The Escapist


It was unpromising monsoon month, a three hour flight would shift my coordinates from the heavy, warm, city-of-tolerance, city-of-busy-friends, city-of-quick-business/food/money/relationship, city-of-lost lakes, city-of-my idiocy at cafes, hotels, pubs, Italian restaurants, parks, malls, cinemas, MG road, Akbari Hotel, Star Sulaimani, Mughal Durbar, Brahmins Coffee, Vishnu Bhavan Masala Dosa, Theatre alive, South Bangalore to the Warm, Royal, Lakes, Forts, Acacia and Job in another city, several kilometers from home.
In an AC shuttle to Kempegowda Airport accompanied by a conductor who knew every ditches, breakers, tilts, slow spots, stops, he who had mastered the balancing art to cope with all the challenges a Bangalore road would pose. The not-so-long queue would take you to a ground staff of the airlines raising eyebrows at overweight or underweight baggages. I crossed the yellow line and leaned at the desk for her to breathe my cologne, the Awe effect. Without even an eye contact she gave a smile, scooped the ticket and her lip color had evolved like the boys preferences of Royal Enfield’s color from Cherry Red in lustre numbered RV#007 to the latest matte dark reds rimmed with a lighter tone on the upper lip.
Any preference of seat, Sir?
Window?
None available, Sir.
Thanks, you choose and no extra cost please.
Sure.
In few hours and much fewer felt, the Airbus landed with the temperature outside reading 34. I was trying to search manually for a signal on my phone network while I passed through a board ‘Welcome to the City’ then the smaller words of caution about not venturing into isolated places, not to go to dark places of the city, not to wander alone and more scripts that airports authority sincerely blotched City’s welcome note.
The moment I had a signal, the phone buzzed with welcome to the City again and fortunately thanked for using the carrier network this time, it was followed by missed call alerts, and a call from the driver who had to pick me up to the Resort I was being detained for an induction. A sort of operations training which was supposed to be for ten days.
The rickety laundry van that picked me up drove through blazing glory of the city, the Lakes, glowing pathways that snaked to forts. Then darkness. Then a police wallah, who flashed his torch politely at the laundry who was me. He muttered to the driver who nodded and we zoomed with more acceleration till a fuel station, a village had grown around it and an obscure turn took to fantastic landscapes of low lying cliffs of scrub jungle, of leopards, of boars, of Nilgais, of buntings, of the clipped pages of larks and pipits, of the Aquilas, of the Kings, of their queens, of the bandits and of the Great Shikars all blanketed in darkness and only spotlit by the meek laundry bright. In fortunate hour it halted, after the back door entry to the resort, the big iron gate shuts the world I loved and lost. A housekeeper rushed for my baggage in chants of Ram! Then the watchman ‘Rams’ twice. I had to declare all the money I had, the number of clothes, the stuff I carried and its approximate value, it was cheap. I mean the process not the binoculars I owned at least. I should have made a catalogue. The refugee camp had many more Ram shackles, I reckoned.
In an incandescent, the alleyway smelt of Dal steaming from the staff cafeteria upstairs. I was hungry, ‘Is that a welcome?’ And a sudden turn by the room boy into a room with a door ajar and ‘Jai Ram’, an echo in melancholy and disapproval escaped from that door now flung open ‘Jai Ram’ and retorted in questioning tone ‘aagaya kya voh?’
Yes, I stepped in!
Hello Sir myself the Ossistant manager, I am sorry, actually na Sir I was about to come to peek you from thee airport, then what hyappened na, the resort is full house…
Its okay, doesn’t matter, I am glad the resort is doing good.
Actually na, the room for you is also gibbon to the tour operator, only two days only then na Sir you bill be shifted.
There were three large windows for a fifteen feet by twelve room with an attached bathroom, all shut, flagged by curtains. There were 10 pairs of shoes and 3 sandals, each gave its own esters to the air. On a reading table two suitcases cajoled, brawled and muffled with rotting biriyani delivery packages, a blackened tea cup had been cornered like one of those Jadeja’s catches on the boundary line preventing a six, cobwebs swayed without spiders and some newspaper buried an old scam news in it. Right angle to the bathroom door was an almirah on whose door to the left edge of bathroom door a hypotenuse string hung trousers of uniforms with dal stains on them, tawny and black stains around the pockets. I didn’t dare to mouse inside.
The time never moved since February on the calendar, right under it was a lungi raped and beaten, tucked to the corner with creases of the bedsheet on a bed. Under that cot, a plastic container of biryani had few morsels of rice grains that were hardened, brittle, shrunk and fragrance of Sadiq’s biryani fought against the 20 footwear. Sadiq put up a tough match with another participating container nested on its lid with a spoon that still looked fresh. A Thums up lay flat on its belly next to it. There was another cot with neatly tucked white bedsheets, towels and a pillow, under this cot was another Thums up bottle laid flat, half drunk and lost its fizz. Between these lay the oblivious ‘Ossistant Manager’ in his boxers on a bed, his right knee angled and rested on the left feet in mid-air, he looked enlightened in some challenging Kamasutra position. However the cleavage of his buttock that fired fart after fart in a quiet persistence would definitely turn off any well versed Kamasutra disciple. He peeped out of his sony laptop and gulped from the active biryani container. He had plugged one ear phone to his left ear and other dangling while Anushka Sharma’s wide smile paused on the screen.
