By about half past four on Sundays, after our afternoon nap and tea, we start thinking about spending the rest of the evening. After going over all possibilities like the beach, movie, temple, friends and shopping, we reject them all for one reason or the other. Then my wife goes for a walk with a MP3 player for company (She always complains that when I accompany her for a walk, which is actually a talk disguised as a walk, she has to do all the talking and that I never open my mouth! So if and when she is in a mood to listen, she finds a MP3 player better company) and I stay back watering the plants and washing the car. Since it had rained the previous night, there was no need to water the plants this Sunday and there was no point in washing the car during the rains. So, I just walked up to the ‘Sateri’ ( Durga) temple near my house and sat on the small platform built under the tree in its precincts, attempting to look inwards, contemplate on life and get some enlightenment if I could reach that stage.
Even though my eyes were closed the ears were open (I should have carried my ear plugs) and I was trying hard to ignore the noise of the passing bikes, trucks, and humans and focus my sight inwards when I heard a female voice close by.
On opening my eyes I perceived the owner of the voice, a stylish young lady, attired in Levi’s jeans,T shirt and Nike shoes. She would have merged effortlessly into any scene at Cross roads, E square, or Forum but looked totally out of place in front of the ‘Sateri’ temple in Ponda. As I wondered what made this piece of Bollywood lose its way and end up in front of me, she spoke again pointing to the tree across the road.
“Sorry to disturb you uncle. Is that tree a ‘Vatavriksh’?” (Banyan tree)
“I am supposed to perform ‘pooja’ of a ‘Vatavriksh’ tomorrow morning and I was searching for the tree. Someone directed me to this place. But this is not a ‘Vatavriksh’. Can you please tell me if there is one anywhere around here?"
I had a hunch that I had seen one somewhere close by but could not pin point where it was. I told her so and she seemed disappointed.
“I thought you might know. You look so religious (!). Tomorrow is ‘Vatapoornima’ and I have to worship the tree early in the morning for my husband’s well being. Where do ladies in your family go to perform that ‘pooja’?
I was about to tell her that the lady in our family worships her husband in flesh and blood and does not believe in worshipping trees, but I checked myself.
Though the young lady seemed freshly airlifted from Broadway and was attired in ‘englishtani’ ‘joota’, ‘patloon’ and ‘T shirt’ I could sense a real ‘Hindustaani dil’ under the trimmings - as Rajkapoor very effectively put it in his song decades back- and I did not want to hurt her feelings. I told her to wait a bit and called my wife.
The wife who worships me helped me out.
“A Banyan tree? The big tree you pass by as you turn towards the main road from our street is the Banyan Tree. You would not recognize it of course. You will be lost so much in your thoughts that you may not even recognize your wife if you meet her on the road. By the way what do you want a Banyan tree for? Sit under it and hope for salvation? Forget it and come home. I have been telling you since three days that the rice is over and you have ignored it. You have to go to the market right now and get rice if you want your dinner tonight.”
This I conveyed (location of Banyan tree, not that I have to buy rice urgently ) to the grateful young lady who was extremely pleased to find the tree which ensures her husband’s well being and hurried homewards to comply with the orders and ensure my dinner.