Fiddling with his mobile, X impatiently waited for the elevator to reach his floor. Finally after 5 minutes which seemed like ages, the elevator opened on his floor. X got in to the lift smiling at the Old Iranian who was muttering something about the weather in broken English. He had met this old man a couple of times earlier in the lift, who was eager to strike a conversation with anyone and anything that meets his eye. Looking at the people around, he thought that ‘Mind your language’ had a less motley crowd in a much larger area. A lady whose head was covered with a scarf was holding a baby in her arms and struggling to control her other kid in the stroller from pressing random knobs and buttons in the elevator.
Behind her was a middle aged Asian woman who was staring angrily at the scarf lady. She was probably wondering as to why the mother is not simply scowling or growling at the little rascal rather than requesting him or begging him to keep his hands away from the switchboard. My mother would have slapped me by now thought X and turned away to check out others that were going down along with him. At one corner of the elevator was a black guy, probably in his 20s who had huge head phones on his head and was swaying with eyes closed. “Somebody please pull his pants up”, he wanted to shout, but he knew better. He had seen these guys wearing trousers buckled around their knees. How they could walk, he never understood.
The lift stopped and X lifted his head hoping that he could get out. Unfortunately the ground floor hadn’t arrived yet, but fortunately more interesting characters entered. A desi couple with their two school going children walked in carelessly and leisurely as if they were strolling in a park. “I wouldn’t have minded that,” thought X, “if only they did not carry their kitchen on them.” He could smell the chicken curry with onions and a hint of coriander. The next time the lift stopped, unfortunately there were no more new entrants but fortunately it was the ground floor and X headed out.
Walking towards the Don Mills subway he pulled the hoodie over, shielding his ears from the cold wind. “Fuck the winters in this country,” he muttered while digging his hands deep into his pockets. He couldn’t help remembering the mornings in Chennai – his walks to the bus stop every morning, he would inadvertently loosen a couple of his shirt buttons to feel a bit less sweaty. And here in this country, in this goddamned winter for a few minutes outdoors he was dressed up like an Eskimo out to hunt a narwhal!
Once inside the station, he ran down the stairs, grabbed a daily copy of the metro and was loitering on the platform waiting for the train. This first stretch in the subway until the Sheppard station was uneventful with X reading the metro. The metro itself was hilariously stupid though. The headline was about how the brother Rob Kardashian screwed the reputation of the family by going around with Blac Chyna who is an ex girlfriend of the guy who is being screwed by one of the sisters. “What news paper prints stuff like this!” thought X. Then there were the usual advertisements on spiritual healers that fix jadoo, voodoo , black magic that X checked out daily in the last page just for kicks. These ads had been printed in every edition of the metro since 1990.
X switched over to the other subway line along with the crowd. According to X, getting a seat in this line during the rush hour was akin to playing a multi-player game like the ‘age of empires’, one that needs an excellent strategy and superior execution and timing. Luckily that day it was not so competitive which meant that he must be running late, thought X settling into an aisle seat. X preferred aisle seats over the window ones as the seat could be easily offered to the elderly if needed. Now that he was settled for a good 40 minute journey, he plugged in his earphones and was searching for an audio-book on his phone.
Before he could play he heard geese cackling. Surprised he turned his head to find four teenage girls giggling and conversing about boys, of-course. Their conversation was replete with so much technology – snapchat, instagram, we-chat, twitter. Four girls hanging out together could create the same noise levels in any country, in any generation concluded X and proceeded listening to Jeeves and Wooster. Upon reaching his destination he grabbed a smoothie and proceeded to his workplace where his team, a bigger motley crowd, was waiting for him for the daily morning stand-up. “So much fun so early in the day,” thought X with a smile as he got to his desk and immersed himself into the day’s work. The trip back home in the evening was different but an equally enjoyable one, but that’s for another day.