And ever so calmly he said...now that you are coming, do carry your chequebook. Will try and clear off the Service tax bit too. Suddenly images of numbers dwindling down in my already modest bank account loomed in front of my eyes. So did the crashing stock market, soaring gold prices and silver at Rs. 24,000/- a kilo! Not that I have anything to do with them but still...when it's the day to feel sick...you can find many reasons to do so.
Have you ever spent a fortune on silly things but thought and fought for 2 ruppes extra charged to you on your very important purchase? I felt like that. Wanted to save every single rupee I could that day. So I decided to walk & take a train from Mahalaxmi to Marine Lines.
Somehow music always smoothens harsh realities so I logged onto FM channels and started walking. Did you know FM means frequency modulation???? Neither did I :)
1:30pm...sun glaring right into my eyes but only when I almost reached the station did I realise that I had forgotten my new shades on the editing table. A very expensive gift to myself (by my standards of course) I didn't want to lose them so I walked back to pick them up.
No lunch, money going away from my account, walking in the sun .... I should have felt horrible....in fact I did but then as if by divine intervention, the FM played 'khwaja mere khwaja' (this song takes me into a trance) , the traffic got so bad that I could cross the street very very easily, felt wind blowing into my hair and saw a huge clean Airtel hoarding (with nothing by Shah Rukh on it) right in front of me. Shah Rukhs hair were flying to one side in it and the hoarding size was overwhelming .....I felt like a baby in front of it. All this happened at the same time! Combination of all these things had a magical effect on my mood. One of those unexplained things in life. In a moment I went from cranky to smily!
The same me who was so looking forward to the shaded train station, now wanted to explore and also click a photo of self & Sah Rukh in the same frame (grr...just couldn't). Many tries of hopping across the road....standing on the divider and posing....and finally giving up on the perfect photo op....I decided to walk over to the Dhobi Ghat on the other end of the station.
This biggest dhobhighat in the city is between Mahalaxmi station and Saat Rasta. Each dhobhi (hired on a monthly basis or daily wages @ Rs. 130 per day) washes about 200 clothes per day on one of the 907 neatly aligned stone basins. Each basin holds upto 200-300 litres of water a day. A Rajdhani contract gets them a lot of the train linen washing deals. This is world's largest open air Laundry which attracts flocks of tourist every day. Indias entrepreneurial genius shows in the number of other businesses that thrive on this (block mehendi, polaroid photographers, toy makers, masala walas, map sellers etc. who line up the footpath to make use of this tourist traffic).In these times of 'I sneeze & I advertise it', did you ever see Doordarshan come up with any hoarding for any of it's TV programmes? I never did. Was so surprised to see this one. DD has a special place in my heart. Anything to do with DD makes me smile. 'Anek chidiya', 'Main hoon Swimmi', 'Feature Film Follows', 'Fairy Tale Theatre' are a few of my childhood memories that I have DD to thank for. Maybe I am ancient but I actually remember seeing the Surf 'Lalitaji' & Taj 'Dip Dip Dip' ads on air and not just in an archive.
Happy & contented I boarded the train to Marine Lines so I could go and do more important things in life like file my tax returns in time & pay the Service Tax. Hoping against hope that they will finally be used for making roads, hospitals, bridges, army....just as they claim.