‘Belcome to thee Royal seeti sir’.
His assistant who was thin, walked in and with warm gesture and brilliant smile greeted and shook a firm hand. He enquired about the journey, dinner, water and quick brief of morning schedule. He helped me organize the minute 2 feet by 1.5 feet space for my baggages. He had taken the cot under February, I assumed the white bedsheet and towel laden cot and fizzless Thums up is mine.
I prepared my mind for next two days in the room, wait, the bathroom door: I crept in and latched from inside. I had been appointed here as the geologist from the Archaeological Survey of India, the ancient tiles once had the white vitrified look, now petrified. The pot might have been gifted by Cleopatra during a treaty with the emerging civilizations of Indus valley, she must have glowed a dump that still surfaced. In a corner was a rope of hairs belonging to genus Homo erectus waiting for lightning to strike so that they sink in a dark hole of syrupy black water and bubbles to be exploded. This might lead to the chest of gold fossilised by pizza, rajma, chicken legs, rice, biryanis, lays and boiled potatoes. There was a toothbrush on the lid of the pot’s tank, with bristles like a miniature albino Sloth bear, well used though. But the Ossistant Manager still had some lentils defending at the fortress of his yellowing upper jaw. Every other bathroom ventilation had a drumming pair of Rock Pigeons in love and nest, our Ossistant Manager had a charm to defend these, his bathroom somehow could not host the omnipresent pigeons.
I finished my ablutions A S A P. I discovered an aluminium foil wrap on my bed, it had 4 rotis, aloo-gobi, dal and rice. A new delicacy for first meal for a South Indian palate, but I soon realised it would be the menu for at least two meals a day for the rest of my detention.
I slept without a word but snores did compete with the other two and I have no idea who won. I was up by 5:30 and prepared for my jog and tip toed in darkness missing the biryani containers and the inflammable rows of shoes. I escaped!
I had a Ram-Ram with the watchman and he set me to a sandy track for running. It was good run, good for training calves and thighs, preparing for a course that required decency from my hibernating indecency. I returned to have a toast and egg for breakfast, I didn’t want to return to the dungeons of the Ossistant manager until night. But I had to shower on toes early that day and then requested the housekeepers to clear the archaeological site with best available chemicals to at least enjoy next day’s bath.
The Ossistant Manager arrived at the office, cleared recent history, pulled his laptop, logged into facebook. So ok Sir, your training will start from today onwards.
Sure, and you can address me by my name.
Ok Sir, your training start from today onwards.
Sure.
Basically you can read whatever from the book we give to guest, so actually na when you are ready you can go to a room, check whatever is there. Hai na?
Okay.
The Ossistant manager hunched back to his laptop, on another tab he opened a local restaurant, found discount coupons, launched an order and spoke to the delivery boy.
‘Two chicken sheek gravy, pizza and one litre Coke’ He asked him to describe the gravy and gave his custom suggestions.
Then he logged on to snapdeal, he shopped for a new ear phone to hear Anushka Sharma better. And he suddenly turned towards me like a thundering, yes thundering like the lightning first which was his neck that had drying soap and sprinting water droplets in momentum from his well combed hair, then thunder arrives, his ass in a swivel of the chair. I felt welcomed, I reckoned he would include my opinion for the order, he asked ‘Do you have any moobies in your hard dicks?’
I said, I am not carrying any hard drive.
‘Ok’ He resumed searching for moobies in Cinemas of the city. He called for a housekeeper to make a report that ticks my observations during an excursion with room boy while he sat browsing under AC.
Days passed in same routine, I only saw him under the sky twice a day, thrice actually. To and fro his dungeon and AC couch. The third would be his gallant evening walk to get Thums up. Between eating, facebooking, downloading he cursed, he complained about the owners of the company, his colleagues, our guests, his subordinates, his voted leaders, his devoted food, the call center girl from Snapdeal, the bus, the Metrology department for the weather, the God and everything else but him. Oh yes, he bathed almost everyday.
My mobile carrier chose not to plant a tower around the resort, I remained off-line mostly. I could not talk to folks at home, I had to surprise the Ossistant manager for his phone each time. Three days passed, I missed my mom. The melancholia added to the welcome and induction process, it added to my concerns and assumptions that she would be worried, she might miss her pills, she might have felt I abandoned her, I grew to fall. I spoke to my sister in Pune and told her how I missed my mom, being with her for two years during my break trying to explore my idiocy. I told her I miss moms sacrifices, her fights, her nags, love, her food and her protection. I wept like a child, it had been years since I cried, and it was then for another woman. The tears were a summary of salts sedimented in the recent past, mom and her distance only hurried it. I needed a hug and the only sizeable was the Ossistant Manager! Not him!!
