Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ride to Sohna

The first person I met, the guard at the gate. He was horrified. I had come in a hired car. What bloody sacrilege. It wasn’t easy trying to convince him that mine was as civilized as any of the other cars careening into campus, signing off chits of paper at the entry point. I didn’t have any chits of paper to sign. Not particularly disappointing, but I knew that signing off would lend my taxi proof of hauteur. What a bloody missed opportunity. I’ve always had a fear of corporate guards. There has always been something peculiar about them. Not that they are any better at ‘guarding’ than other, standard, regular guards who are not, incidentally, posted outside corporate portals, but they seem, sometimes, very different. Different in a bad way. Not particularly bad, just cocksure and bored and annoyed. There is nonchalance. And otherwise there is deadly boredom in combination with being deadly cocksure. It isn’t as if they have massive onslaughts to ward off – obviously not. No one tries gallivanting into a corporate park, even if they can, and have reason to. Any thief would look too plainly out of place here, too plainly out of place in dirty rags and uncharitably bad transport. Even a taxi apprehensively jilts along like a broken tin-can. Even those that seconds ago, would honk the daylights out of less savage drivers on the road outside.

The word corporate park is a derogatory word for certain schools back at the sermons I’m used to attending.

Now this particular taxi I came in turned out to be an extortionist can of tin. The driver started grumbling the moment we took off. I waited for the shitty loadfuls to subside, but some assholes tend to be very persistent. He wasn’t in any slight way different from any of the other countless extortionists who don’t mind punishing you for being their client. They molest your peace and then molest your money. I did feel ridiculous arguing with him. There something indecent about arguing on along a circuitous route to status quo. Plus, he harangued me endlessly. I needn’t have let him, and I didn’t. But the kind of voice, the flailing conversation and the kind of tactless non sequiturs people use to justify their no-points make you helpless. They make you feel silly and they annoy you. They seem to use an unfair advantage in language. They want to speak fast. Test you against the choppy waters of berating Punjabi. Friends comes to mind. It’s like something that transpires between Chandler and Monica. Chandler receives a phone-call from the doctor, who informs him, and he afterwards informs Monica, that he has sperm with ‘low motility’ and she has a uterus with an ‘inhospitable environment’. Such taxi rides and such taxi altercations leave you feeling like you have an argumentative quotient of way-too-low motility, and the cab-driver has inside his accursed vehicle too-damn-oppressive an inhospitable environment that makes you want to pay and leave. Quickly. Like unproductive sex between barren people.

The apartment is otherwise very nice. It’s ridiculously good. It’s quite annoyingly American in the way things have been set around the place. The toilets are fantastic. I will not go into comparisons. Suffice to say that the conditions I am used to would enable all the people who are similarly used to the same conditions to say for these specimens that they “Could eat off them!” Suffice to say that I will not say that. I don’t want to appear too desperately outmoded or desperately atavistic even to myself. Actually, only to myself. The rest of them don’t particularly behave like the loos are exciting or anything. They just act very bored and very angry. The hot-water showers even have back-sprinklers that sprinkle that divine hot water all along the length of your back. I dread the prospect of leaving for dinner.


Bhargav Saikia said...

No matter what you write, every piece sounds so brilliant! Arjun, whenever you decide to write your first novel, sell the screen rights to me :) You're the next Vikram Seth and I'm already your fan!

nandini dutta said...

Arjun, I had no idea you wrote so well. You speak so little, as things stand, but your writing is classy. I liked your London/Englang blogs in particular.
Cheers ... Keep in up !!!