Modernization of the “Bangali Babu”
We came to a red light and stopped. My brother, who is of the ilk that believes if your feet do not touch the starting line in a marathon race you are bound to lose it, somehow snaked his car thru the stationary cars/buses/motorcycles all the way to the front of the line. I can’t even claim that what he snaked over was legitimately a road.
But, for once, I was glad he did it. If not, I would not have seen this incredible sight.
There was – as you see in the picture – the prototypical Bengali babu of the yesteryears crossing the road. Adorned in his white “dhuti punjabi” and impeccably coiffed hair, he slowly but steadily went from one side to the other. He had a “johor coat” on to complete the Bangali babu look. This is in the middle of summer season!! It is a sweltering 95 degrees heat with humidity that will make you feel like you are swimming rather than walking on the streets.
What melted my heart was his unbounded optimism that if he just put his hand up, all traffic would stop for him. In his Moses like mind, he less crossed the road; he more parted the sea of traffic around him.
Alas! even this unimpeachable “Bangali babu”-ness has started crumbling down to the assault of modern civilization. The quintessential “jholi” has given way to a smart backpack. The half torn “chappals” have given way to smart, contemporary sports shoes!!
If yesterday and today ever were to come together, I was surely staring at it just about now!!