April 27, 2010

Ek seedha saadha sadhu

"Kitna hua?", I ask the driver at the end of the journey in the Vikram.
"Fifty," he replies.

The sadhu perched beside him in the front looks at me and shakes his head silently. I know what he means and stare at him for a few moments. He puts up three of his fingers.

"Tees hi dete hai hamesha." I didn't tell him it was my first ride in a Vikram in that route.

"Nahi. Fifty lete hai."

The sadhu turns to the driver and tells him something that I cannot hear.

"Yeh lelo," I tell him giving 35 rupees worth of notes. "Is se zyaada nahi de raha." I see the sadhu continuing to talk to the driver as I walk away.

***

The government had created taps of water virtually everywhere along the roads to facilitate pilgrims. One sadhu is cleaning his feet with water from one of these Another one across the road is looking over something cooking on a temporary fire that was created using dried twigs from the forest. As I walk past them, the one who was washing his feet asks, "Maharaj, dal ubal gaya kya?"

***

"Ek chai milega?" I ask no one in particular in the tea shop. There is a middle-aged man and a woman sitting on a bench. An older man is sitting on a bench, sipping tea. A teenage girl is combing her hair nonchalantly. I fail to figure out who the owner of the tea-shop is.

"Ek chai banado, " the middle-aged guy tells the teenage girl. "Baitho, " and he points to a seat beside him. I thank him and sit down.

I see that the girl is in no mood of making the tea as I observe. Probably afraid that her hair will dry up as she continues to comb it.

"Japan? Korea? " the guy seated beside me asks as if to divert my attention.

"Korea," I replied and added, "South" to make it more convincing.

The guy nods in approval.

Meanwhile, a sadhu arrives asking for tea. However, his lack of teeth, misshapen mouth and a possibly faulty vocal chord have conspired against him to produce just a wheeze of a noise instead of a well-formed question. The girl who probably has seen him more than I have mimics him. I realize the girl has a surprisingly grungy voice making the mimicry pretty successful. Or at least as funny.

The sadhu takes out a steel cup of his own and gives it to the girl. The girl tells him, "Give me money. Fast. Fast." The sadhu lets out a sentence in the form of another wheeze as the girl continues to mimic him and laughs. The sadhu sits down on the road. There is a dog playing around and the sadhu prods the dog with a tong that he brought along with him.

"Kya kar rahe ho?" the girl shouts. The sadhu lets out another wheeze. "Anjal," says the guy beside me. "Dog name, " providing me the final useful bit of information to complete the jigsaw.

"Is angrez ko chai dedo," the girl tells her mom (the woman seated on the same bench as mine. I figured the man and the woman seated beside me are her parents) . I didn't even realize she had started making tea. I stand up to receive the cup of tea from the woman.

Meanwhile, the sadhu makes a mocking noise in the tune of a lengthy "Om" to a foreign lady walking past us. And smiles. The girl shouts," Ek kheech ke maaregi na, to naam bhool jayega." And laughs.

My tea gets over. I try play on with the girl's earlier comment about the angrez.

"Kitna ho gaya?" I ask her, gauging her reaction at the same time.

"Paanch, " she replies without flinching a wink.

I pay her quietly, accepting defeat and walk away.


4 comments:

Ravi Kiran said...

Maybe that girl's related to Chinta someway... that explains why she was so passive..

sujit said...

I imagine what would have happened a korean, after you proclaimed you are one :-)

biswanath said...

Baba Bobo, speaks at last.

hitchhiker said...

@ravi: i'm pretty sure their sense of humor matched too.

@sujit: actually, I pulled off being a foreign tourist pretty well a bunch of times

@chinta: keertimaan bhavah