Gunman in Pensioner's Paradise

Coffee Day Square, Bangalore

Coffee Day Square, Bangalore

Bangalore, The Garden City, turned altogether into a Business City a decade or so ago, and these days there’s little room in it for frills. But new fancies are afoot. Such as guns and armed guards. I’m remembering something I saw the other day, at the Coffee Day Square by Cubbon Park.

It was Sunday morning, and quiet in the cafe. I eased into my reading, and was soon lost in it, and when I paused when a chapter ended and a fresh once commenced, my eyes caught sight of a pair of men coming in: a businessman and a gunman.

The gunman was lean and, as he walked, loose in the neck and waist and knees. It did not appear that he’d ever stood erect in attention. The youth in his body and the glow on his face suggested decent health, however. He wore a coarse-woven, deep-brown safari suit, and it fit him quite all right.

He came in trailing his charge: a middle-aged man who wore whites, and sported wheatish skin and all-white hair. As with most men at the top, he carried only a cell phone. From inside the cafe, a man who’d been waiting, and who rose and walked over to receive the businessman, had all the files in hand. But this businessman, in spite of his stunning white hair, didn’t really seem like a biggie; only in his white hair he appeared distinguished; the rest of him didn’t suggest stature enough to warrant a gunman. His white shirt he’d let fall over unremarkable slacks, he wore modest sandals over his feet. That’s the nature of things, I suppose.

I’ve recently finished watching the first season of Narcos on Netflix, and marveled at the numbers of men who stood about paunchy Pablo, armed with the best and ready to die.

The VIP—because only the very important go around with armed men—went into a recessed section in the cafe where I couldn’t watch him. The man who’d waited for him went along with him, bent and dererential and always a step behind. As regards the guard, he dropped his gun on the soft leather of a chair in a pool of chairs round a table next to mine. The gun jumped up and fell back in the seat and settled. The guard flopped down on a chair next to the gun’s, opened his handphone, and dived in.

I resumed the reading I’d been doing and lost count of time, and with the calm of Sunday settling about me, I almost missed the exit of the pair. A movement at the next table caught my attention. The white-haired-businessman had come up there, was tapping his guard on the shoulder, waking him from Facebook, or perhaps WhatsApp. The guard dug his palm into his seat so as to rise, picked up his long gun, slung it over his shoulder, and followed his charge. His eyes he kept to the ground. At every step he broke at his knees, at his waist, at his neck.

On his part, the VIP was alert. His eyes were quick, his head live to the world, his body bounding—and he looked fit enough to point at danger—should it arrive—to his guard. The guard would then aim and fire, perhaps. That must’ve been the deal. A deal worthy of an erstwhile Garden City, a Pensioner’s Paradise.