Friday, March 23, 2012

29C Sagas

The green-with-white-stripe
rattletrap buses,
have been replaced.
By the white, and yellow, and orange
buses that come and go,
or better still,
the hiss of the pneumatic
AC buses.

The conductor’s hands,
occupied with coloured stubs
of tickets and
a jangling change purse,
now holds
a black box, that spits
impersonal white vouchers
for exact change tendered.

Gone, are the navy blue rexine seats,
that, on a hot summer’s day,
made you think of swimming
and ice golas.
The hand painted signboards
in yellow and white,
announcing if it would stop for you,
are things of the past as well;
ushering little moving dots
of neon orange lettering-
via, Adyar, Mylapore, Gemini.

But then the old lady from Mylapore gets in
and without losing a beat
of the sloka she’s chanting,
takes a seat near
the wizened lady, with the gold nose stud
and the black tattoos
smelling of fish from the beach.
And in the back rows,
a flower seller, continues to weave
flowers – dreams, hopes, love –
in a thread - for sale
to those who care to look.
And the two men discuss,
their boss and his nasty love
for horrible meetings.

Two young men get in,
With their low waisted jeans
And their gelled hair,
Laughing and discussing
The latest football games,
Drawing looks from the
Middle aged man,
In his pinstriped pants and tucked in shirt
Who had watched them too.
And the college girls sit together
Giggling, and jingling their bangles,
And fixing their hair,
Not caring if anyone sees
But hoping all the while that someone does
Much to the amused stare of the lady
With the vermillion in her forehead
Who’s already made two calls
To “chellam” –
“There’s thayirsaadam in the fridge”
she’d said.

And the conductors voice
Adyar Signal yerrengu
Adds to the symphony of
the traffic and the horn
the chatter,
Someone’s radio,
93.5 “Suryan FM”
“Keep listening”
And the smell
Of the fish and flowers
And sweat and tears
And temples and
Fancy deodorant

And then, as
someone hands you two coins and a note
and asks for a ticket
that familiar feeling hits you,
as you jostle for space
and make your journeys;
you know
that despite the odds -
Nothing has changed.