Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I hope...

Crawling through traffic in an auto, and it’s rush hour. But when is it not? The lane is narrow and the traffic is compounded by several cows chomping on discarded vegetable leaves on the side. My auto driver, in a spirit of fun, has decided to play his music. The design of these wondrous vehicles ensures that the passenger’s ear is so close to the speaker that I’m sure it violates all rules of ergonomics, or whatever science rules the placement of speakers in Bangalore autos.
We crawl as far as a few feet, then stop again. We are near a church with closed doors that bears a sign promising Mass the next morning. There is a huge, overflowing, concrete garbage repository right next to the church and then a small stand behind which is a bright-eyed teenage girl selling jasmines.
The flowers are arranged in neat, creamy heaps and smell like heaven in such a stark contrast to the garbage and chaos around her that it strikes me immediately. She seems completely oblivious to it all, and is an image of freshness and purity to match her flowers. She has chosen a string of purple blossoms in her hair to go with the color of her dress, maybe in an exchange with a fellow flower-seller.
She spots me admiring her and the jasmines and gives me an easy, glowing smile. Her eyes are luminous and lined with kajal, and crinkle when she smiles. “Take madam” she trills, picking up a small bunch of the jasmines. I unzip my purse to dig out some change and ask her how much. She shrugs and shakes her head to indicate no charge.
“No, no!” I insist. “No, no!” she insists back. She’s already trying to reach across and give me the flowers as I feel my auto starting to inch forward. I root around in my purse to find something to exchange the flowers with. Lip balm, old ticket stubs, keys, and a pen crop up obligingly. I scrabble some more and come up with a pack of peppermint gum.
I toss it to her. Meanwhile, she has missed giving me the flowers owing to the motion of my auto. She catches the gum and smiles at me, then shrugs. We wave at each other.
My auto driver, is meanwhile, yelling at someone on the road after having nearly run them over. He then spits churlishly. I sigh; not everyone is naturally gifted with grace, like my jasmine girl. I hope she still smiles at passersby when she gets to be the auto driver’s age, and never catches the spitting habit.

6 comments:

geminian said...

Weblog D
sending, receiving haiku
all around the globe.


My favourite flower
Is the white, fragrant jasmine
Worms also like it.

Col said...

hey D,
Good to see your post again.Well had to wait long :-( but its ok.

Rupa said...

Anon, I feel ashamed! I have updated mu blog! Sorry D for crossposting, this was to be on your other blog.

Alan Hogan said...

Hey, I found your blog just Googling something. But I'm kind of confused:
- Are you Indian?
- Are you living in the USA, or in India? What about your parents?
- What languages do you know, and how did you learn them? (I see you are quite fluent in English, and ostensibly know Spanish, too.)

If that's all too personal and weird to be asked by a stranger, I apologize. I'm just rather curious, from some of the posts on your blog.

You can reach me at "leggo mah eggo at pixels and pages dot com"

devikamenon said...

Alan,
I'm Indian, live in India. Parents live here too.
I am fluent in something called fledgling Spanish but trying to work on that.:-)

2015130119 said...

What other blog???

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