Money or nothing.That’s Dire Straits’ number humming in my head as I board the cab for another day to work. The cab cruises the early morning streets where traffic is not as maddening and people very few. Very soon the cab is filled with the soft sounds of snoring. Soft you say. Yes, we all do not want to appear lazy or moronic, and that early in the morning too.
We pass overbridges and underpasses to make our long, snaking way to the office. Markets look lively as flower vendors jostle each other to show their pretty colors. Mango leaves and plantain leaves when there is a festival add more colors to the melee. An usually empty playground fills out with filled out cops marching energetically to the beat of police drums. This is the only exercise, perhaps, and the only entertainment from their humdrum lives. I haven’t seen such enthusiasm even among school children.
We make our way past Darshinis serving piping hot coffees to groups of joggers and people retired – only they can get away with carrying newspapers and reading them at leisure – while the corporate type steals a quick breakfast and hops on to the Volvo. School children with grim faces hold on to what they can as autos ferry them. How can parents be so casual or schools so lax that over-piled autos laden with 15 and more kids dangerously meander their way to schools?
Cops are nowhere to be seen this early in the morning and the signals keep blinking red, green and orange with no one seeming to care. At times a HTV honks past but no, this is the time of your call centre taxi, as Balram Halwai would say.
At times on park benches I find a lady taking a breather from her early morning walk, or a corporate type gazing at the world pass him by. Has he been laid off, I wonder for who else would have the temerity to let the world pass by when all the busy drones are off to work?
At times I see people walking their dogs and I’m reminded of my poor pooch at home, and the words of a well meaning stranger ring sharply in my ear. “If you do not want the responsibility why get it? I don’t care what time you sleep or what time you wake up when you have him you take care of him? He waits for you by the doorstep wagging his tail. He leaps at you with love and all you do is nuzzle it and open your laptop to answer the next mail and work on the next document.”
Guilt catches hold of me, strangling me, choking me. How long has it been since I took him for a walk? How long has it been since I had a decent conversation that did not revolve around work or office politicking or performance or documents? How long has it been since I saw a sun rise and not worry about a meeting for which I need to prep? How long has it been since I hugged my loved ones and just sat to hear them? How long has it been since I sat in a theatre and watched a movie without guilt blinding out my vision and closing out the sound to remind me of meetings, presentations, deals and more?
24 hours don’t seem enough to do all that I want to do.
The 9-5 existence is just a figment of a poorly-paid script writer or probably existed when Lily Tomlin starred in such great classics.
For me the alarm doesn’t need to ring. My dead eyes pop open at 5 and deader brains beat a path to the door calling me to wake up and get ready to face another day.