Archive for May, 2006
i’m off to pommie-land for the next few days. blogging will be light (as if i blog a lot, otherwise)
By the time we arrived at the scene, the firemen were already there – their fire engine parked across the Brookly Queens Expressway. A lone cop car had stopped all traffic, and as we waited, the firemen went to work on the car.
It was a regular new york yellow cab. A tractor-trailer had rear-ended it, the force of the impact crumpling its rear half, flipping it over, and leaving it pointing in the direction of the on-coming traffic, wedged against a side-rail. Needless to say, the giant truck had fled the scene.
The gas tank had ruptured, sending gas flowing on to the road. That explained the firemen. The rear door was jammed, and inside, trapped, lay someone unconscious.
Within a few minutes, the sounds of emergency sirens – cop-cars, ambulances and fire engines surrounded us. These are sounds you hear all the time in this city – sounds that you become inured to, until you are confronted with something like this that reminds you that everytime those sirens blare, someone is dying.
I watched with a little concern as the stream of gas flowed towards my car. Just then, I noticed that the driver of the car next to me had stepped out, and was smoking. I yelled at him. He acknowledged my existence with a nod and a shrug. He did not stop smoking, of course.
My cabbie was Jamaican, he had been driving a cab for twenty years. This should have been a scene not entirely unfamiliar to him – and yet he was furious. He stepped out of the car started swearing at everybody -cops included. I understood his being upset, but not the degree of it. Until I finally made out, underneath all the incoherence, what he was saying – “They killed my friend. Ten years ago. Same place. F**kin’ juggernauts”
It’s a friendly city – this one. The aforementioned smoker put an arm around my cabbie’s shoulders, took him aside and calmed him down. Most people had stepped out of their cars by now. There were shrieks and gasps as the firemen pried the door open and pulled out a bloody mess that had been, until a few minutes ago, a normal functioning person. Apparently he was still alive, but not breathing. The firemen started administering CPR. The snarl of traffic backed up behind us meant that the paramedics had not arrived. I had stepped out by now. The woman next to me was sobbing.
The cops did not particularly appreciate the standing crowd, so they shooed us back into our cars. My cabbie was agitatedly sobbing. I had no idea what to do – so I ventured a “I hope he does not die”
“He’s dead, brother. Crash like that nobody survives”, retorted my cabbie.
Another awkward silence.
The paramedics had arrived by now. They had come back down the empty stretch of highway that lay ahead of the crashed car. They put the guy on a stretcher, hooked him up to a ventilator and tried to restart his heart. I don’t know if they succeeded, but they took him away. The firemen began hosing the highway to clean it of blood. They foamed down the gasoline.
Meanwhile, the cops made all of us back down along the BQE, and take the nearest exit out. It would be some time before they would restart traffic here. Presumably, after the cab had been towed off and the road sanitized of all evidence that a person had almost died there.
We made our way to my place via another route. I was a bit pained that my fare was almost twice of what it would have been otherwise, and at the same time a bit guilty for feeling that way instead of being concerned about the passenger in the crumpled cab.
As I reached out to pay the cabbie, he turned around, tears streaming down his eyes.
“Are you muslim, brother?”
“Are you a christian, then?”
“No, I’m Hindu”
“Do you pray, brother?”
I did not have the heart to tell him I did not.
“Pray tonight for him, will you?”
“Yes, I will”, I told him. Then I entered my apartment. The smell of gas had given me a headache and made me nauseous. I threw up and fell asleep.
I wish I could live forever.
So, the other day, i was tagged by Brown Magic, who, rightly, thought that I would not follow through with it. I would not have, except for the fact that she actually stated it in her comment. That and the fact that I couldn’t possibly let go of an “eight different points you want in the perfect lover” tag without having my say in the matter.
The first time I attempted to put down eight points was when I was in a particularly, let us say potty-brained, mood. This resulted in a post that included descriptions of acts that I could not possibly put on this blog.
So I sat down, thought hard, awaiting inspiration to write about my idea of *the* perfect woman. And then, all of a sudden, a name bubbled up from the murky depths of my mind – a name that had been consigned to the recycle bin of my brain by my sheer denial of its existence. So instead of listing out eight points, I thought that I would describe her and allow you to draw your own inferences.
Her name was Pankajavelli Ramadesigan. She was a simple girl who was born and raised in a somewhat typical Iyengar family. Her father (Mr. Yes. Ramadesigan, Railway Officer (Retd.) , Railway Caalany, Madurai) had spent a lifetime in “service”. She had a “mix of traditional and modern values” – she had done her Bachelor of Arts (Home Sciences) with distinction, and yet she went to the temple every Saturday. I would have fond memories of hanging around outside the temple waiting for her to make an appearance – my pankajavelli, walking delicately, plate of offerings in hand, wearing a silk sari. She would wear her long hair (they reached down to her knees) in a plait – a veritable garden, in which she would attach jasmine flowers. She had the thickest, finest hair I would ever set my eyes upon – nourished over the years with generous doses of coconut oil. The combined fragrances of jasmine and coconut oil would drive me crazy. really.
She was what you folks might call a “prude”. Drinking would be a strict no-no for her, and eating meat would be sinful. She was not even okay with other people eating meat – the first time she went to eat “north-indian” food, she was horrified to find that the people next to her were eating parrot meat. (I surmised that it must have been someone eating green kebabs.) The very mention of anything sexual would have her saying “Ranga, Ranga” and going off to bathe in order to cleanse herself. She would have a dim view of the concept of romantic love. (“lovvulla- givvulla” she would say, imitating her father.) And all of these qualities would make me fall madly in love with her.
Somehow I had the conviction that I would be able to convince her to think of me as her partner-for-life. I even thought that I would approach her father, and convince him to give me his daughter’s hand in marriage. Using the little influence her father had, and my qualifications, I would get a job as a low-level functionary in the railways. Everyday, I would come back home from work, tired, and she would be waiting for me, steel tumbler of steaming hot filter kaapi (coffee) ready . As I sat back in the chair in front of our black-and-white TV (we would be poor, but comfortable), she would take my shoes off, and press my feet, while I would pour – Tam-style – the scalding hot coffee straight into my mouth without letting my lips touch the rim of the tumbler. Sitting at my feet, she would contentedly say, “Swaami, Namaskaram”. And we would live happily.
But, alas, that dream of mine would remain a dream. She could never reconcile herself to the fact that I was not Iyengar (heck, i’m not even Tam and, at that point, I had never been to Tamland). She would rebuff my advances. Meanwhile, her father would find her a nice boy (and a successful one too – a bank officer in the local Canara Bank branch), and marry her off to him. I would never forget her. I would spend the rest of my life roaming around all over India, travelling ticketless and using the money I made out of begging to keep myself in a perpetual drunken haze.
None of it was ever going to happen, of course. Pankajavelli existed only in my imagination and in the imaginations of a few friends who had helped flesh her out(1). You might think it is idiotic to create an imaginary person to fall in love with, who then refuses to have anything to do with you and leaves you miserable(2). I do not have much to say to that – my only defense is that love is blind and that the blog you are presently reading is titled “At the edge of sanity”.
(1) Remind me some day to tell you about Parvinder Kaur from Gurdaspur.
(2) On a more serious note, this happens more often than you might think. More often than not, when we have a crush on someone, we are not in love with the *real* person, but with the mental image of the person that we have constructed in our heads.
Little Miss Muffet
sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider
who sat down beside her
and she beat the crap out of it.