Apart-mental meetings part 2

I looked around to see if I’ve missed out on anyone. I still had one glass of Fanta and a paper plate of the critically reviewed potato chips and sweet.

I scanned the faces in the room, one by one.

Two Elderly Aunties, who had sacrificed their evening brisk walk for this social cause.

An Elderly Man who was holding sheets of the previous two ‘minutes of the meeting’. While the ladies were busy chit-chatting on their tailors and trinkets, he was constructively highlighting the pending jobs with his ‘Reynolds Bold’.

A young Smiley man who provided evidence of his presence, by breaking into a smile everytime he felt someone was looking at him.

An even younger Oriya software dude, who was a first timer in these meetings, all set to outshine the others with ‘out of the box’ suggestions.

A ‘School Principal Faced’ lady who had her hands folded and looked at her watch periodically to indicate her displeasure, on any loose talk.

Her teenage daughter who had momentarily stepped out of ‘Riverdale’, to join this meeting. She had equipped herself against any likely boredom, by carrying an archie comic, and also a backup – her mobile, on which she furiously kept typing away smses to her tribe.

And of course the Four Ravishing Young Ladies in the centre who had no doubt that this evening belonged to them.

Everybody had had their refreshments, except the Princi-Face, because she still had not cracked how to eat with her hands folded. ‘Riverdale’ had avoided the sweet by tossing the imaginary hair that she had lost in her previous haircut. “I hate sweets” she declared with pride, certified by a customary nod from her mama.

The excitement in the Four Ladies’ corner was dying down. The novelty of their fineries was beginning to fade away.

The Smiley gauged the situation, gathered courage and announced in a nervous tone “Shall we start?”.

The Elderly Man jumped at this opportune moment, adjusted his spectacles, referred to his notes and began with the point that affected his life the most.

“The overtank continues to overflow. Bahadur does not switch off the motor on time….. The water comes straight to our balcony where we dry our clothes…..all our washed clothes are getting dirty everyday” he concluded, looking around for empathy.

Riverdale just got an sms. The Oriya had no idea that the apartment had an overhead tank. The Smiley transferred the problem to the rest of the audience by rotating his head. The Princi-Face looked at her watch. The Two Elderly Aunties broke the silence by crunching their ‘potato chips’. The Four Ladies expressed disgust that their fine conversation had to be interrupted by such a trivial problem.

Afterall, this was a meeting to discuss ‘common problems’ and not someone’s common problem.

“Why don’t you ask Bahadur to stop the motor on time?” retorted one of The Four Ladies.

The Elderly Man refused to accept that a problem of such magnitude had such a simple solution. He protested by keeping a straight face and only moved his eyeballs across the silent audience, hoping to find takers who could escalate it to greater heights.

The Smiley decided to add some weight to the discussion by compounding the nature of the problem. “No no…the problem is with the watchman. He is negligent towards his duties. He is not doing his job right. There is no proper security. He allows anyone and everyone inside the premises. He should be given a list of people he can allow without questioning…like the newspaperman, milkman, flower lady ….”

One of the Elderly Aunties found the hint she’d been waiting for and butted in “I must tell you one thing. Why does the flower lady not give fresh flowers to everybody. Some people get fresh flowers and some people get old flowers. Why? Why?”

(A little background on the flower lady: Since most of the members in Kumbha were religious, they had engaged a flower lady to deliver jasmine flowers early in the morning to every house. She had limited stock of fresh jasmine garlands, and when she ran out of them, she would hang one from the previous evening’s leftover, on the door. She followed a regular route beginning from the top most flat and making her way down. So invariably the ones on the top got the fresh ones and the others got the stale ones)……phew!!

Unlike the previous one, this problem seemed mutual enough for a discussion.

“We must install CCTV” suggested The Oriya confidently, expecting the audience to lap it up.

“Oh yeah!! They’ve got one in my college now.” said Riverdale excited with the idea of Kumbha making it’s foray into cutting-edge arenas.

The Four Ladies blinked. The Elderly Man continued to hold on to his expression, hoping that the discussion would retrace itself to the question that started it off. The Princi-Face chose to reserve her opening dialogue only for a matter that concerned her or her daughter. The Other Elderly Aunty made a hurried exit the minute she heard her favourite serial’s title tune blare out from the neighbouring flat.

The silence pressurised The Smiley to come up with a response.

After some pondering The Smiley replied ‘It’s very costly’.

For some reason, he chose to reject it on the grounds of economy than irrelevance. Also, The Smiley knew his audience better, since he was the previous Secretary. He had faced a lot of flak for spending a small portion of the fund money on refilling the sand pit with fresh sand, without consent.

Riverdale fingered a random page on her comic and poured into it, now that the topic had steered away from exciting gadgetary discussions.

After a little debate, they chose a non-glamorous way out. The flower lady will change her path everyday, so that everybody takes turns in getting their share of stale flowers, till such time The Secretary finds another flower lady who has a greater stock of fresh flowers.

The Elderly Aunty went back to her ‘chips’ feeling content on her perfect understanding of democracy.

Since one problem had been sorted out, The Four Ladies felt that they now had earned the right to indulge in some stray talk. One of them had spotted the flower lady’s husband cleaning cars in the neighbouring street shamelessly, while he had clearly refused all offers made by her, stating that he was sick. The Other Three Ladies lent their support and threatened to seek revenge by terminating her flower contract. The Oriya was touched by this camaraderie and pledged that he would spare the future driver of his future car for this purpose. The Four Ladies looked at him with compassion and mentally decided to reciprocate this kindness, by excluding him from their idle gossip.

The Princi-Face looked at her watch twice, sending out a strong signal to move on the next problem on the list.

To be contd…….

Thanks to Vyshnavi and Ramesh for helping me modify the title to a more suitable form.

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6 Comments

  1. this is delicious… can’t wait for the next one.

  2. Wow, now i understand how you tolrate chilly.

  3. You must include yourself in these narrations. I want to know what exactly you were doing. Enjoying the chips? Full enthu class participation? Fighting for the flower woman’s case? Flirting with riverdale? I can’t imagine why you put yourself through this apart for the fact that you were the president. Pls do tell 🙂

  4. Vyshnavi….have you ever seen common man speaking in his cartoons. Something like that only…..was too dumbstruck to say anything. Anyway, I am not the hero in this story…..this is a multistarrer of superstars, and I dont want to force my part in it.

  5. Vyshnavi….two of the ‘Four Ravishing Young Ladies’ never missed an opportunity to flirt with Rajesh. So now you know why !

  6. this is totally mental and fantastic!!! all the characters are ppl u know n can picture
    couldn’t stop laughin my head off 🙂


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