Isn’t that an inviting signboard? The letters are beautiful, the colours rich and vivid. It’s tragic that despite the undeniable beauty of such signboards, they go unheeded and uncared for by a stark majority of the population in the capital. If you live in a house adjacent to a huge clinic that is frequented by people seeking treatment for their fevers, pains and skin rashes, you will sympathize with me better.
I belong to the distressed-house-inhabitant-of-next-door-commercial-establishment-clan. If there was a contest asking us to describe the excuse-building segment of our brains, I would nail the gold medal for sure. In preparation for such an event, I already have a little study on the various slots the err, parking people who know best – lets call them Pests in short, fall:
1. The Five Minutes Only
Pest drives down the lane in a sparkling limousine the size of a small lorry and parks his little beast right in front of our gate. Disembark from the car – Pest and his wife/sister/friend/car-partner? – and proceed to the clinic. Dad stops on the stairs and Mom and I follow suit, wondering how on earth we were to steer our automobile through the metal body of the black demon.
Mom: would you mind shifting your car closer to where you are supposed to go?
Pest turns around to look askance at us but lady partner bestows us with a genial smile.
Lady: we will just be five minutes madam – I only have to collect my free skin-program voucher.
Our legs ache with standing on the stairs for the next half-revolution the hour hand of the clock completes. Seems to me, free skin program vouchers obliterate a prep-school sense of time.
2. The Caregivers
A golden-yellow spaniel barks at us through the window of the car that collides with a potted plant at our gate. As we rush to apologize for ruffling the canine’s tempers, two Pests get down on either sides of the vehicle. An old lady arranges her walking-aid on the ground and manages to stand up after a while. Looking around at the clinic next door, we find the courtyard full of unobstructed air.
Grandpa: there’s plenty of space next door; you could easily park right there.
Pest 1: don’t you see we are escorting our old mother to the doctor?
Grandpa: that is precisely why I asked you to do so – she will have less walking to do.
Pest 2: (shaking his head) here we have an old lady who can barely walk and all that house owners can do is bother about car parking.
We gesture Grandpa to let them alone. Not everyone, after all, is up to a sensible suggestion.
3. The Learners
A pretty twenty-something female Pest swerves her long, sleek monster horizontally opposite our gate. She fidgets with her sunglasses before getting down and walking towards the clinic. It is an early November evening and almost time for the pick-and-drop cab of our tenant to arrive. Sensing there was no way of making it to the cab short of jumping over the gate and on to the roof of the monster, he calls out to her.
Tenant: I am afraid I need to use the gate – could you please move the car away?
Pest looks flustered and runs a hand through her machine-made curls.
Pest: (hesitantly) I am not sure I will able to get that done…I am still a learner when it comes to parking.
Tenant: I can help you out if you wish.
Pest: (raising her eyebrows) I am not that dumb a learner you know.
The cab arrives and there’s a loud beeping of horns, even as Pest continues sporting her too-smart-for-my-shoes expression.
4. The Argumentative Indians
Pest arrives on a picnic-cum-medical tour, replete with his family of ten stuffed up in a car paid for in one hundred and twenty-one EMIs. There are two chattering kids, disposing their third packet of wafers right into our garden. They are joined by the mother, who reprimands them for littering the insides of the car with burger-wrappings and shows them the path of virtue by shooting the wrappings neatly into a watering can.
Mom: it would be nice if you didn’t litter our premises. And nicer if you read the signboard.
Pest: (glancing at the board) so where are we supposed to park? There’s no space next door.
Mom: and what happens if we need to go out? Moreover, who will clean the mess your kids are making here?
Pest’s Wife: Why, doesn’t the society have a sweeper?
The weather is glorious, the clouds low in the sky. We are unwilling to squander such loveliness on an argument that shows all the signs of transforming into an epic. Fortunately, the Pests’ appointment at the clinic can not be honoured and with a final huff and puff of smoke, they are off.
Sigh! The travails of being one of the clan I tell you. Makes me crave for life in a farmhouse, it does.