Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Roses all the way

It was a fast train from Churchgate to Borivali around 6 pm on a weekday. For the uninitiated, or for those not acquainted with the crowd that is India, that means I stood uncomfortably close to a whole bunch of strangers, pretending their armpit wasn't tickling my nose. I could overhear but not see two girls discuss in petulant tones the carelessness of a certain boy. I was just waiting for Bandra, where I hoped the train would unceremoniously dump me onto the platform so that I could breathe freely the sickly toilet/gutter smell that dominates most train stations in India.

The train pulled into Bandra. A queue of women with their reflexes tensed waited on the coach to collapse onto the platform. Already angry and impatient commuters waited to board the train and clicked in exasperation because some of us tried to get off and land on our own two feet rather than mysteriously apparate off the train. The perpetually surprised-sounding woman of Western Railway was telling us that "The station is your property. Please do not..." but what she did not want us to do was lost in a loud wave of "ey-ey-ey" as a young boy tried to catch the train. My clothes were sticking to me. I crossed the over-bridge toward the exit, gradually becoming aware of something being out of place. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I looked around, wondering what it was that I was sensing before really noticing it.

And then it hit my nose. Through the sweat and toilet stink, through the gassy fumes and the lingering smoke from burning garbage, a very very mild smell was registering its presence. I couldn't believe that I was smelling....roses. And then I saw a grubby, dishevelled man, pushing along the platform a huge, transparent plastic sack full of rose petals. Under his arm were bunches of long-stemmed roses neatly packed in cylindrical cartons. The roses peeped out at commuters who hurried past. The mild smell hung over the platform even as the man pushed the sack along the platform floor, probably crushing more petals into giving up that soft, sweet fragrance. I inhaled deeply as I walked past him. Then I turned left, emerged into the outside mayhem, and went home, with roses on my mind. 

4 comments:

Tall Guy said...

Well written

dipali said...

How lovely!

A Muser said...

You need to write a book about the scenes of Bombay. I promise I would buy it! Your writing is evocative and memorable, Ana. Great job.

Thinking Cramps said...

Tall Guy and Dipali - Thanks!

A Muser - You wouldn't believe it, but I was thinking of you a few days ago, and how I hadn't visited your blog (or mine!) in a while. Then I get on Blogger, and I see your comment! ESP, Mumbai style? I wish I could meet you some day and discuss Bombay. I'm sure it would be fun!