Don’t you have any change.

SF (lies easy)- Sorry sir, what to do? No change.

And that was that. that’s when it hit me –

No 7: Sometimes it’s better to wait for change.

Blog Post – Soni Anthony.

Photo credit – Pexels.com, CanvaPro, Soni Anthony.

Forest. Witness.

Forest floor is wet. Grey clouds pack sky. Air is nippy. Toes sink into mud, happy as elephants in mud-pools.

Chonky maze.

Birds are loud here, humans not so. Avian sounds filter through leaves. Thick canopy hides unless moving.

Lovers use thick trunks to hide behind and find nooks for nooky. Guards use long laathis to tap thick trunk and untangle skin from bark. Bark is worse than bite though, lovers elope back into their nooks as guard whistles at next trunk.

A place to rest. A frame to see through.

Trees have own smells. Acute smell, delicate smell, ambiguous smell; nose is overworked and brain out of depth. Hoping bees and birds are biting!

Clouds get thinner. Light filters through tree tops. Rays of light dance as beams and drops of rain shine on cobwebs. Magical shapes and colours in midst of city.

About to worship the ground it rose from.

City is this too, though human administrators did try to make residential blocks where tamarind trees stand tall in their grove and stoop to worship ground. Current residents witness all.

Trees, birds, insects and dogs can be seen. Snakes, bats — rest — seem to be resting in this cold. Bamboo, thick, impenetrable, seems perfect home as does tall palm.

Home.

Much like that, invisible stalks botanical gardens where we are. Vikaas wants lateral entry having failed to navigate bureaucratic hierarchy. From toes that sink into floor to people who wish to raze it to floor, forest witnesses all.

Going up.

Blog post & photo credit – Hormazd Mehta.

All in

Finally started work on the teeth on knowing there was some money available. Thankfully, there were teeth available to work with. Phew!

There’s three molars missing and one molar is a milk tooth. For a meat-eater’s teeth, this is near-terminal. The others have been worn and the last dentist had said, “You’ll be lucky if you have any teeth left by 60.” Uuhhh….

One root canal, two fillings and three bridges, followed by making a guard to keep from grinding the teeth while i slept.

It started in early October. The Brother told me, “Once it begins, there’s no going back. You’ll have to do all of it.” “Okay, daa.”

Two months later, the bridges are finally in, the fillings have been done, the root canal is complete and the mouth is getting used to new teeth, a different shape and a new structure. The guard will be made next week.

There’s so much of the body that i am not attentive to that it speaks louder and louder till i, hopefully, listen.

The root canal took a week to complete. It was surprisingly painless.

“Metal or ceramic?” “First two ceramic, third one metal.” “Okay.”

The first set of molars separated by a canyon readily accepted the bridge. Beginner’s luck! The next set, directly above them, refused the second bridge’s overtures. Even after grinding the bridge some more, they refused to fit. Back they went to the studio to be moulded along with a more detailed reconstruction of the teeth.

A week and two sittings later, “We’ll fit these with a temporary adhesive for now. If it feels fine, we’ll keep them in there till it comes off on its own and then put a permanent adhesive.” Okay then. The bridge came off three weeks later in a friend’s kitchen, when i was washing up after dinner. My first thought was, “There were no nuts in the food!” Followed by, “Oh, teeth.”

The third bridge on the opposite ridge took the longest as the other teeth decided to join in on the fun. On trying the third bridge, the doctor asked, “Do you feel anything in your way?” “Uh huh,” followed by nodding.

Out came the tiny mirror. The lips were raised and teeth checked like a dogs. I had a strong urge to go, “Rrrrrrr.” Then started the grinding of the bridge with the tiny drill of doom. “Eeeeeeeee…..” That wail brought all the nerves in my head to life, even though it was two feet away.

The seventeenth time this happened, i did go, “Rrrrrr,” to myself. The carbon paper was brought out and my discipline was now being checked. “Open.” Paper placed on tooth. “Close.” Paper chomped by teeth. “Open.” Placed. “Close.” Chomped. “Open.” Placed. “Close.” Chomped.

This game continued for a while. There were no rewards at the end of eqch game, just some grinding by the drill followed by another game. “Do you want to send it to the studio again?” “Yes.”

Four days and a postponement later — it was me — the bridge was fitted, but not before more grinding. “We’ll do the night guard next week after these teeth set properly.”

Finally, they were all in. The Brother’s words rang true, we had almost done all of it over these past two months. I could chew easier, but the toothy, lop-sided grin remained. Thank goodness for that.

Now to find out if i’ll have teeth left over by 60. For that i’ll have to stick around till then. Oh well . .

Post & photos credits – Hormazd Mehta.

Chicken Sagar sagas – vaccination philosophies.

Chicken Sagar is a satirical series on everyday issues in Contemporary India. This one is on the vaccination debates during the Pandemic era. Each Indian has taken or avoided the vaccine based on-some philosophy or the other. This is a take on that… Enjoy!

