Monday, November 24, 2008


Just before where the Dhakuria flyover over the railway tracks touches down at Dhakuria, on the left side of the road going towards Jadavpur, a row of taxis sit on the taxi stand set up by the Party next to the bridge ahead of the 47A bus-stand. That place was a conventional pee-pot for long. After thirty years someone decided to set up a paid-toilet sort of a thing. But even that hasn’t sorted out the problem for Kolkatans who are so averse to walking a few steps (they must have a bus-stop every hundred/hundred fifty yards).

A road runs parallel to the bridge from Dhakuria station road. Along the pavement there is a row of tea-shops. I am having tea and a cigarette on a bench this glorious, blessed, quiet November late morning. I see a dignified old man (could have been a government officer or an officer in a PSU), nearing eighty, in old clothes though not faded, watering the remote rear tyre of a yellow Ambassador taxi.

Nothing wrong with that, except that he is half turned to the street to see whether anyone is watching him. I am. I see that makes him uncomfortable. I am not involved. He watches me watching him. I watch unconcerned. ‘Turn to the wall you fool,’ I tell him mentally. Then he turns around more fully to face the street as he tucks himself in, though I don’t see his pecker, only a touch of white of his unders. I see that he has done that intentionally as if to tell me ‘take that, you…’. But he is too much of a bhadrolok. That doesn’t permit him to show it to me.

* * *

I am in a queue waiting to get inside the ATM cubicle at Dhakuria SBI. High on the two sooty walls below the lone tube-light on the pipe for a cable and where the granite wall cladding ends a foot above the door level there are three or four rows of about thirty brown moths. Wings folded and all still.

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