The wife needed to go to the tailor and was one driver short. This was one of those occasions an alpha male finds himself poorly fitted to oblige. However, when one is the guarantor of the other’s debts, one has but little choice. Not for this occasion the male choice of resting from the rigors of city life in one of the clubrooms or the (environmentally friendly) dimly lit lounge bars where one can be with the kind of company where discretion is the sole chaperone. The ones quite favored by business owners when cooking the books with their auditors in a public-private venture.
Anyway, I drove her to the depths of Wellington, Central Kolkata, to which hellhole this Muslim tailor had shifted. Incidentally, all half-decent tailors in Kolkata are Muslims, and I dare say the same applies to specialists in gold filigree, embroidery, etc. in other metros. Wonderful word that: ‘etcetera’: comes in very handy when you want to escape the imminent public visualisation of the bottom of your knowledge.
After reaching somewhere near the destination, I showed immeasurable common sense in parking my car, and engaging a hand-pulled rickshaw to the ultimate spot and back. Now those of you who live in places with flat roads may get shocked. “Why couldn’t you walk or take a cab? How could you ride on a hand-pulled rickshaw, a living symbol of the depths of mankind’s cruelty and oppression?”
To which I nod my head, South Indian-like (a Zenthil), and say, “Quite, quiet!”
A polite way of putting duct tape on protesteth os oris.
When you have delicate female folk who can’t walk except on named streets like Bond Street, Fifth Avenue or Champs D’Lysée, you have a big problem in life. You need to deal with violent retching, the covering of face with nearest available clothing (one important reason for women to use a dupatta or stole), and the “Omigod, it is so dirty!” (repeated till you begin to retch), as if you were personally responsible for the recent decline in civic standards.
So you cop it, and do good to the rickshaw-pulling industry. You refuse to get up, but concede to public demand, and take pictures.
At the tailor shop, Her Majesty got a calendar as a token gift. Women, some men believe, are inherently brimming with the frothy cappuccino of human goodwill and bhadrata (‘gentility’ is a close translation, perhaps). When we got off back at the car, she (spontaneously) offered the calendar to the rickshaw-puller.
“Didi, I live on the pavement. Where will I hang this calendar?”, he asked with a smile.
The lady went red in the ears, and was muttering remorsefully to herself. Or to me, but I wasn’t listening. I was thinking about how I (ever the consumer in the open market) reduced the rickshaw puller’s initial demand of the fare by ten rupees, to which the clever rascal immediately consented.
I went there the next day, and yes, he was there all right. I gave him his ten rupees back. He smiled again.
Sometimes, being kind, being a sucker and being charitable are entirely different things. What do you say?