Few would buy from me. Others would keep their unquestioned faith in the genuine black ticketeer. And the rest of them- Well! Do they deserve a mention? In fact, they do.
I hate people who come with a high head and an intent of watching a movie, and go with their heads dangling about their necks and a movie schedule leaflet sticking out of their pockets. They’d come asking in earnest, “कित्ते का दिया?”
Hey, do I look like your regular gutkha chewing ball scratching grocer whom you’d enquire, haggle over the price, strike a bargain, and then walk away, for no reason at all.
And some of them already have a ticket. They just want to know what the current worth of their prized possession is. This ain’t stock market you prick !
One of the customers had joked, “if it’s priced 10 bucks less than the black ticket, would it be called a grey ticket?” I remember I had smiled while cursing him on the inside- not funny dude!
It didn’t take me much to figure the dynamics. My approach needed a change.
The first time I used the right vocabulary, ‘tees ka pachaas’ that is, it was strange, and I was awkward, which reflected in the delivery.
It took a day’s practice in private and a couple of days’ sheepish utterances in public to get the tone nearly right. The body language still lacked the abandon of a true blacker. It would take some more time to be corrected.
Of course, valuable tips from Kailash disguised as small talk can’t be ruled out.
वईसे पुलिस-वुलिस का जादा कौनऊ चक्कर नहीं है .. अगर कौनऊ पुलिस का आदमी दिखाई देवै, तौ तुम न दिखाऊ देओ..इत्ती भीड़ में बिलाय जाव चाय जहां..
And thus I began, aping genuine ticketeers, trying to be as professional. And boy! I did rather well for a debutante. 4 tickets within an hour: a net profit of 100 bucks. Not bad. At all.
A special mention to the stares I was met with. It was the same expression, only articulated with different words. The look they gave is however worthy of a mention:
It was the look you’d give him should you spot Rahul Gandhi at a traffic signal, pulling in by the side of your silver Santro, mounted on silver colored Hero Puch.
I wasn’t rich. Not even middle class. But something (let’s call it an unknown force for now) rendered me an air of a suitable middle class background: Middle class enough to be ashamed of blacking tickets and proud of preparing for the so called toughest entrance exam;
Middle class enough to be ashamed of calling an illiterate paanwala your friend and proud of conversing in broken English (often with a put-on accent);
Middle class enough to be ashamed of wearing a stylish Tommy Hilfiger T-shirt that had seen better times on somebody else’s shoulders and proud of selling your old clothes in exchange for a frying pan or a thali. You call it recycling.
Middle class enough to be ashamed of attending a poor man’s wedding and proud of attending a rich man’s funeral.
The stares though I had a fair idea of beforehand. It was no matter of grave concern, unless I, by sheer coincidence and a heady mix of rotten luck and inevitable fate run into an acquaintance that’s got the slightest stake in my future.
And, as a matter of fact, everyone- right from my father to the neighborhood Pandey ji whom I had once spotted at Kamal cinema sitting in the third row watching ‘Qatil Jawani’- seemed to have varying degrees of stake in my academic career.
Pandey ji is prude, plump, ideally bald, and is playfully or deliberately (depending on the context) mispronounced as पाँणे जी in the neighborhood. He is known to be slightly haughty, moderately bitchy, enormously pious and sexually celibate. He doesn’t like watching movies, so he says.
He had once advised me to write ‘Jai Mata Di’ at the top right corner of my notebooks and answer sheets, and chant Gayatri Mantra while studying in order to prolong my mental masturbation; all this to cure my short attention spans.
Nineteen years ago, the very moment his son was born, he had named him ‘Ram’. 24 hours later, he renamed him ‘Ramji’.
Lest the God must take an offence on His name being used without even a slight hint of reverence; so was the warning Lord Ram had conveyed him that particular night through his abstract dream.
On the other hand, my parents, despite their religious inclinations, refrained from naming me after some well known God. They probably must have been far too God fearing, lest the God sued them on serious charges of blatant plagiarism.
It had been a fairly successful run for me until now, the day I speak of.
I woke up to a chirping of sparrows and the sight of a pigeon on my window sill. She woke up to an alarm clock that broke into a song of the sparrows.
The same pigeon would later fly down to her house and feed on the sunflower seeds she had scattered in her lawn, essentially to feed stray birds.
...to be continued
...to be continued