Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Family Entertainer

Emerging tired from the examination hall, I trudged towards the Jayanagar bus stand to catch a bus for Indira nagar. I thought if I take the packed Bangalore city bus now approaching, I can avoid waiting in the equally crowded stand. I then bulldozed my way into the bus, soon to realise that it was filled with long-distance commuters, I cursed my luck. Inside the bus, my attention was drawn to a Tamil family that consisted of a woman in her mid-30s,her elderly mother, a 10- year old daughter and a seven - year old son. Except for the little boy in somebody else's lap, they were all just hanging on to straps, bars, other people's shirt-tails and shoulders.
          The lady looked quite attractive and charming in a white salwar-kurta set, with a purple flowered dupatta  She was wearing shiny gold bangles; a pair of diamond studs adorned her earlobes. Around her neck was the typical (kodi) that married Tamilians wear.
The glittering accouterments led me to believe that they maybe NRIs. I was soon undecieved,  for I heard them conversing in a fluent mixture of Tamil, Hindi and English. They must be from the North,  I thought.  For I had myself lived for a considerable length of time in UP,  and this was the precise mixture of languages we then used.  It brought back pleasant memories of my girlhood days,  before we moved to the South, and I got married,  erasing  this delightful form of communication from my repertoire.
         The lady looked smart and efficient----probably a housewife,  a working journalist,  a computer programmer all rolled into one. She certainly had the look of a well- organised person ---- a good home-maker,  a loving mother and a perfect wife (none of which I am).
                          By now,  the bus had reached M.G.Road and the rush of humanity seeking the exit pushed me closer to the Tamil family. Near Ulsoor, the lady and her little daughter got to sit.  It was going to be a long halt to allow  the innumerable people to get  in and get out of the bus.
            Sitting down, she spotted an elderly woman known to her,  apparently waiting for another bus, just a little distance away from the active melee near our bus. The lady exclaimed excitedly, " Look, there is Juju patti;  children say hello to Juju patti."  Equally excited , the children, on seeing the patti shouted  " Hello Juju patti, how are you?
         The patti ( grandmother) was thrilled by this unexpected meeting . She dared not to come close to the bus and the seething crowd, but  started gesticulating in a highly animated  fashion,  inisisting that they must visit  her house; she would not forgive them if they didn't. This was followed  by nodding of heads and waving hands.
         Meanwhile, the children's grandmother joined in the pantomime, complementing patti on the beautiful sari she wore . In turn,  the patti with her excelllant miming,  conveyed where the sari was bought, for what   occasion, and who presented  it to her.
         Not a word had passed the lips of the actors in this delightful little drama.  I thoroughly enjoyed the entertaining tableau before me.
            My journey was nearing its end. Within less than an hour of our shared bus travel, I had come to know and like the family. I stepped off the footboard, disappointed to see that they were not getting down too. To this day, I least regret having caught that crowded bus.