Monday mornings. The less said, the better. I am almost fanatical about the Monday morning rituals; for I firmly believe that a good start can set up the mood for the rest of the week. So, I never press the Snooze button on Mondays, don’t even think about turning on MTV (lest I hear some rotten song spoiling my mood, starting a chain reaction which could possibly see me driving rashly, getting a ticket, being sad about it at office, my (female) colleague lending me a shoulder to cry on, my place (or hers, I don’t mind), passion, “main tumhaare bachche ki maa banne waali hun”, marriage…….really I don’t want to get married to a colleague just because MTV chose Himess’s Kajraare over Aishwarya’s), stay as far away from newspapers as possible, never switch the toothbrush from my right hand to the left, drink my milk in exactly three sips (optimized after lots of trial and error), avoid talking much and never check the balance in my wallet.
So, when my maid asked for hundred bucks this Monday, I knew instantly that it is going to be a rotten week. I took out a note without even looking at my wallet. It turned out to be yellowish in color and valuing my beliefs much more than the extra 400 bucks, I handed her the note. See, I told you it is going to be a rotten week. Suddenly her maternal instincts popped up from nowhere, “bete, tum kitne kamzor ho gaye ho” and she insisted that I had another half glass of milk before going. Her face beamed with such a glow that I picked up the glass, gulped it down in one and a half sips and almost ran for my life lest she started dancing to the tunes of Kajraare. And what did I tell you? This is going to be a rotten week. Some sadist moronic child (born just because one of my neighbours was stupid enough to turn on MTV on a Monday morning) had stuck a chewing-gum on my car’s keyhole. Holes. They might be empty but they play a decisive role in our lives. Ofcourse, you don’t expect me to touch that eew…thing on a Monday morning. So, I somehow squeezed in the driver’s seat from the other side, only to bang my leg against the dashboard. Oh, I don’t think I need to remind you. This is going to be ….
Let me fill in some space giving you useless information. I am employed as an analyst in a top-notch company in Gurgaon and I drive from my home in Delhi to Gurgaon every Monday and come back on Fridays. My parents have gone to attend a distant relative’s wedding in our ancestral village and will be back in a week. The maid is looking after our home in the meantime. The drive to Gurgaon, though just above 35 kms, sometimes take me more than an hour and a half because of the traffic jams. And I have learnt a few curses just to shower them upon my fellow prisoners (in their cars, surprisingly eager to go to the gallows) to humor myself on the way. It’s fun, try it. Oh, another thing. It might come across as sexist but more than anything else, I am finicky about not driving behind a lady driver on a Monday morning. But then , oh you remember….
I have a white i10 and I love it for its ease of driving in Delhi traffic. She had a blue Astra. I overtook her first near Rajouri Garden. It was love at first sight. “Tujhe dekha toh yeh jaana sanam, tujhe nahi aata gaadi chalaana sanam…” I picked the wrong lane just behind a three-wheeled-goods carrier and before I knew she was driving just next to me on the Mayapuri flyover. I was desperately trying to change lanes, she had a gap of almost three cars in front of her and still she wouldn’t speed up. I honked like crazy, I always do. Some things like honking, cursing, excessive lane changing are so sacrosanct that one can’t change them just because it is a stupid Monday. I mouthed some obscenities, umm, let’s say some nasty words cursing both the goods carrier ahead and my sweetheart (They say, “We fight the most with them who we love the most). Of course she didn’t hear anything with both our windows closed. But she got irritated with all my honking and lowered down her passenger seat window-pane to give me a piece of her mind. Monday morning, stuck behind a 20 kph three-wheeler and “piece of mind” from a lady driver, what else could I have asked for?
Finally I found a small clearing and dashed ahead of the three wheeler which somehow offended the love of my life and now it was time for her to honk. I looked at her once again in the rear view mirror. The rear view mirror read, “Things in the mirror are closer than they appear”. Though it instantly touched the romantic in me, it also alerted the pragmatist in me that she might very soon crash into my car. I sped up, she followed suit. I could see her cursing in the rear view mirror. Tell me, how can one not fall in love? I changed lanes, she was driving next to me. We drove like that, hand in hand, over the entire 2km long Naraina flyover. I put on my RayBan, she sported Gucci. I started rhythmically tapping my steering as if I was lost in music (I have no stereo in my car), she started shaking her head to the beats (to the same song that was playing in my car. :P). I looked at her, she looked at me. Pyaar toh Hona hi tha……Pyaar toh…But then there are no other cars on the road in the movies. I almost banged mine into the Maruti ahead. It was all his fault, driving at 40 kph on a highway on a Monday morning. I braked just in time.Oh, I might have forgotten to tell you…..
The morning traffic engulfed her. Hum Juda ho gaye….raaste kho gaye…..I could faintly see a blue car some seven cars ahead. I criss-crossed crazily to get back next to her, only managing to get ugly glares from fellow prisoners (giving ugly glares is an art. I look too childlike to give one of those, that’s why I rely on curses). I managed to get just behind my love’s blue car only at Brar Square Intersection. My RayBan made the blue look a little darker. I was dying to get next to her but thought to play a little and let her look at me lovingly, impatiently in her rear-view mirror. It was only near Dhaula Kuan that I realized she might be going to South Delhi, so I drove my car just next to her to get one final look. I know shades are supposed to make things look darker, but older? And sex change? But then didn’t I tell you……
P.S. The title, obviously, comes from Love in the time of Cholera. Parts of the story are inspired from real life happenings. Any relation with anybody living or dead (under her car) is purely intended.