I see all these women hurrying along footpaths, their pastel sarees bunched up just enough to expose their Paragon chappals and Metro sandals, one eye in front as they search their sensible sienna handbags to whip out their cell phones and call up someone or the other.
I look around and spot a sea of middle aged, salt-and-pepper haired men on the parallel road, primly dressed in collared, half-sleeved striped blue-and-white or just plain blue shirts ending at sensibly bargained Rs. 95 pleather belts holding up their charcoal grey trousers. They look left, then right and then left again… at least a few do, as they cross the road at different intervals dodging the odd autorickshaw threateningly honking and return the glares of rotund, curly-haired, mustachioed men on pistachio green Bajaj scooters.
I turn away and glance inside a share auto; two men – probably in their thirties, sit and make small talk on big issues. The one near the window has a leaky pen in his shirt pocket, the off-white cloth stains as he speaks, the royal blue ink seeps into the coarse cotton threads, deeply; three twenty-something college-going girls sit opposite them – wide-eyed, fresh-faced women, eagerly discussing something appropriately scandalous about a batch-mate – perhaps her boyfriend sexts her during class, perhaps she does. Their hurried whispers escape through their hand-cupped mouths as their guilty, sweeping glances search the auto for a knowing look or an admonishment. Hoping no one overhears or understands their wanton gossip, loaded acronyms are gleefully passed on among the trio; childish, mean giggles ensue.
The driver in front looks ahead, unimpressed by the snaking line of metal-on-rubber boxes of which he’s a fragment; he sighs as another long day comes to an end. He looks over at the sidewalk, smoothens his wiry hair, or what’s left of it and leches at buxom and lithe women alike as they pass by the share auto.
Barely halting to notice the Lord Hanuman sticker on it’s bumper, the ladies walk as they tuck their frazzled hair behind imitation jewel adorned ears as the loosely strung jasmine flowers twisted around their untwisting hairknots hang on limply, they do notice the mundu-clad, beady-eyed driver and the two thirty-something men who’re ogling at them with equally dispassionate boredom now that something more interesting than today’s share market small talk has caught their fancy. They look ahead, their nostrils slightly flared and, silently busy themselves in searching for something, anything in their sensible sienna handbags; they walk on.
The light turns green; we move on, too.