As I came out of the “Iconic” Higginbothams building , which is soon to be razed to the ground/or partially demolished (depending on which source you believe) to include a railway station for the Chennai Metro Rail- a project which will signal that the city has arrived on the map of the uber-metropolises of the world, er, that is a different story and I will deal with it on another post.
To re-capitulate, after I exited the Higginbothams book shop after a rather fruitless search for Clive Cusslers latest, which might hit the shores of India maybe an year later, depending on its sales abroad(as I was informed)- I glanced up at the sun beating its harsh glare all over the city. Noon time. A time when mad dogs and Englishmen stay indoors (out of the heat).
As I am neither I ventured forth towards the Mount Road post office building and glancing up at the digital signboard positioned strategically aboard to be visible to all three approaches at the junction of the Mathura Restaurant (one which i can recommend for wholesome veg food on limited budgets-like impromptu birthday parties for large group of friends) building (which now has the Tata Croma Electronics mega-store occupying the lower two floors)I confirmed that my senses did not lie and the digital board confirmed that the temp was past 40*C….when the previously quoted mad dogs curl up in the shade for a snooze while the Englishmen used to have a dripping cold beer and then curl up in the shade too (with their memsaab’s I presume)- the people were all hurrying past with a strange sense of purpose which one does not usually see in the rambling walk of the pedestrians.
I could only attribute this hurried walk to the blazing hot noon sun- strange how it wasnt affecting me that bad. But then as a kid, I remember how we used to play street (and terrace) cricket all through the day without giving a thought to the sun or how it might affect our complexion. I dont recall a single kid in those days complaining about the hot sun- in the long looked for summer hols (april & may) when the vacations came…so what is it about becoming an adult which makes us less adventurous? (or more finicky?)
So, I walked on towards my ultimate destination- Richie street the paradise of electronics aficionados. What i was looking for to purchase was an open secret- the latest hollywood blockbusters in DVD rip formats- the films which i do not have the leisure time to catch up in the theatre but dont want to miss all the same…So i entered the shop, made my selections and the order was transmitted to the storage keeper (at a different location) for immediate delivery to the shop where i would pay the bill and be handed the anonymous parcel. The talk in the shop was all about two things…
The first was that the shop keepers were all celebrating the fall of the previous government. the former Cm had hastily and haphazardly constructed a new secretariat building at the Govt Estate opposite Ritchie St and the ever zealous police force had issued eviction notices to the shop-owners deeming them a security risk to the govt officers. The flabbergasted shopkeepers were planning whether to move the courts and face all the attending legal hassles or simply wind up and move when the electorate gave them a pleasant shock by routing out the govt lock, stock and barrel. The talk was all about the shop keepers relief and celebrations on the fall of the govt and boasting about how their votes too might have made the difference in crucial constituencies. On such little things, do the mighty fall.
The other reason the shop-keepers were in a celebratory mood was that the new govt had promised lap-tops to all the school children. This, one of them commented was going to turn into a windfall to them – as almost half the laptops to be provided to the kids would in due course of time (as soon as possible) wind up in Ritchie street for re-selling to college kids and software engineers. As the shop keeper told me “avvangalukku value theriyadhu sir”. roughly translated – they wont appreciate it (if they get it free) and poor working class families and drunkard fathers would view it as a redeemable (liquid) asset- mortgaging it as soon as they recieve it. I just hope that this prediction turns out be false. But these are sharp businessmen and they know the pulse of the people.
Hving made my purchases I left the shop and headed back home with an afternoon of the hottest summer blockbusters to look forward too and strangely, the sun didnt seem so harsh now…..