It takes distance, separation, hard faces, denials, loneliness from women to understand what a man is. I could but only pull down the women in summits from their heights of mental strength and sustainence. I was depressed for failing a lover, for failing a mother for failing myself in pursuit of being someone. They, the women knew I was doing something stupid, they stood by, they showed strength together. And the bastard had to take it as competition and feel helplessly incompetent for no reason. It does take time to realize the strength in their sacrifices, in their tolerance and in their love. At this point, a man has formed either late or its early ready. It does take time to read the missed lessons at adolescence. Tabooed by the education that skipped the lessons of sexual education and realisation of individuality or it was the patriarchy that shimmered the material reasoning of a woman. However a man was formed, past can be outdone, bettered and if I work harder it could repair the future.
It was a time to transform. I had to be busy and not give in for suicides or drinks or cigarettes or anything else that succumbs. The amusing Ossistant manager did some justice to kill time. But he too netted between two women.
It was a confession that began and ended two things at once; conversation and relationship. What hurt more was the dangling end to the conversation. To hear the encore, my sister spent her phone bills! Tough women, right? Most I could not tell her, I encoded into poetry and made it public! I further encrypted it by breaking the poetic syntaxes. I confessed my yesterday to my today telling how fake I was, how I wore other’s mask, I reasoned it, seasoned it and slept with it. It looked pitiful. I had submitted to whims of anything that wants me. Not the Ossistant manager though!
I still needed attention from women mostly, my race to identify myself, to value my existence had not calmed since I was a sperm. I wanted answers fast, I wanted solutions fast, I wanted to be punished, then forgiven, then salvation, I wanted many things to end and it only had to end inside me. My sister’s words promised and it gave hope, she told me that I have raised to look into myself, its murky water and wait till you see clearly. Dad assured it too with his usual complex analogies, theories and long dialogues. Men cant make it simpler, its a woman’s job. I spoke to my dad more often, it had been probably several years since I greeted him.
I made myself busy, running, reading, writing, the routine of the Ossistant manager and tip toeing at the ancient Cleopatra’s bathing lounge almost every third day since the manager bungalow was greedily minting for the company. My refugee detention extended for a month, since my posted lodge was not ready and several reasons anchored my spirit. I was happy during the induction dates at resort’s kitchen. The sparkling woks, the flame on the onions, fast choppings, the juice maker, the toast maker, puffing breads in yeast, cracking of eggs in seconds while chefs punctured the shells and shot into bins with perfected aim. And the swearing, Maderchod toast kitna der lagega? Three parts of anatomy: vagina, buttocks and strangely testicles of three different feminine relationship to men: mother, daughter and sister were the busiest curses between the waiters and chefs, they knew where a man’s brain lived.
I wanted to run away from high speed life, my friends approved that it is the way. My sister said it will be better in the next position to which I would be posted. I was unable to convince them about my worry was neither the things here nor things outside me and certainly not about the gaping manager. I gripped and breathed and eagerly waited for the day of honor, a day-of-no-need-to-run.
I realised I was growing passive, submissive and tolerant to everything. I was getting fucked. I submitted to that fact as well. I needed a break from routine and planned a few days trip, forgetting the accounts, the boneless chicken orders, the Anushka Sharma, the registers and Ram-Ram shackles. I took the earned offs to meet C V Singh. A fantastic host, he and his wife Anuradha took care of what I yearned for: Lal maas. CV and I drove to Kumbalgarh fort, saw some raptors, counted the thousand pillared Raunakpur temple and ate at Sanjeev Kapoor’s new restaurant. He took me to his cousin’s hotel. The charm of lake palace was brilliant from the platforms on the lake reaching beyond the coppersmith barbet’s fig tree. The swimming pools inside was welcoming against the chill of October. I did celebrate my belated birthday which passed with the sullen evening at a dhaba near the resort. CV is one of the rare Bana that Banafied as a naturalist, lodge manager and a happily retired host to be a host. I wept in my bowels when I boarded the bus back to the busy of nothingness.
I counted my last three days at the resort, I counted its hours, its minutes and finally was counted as a thief! Someone had lost his walkie talkie, it was the prank played by Ossistant and his Ossistants against someone. The staff searched entire resort for the device including my bags. After two days the final entertainment ticket was bought. The summons were sent for the Ossistant manager by his/our boss who sat on the vacant seat that was being postponed to be occupied to greet rather unwelcome. It might have never happened if there was no enquiry on a device that coughed and bleated. I was unaware of the prank until then. Ossistant’s and Ossistant’s assistant’s and my phones were taken to Rammy watchman’s custody, we were office-arrested for a hour until the boss heard out everyone involved.
I was given a prerogative to sit and watch the final hearing, and departure of the Ossistant manager from his position. I decided to quit. I wanted an escape, I wanted to runaway from the resort, from the people I knew, from the thoughts I cooked, from the questions in me, from anything that seemed to stop me, from this whole blog post which will end abruptly too. I was in a state of mind called ‘fucked’. I could not even muster the courage to say that I wanted to quit, I could not even understand why I had to work or why I had to quit or if I was in a state of mind to be in a responsible position. I still hoped, perhaps the world in its usual way filled the hope that it will be better in the position I am assigned to. A hope – Another submission.

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