Thursday, March 28, 2013

The boy in blue knickers

Many years ago; I wore the blue knickers of my school and stood in line at Wenger's, holding my father's hand. There were a few other kids too, wearing the same blue knickers with their fathers as well. We would stare at the pastries, cakes and savouries with wide eyed wonder as our fathers performed the curious ritual of ordering in one line, paying in another and collecting the brown bags from another. We would drool as our packets were handed over to us. Chomp with gay abandon, making a mess of our uniform.

Then we would drag our fathers around to the corner to Keventer's. There, a surly old man would be seating behind a ramshackle table with a drawer full of coins of various denominations. He would be gruff while taking orders, almost to the point of being rude. But within minutes of his shouting "तीन vanilla, दो mango", the dirty curtain behind him would part and a swarthy man would plonk huge bottles of the best milk shake known to little boys in blue knickers, on the table. We little boys in blue could not ask more from life after a visit to Wenger's and Keventer's.

I rarely visit Connaught Place these days. But when I do, like I did today - I make it a point to go back. As I  entered Wenger's I bumped into an old schoolmate of mine. Holding his hand was his son, in the same blue knickers. In his other hand, the little boy had a brown bag full of goodness. After I had partaken of my share of the goodness, I went around the corner to complete the tradition. My friend and his son were slurping their shakes from bottles that perhaps had seen several generations of boys in blue knickers.

The gruff man and the table was still the same and so was the manner in which the bottles were plonked. There were no coins in the drawer, only heaps of currency notes but the milk shake tasted exactly as it did many summers ago. The satisfied look on the boy's face was the same as his father's and perhaps on mine as well, if anyone was noticing.

Many things had changed since the time I was in blue knickers. Two things haven't and I am grateful for that. Because they remind me of times when going out with my father would be the best thing in the world, not some tedious chore of driving him to the bank or the doctor's. They remind me of times when things done the slow, unhurried way would result in happiness that can't be measured.

Time has moved on, yet it has stood still. For it really felt nice to see a boy in blue knickers holding his father's hand in that shop. Some things should never change.

1 comment:

M said...

Nicely written :) I was reminded of your distress on seeing Haldiram's replacing Nirula's at CP the other day. Now I fully understand why.