The dichotomies of this city are just too outstanding to be missed. For a city that’s always on the move, it’s forever stuck in perennial traffic snarl-ups. For a city whose pollution levels always come up short against Delhi, you end up inhaling more vehicular exhaust than in the national capital – stuck as you are cheek by jowl in traffic. Speaking of cheek by jowl, how about slums where the inhabitants are forced to answer nature’s every call in full view of the residents of the sky-scraping residential towers, who either don’t particularly mind, or can’t mind, or maybe, just about mind their own business.
A city that proclaims loud enough for anyone to hear that it’s liberal, but one where closet community thinking still dominates the average social life. How else would one explain the non-vegetarian-food-not-allowed rule, or the car-not-allowed-in-society-premises rule, if you happen to be a tenant – which incidentally, would be over the half the city if one were to commission a survey. Or sometimes, the single men/women not allowed rule, Muslims not allowed rule, even TV actors not allowed rule – well, I have little sympathy for the last mentioned category. Given the brain-dead serials they act in, one would be forgiven in thinking that they are likewise, and company of the dead is best avoided!
A routine trip to the general store in the neighbourhood for groceries of daily need highlighted just how the city felt about certain things. Till date, I have not been able to buy eggs from a kirana or general store – eggs are generally retailed at a kiosk which primarily retails cigarettes, betel nut leaf and some such things. So standing there with the smoke twirling around me, I suddenly realised that eggs were probably seen as ‘bad’ by a large proportion of residents, which is why they were retailed at shops retailing tobacco products.
Tobacco = bad, bad = eggs, hence eggs sold at cigarette shops. As if the daily exhaust fumes weren’t enough, people just have to light(en) up in public! And so, while everybody had a brand name ready on their nicotine-starched lips, I was uncomfortably ordering the unborn kids of a hen that have already been ‘smoked’!
The only other place that retails eggs is the mall where I bagged my belan, so maybe if I want good, clean fresh eggs, that’s the place I need to go every weekend.
So long then, paan ki dukaan!