This weekend evening, at Barista's on New BEL Road, I am the oldest. This is college country and in this café and also in the stores outside, and in McDonalds and KFC and Café Coffee Day, there are mostly medical and engineering and management students. The chubby young lady with the round face at the next table is from Mumbai, it is not hard to tell from her phone talk. She is working, entering data from scribbles into something like a personnel database—I can see a face-photo on every page. She is quick on the keyboard and her screen changes before I can register a single record. And as she works she is also organizing two parties, one in Mumbai for tomorrow, and one for the evening here in Bangalore. Her invitation is delivered with equal exuberance for every one: "Come, okay? Or I'll kill you!"
From behind the sources of smells of vanilla and cinnamon young waiters are watching me as much as they are watching the other young. I am reading a book when I'm not looking about.
At the table opposite mine a courtship is being performed offbeat. The young man shoots riddles in a clear loud voice to his lady, of which she doesn't answer a single one, but their eyes are locked. They are doing well, and their romance should surely consummate, but my age makes me wonder how soon the mundane will assert primacy over the cerebral in their marriage.
Just as my bill arrives the chubby girl's phone rings, and she looks into its little screen and cries "rubbish!" Then she presses the answer-button with her thumb, and her voice melts and coos, "yes, mamma?" I leave thinking of Yashas, who is always so deferential to me. Has he rubbished me sometimes on the other end? We have had a few—no more than a few—difficult moments, and now he is gone to his own nest, and I can make no amends anymore.
The Colors of Summer
The flowers on the trees in this season are brilliant translucent yellow, staid purple, and a lavender that seems imported. They are out in great numbers, in response to heat that has risen quite too soon. I took a walk along the perimeter of the CPRI and the Air Force Command this morning, and also passed the Chief Minister's house. There was a line of police cars, revealing that the master was at home. The senior officer in the pilot Gypsy was dozing; two uniformed orderlies chatted on the street; a tall dark one in a safari-suit looked hard into my eyes and averted his. Later at home when I uploaded the GPS data of the walk to Runkeeper, I saw that the Chief Minister's house is on the lowest point on the local terrain, at altitude 915 meters. It must be good vaastu , it has kept him going an unexpectedly long time, against too terrible odds.
They are making a sidewalk on the track alongside New BEL Road and CV Raman Road, and in the morning the long stretch of wall didn't smell of urine.
Gone, Our Cool Clime?
I must go to Mumbai next week. The temperatures are level with the extreme highs of Bangalore, with no precipitation, and a higher humidity. A colleague of mine who rubs it into me that Chennai holds greater charm than Bangalore is triumphant these days: Chennai is consistently a few degrees cooler, has 70% humidity, and the sea has been sending over a gentle breeze: the one advantage Bangalore had over any other Indian city has gone, it appears. I am composing a counterattack, and should be ready before my colleague and I sit together for lunch Monday, tomorrow.
Photo: Courtesy: Sujaya Shashikiran