And now I come to the third recollection. Readers of the two previous posts (especially the last which grew very long) will see (and no doubt complain loudly) that I spoke of one recollection but in each case, it triggered of another, related memory which I felt compelled to share also. However, this one has no related recollection (and even if there is, concerns of operational security will preclude its sharing).
This was also during my days in JNU and in the monsoon of 2004 if I remember correctly, for I met with my guide and then left to meet my friend, AA the AA at the High Commission (a vague description…. operational security, remember) before I went to office. However, a major problem emerged. As I got into the bus (the famous 615) to get out of the campus, it began to rain and then as I for changed to a 604 (Vansant Kunj-New Delhi Railway Station Gate No 2) at the Ring Road traffic light for the second stage of the journey, the rain began to come down heavily, quite heavily. Hopes that it would dissipate or given the vagaries of the weather, not be raining at my destination, were dashed and as I reached that broad avenue, I (till today, I cannot figure what made me do it) threw all caution to the winds and got down.
It was not even 100 metres ….. Correction, in those days it was… for it was not the main gate – just entailing crossing the rather narrow road and the broader greensward – through which we entered but rather the right-hand side gate, opposite Belgrade and entailing all the above plus a transition back from the turf from a metalled road to the gate for entering the premises and then again a walk around the side of the building , and by the time I reached the main reception in the building, I was, not to put to fine a point on it, completely and irretrievably drenched and leaving a puddle in my wake.
To add to my discomfiture, I found AA sahab was not here, as his aide rushed down to tell me. Even as I told him I had taken a chance but my current state was not very prepossessing, he assured me it was not a problem but continued to view with an expression that I – much later – figured contained wonder and grave doubts even as he profusely apologised. I must have looked quite interesting – though a couple of people I have shared this anecdote with have assured me that this was not the word they would use – but no digressions.
What added to my discomfiture as I came out after my abortive meeting was that the rain (grave treachery, I maintain) had stopped and as I tarried for a minute outside the main door where a small group had gathered and were exchanging views about the weather. As my wont, I joined them and then it was one of them – the driver of the deputy HC (at that time, Bhatti sahab) and I did remember his name (the driver, not the deputy HC…ohhh, this is getting like a scene from Pratchett’s The Truth) but have not forgotten, who looked at me and uttered a memorable comment in the broadest dialect, expected of the area he hailed from.
And like magic, was forgotten was all the discomfiture – the unpleasant feeling at getting wet (brrrr!!), trying to move with sodden clothes and shoes, not achieving the objective of the quest and spending the rest of the long day in that disgraceful state – there being no time or inclination to go back and change – everything of that sort and despite the absence of the sun, I felt a sudden glow in my heart at the recognition that the whole sordid episode had been transformed into a matchless anecdote.
But then what was it that he said, you might ask? Patience, I was just coming to it in my way. He, after giving me a careful up-down, said: “Chalo Sir, Tussi injoy te kita” (No matter, Sir, you at least enjoyed it)”.
To be continued…