It’s as if only I’m interested in redeveloping our society, huh, Tejas, remarks Pawan as I meet him outside his row house where he’s putting on his rubber clogs. All society members were asked to assemble at 10 AM on Sunday but here we are, just me and Pawan who must have I’m sure remarked the same thing to his wife or whoever listened before he saw me. No one said where we would all be assembling, what with the rains not allowing us to assemble in the open area where we usually assemble, redevelopment meeting or not. Let’s go to Pande’s place, says Pawan, and walks ahead and I follow. No, don’t shower now, we’ll need chairs, Pawan tells the watchman and we reach Pande’s row house. A few members are already in the house, so we walk in, apologizing for the mess we’re about to make of his floor with our wet feet. Oh, it’s no worry, says Pande and we all agree because Pande got married instead of hiring a maid. People start coming in as if they’re late for some class because I see books in some hands and I hear someone ask for tea. Pande must have heard for he immediately calls someone as we all try to settle down. Should we get the chairs, asks Pawan, so that we don’t have to sit on the floor we just dirtied. I can see Pande is worried about the chairs and not our feet desecrating his floor so he says, we’ll get some sheets, they’ll be enough, no, Kaale? and he looks at a guy whose face looked like as if he’s wondering about the tea that was promised. Pawan seems adamant and strains his neck out of the house’s entrance to summon the watchman who’s now missing and looks back, the floor is gone and the sheets are here, Pande and Kaale already sitting, squatting. A guy comes with a slender flask of tea and starts pouring it in cups smaller than my big toe without preamble and the cups are received without acknowledgement. Pande and Kaale also take one also to signal the chair discussion is now over, you can sit here, Pawan, says Pande, and gestures to a spot near him. More people start coming in as I find a corner on the floor. Gopal is here and so are Vinali and Manoj. It’s 10.30 now, we can start, no point in waiting, says Gopal even before he sits, a cup in hand. Someone mistakes the tea guy for a society member until he walks out, door ajar behind. Hey, I didn’t get tea, says Shyam and I see Pande pulling out his phone before the chaos began.
(Thanks to Bikram Vohra for writing his TOI columns and inspiring me to ape his style.)