October 08, 2009

Three women and some tea leaves

On a recent Jet flight, I am safely strapped in to my aisle seat in the last row. What this affords me is the chance to listen, unwittingly, to excited muttering from the flight crew standing in their area right behind me. I don't catch most of it, most of the time it's too excited and low. But two words I do catch, and those two words are "Mallika Sherawat".

Apparently The Sherawat is among us, somewhere in front of me.

For some reason, one hostess, Priyanka, leans over the man sitting across the aisle from me and tells him that The Sherawat is on the flight. He looks at me and shrugs, then asks me for my newspaper. "She just looks so GOOD!" the young woman trills. The man still doesn't look impressed.

Suddenly all the flight attendants rush up the aisle, beaming and whispering excitedly and smoothing down their uniforms. I catch a lone word: "Photograph". Somewhere up ahead, a woman in large shades gets up from her seat and follows them all the way to the front -- The S, I presume -- and someone draws a curtain closed.

Minutes later, the curtain opens, Ms Shades strides back and sinks into her seat, and the staff rushes beaming back towards us at the back. Priyanka leans over the same man and repeats her earlier pronouncement: "She looks so GOOD!"

My educated guess is, this man is not a Sherawat fan.

***

At the Golden Temple late that evening, a young mother walks past me, leading her son to the pool. She stops, bends to his level and wags her finger in his face. "Yahan pe pishaab nahin karna hai, theek?" ("Don't pee in the pool, OK?").

He looks oddly chastened.

***

The next morning, I go to the langar in the Temple for a bowl of steaming chai. The woman sitting across from me also has a young son with her. When the man serving us all pours her bowl full of chai, she produces milk and a glass from out of seemingly nowhere -- is she a magician? -- pours a tiny bit of chai into the glass, then fills it to the brim with milk. The result looks much like milk still, if very slightly tinged with brown. She gives the concoction to the boy.

He frowns.

Out of nowhere again, she produces another glass. Sets it down, then arranges a corner of her dupatta over it. Proceeds to strain the chai-tinged milk through the cloth into the second glass. A reasonable little heap of tea leaves builds up in the corner of her dupatta.

The boy drinks, happily.

4 comments:

The Orange Cat said...

No funeral, sadly enough.
Oh well.
At least you had it lucky.
She wasn't sitting beside you.

Ugich Konitari said...

Life is a glass
Sometimes half,
sometimes full.
But sometimes
there is a flavour.

One,
of being served
just so,
perfect levels
of non swishing
stuff,
plastic
in their movement,
so photgraphable.

And two,
a flurry of
quick thinking
swishing milk,
studded momentarily
with tea leaves
and the child
gratefully slurps
smiling
at his clever Mom
so good, in
milk magic......

It is finished
before anyone can
photograph....

Anonymous said...

wow, the last bit was ingenious!

Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago, I was staying in the Bright Angel Lodge in the Grand Canyon. It was a lean season and the crowd was thin. Every evening during dinner this young attactive desi woman used to pass by my table with a smile. I always smiled back with a hello and she used to say the same to me. And my friend arrived one day and he told me that the lady was indeed a leading Bollywood star and the innocence of the rendezvous was gone. The following dinnertime we tried to chat her up and that's it....she was gone the next day...

Reminds me of Humphrey Appleby "ignorance has a certain dignity"