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My Wait At A Dhaba

(Highway side food joint in India)

written by: Dr. Swati A Gadgil

@swati.gadgil.50

 

This morning the Sun showed up at my bedroom window as usual.....not hurting my eyes .... gentle yet firm.....woke up to the lilting music in my alarm, which normally goes off only after I step out of bed. As always, the ginger tea without sugar but with a dash of jaggery ........Times of India spread open on my bed.....the daily news trying to make its presence significant in the maze of books cringing under the pillow and beneath the blanket...some bookmarked, some open....
Reading glasses out of their case and sitting regally on my nose....steaming red mug of freshly brewed ginger tea balanced in my left hand, right hand busy turning the pages fluttering with the blast from the aircon and the slow turning ceiling fan .....my day begins....
hurried morning walk for chotu, my lhasa and then drive to the hospital for surgeries lined up for the day........
Got my electrocardiogram done after finishing the cases ...... had some weird discomfort and breathing trouble early morning which waned after some time leaving behind the ache and concern.....bad lifestyle.......normal tracing brought a sigh of relief......
Drove back home .......heavens pouring their happiness in abundance.......wipers moving rapidly to clear my vision.......and then had to pull the right window glass down to talk to an acquaintance .......and lo....the glass came down with a rumbling sound and I could see the impending distress......it refused to slide up....in spite of all my acrobatics around the door...pulling the motor knob with one hand and tugging on to the window glass with the other......both my shoulders taking turn in exhibiting their strength........nothing seemed to work.......since long I was dragging on with this trouble using various tricks with the glass but today it had lost its last breath and I had to find a doc........
Called an ex employee, always a messiah to me when in trouble. ....I was called to his dhaba for him to take charge further.......
I walked in, leaving my Safari on the highway....with the glass down...but assured of safety as I was in the Lions den......
Made to seat in a red plastic moulded chair .....  grey coloured plastic folding table......my messiah with his meal of daal rice papad laid in front of him ...........
'Cutting chai' steaming in the small sticky glass for me.......having finished his meal,  he washed his hands in a rickety steel wash basin fixed in one corner with a steel water tank above ...... broken concrete flooring. ...... two blue plastic drums from chemical factory used to store water placed next to it......wooden plank to cover the drums and a plastic jug with a broken handle which was being used by the employees to wash their feet before entering the kitchen......
As he left with my car keys and disappeared I looked around. ... green cloth net was used to create partitions,  probably smoking and non smoking zones...to my right along the main road was the kitchen....as far as my stretched neck to take my vision I could see three furnaces managed by 2 cooks....huge vessels churning out appetising aroma ....surely greatly palatable with the flames entering the cooking vessel at times....making a fiery dish....waiters scurrying in and out with delicious preparations.......in red and green curry, papads, rice of different colours......
Soon there was a bisleri bottle opened for me...chilled from the huge refrigerator. ...surely which must be having meat slabs and fish stored to satiate the hunger pangs of endless stream of men...yess..only men...not a single lady seen in the near vicinity....I was the only one of the other sex of human species found in the neighbourhood of that dhaba which had garages and shops selling vehicle spare parts....and chai stalls.....
Somehow I wasn't feeling like fish out of water. ....!!!!
I saw a rat make its way in to the hole under the water reservoir.....soon followed by a thin cachectic cat...walking stealthily .....I wondered how did she manage to remain so thin inspite of so much food around....running in and out of holes....
Maybe she was my type....not knowing how to tap resources to one's own benefit...she must be hermetic just like me.....to be precise....foolish to a certain extent ....
Having sat in one place for 45 minutes my eyes were now closing out on the dhaba...when suddenly another cutting chai appeared in front of me....the aroma of tea shook off my doze and I started sipping on my glass.....and there was a lone dog sitting right at the entrance blocking the way...not bothered about the obstruction that he was causing. .... when suddenly a spray of water from the kitchen disturbed his penance and he found peace under the SUV parked outside the dhaba.....
Just when a group of men walked in led by my messiah. ...the one following had grease all over his clothes...face barely identifiable through the oil and dust from the undersurface of the numerous vehicles under which he must be lying since the day breaks for him.....God alone knows what he must be going thru sleeping under so many every day. .......
Here he was with a wired structure in his hand which was supposed to be the motor....the heart of my window glass...he pointed to the broken springs and no more verbal communication was necessary for me to understand that the heart needed valve replacement and also the dent it was to cause in my purse and that I would be without my "dhanno" for a day at least.....
With a heavy heart I let him disappear again with that wired structure and two men in tow......
And I was on the highway wondering how to find a transport back to town......and here again my messiah was ready with his scooty signalling me to hop behind ........thus I rode back to town sitting awkwardly. ..perched like a hen without head.....

 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
Quiet afternoon at a Typical Indian Dhaba.
I have tried to put my perception and my pleasure of the hot humid quiet afternoon when I had no option but to wait in the alien surroundings. ...

Dr. Swati A Gadgil

Dr. Swati A Gadgil

Anaesthesiologist , practising since last 25 yrs in Mumbai and medico legal advisor
MBBS DA LLM
Postgraduate in Human Rights
Postgraduate in Hospital management
Founder President of NGO, Dombivli Women's Welfare Society and it's youth wing NayaSavera
Published a book of marathi poetry
Columnist and writes on various topics like Stress Management
International publications to my credit
Appointed by Times of India as Consultant for their NIE Newspaper In Education Program
Recognised by Medical associations and Rotary
Speaker and panelists on Tele media, print media and National and International conferences
Taekwondo Red Belt
Dr. Swati A Gadgil

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