As soon as I reached the shop we got down to business. I ordered 2 boneless breast pieces, about one kilogram of poultry bred broiler chicken.

Hhhrmph – Chicken Sagar’s grunt. Acknowledgment that he heard me. He relayed the order to his assistant -better known as Chicken Sagar’s assistant. That’s when I observed

Chicken Sagar’s 45 degrees of seperation.

Chicken Sagar’s counter consisted of a plastic desk (with drawers attached,) a revolving chair, a bill book, mobile phone attached to a charging adapter. This was his throne – his seat of power where he sat & conducted his buisness. The chair & counter was placed in such an angle where Chicken Sagar would faced his favourite chicken coupes at all times, also keep an eye on assistant plus have an eye out on his customers & the road ahead, all seperated by an exact 45 degrees.

That day, Chicken Sagar heard my order, swiveled from me to coupe to assistant & shouted – – Don breast, boneless – medium dee’

Chicken Sagar’s assistant was always busy cutting chickens. He never acknowledged the orders nor argued, just kept on working. But on rare occasions he did speak. And then everyone including Chicken Sagar listened.  This time though it wasn’t he who spoke. The words came from somewhere else. From a local

Local v/s foreigner.

Maashe! – where are you from?

Startled at these words, I looked for the source. I didn’t have to go far. He was a middle aged man. He was sitting on the stool placed right between Chicken Sagar’s shops- open chicken shop & shut wine shop.

The shutter of the wine shop always remained shut. That’s because Chicken Sagar only kept the back door open. It gave the shop a very shady feel. That made the men flock to the place.

Back to the man who had just shouted ‘awesome’. One look at his grumpy face made me realise he was asking me.

What patrao – Chicken Sagar asked the man, –early morning what is so ek number?

It was past 12 noon. But it wasn’t really the time to point it out to Chicken Sagar.

The man didn’t respond to Chicken Sagar. Instead he fixed his gaze at me & asked – 

Where do you stay?

Eva villas, i answered. That was the brand of building owned by one company. The builder had brought land all over the village. Now the red faced man’s face took a dark shade..

And where are you from?

Bombay – I replied. Outsider! his eyes said, his lips stayed shut. As his face now turned crimson.

So, you took the vaccine to come here?

Patrao took his vaccine shot yesterday, said Chicken Sagar’s assistant. The wise man’s words had Chicken Sagar raise his eyebrows in admiration.

How could they do this? Insist that all of us take vaccines – Where is the data? that Where are the human trials? It’s a conspiracy – culling – pollution control – tackle global warming. Everyone is in on it – WHO, big pharma, UN, governments….

Aiy, aiy,aiy Patrao stop.

For a full minute Chicken Sagar let Patrao rant before he intervened. Seeing that it had no effect, he looked at me embarrassed & said – ‘this is because he has a place to sit & people to hear’. He looked towards his assistant turning full 180 away from his chickens, ‘Take that stool away-‘ he told his assistant pointing to the stool before turning back.  

I was stunned – kept looking at the man on the stool. In a faded Mohammed Ali boxing t-shirt & brown Bermudas, he looked like a simpleton. I would have never taken him to be an expert on the vaccine. Something must have really hit him hard that he acquired all this knowledge – knows so many things. Perhaps he tested positive, it must have been difficult. Worse – he must have lost a dear one.

Tell me Sagar, this is just not done! Said the man when Chicken Sagar got up himself to get the stool. Hearing the pain in his voice Chicken Sagar spoke –

See –vaccine is what? Just injection or drops. My chicken get injected in the farm – all of them, no exceptions. It makes them grow big & healthy. True – some cannot take it, but most do. Then they come here & live healthy lives.

I heard this against the backdrop of Chicken Sagar’s assistants holding a knife in one hand & the healthy vaccinated chicken’s throat in the other. These pearls of wisdom from Chicken Sagar also made Patrao get up from the stool. It was that kind of moment.

Also go the back & have a drink – Chicken Sagar told Patrao. Suddenly the grumpy face disappeared, all doubts on vaccine vanished. He turned to go then made one half ditched effort at resistance –

You are not supposed to drink after the vaccine, the doctor –

Till now you had problems with the vaccine-, Chicken Sagar interrupted him,  ‘-now you have a problem with my drink’.

Chicken Sagar’s drinks were beyond doubts – Patrao knew that as he had been a steady client for the past 15 years.

Plus, the vaccine can give you fever-, Chicken Sagar added, –and you alcohol can give only acidity, it kills fever.

That was all it took. Vaccination won. Patrao happily left to get a drink. Chicken Sagar wisely took the stool away. Chicken Sagar’s assistant handed me my order. I paid & left from the place still pondering over Chicken Sagar’s vaccination philosophies.

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