Saturday, January 28, 2012
A young woman asked me for directions in Chennai. And I knew the place :)
But, most of the non-helmeted women, unlike the woman in this photo, protect their faces from the dust and the smoke in a very exciting way: they wrap the scarf (dupatta) around their heads in such a manner that only their eyes are exposed. When I see them, I am reminded of photographs of Arab men and women in the sandy deserts.
When I walk around with my camera, none ever passes by. When I am without a camera, these "dupatta scooterists" are everywhere!
I was walking to the store the other day when I saw a "dupatta scooterist." Of course, no camera! I was walking by the side of the road, directionally against the flow of traffic, and I sensed this scooter coming towards me.
I moved further off the road, worried that I might be run over.
The scooter stopped next to me.
She slowly undid her dupatta. Perhaps a college student, I thought to myself, when I saw her face.
I have gotten to a stage in life that when a young woman looks at me or seems to wave at me, I know for sure I am merely in her line of sight and there is a young, handsome man behind me. So, when she stopped, I moved to the side a tad more.
"Hi" she said.
Now I was on alert. Is this a cousin or a niece that I am supposed to recognize? Is my selective amnesia that bad?
"Where is Dhandapani Street?"
Finally, all the walking around paid off. "This is Dhandapani Street" I replied. I was proud of myself, that I know this much!
"Oh. My friend is at a hair salon somewhere here."
I know the place really well--I mean, we are talking about right around the corner from where my parents live.
"Skip this upcoming left" I told her. "Then soon after the second left, you will see two hair places."
I should know; only a couple of weeks ago, I got my hair trimmed there. I was so worried when the hairdresser took out a shaving blade. "No shave" I hurriedly told him. Turned out that the blade was for the post-haircut cleanup :)
"My friend said it is opposite to Hotel Ilakkiya" the scooter girl added.
"Yes, it is right there."
She thanked me and we went our ways.
All I could think was, "dammit, I didn't have my camera." Well, maybe another time.