La tops the list, easily. When computers started becoming popular in our Northeast region, she took to it with gusto. Later, when i got my own machine, La would e-mail me frequently. But, believe it or not, that also increased the frequency of phone calls! “Check your mail, i just sent you one,” she’d say over the phone. And then in a long conversation, narrate all that she wrote.
La’s response to most suggestions is ‘Why not?’ “Come, let’s go swimming,” she invited me one day. “No, you’ll float like a fairy and i’ll sink like a stone,” i replied. “Why not?” she quipped.
And when her husband bought a new car, she kept the older car. “Next time you come to Shillong, i’ll take you out in the car. I’ve learned to drive,” she promised. But added, “i can drive only forward, i haven’t learnt to go backward yet.” She daily drives to work moving only forward.
Pooja is another one. She gave us direction to the new office in Dahisar when we were shifting from Andheri. She drew on a paper as she explained. “Get down at Dahisar station, come out on the west, cross to the east through the subway, walk towards the left and at the forking take the right,” she told us. “And keep going, keep going (jaate raho, jaate raho). When you see a restaurant on the right, ask for Patel Apartment. They’ll show you the direction. Aur jaate raho, jaate raho…”
By this time we were quite put off. We had been told the office was close to the station and this endless jaate raho was becoming discouraging. “It sounds very far!” some of us exclaimed. “Not far, only five minutes,” she assured us. And then continued, “After some time, you will see a bank. Ask around there, and they’ll say ‘aur aage jaao.’ Go on, jaate raho, jaate raho….”
When would we ever reach? The walk felt like at least half an hour from her description. But it’s actually about eight minutes at a normal stride.
Of late, the office computers have been having problems. Pooja thinks she can coax her machine to behave by sweet-talking it. She would press the start button, do a namaste to the monitor calling it sweet names like “mere bhaya, mere lal.” It works sometimes!
Manik, another colleague, is a shy, quiet guy. But i’ve learnt about his secret passion: living creatures, especially those that home in water. The other day he showed me pictures of his new beautiful acquisition—a dragon fish from china. What i find funny about this friend is, he always refers to each fish as ‘he’, never ‘it’. Can’t blame him, though, the creatures are so close to his heart.
I too confided to him that i christened my computers. Now, some people think that funny! The moral: When you think others funny, remember that others may think you funny too!