I was meeting a friend. We had talked several times over the phone but never seen each other. Naturally the excitement of meeting was that much more..would the person be like what I had thought him to be..etc etc crossed the mind. We were supposed to meet at 3:30 in the evening I was there before 3:15..after a few minutes I looked at my watch and nodded my head like a penguin tsk tsk still time to go, before I could officially call him late( as if my life depended on it!) I stared at the glitzy mall, upturned nose, pitying everyone in general who seemed to have suddenly discovered retail therapy. It was Durga Puja time & the place was Kolkata, South city mall to be precise. Every one seemed to be having a great lot of fun by screaming at each other and posing in front of the doll like Durga that had been created inside the mall.
Bored of criticizing everything that came between me and my elegance..I sauntered off. I had decided not to be overtly traditional & wear a weird( only I knew that) something that could fit into both Eastern OR Western OR neither..after all I was meeting a photographer! Ohh yes my friend in question was a photographer and a rather good one at that. And of course I HAD to put on all my airs & behave the fashionista ( you know how it is with the woman who dives at her last chance..kind of). I had white cotton trousers on and smiled at myself ( from what I thought) rather elegantly. I had decided to walk and taking a bend I reached a saree shop and saw some giggling girls. I decided to put on my mature best & introspected the saree hanging on the showcase for any flaws.
All of a sudden I realized something was wrong. I looked down at myself..what could it be? To my horror and elegantly raised eyebrow-ish disgust I realized that my cotton trousers were loose and threatened to come down. Which moron had said cotton trousers were fashionable?
I delicately placed a leg in front and one at back to test it out..the trouser slipped a bit..I looked right and then left. Had anyone noticed my faux pas..God! I decided I needed the mother of all inventions the 'Safety pin'. A long time ago I had heard my mother say that she wished to give a Nobel prize to the one who had discovered the Safety pin..for it's sheer versatility. I had secretly laughed at my mom that day. ..Today I knew what she meant. Incidentally, I always carry an over sized bag so that I can find anything I want when I'm out. The problem is that the bag which resembles a well, never comes up with anything on time...To be fair to it's history, the bag did not deliver today too. I pressed the panic button, what could I do. I couldn't hold my trouser's while I met my friend..had coffee..shook my hand with him..etc etc..insane questions rose in my mind..could I pass it off as the latest pose? Hand in the waist etc?
I decided to buy a safety pin, after all it was a shopping mall. Just that no one had taught me that a shopping mall sells everything but stuff that you need..stylishly placing well manicured hands on my trousers, in a manner that no one would notice, I managed to walk an entire floor. But there was no trace of any Safety pin! What were these people, idiots? Didn't they know the importance of a Safety pin in a human being's life? Cursing at a beaming doorman and howling babies..I made my way in and out of shops...It was 3:40, never had I been so glad that anyone was late! I decided to give him a warm bear hug for being late.. delirium was not too far off..I could understand.
Suddenly I had a brain wave. Most Bengali women have a habit of tagging a safety pin to their bangles ( the red and white ones) I curiously looked at every bangle that every woman had the bad fortune to wear that day. Alas! Not a single one had any safety pin attached to it..what was wrong with Bengali women..they had forgotten their culture..their traditions..I was furious..worthless creatures all. By now I was desperate and ready to howl..all my attempts at fashion flew out of the door..I felt like screaming..doesn't anyone have a small safety pin in this huge mall! I had another brain wave..The loo!
For the uninitiated, a woman's loo is not only a loo..in fact it is just 'also a loo'...women frequent a loo more to sweep their locks from one side to another..dab more lipstick..touch up their make up..etc. I was delighted with my brainwave. Some functional woman ( unlike myself) was sure to have a safety pin after all. I entered the loo with an eye-full of expectation...My woman's brain scanned and slotted every woman into categories like most women's do...young girls were less likely to carry safety pins..I was searching for someone..middle aged..( of course I was never middle aged!..goodness gracious me NO)
To my horror no one fitted the description. Sick and desperate, I announced in the most charming way possible to everyone in general.." does anyone have a safety pin?" There was pin drop silence..a girl brushing her hair giggled ( I saw her funny bone of course & stared back in appreciation) No one seemed to have answers..they slowly nodded in the negative or mumbled a "No". Suddenly a guard entered, as I watched her, she was the only one who had come in to pee, I found. The girl who had giggled put down her hair brush and said, "ask her, she might have it".
No sooner did the guard open the loo door I blurted, " Do you have a safety pin?"..on a second thought I added 'didi'..after all everyone was a didi in W. Bengal. I also added immediately, I'll pay you for it. To my astonishment, the GREAT woman slowly nodded her head and said " yes I think I have one in my bag, but you have to come with me to the staff room" She also added, " Madame I may be poor but I can surely give you a safety pin, you need not pay me for it" Extremely embarrassed I assured her that I was in dire straits and had only meant to be polite. In that moment of insanity I thought of poetry and compared my situation to the bright sun peeping out of dark clouds..maybe I could write a poem on a safety pin too! Wow..Lunacy wasn't far off..
As the guard marched me to her quarters, she soon scanned her bag and unlike mine found a bunch of safety pins smartly. She gave me two, saying in case you need one again, smiled and went out.
The phone rang, my friend was here, I looked at my watch..He was late..I raised an eyebrow..tsk tsk.
( Image courtesy Google)