Powai from the eyes of a morning jogger
Before my alarm could blare into my ears, I heard the peculiar noise of buses guzzling fuel, honking and then screeching to a halt. This went on for good 5 mins but wasn’t enough to wake me up. I tossed and turned to go back to sleep. As I was about to enter the land of dreams again, the honking competition between parents started as they dropped the kids to school. Living in proximity to a school has its pros and cons. But as a child-free young couple one is usually at the receiving ends of consequences. That’s why when summer vacations started, parents pain was our gain. However, the loud noises left me with no choice but to get up and get ready for the morning jog.
I stepped out of the house, preparing myself for the next challenge: Navigating through dog poop. Yes! You heard it right. If you step out in morning, the scenes of owners waiting for their dogs to finish the morning rituals are quite common. Sometimes it happens right near the board: ‘If your dog poops, you should scoop.’ Dog poop is so omnipresent on our Powai footpaths that they can really be renamed as poop-paths. But who to blame? Certainly not the dogs?
So, I instead diverted my attention to the beautiful bougainvillea. This used to be a good strategy until I encountered a rickety drain hole cover under my foot. To my horror, most of them lay partially or fully broken. As if God was playing a cruel joke by making my erstwhile mundane walk into an act of hopping and skipping. One poop here and a drain hole there!
The next familiar sight was our local milkman, a middle-aged man with a white french beard. You will find him, sitting on a small chair, grimly carrying transactions. Bright yellow and blue crates filled with packets of milk, yogurt, and buttermilk populate the scene around him. I frequently buy these things from him. However, I have never bothered to ask his name. Isn't it the irony of our lives in a metro? More the number of people, lesser we know about them. Gone are the days of borrowing curd or sugar from neighbours and having a chance to strike a conversation.
I was brought back to reality with a rather lively scene exploding a few meters away. There was a small white truck with vegetables parked on the side of the road. An old couple was perched on the back of the truck. While the rest two below, hurriedly moved between weighing scale and managing the transactions. The customers came with their own temperaments. Some of them patiently waiting, some in sense of urgency and others haggling for price. However, amidst all this chaos, the old man with his big moustaches and rustic village charm, managed to strike a conversation with the customers. I was crossing this busy scene when I overheard him telling a woman, ‘Madam, aap leke jao, kharab niklega toh main hai na’. I couldn't help but smile. I guess the art of negotiation is not the virtue of only those who study it.
As I moved along the footpath, I could see the road getting busier with office goers. Their hurried expression can really tell you the difference between 8:30 and 8:45. You can also differentiate between boss and employees. Bosses would be usually seated at the back of a car with their bespectacled eyes glued to a newspaper or phone. Their faces almost always wearing a grumpy expression. Now, do I need to mention how employees look like? More than half of us fall into that category. I feel ya brethren!
Bidding adieu to all this morning hustle-bustle, I finally arrived at the garden. The sound of a flute welcoming me. I could see a group of elderly people enjoying the tunes of old songs being played by one of them. Their body swaying with the tunes and hands catching every pitch with a smile. One could really see they were enjoying the retirement years; happy, healthy and in companionship. Walking past them, I began my jog on the track which provides a 360-degree view of the garden.
As I breezed past one of the groups, I heard them discussing what Modiji should and shouldn’t be doing. Now we know, where Modiji’s secret think tank comes for a walk! Few meters away, a mother was walking with her infant in a stroller. One peep at the cute kid, now I was right behind two middle-aged ladies. Dressed in salwar kameez, they were talking about the one who wasn’t there that day. But reluctantly I had to run past their interesting conversation. Now my eyes started to observe the areas around the track. A yoga baba was doing asanas with great precision.Some young people were busy training, some people were relaxing and other doing ‘Pranayam’.
On the grass, a big group of elderly people was practicing yoga. Near them, some parents were playing with their kids. You could really see the joy in their eyes. Where has this freewill-playing disappeared? These two scenes in a way brought three generations together who between gadgets and fast-paced lives, hardly meet at meal tables now.
Everyone in the garden was doing their own bit but they all seemed part of one big community. This small garden represents the very essence of our Powai, a suburb that is as much made of the locals as by the migrants and expats. The lines of class, age or regionalism seemed to blur at this meeting point. It was like a live celebration of diversity, uniqueness, and oneness. As I made my way back, charged with all the energy and positivity, I murmured to myself, ‘It indeed is a good morning’!
(Sugandh is a petroleum engineer turned full-time writer. She also manages her blog www.curiousinkpot.com. You can get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org)