For almost six months City of Joy has become by my new address, the addressee finds the city overwhelming and loud, populated and confused, filled with rude yellow cab drivers and helpful blue bus conductors. It is both logical and magical, basically an irritating place but none the less very homogenizing in approach. One can find a street named after every other historical figure, except Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin we have Ho Chi Min to Lenin at one random nook. Navigating through this city is hard yet funny, going to my darling college is a journey of its kind. Fortunately, we have the metro which is efficient unlike this lazy city.
Travelling through metro has bought to my sight hilarious scenes from everyday life, from a pervert being publicly shamed to an old man getting off at wrong station, in five months four eyes of the addressee has seen a lot. Often the addressee has been part of tragically comic scenarios herself where wrong exits have made too many cameos. In these rides, there are humans with similar characteristics and different faces who are a bit too common to categorize. As ‘Reserved seats for Ladies’ is where the addressee sits, we shall begin with the elder ladies too common to every metro dweller and passenger’s sight.
For few months I have been chronicling my observations in doodles, but some people desrve a collective piece and these ladies have made my daily rides more interesting.
Firstly, we have Gossip Grandma, who in general is in her mid to late sixties, most probably has married her adult children off and has a retired husband at home. When she travels, she travels with other grandmas, to often go shopping or go watch an intellectual film at some old movie theater. She is the leader of the pack, wrapped in cotton saree and dangling her skinny brown braid you can just spot her. Once inside the metro, if the young girls don’t give their seats out of courtesy she is there to make them fall in guilt trap and snaps the seats swiftly. If standing she has all the gossip like whose daughter-in-law is lazy, which mama’s boy actually bought his wife a pearl necklace or which young college going girl is wearing shorts in her lane, if the problems of the world are over, she moves to the common retired husband they all have, if that topic doesn’t cover the journey, she will bring her packs’ eye on the young girl’s sweaty armpit or a peeking bra strap. Gossip Grandma is there to talk about everything anything that has to diminish her own sex.
Secondly, we would find a Scared Grandma everywhere, she has furu-furu (fluffy) shiny grey hair like cotton candy, has a huge red shindoor bindi on her forehead, her saree is that silk bedsheet which never stays tucked, she is in her late sixties to mid-seventies. She carries a huge sree leather bag, its stuffed with food and betel nut box, her glasses are most probably ten-year-old or more. She doesn’t take the metro ride with happiness, she is afraid of the escalator hence she walks the steps, she is afraid of the sliding door so she stays away from it and asks others to stay away from it. She is afraid she will miss her station and that makes her asks every other passenger the name of platform that they left behind. All her life she has been protected by her father, brothers, husband and children, she finds it hard to travel alone as years of restrictions has left her inapt to fast paced world, yet she braves the metro ride clutching her bag to her breast.
Third comes the Angry Grandma, at times she is a newly retired, well maintained lady in her sixties. She too carries a leather bag but it’s a bit expensive, reeks of class. She doesn’t like saree, prefers cotton salwars and looks great in them. Yet she is angry most of the time because none offer her seat despite acquiring the new title of senior citizen. The teenage girls talking about boyfriends make her angry she thinks they should study, the young professionals with headphones intercoursing their ears anger her as they appear worthless young man to her, she is angry on the middle aged men who think she is single as she wears no shindoor or bangles to prove otherwise. She hates her smartphone which has screenlock and it rings when she is vulnerable and swaying inside the compartment. She gets even more angry when some kid realizes she is a senior citizen and gives her seat, it makes her feel old and useless. Basically, she misses her job and friends and keeps giving a nasty stare to anyone who is slightly happy.
Fourthly, the Mischievous Grandma, she is the high-end grandma who carries a smartphone with happiness, she is in her seventies but looks younger, her hair is always in a messy bun, she wears everything, saree or trousers she carries it with ease. She has a jhola with a tablet to play games, carries a poetry book of Rabindranath Tagore and gives those quirky smiles. Often seen with her teenage grandchildren who fail to keep up with her level of sarcasm. She doesn’t have to play the senior citizen card, her eyes betwich yours and soon you give her your seat. Within moments she will start a conversation and keeps giving those hidden meaning smiles. You may find her in weird bookshops the same evening too and might end up sharing your evening ride with her conversation as company, till the end you won’t realize how you told her everything but know nothing of her.
Fifthly we have the Indifferent Grandma, she can be anywhere from her sixties to hundred, once upon a time she had really long hair, now she has dyed them in cheap heena and ties them in a loose low bun, wears really boring coloured saree, carries a sree leather bag which was bought twenty years ago now has a broken clasp. She wears bata sandals and has dead eyes which are decorated with thick layers of kohl. She walks in quietly, never has the demanding look for a seat, if she is given a seat she doesn’t smile or say thank you. She stands staring at a blur of human she has nothing to do with. Most of her thought process is concerned with her NRI son and grandkids. She is just here flowing with the crowd and has practically no interest in the young couple or the whiny annoying child beside her. She simply doesn’t care and you feel bad for her when you see her munching good-day biscuits alone in the station.
Sixthly, the Doubtful Grandma are the most common creature to be found around, on the road in the metro. She appears to be normal has no specific qualification that makes her easy to be spotted. She in general wears fancy light colour sarees, puts a huge bindi puts her grey mane in a small low bun, carries a small vanity bag. Walks fast, doesn’t look at other much, a constant worry and frown adorn her face. She is in doubt if she should use her senior citizen card, if she gets a seat without the card she will frown and try to locate the motive behind the deed. She will constantly open her purse and check where her phone is, brings out her metro card reads it’s content and worries about missing her station. When she can’t read, or hear the metro name, she panics and doubts that the person standing opposite to her is conspiring to make her misstep.
Finally, she is the rarest to find, Happy Grandma. She has short grey hair, is in her mid-sixties, wears pumps and is always smiling, she is small and fits easily into the corner or an opening. She hardly carries any bag except a sling thing to carry her money, phone and cards. She has let time do a magic on her face with wrinkles, she looks at peace like a fairy godmother. She doesn’t play the senior citizen card, but people offer her seat willingly out of her kind face. She in return always thanks you and smiles, engages in talks, tells about her children, her grandchildren and how she tries to travel around the city to catch up with old friends, goes to film festivals, enjoys her coffee alone, she has infinite stories to share and has limited time on metro with you. She is like that fresh gush of air which tells you old age might not be that bad.
P.S- City of Joy enjoys making stories and loves that it's part of so many fables, around the world or in the house, humans are all similar yet slightly unique.
thanking you to bear with me