Thursday, November 10, 2011

Food and Sex in Delhi Metro

Like Celal Salik, the great columnist in Istanbul as seen in Orhan Pamuk’s novels, I too like look at the faces of the people. Mr.Salik reads letters out of them and he believes that there are greater secrets written on people’s faces. And also when he walks along the streets and travels by ferry, he listens to people almost eavesdropping in their conversations.

I too like doing it. From the bits and pieces of their conversations, one could weave a story; an imagined story of and about their lives. These stories may be absolutely false but if you recount them to the people they would believe it and they would feel like living those stories for themselves as stories always make people desirous of such fantasies lavishly strewn into them by the story tellers.

That justifies the success of the pulp fictions. People like to read pulp fictions because it makes them desirous of their own lives with imagined complications; they see their lives through someone else’s eyes and feel that the ideal spaces where the other posits them is real and worth desiring. People prefer to shut themselves in such ideal spaces in their vacant hours.

May be conversations are like pulp fictions; complications made out of nothing and nothing made out of complications. Most of the conversations between the male and female friends are filled with sexual connotations and references; but subtly and sophisticatedly rendered. It is like a cat and mouse game. The one wants to pounce upon the other and the other want to move away on the right time. Some rats have death wish.

I travel by metro, one of the public conveyance systems in Delhi that makes the otherwise lawless citizens of Delhi a bit calm and sophisticated. And I believe it is in these metro coaches that most of the people here really relax. Many of them are seen dozing off, many listening to music through ears phones plugged into their selves, yet another lot speak incessantly into their mobile phones as if it was their last chance to utter rubbish and a few read.

I belong to the last category. But my reading is not in full concentration. I am watchful about the movements around me. I could tell who is speaking to who.

If the call is from the office, the person who speaks transforms into an official. If it is from his wife, his muscles tense up. If it is from the girl friend, he melts. If someone is scratching the walls of the shiny metro coach, make sure that he is speaking to a girl.

Just before the door closes, when the girls pass by, hapless working class boys stand close to the door panels and murmur, ‘hi darling, hi darling’. When the door closes with a wheezy sound, these boys remain calm and nonchalant.

A lady in good clothes and with her nose up in the air gets a seat quickly, even if the coach is sardine-ed by hopeless human beings. A woman with a shrieking child in her lap, if she is in her tatters, will never get a seat. There are thirty six lucky men in a coach who elbow their way to the seats because there are only thirty six seats. And all of them will pretend to be lost or asleep when such women from lower classes push their way into the coaches.

Girls and boys sit on the floor of the coaches though it is prohibited because they find it cool.

The other day I overheard this girl talking to this boy: “You know, those boys in the school uniform were trying to take my picture with their mobile phone.”

“What did you do then?”

“What could I do? I kept shifting on my legs so that they would get only a shaky picture.”

“School kids are like that.”

I looked at them. They might have come out of the school a couple of years ago. The baby fat on the girl’s cheeks is yet to say good bye.

I thought now they have many more serious things to say. So I closed my book and decided to stand as if I was trying to relax my eyes.

“So when did you leave Central (must be a Mall)?” the boy asked.

“It must be around eight. My god…I don’t know they were asking me to eat gol guppa …but I refused my stomach was full.”

“Then what did you eat?”

“Oh I had chocolate tarts, strawberry shake and creams. And the cake was so filling.”

“My god..that sounds great..So what’s strawberry shake?”

“Yaar..nothing ..I thought it was strawberry creamed whipped in fruity.”

“What did you do then?”

“We met Milli Aunty…and she took us for ice cream…and you know this aunty lives in Trans Yamuna…the other day I went god..what a stinking place…it is so bad. I hate this river…it is stinking….”

I was wondering what they were trying to communicate. Were they serious? I thought so. They were very serious and intense on their talk.

Then, is this the way this new generation people communicate among themselves? Do they talk a lot of small little things which have no consequences?

I understand when my six year old son when he tells his friends something like this: “Hey Ayush…(pointing to a ledge near the park where they go to play) you go and make a house there. You can have your breakfast there. You can eat your lunch and dinner too. For ice cream you can come to this shop (pointing at an imaginary shop)…”

I understand this because at this age they don’t think much beyond cartoon channels and junk food.

But what about the sixteen and seventeen year old people? I know I am generalizing. But the conversation I overheard cannot be forgotten just like that.

Then I remembered Osho and his take on communication between the enlightened and the non-enlightened.

When two enlightened people meet there is utter silence because they already know. When two non-enlightened people meet they talk and out-talk each other because they don’t know. When the enlightened and the non-enlightened meet, the former remain silent and the latter talk.

Going by the Osho way, should I call these kids non-enlightened people? May be they are. They just want to fill their vacant space with chattering. Or they must be so full that they need to chatter it out.

Or are they really enlightened people, even when they talk about food and snacks? When we are thinking about Jitish Kallat and Skoda Price, they don’t have any confusions; they just talk about ice creams, chocolate tarts and strawberry shakes.

Isn’t that a simple way of tackling life? Or for them food is a surrogate for sex?

I don’t know.

I prefer silence to talking.

1 comment:

Finny Forever said...

it's strange - in Bangalore, if you make the mistake of (even for a fraction of a second) looking partially confident, you are stymied pretty quickly. Yet nobody really cares if your in tatters on the side of the road or having a nervous breakdown, either. So much for South Indian piety. I think Delhi is much kinder that way. It doesn't 'pretend to care'. Still - I enjoy reading your posts.