Taking a right turn to enter the uneven lane, I stop my scooter in front of the kirana store. The guy sitting inside smiles at me as I climb the makeshift step to enter his shop. I pick up a bread packet and 6 eggs and ask him “How Much?”. He smiles mischievously and asks “That’s it? Thumbs Up nahi lena aj Madam”. I smile back at his witticism and leave the store paying him 50 bucks. Without heading straight to my vehicle, I stop at the panipuri wala, who had already sensed my craving for the day and started preparing to serve me puris. I start gorging into them with the usual tamarind water ones and then switching to a sweet-tangy and finally without water. The best ones are always the last two special ones.
Wrapping up this activity, I start my scooter and head home at a real snail pace watching the surroundings and comparing the progress of development in my mind with the day before. Just across the end of this real bad road (I would still take this route everyday) in less a hundred meters is the half open gate of the small residential society that has been my address for 3 years now – Mithila Nagari. The chirpiness and energy always prevailed whatever time of the day you visit, yet there was an unexplained tranquility amidst all the resonances. As I slow down to enter the gate, the known faces of the security guards curve into a smile and nod at me in a way of greeting, I reciprocate and move towards my building. Watching the kids and toddlers playing all around, I make sure to slow down almost at negligible speed and enter the parking area positioning my bike next to the pillar. That was my favorite spot and somehow I always try to occupy that space. Sometimes when this spot would be occupied by some other vehicle and I would need to settle down for another place, I would make sure come down multiple times later to check if it’s vacant.
Making sure that I have put my bike perfectly in a straight line, I climb the five steps and reach out to open the lift collapsible gate. The very adjacent door was Flat #2 which would always be at least a bit open. A small head peeps out from inside the room hearing the noise which starts upon opening the elevator gate. “Oh Aunty!” saying the little cute kid smiles at me. This was a Punjabi family and a pretty weird one; while the kid’s father, a really simple man would smile and have small talk when we would meet, his mother always held a frustrated reaction on her face. I loved the conversations with the kid, he would talk to me like I am his family member. On one occasion, when I got some snacks on my way home from office in the evening, I met him while parking my vehicle and almost came seeing what I got. I smiled back at the kid, showed him a Ta-Ta and ascended in the elevator to Floor No. 4. At no time, the elevator stopped and I came out. Climbing down the few steps to reach the 3.5th floor, I do my usual investigation of figuring out whether my maid came to work by closely scanning the security door and the dustbin beside the door; Also multitasking in parallel to reach out to the front pocket of my bag pack to get the keys.
Every day like a routine, I would key in to the security door and stare blankly at the alphanumeric inscription D-20 – my little cozy world for the last few years.