Realised after I was suited and booted for work that the autorickshaws (hereafter called autos) had gone on strike in New Bombay. Bummer! That meant I will have to walk all the way to the railway station and be rejected by 3 or 4 friends whom I considered friends. Yes really, it really happened this morning, believe you me. About the gravity and tenuousness of friendships I will philosophise another day, but meanwhile, here's a live demo.
Soon as my conscience registered the absence of the faint puttering of the autos I started walking the one-and-a-half kilometer to the railway station. I met a friend in a similar predicament. So we ganged together and he remarked:
"It's nice to walk with a friend especially like you. I have good company." This made me pep up a little and walk a few inches higher than my one-inch heel.
Then I met a friend who was riding a bike all alone.
"Can you drop me to the station, since the autos are on strike? Come on yaar!"
"I think walking will be good for you," he said pointing to my paunch.
My friend laughed (the one walking with me)!
Good God! Point blank! What a putdown, what an insult early in the morning. I swore at him in my mind and decided to never speak with him again. I used to walk with him in the mornings. The b*****d. I will never give him any order for his stage and decoration business, yeah, that's what he does, the insect.
Then I meet a friend who is sitting in a Maruti Omni van. I repeat my question, this time with a touch of great humility. I said I wanted to board the 8.46 a.m. train, or I would be losing my salary, my leave, and all. My boss would be sore and who wants a sore boss? Don't you agree? Times are so bad, these days, I add.
"No, I am waiting to pick up my wife. She is due to come anytime by a bus."
That's betrayal no 2.
The friend who is walking with me smiled and assured me, "Don't worry we will walk, the station is nearby and we can board the 9.07 a.m. train instead."
Then along comes the local doctor on his snazzy-looking bike. He stops for the friend who is walking with me and imagine what happened next. With a smile my friend hauled himself on to the pillion and with a wave to me scooted away.
I will never patronize the local doctor from now on, I swore maliciously.
That's betrayal no 3.
Then I walk to the station. Cars whizz by. I show my thumb with practiced ease thinking someone would stop. A car full of girls laughs at me. Sleek cars zoom past me. Bikes varoom leaving trails of blue smoke. No one stops. I walk all alone.
Then I feel the soft morning sun on my face, the light wind ruffling my hair and think, "What the hell, I should do this more often."