So, this happened the other day.
I was standing in the cash counter queue of a supermarket in Delhi with a packet of bread, and custard powder in my hand, when someone tapped on my shoulder. He was a big guy, standing in the queue behind me with a shopping cart, filled with rice bags and other such boring items. He asked me, very politely, if I was in the queue. I nodded. He smiled and said that he did not see me. This is what I told him.
“I have been standing in the queue for the last 10 minutes. If you did not see me, that is your problem. Not mine.”
Later, when I thought about the whole incident again, I realised that I was rude to him. Two years ago, I probably would have returned back the smile and said nothing. So, what has changed in the last two years?
(Remember, I hate this city and I may just be using the city and its people as punching bags.)
The city in which I live has changed. I now live in a city where being rude is the norm. If you are too nice, people might take it as a sign of weakness. If you are too rude, you might start a fight. So, you have to have a balance and avoid talking unnecessarily to people you do not know.
The city has not just planted seeds of rudeness in me.
It has also made me lazy.
Minutes earlier on the same day when I was going to the supermarket, which was about 20 minutes walk from my parent’s house, I thought about taking a cycle rickshaw. Two years ago, I would have plugged in my ipod and walked. I did eventually end up doing that, mainly because the rickshaw wala asked for an unreasonable 70 rupees. Rickshaws in the “Small City” costs about Rs. 10-15 for a ride to almost anywhere in the city, so there is no reason for me to walk. (Except for health maybe. But I stopped caring about my health the day I fired my “tiffin guy” and decided to live off dhaba food and chips.) After all, I never fall sick. I am Wolverine!
Few days before that I was traveling on the famous Delhi Metro (Delhi’s pride!). I received a phone call. Halfway through that phone call I saw a couple of people staring at me. I realised I was talking loudly on the phone and disturbing others.
I hate people who talk loudly on the phone in public places. Thanks to “Small City”, I am that person now. (Next step: Using an obnoxious Bollywood song as my ringtone).
But, I’m serious. If you take a stroll along the streets of “Small City”, you will be able to hear all the conversations of the nearby households.
Excited little kid to his Small City dad: I got an A in our Maths test today!
Small City Dad: WELL DONE! YOU HAVE MADE ME PROUD! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!
Me on the street outside: Man, that kid must have done something awful. His dad is shouting at him like crazy.
Not just on the Delhi Metro, whenever I travel by car, I subconsciously reach for the car stereo and search for guys like Jazzy B, Yo Yo Honey Singh, Mika. Two years ago, I hated Punjabi music and could not stand it. Punjabi music gave me headache. How things have changed now.
Few days ago, I found myself headbanging to a song named “Daku Daddy” (Yes, Daku Daddy, I mean WTF!) as we cruised along the pothole filled highway with sugarcane fields on each side.
The moment I realised it, I straightened up myself, and turned off the music. My driver, who apparently was also enjoying the song, asked me why I turned it off.
“How do you listen to this crap?” Was all I could say guiltily.