Monday, August 14, 2006

Freezing Cube

Today I decided to take a bus to work. I suppose I am never satisfied by the several options I get to travel to the same place. I juggle between personal vehicle (car/bike), autorikshaws and buses. Oh! Yes, I also walk down significant portions of my trip. I wouldn't be crazy to walk the entire 11-12 Km. stretch!
So, today I decided that I would get into a bus. 2 buses (the right ones) edged close to the bus stop but I was informed that these particular ones do not go where I want them to. I was surprised. I kept waiting for the 3rd one to carry me to work. Between buses and smartly dressed women, I had very little to look forward to at the bus stop. I was speaking to a dear friend over my phone, and along came ... another bus. I walked up to this one whose midriff had bellows! None of the passengers could confirm whether this bus went along the Intermediate Ring Road. I gave up and hailed an autorikshaw.
As I jumped into one (and I do have some space in these autos to jump in and around), I relaxed to observe the lesser known - or at least the less discussed - world of Bangalore. It was fun watching people gyrate to miss the scooter scraping the rear and the Tata Sumo about to knock your knees. People would confidently put out their hand to command a bus to halt and the rest of the world tripped and ran into that obedient bus's derriere. I smiled at the adorable kids shepherded by a mom-figure, and smiled at the lovely ladies with their upright palms trembling in hope against the oncoming traffic. My driver was a nice guy, and he stopped for everyone. The gratitude due to him was partially levied on me as the folks returned my smiles amidst the smoke shaded road pulsating to the tunes of jarring and musical blares. I wasn't complaining.

One such person pleading an earnest request to be allowed to cross the road was this guy pushing an ice-cream cart. It was this old wooden box-on-wheels with conical wooden handles like a Spanish bull's horns (I haven't seen bulls in India with such horns. How do they do it? Fix an iron mold on the little calf's head and expect the horn to grow into the mold?). He didn't speak a word but looked begging at the driver and slightly shook his head (along an axis parallel to the road). Our good man, the driver, stopped for him and let him push the cart hurriedly across.A few Moments... melted away It has been ages since I saw an ice cream cart up close. Now is the age of softy vending machines, and Corner Houses and 36 flavours of nutty ice-creams. Who would eat out of an anonymous cart? Well, it wasn't really anonymous. It had "Dolly" painted across its side and I think that little figure on the corner was from Amul Ice Cream's advt. The painting was done by hand. The entire cart was in light shades of blue (to hint at the cold innards) and had "Dolly" and the accompanying figure on one side. There were paintings of stick-ice creams along the frills of the cart and I could clearly imagine this man bargaining with the artist to paint an extra orange coloured stick-ice cream in the centre as it would make the cart more attractive!
"But you only paid me Rs. 40 for this, and this is all I will paint."
"Please, Raju, please. Just one here... see? here. Won't it look good? I will get your daughter a nice cup ice cream. Please. Light orange at the tip and darker towards the stick. Please, Raju."

I am glad Raju, or whoever it was, painted it for him. It did look good. And very aesthetically placed between the Vanilla cone-ice cream and the chocolate chocobar.

I am sure our ice-cream man must have enjoyed designing his little wooden cart. There were places where the wearing stripes of cracking wood was revealed. How much would it have cost him to repaint it now? Rs. 20? Rs. 100? God knows. I bought a bottle of paint for Rs. 18. Should be in that range. Should I give him 50 to let him go ahead with it? The sheer joy of his cart was making me loosen the knot on my purse. Then I thought he might get offended and the best thing would be to buy a couple of ice creams and then maybe throw them away or give them to the driver. It would be such a swell thing to do, right? I could buy 5 ice-creams and give him some money and then ask him to keep the change. He will feel happy and then he might buy his children some toys and paint that edge of his mobile cube in a shade of laughing blue. He might thank me before he went to bed tonight.

The signal lights turned green.

1 comment:

  1. Good Morning. A happy morning creates a happy post!