Sunday, September 21, 2008

Incognito In Throng

To me, the resident of a mofussil town, roaming incognito in a mega city can be an exhilarating experience. And not without reason.

For, in the city, I am at liberty to publicly indulge in certain oddities - the exclusive perquisites of anonymity - denied to me back home where I might be regarded as being a part of the town's crème de la crème, so to speak. Walking down the city thoroughfares, I can, for instance, blow my nose like a whistle, or unabashedly scratch my back (or whichever part of my anatomy needs scratching) if the itch to do so springs up and not earn so much as a passing glance from the passers-by, or launch a phlegmatic missile (unseen by the cop) as and when a longing wells up in my bosom (or lungs), without sticking out like a sore thumb.

Contrast this with what happened back home 'last summer. While taking my routine morning walk in the local park, the sole of my shoe came unglued and I had to literally drag my foot while going home. No sooner had I got back than 1 received a phone call from someone enquiring if 1 had developed a ‘foot drop’!

On a recent visit to the metro I was ambling along the kerb following a heavy downpour when a speeding truck splashed a generous portion of a puddle and then a bus on its hot trail served a second helping of the same, drenching me to the skin. Like the instinctive response of a child tripping on a pebble, 1 looked around to check whether anyone had been watching. But no one cared a hoot. A similar event in my town would have drawn hoards of 'well-wishers' with curious bunches of skywardly mobile eyebrows letting out a chorus of tut-tuts- adding insult to injury, as it were.

Even in a city like Mumbai, once in a while, my luck runs out as happened on my maiden visit to the race course (considered a taboo back home). As I loitered around the crowded bookies' lounge, I saw a familiar face popping in and out of the multitude. Disconcerted, I tried seek refuge within the confines of the cafeteria only to bump into my home town crony chandru, who apparently was as anxious to evade me as I was to him! We had a hearty laugh together and swore each other to secrecy about our esapades.

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