Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Delhi men. Sometimes they deserve better than flak

Every monsoon my car goes for a toss. Not the car so much as the central lock mechanism, the alarm system.

9.30 p.m last night. My car is parked in Safdarjung Enclave, right opposite the slummy abattoir that is Rajinder ka Dhaba, one of the many shady women-shouldn't-go-alone-there joints that separates a/c seating from non a/c seating with a transparent shower curtain. The surrounding market is a filth haven. Muck rules. Onion peels, plastic cups, cigarette stubs everywhere, mangy emaciated dogs spend the day sniffing out remains of the tandoor that flares up at dusk. Traffic is beyond control. The smell of burnt chicken wings poulltues the air. That and the honks of these Delhi boys in their big punju white cars lining up, eating in their cars, risking chutney stains on car upholstry, tossing silver foil out the wondow. It's not an environment that makes you linger.

But office is nearby and choices are few. My car is parked there. So after a perfectly pleasant evening at Hauz Khas village - mushroom crepe, small vodka, and coffee and almond gelato -- my friend drops me to the parking. (I can't even say my parking. It's not the sort of ownership one wants). We say ok tata bye bye. I get off. I approach the parking lot attendant standing in a crowd. He's the guy i know is a sleazeball by

a. the time he takes to locate my keys in his bunch.
b. the small talk he insists on making despite my snubbing him every single time and
c. when he hands me the keys, bastard will always try to touch my hand.

Oh and once, some weeks ago, when I was puling in to park, he said something... something about my untied hair, and how I should watch it, it's getting caught in the seat belt. I glared. I ignored. I hate his attitude, his manner, but I don't perceive him as a threat. I don't know why I'm carrying on about him. This isn't even about the asshole.

So, yesterday, as usual, I minimise interaction with this guy, snatch my keys, ask where my car is because I had pressed the central lock button and it DIDN'T go TEE-TEE, so he launched  into exact geographical co ordinates of where across the road my car is. I cut him short. I didn't say thank you. To him, I never say thank you. I crossed the road to where my car was.

Central lock wasn't working. The rains, the rains. Always in the rains the damn thing goes dead. So I turn the key and of course, alarm sirens go mad. It's like a rocket flare. You know the one: teeyun teeyun teeyun with that crazy urgency. I try to shut it off, press buttons, lock, unlock, all sorts of combinations. Nothing works. My alto sounds like an ambulance zipping through traffic with some poor sod heart attacking inside.

Parked to the left of my heartattacking alarm afflicted car, is a red hatchback with four boys inside destroying a plate of, I go ahead and assume, chicken tikka masala. Uh oh, I think. Not pretty. I'm momentarily amused by the madness. But midget red flags in my head are begingning to shuffle feet. I think of calling my friend who's just dropped me to make her hear the madness and have a chuckle, but better sense prevails and I think I better take care of this shit.

Nothing I do works. One subordinate asshole of the original parking lot asshole, a barely adolescent punk, in his best, most cheeky delivery, says to me with do i imagine this - a sense of vindication? -- "ee ka bol raha hai?". What's the car saying. This would be funny to me if anyone else had said it. This idiot, grinning away, was asking for teeth to break. In the past he's another who's asked me what my beef with him is and why I'm always so brusque. And him I gave an earful to because even when he doesn't need my keys he asks for them and I alwayss suspect the little shot fo taking my car for a spin.

Anyway. The alarm persisits. Of course it's a real nuisnace. By now a small crowd had by now gathered. I was beginning to make my peace with having to drive to bloody Gurgaon with the cacophony. But it struck me I should somehow shut this thing up because even if I reach home hardly noiselessly, and park in the basement, and this thing doesn't quieten down, poor night guard will reach asylum levels of nerve fucked.

And so it was with abundant gratitude that when one boy/man from next door hatchback destroying chicken fame, came around my side up and politness be his body language, gestured for me to hand him the keys I was relieved, and happy to oblige. He tinkered for a couple of minutes. Nothing happened. Shrillness persisted. Alarms were still a flarin'. All teeeyun teeyun teeyun. The immediate neigbourhood, traffic sounds notwithstanding, must have collectively been heading towards tinnitus. Kind gent remained largely unsuccessful. But then he took the keys over to the car of boys and one of them hit some combination and the thing shut up. No more sirens! Hurray! Of the crowd of people gathered, one auto driver told me iske cell leak ho gaye honge -- battery must have leaked. And I hmmed and nodded but was thinking of something entirely different from leaked cells; that thank god I was dressed in 'jhall' mode. The skirt numbers may not have been a terribly prudent choice of outfit -- although in the morning how would I have known that I'd be this damned lady in a spot of alarm. Still. Okay. Vague mental note. Get cell replaced.

Very long story short: the sirens stopped. But the moment I turned ignition key, they started again, and this time the pleasant bunch of boys, all that helpful lot couldn't do anything. Now an auto guy in a blue uniform, different from cell advisor, came forward and said the only way to get this sorted is to open the hood. So kind gent did that, pulled the lever. I just stepped aside and let it happen. Auto guy asked if I had a torch. I didn't. Told him cell phone light would be useless. And so he, with only scattered street ligting, removed the noise maker chip from the engine, and the madness properly, permanently stopped. Aah. Gratitude. And glorius relative silence.

My central lock now doesn't work. But that's okay. Sometime or the other, I'll get it fixed. It's so secondary to me, indebted as I was first to the kindness and courtesy of strangers, these Delhi men, the car full of chicken eating boys and the auto drivers, who get so much flak for not knowing how to treat women, for knowing only how to harrass them/us/me, when the truth must also include that every now and then decency steps up and exceptions reveal themselves.

6 comments:

Sanchari said...

Long live this strange breed that does exist.

Anonymous said...

Nice - must send to Paris Literary Fest. like we say in bangalore "Winning garanti"

Nimpipi said...

I think blogger should take a leaf out of FB pages. Nimpipi wants to just put a thumbs up on each comment.

I should edit the post to add: Car woes continue. Her blogging highness learnt the very next day after teeyun teeyun crisis, how to change a flat. Woo hoo! Long live Anwar of South ex petrol pump fame who taught me how.

And when I told my father, he's like, and when people try to teach you the same thing ten years ago, you throw attitude. Or something.

Incognito said...

Please prove you're not a robot....

Dayum! Either these things are getting harder to decipher by the day. Or my vision is giving up on me.

On the contrary, the breed exists in large volumes. The problem is that jerks always stand out. get my drift?

Miss.Mystic said...

Visiting your blog after ages! How have you been? I went to HK village for the first time in my life and realized it is one messy place with classy stuff strewn all around. But, you are right not all men in Delhi are maniacs, some still are genuinely helpful.

Happy Monsoons! May your roads have lesser and lesser potholes! :) :P

Dhakkanz said...

Agree.