Monday, September 11, 2006


This afternoon I had my own little walk on the wild side. I walked into a scene straight from the African jungles, replete with the yellow glades of dry grass and the incessant drone of the dragon-fly. (Do dragon-flies drone? Or maybe bees drone… male bees: drone. :D)

So the jungle in question here is Thakur Complex. The scorching sun was truly baking the leaves on the few trees there and if you listen hard enough, the noise of traffic can be equated to the drone of insects. All is calm. The deer gather about the pond for their refreshing drink of the life-giving elixir… something to quell the oppressing heat. Well, if we can accomplish the slightly difficult task of equating the vegetable and fruit bhaiyas to the deer and the main Thakur market road to my placid pond, then the analogy will work. For the sake of variety, some elephants (tea-stalls) and buffaloes (pirated DVD sellers) also gathered at our pond. A couple of old Gujju aunties and some young track-pant wearing housewives are bargaining at the various shops. (Well, no analogy for that one). Everybody is going about their business peacefully.

Suddenly, in the distance a bird shrieks out. What’s that?! The animals stare at each other, stunned and scared. They hear the swish in the trees overhead as the faithful monkey rushes in to warn them…”He’s coming! He’s coming! The cheetah is here.” In our modern-day jungle this is actually the pitter-patter of a keen vendor’s feet as he comes to warn the others about the rapidly approaching BMC van. The van of destruction is here, mauling all it sees, anyone who lies in its vicinity.

Just as suddenly the stampede begins… deer and buffalo, horn and trunk… they all run. And as I was walking through the jungle, God help me, but the stampede is running straight towards me. The tea-stalls fold up; the DVDs disappear without a trace. Help! The elephant is running straight at me! Oh! It’s the vegetable cart being pushed at breakneck speed into the nearest building, out of sight. The banana seller runs with the tokri on his head, as fast as his legs will carry him. The ‘fineapple wala’ bundles his pineapples shabbily in a sack and runs, once again into the nearby building. No more bargaining for the coriander and nimbu seller as he takes the price the mean aunty pays and vanishes into a nearby nana-nani park.

And then I see him, the splendid cheetah with his coat a shiny golden, his dark, gleaming eyes alert to every movement, with the blood of an innocent deer dripping off his saber-toothed jaw. The van quietly snakes its way down the market. Three young boys are seated atop the van, their beady eyes darting from side to side undoubtedly spotting every laggard bhajiwala. Inside the van the real villain sits; two plump BMC employees. One of them has an expressionless face and the other is chewing pan and smiling a sadistic smile. In the back of the truck are tokris of Dudhi, carrots and tomatoes, rudely strewn about along with a few mangled carts. But the hunter isn’t satiated. The cheetah spots a deer trying to help his young one and leaps towards him with a single jump. The three boys slither down the van in a blink and swoop down on the bhajiwala’s cart, dragging it mercilessly towards the truck. With a rude jerk they hoist it into the van, not caring for the permanent damage they cause the thela. The cheetah goes for the tender neck of the fawn and it snaps as the teeth close in on it. The deer and the bhajiwala stand in mute shock as the hunter returns; he can eat no more.

Offering silent sympathy with the unshed tears in their eyes the creatures of the jungle slowly return to their pond and life goes on in the market.

PS: While I didn’t witness any thela being broken before my eyes, there was enough evidence of the destruction in the back of the BMC van. With the hafta they have to pay pandus , the wage war (pun unintended) with the aunties and the constant vigil against Municipality trucks, it is amazing how well these vendors cope and even manage to be cheerful on most days. Nonetheless, it's truly a jungle out there.


Varsha said...

ah me first...very well said..."they come, they see and they collect chai pani...."

gauravbrills said...

Great use of metaphors and irony inqusitive ballad ....Why not write a Novel !! tis all ...keep it up ..

Akshay G N I said...

veeena iyer

ps : aaj maine dawa nahi liya subah subah
ps 2 : mujhe dava nahi dua ki zarurat hai
ps 3 : play station 3