I didn't really have a subject to write about today. So I thought of writing about me. The first thing that came to my mind was my clumsiness. And so be it.
I seem to have an uncanny knack of attracting clumsy situations. Everyday, when I walk on the road, be it an uneven tar road or the smoothest of asphalt cemented concrete roads, I end up tripping atleast once. For as long as I have been walking, there hasn't been a day without a tripping event. Cobblestoned-like paths in Mumbai have only made my life more difficult - they're often not laid properly and come off easily; I don't really need a reason to fall, do I?
While I was in SIES, my junior college in Sion, my large group of friends and I were walking towards the station when suddenly a cow came running to me. For all my vanity about not showing my fear, I just stood there for a minute trying to be brave and then yelled aloud and ran for dear life - later, I was told, I was standing on the grass that the cow was waiting hungrily for. Few years later, on a hike to the Rajgad fort as we were returning to base, my gang of girls broke away from most of the class and were walking by ourselves. We came to a really narrow path flanked by trees that didn't allow us much space to walk together and so we divided ourselves into two. My friends were walking ahead of me when we came to this slope while I was distracted by my attention to the fauna of the forest.
My shoe laces had come undone (as usual) and as I bent down to tie them, I was suddenly faced with the prospect of a charging bull bellowing his challenge to flatten me in less than a minute. My ears can never forget the rage in the bull's mooing (?) and my heart still thumps aloud everytime I think of it. I honestly thought that I was going to face a similar fate as one of those unlucky matadors who got themselves killed in that ghastly activity that they call sport! I closed my eyes and began praying aloud and it definitely wasn't raw courage when I screamed 'Help' in all the languages I knew. Lord Shiva definitely heard my now-desperate prayers and came to my rescue in the form of an old lady and calmed his Nandi incarnate. The old lady (I'll never forget her face) could barely stifle a chuckle and broke into rural Marathi dialect claiming how we city-bred were incapable of sterner stuff.
I think I've definitely had enough of cows and bulls for the rest of my life.
I've fallen down all the staircases I've used regularly - in my building, at school, at SIES (it was an everyday story, with Apu actually waiting for me to trip), at Agrawals, at GS even at Johns Hopkins. Everywhere. Infact, the Agrawals kissa was actually really funny. For the uninitiated Agrawal Classes are 'world-famous' coaching classes in Mumbai as the flower attracting the SSC high-scoring bees for excellent tutoring for the HSC examinations. While I didn't particularly enjoy the stifling and suffocating claustrophobia of the air-conditioned room with crowded benches for 8 hrs everyday, being with friends for that long is one of my favorite memories. So I belonged to the afternoon batch and we had a break at around 5 pm for about half hour. Aarti, Jinal and I decided to hit Damodars (a snack outlet) below the the classes and soon we were caught up in some entertaining exchange of anecdotes; so much so that we didn't realize when the rest of the crowd had made its way back into the classes. A glance at our watch and we realized we were late and so we ran to enter the classes before the lecturer did.
Now the building that houses Agrawals was really old and the wooden staircases are narrow and steep. Moreover at the end of the first flight of the stairs would sit Ramu, the watchman, peon, clerk, handyman, man-friday for the staff. Ramu was actually a cute moustached, bespectacled old chap with a toothy grin that he flashed sheepishly everytime he caught some coming in without their ID cards. That he would report these trivial mistakes of memory to the higher authority irked many and was responsible for the downfall of his popularity. (Though, according to me, he was and hopefully still is cute). So as on any other day, Ramu was standing up there (grinning widely with his 32 teeth shining brightly hoping to catch his latest prey) and the three of us were running up the stairs. I took the lead and leapt from one stair to the one-above-the-next. Bad idea. For when I reached the last few stairs, my clumsiness got the better of me, and I tripped and with my arms raised above my shoulders circumscribing a 90 degree arc from an erect posture to a flat one. In the next second, I heard Aarti and Jinal squealing with uncontrollable laughter and looked up to find an absolutely stunned Ramu staring at me in disbelief.
As I grappled with my situation, I realized that I was lying before him in prostration (the way Tambram men do) as if seeking his blessings. Never before and never after, I suspect, did anyone actually fall at his feet and elevate him to demi-god status. Since that day for the rest of the year, an embarrassed Ramu avoided me completely - and I was spared of an ID check for the rest of the year.
In my defence / defense, it's definitely a family trait - a dear cousin and a dear grandpa also are known to be klutzy souls. My cousin and I have been known to roam around the city wearing our salwars inside out, I have also risked infamy by doing it with my kurtas and tops. We're obviously blind too. As a warning to my future friends and a thank you note to all my friends this far, I am also scatterbrained and leave my bags and purses absentmindedly to the mercies of my friends. (Thus far, I have been lucky that one of my dear ones has always managed to notice my missing belongings and return them to me). I don't mean to brag about it, no I'm hardly proud of being so foolishly absent-minded. Believe me, I have tried and will keep trying to be more careful of my belongings and my whole self too.