May 02, 2005

Snapshot time

Got into a fight on a Bombay train not long ago. I like to read when I ride. So I'm standing near the door, reading my Dave Barry, minding my own business. A man arrives, sticks his arm up to hold the overhead bar in such a way that it (the arm) obscures my book. I twist about, but there's no way to read. So I look at him and ask, all peaches and cream, do you mind moving your arm? It's in the way.

He yells, "This isn't a library! You can't read here!"

Is he for real? Apparently so. His arm remains firmly in place to stop me reading.

So we roll into Dadar a couple of minutes later, and he's getting ready to alight, and I put my arm to good use. Stick it across his chest and grab the vertical bar in the middle of the doorway. "This isn't an exit," I say. "You can't get off this way." Too pig-headed to step around the bar, he stands there, steam rising from his ears, mouthing filthy abuse at me. I ignore him, keep my arm in place.

As the train begins to move, I finally pull it back. He steps off, stumbles. Turns to flail at me and simultaneously breaks into a run (so I can't hit back). He looks absurd, and his flailing misses anyway, and I laugh at him as the train gathers speed. By now the steam's positively erupting out of him. He stumbles again.


Several young boys from our building and others play in our compound every evening. As boys do, they get into fights. One day, it was four from the next building vs the rest, and they were shouting something fierce.

My wife tried to break it up, without luck. When I came home, a neighbour, there trying to keep the peace, turned to tell me that the four from the next building were "very arrogant and aggressive Muslim boys." Meanwhile, over in the corner of the compound, I could hear our building kids hurling the ultimate insult across the wall. "Pakistanis!", they yelled, lips curling in scorn.

Later, my wife related her experience. The toughest from the other building, she said, was Varun. His companions were Amin, Siraj and Ashwin. Not only were they not all Muslim, but the most aggressive one was Varun -- by no means a Muslim. Besides, nobody said of him that he was a "very arrogant and aggressive Hindu boy."

The whole lot was back playing together the next day, as if nothing had happened. In fact, all four, Varun included, are really very pleasant dudes. They fight sometimes. They make up. As boys do.


The Lakme International Fashion Week got over a few days ago. That means lots of slinky models parading somewhere where, unfortunately, I never am. (Though Annie was there). So every year, I console myself by reading what the various designers tell the press. Always an education. From the Bombay show two years ago, this response that I treasure.

The designer was asked: "Your collection this time can be described as ...?"

The designer replied: "Rainforest based. It's going to be a diffusion line with embellishments."

Oh good. And I'll have that with coffee, please.


Dilip D'Souza said...

Sriram, you mean DB took that odd little quiz too? Was he as amused by the result as I was?

Anonymous said...


Dont get into fights ... especially never in moving trains. You have a young angel to take care of along with your son and the score of causes that you bring to the forefront.

Amit M
BITS - 92A3

Dilip D'Souza said...

Amit, apparently a fellow BITSian -- thanks so much! She is an angel. So is he.