Thursday, October 04, 2007

tea

"Want some tea?" The rickshawwallah asked Anuj as he climbed into the rickshaw. He had just been a little unlucky, and a little new to the area. There are a few chai-tapris as they are called, where the rickshawwallahs gather when they need a break. If a customer is stupid/unlucky/new to the area enough, then the rickshawwallah has to save his and your time. Most would gulp down whatever is left of their cup of tea, and jump in if it is a big fare, and ask the customer to move on if it is not. Anuj was a customer with a big fare, he wanted to go right across to the other end of the city. The rickshawwallah on the other hand, was a man who enjoyed drinking every small sip of his tea. Indian tea can do that to anyone. So the man, sipped carefully on his cup, ...slirping it in slowly, cooling it slowly with his lips as he drank. The tea stayed for a second on his throat, then ran down into his stomach. When it ran past his neck, the rickshawallah found his voice... As soon as he heard that he had to go to the other side of the city, the rickshawallah used the time he had his sip to totally check Anuj out. He wore blue jeans and a white shirt, with an unrecognizable logo (to the rickshawwallah). He carried his wallet in his back pocket, and it jutted well out from his prominant butt, which looked large and inviting (to the rickshawwallah). He looked a little nervous, and terribly gullible. The rickshawwallah finished his sip. As it went past his neck, the rickshawwallah found his voice. "Want some tea?" He asked.
Anuj was nervous and new to the area. He was new to the area and lacked on vital piece of information. Irrespective of where in Mumbai one is, and how well the destination is known, the most important piece of information before you get into a rickshaw is; which is the immideate direction towards your destination. Anuj had made the mistake of walking up the wrong side of the road. Anuj ended up at at the rickshaw stand, a little tired and comforted at the thought of getting into a ride, so when the rickshawwallah asked him "Want some tea?" he nodded his head, his lack of breath silencing any words that he could have thought of speaking. Anuj looked at the rickshawwallah. He asked the guy in the tapri to make another cup of tea. The guy smiled and handed one over immideately. Anuj had time to wonder if he had change to pay for the tea, when the cup was presented to him by the rickshawdriver, in a small plastic cup. Anuj scaled himself in his first sip, and blowed on the tea, cooling his tongue simultaneously.
The rickshawwallah took another, slow sip. He was totally drinking it in. The kid had just been stupid enough to drink hot tea. His tea was comparatively cold. He new how to make a big fare bigger. Anuj was lucky because the rickshawwallah had an account at the tapri. He gulped in his tea, jumped into the rickshaw and started the thing up. Anuj was only thinking about not dropping all the tea. He was perfectly aware of the situation, but he didn't care enough about the profit the rickshawwallah was just about to care.
So when the rickshawwallah turned on the music, and loud remixed bollywood played on, two perfectly happy souls went on a ride from one side of the city to the other. They spoke nothing for most of the ride. The rickshawwallah was drawing up to a turn, which he could or could not have taken. The rickshawwallah was thinking of how exactly to ask for directions, when Anuj directed him without being asked. "Left" he said, and the rickshawwallah took a left, then he went on with an extra thrust of speed just because all responsibilities for further directions were left with Anuj. Anuj lived up to such simple responsibilities. "Right" he said. The rickshawwallah turned, and ended up at a similiar tapri he had left behind forty minutes ago. Anuj got down, replenished, and having sipped chai from a plastic cup as the city went past him. And he was generous enough to let the rickshawwallah have his seven rupee profit apart from the four he had made with the fixed meter, without making a fuss of it.
He was a totally different person to the people he was just about to meet at the tapri. Anuj was meeting another twenty eight year old, just like him, but he did not know it. Pankaj definitely looked thirty four - that was probably because of all the pot. Anuj waved out to Pankaj when he saw him, as he came around the same right turn. Pankaj just smiled back, and walked up to Anuj. Anuj looked at Pankaj, he was sweating because of the sun, which glistened on his reddened skin. Anuj had already decided what to do. "Want some tea?" he asked. Pankaj was a drifter, no one, including probably him, knew what he had done two years ago, all that mattered that he was there then and interested in what Anuj had to offer apart from the tea.
"What is the business?"
"I have what you want. The complete customer base of the call centre I work in. It will be mailed to you. I have a setting."
"How much do you want for it"
"Five thousand"
In such deals, there is no scope for bargaining. Pankaj had been sent by his company with a budget of seven, so he decided to go ahead with the deal.
"How should I pay you"
"Cheque payments only. Write one out to me now, and it will be mailed to you."
Pankaj took out his chequebook. Anuj made a call while he finished it. Pankaj shook hands with Anuj, said "thank you" and meant it. After that, Pankaj left Anuj at the tapri. Anuj stayed on for another twenty minutes, having tea. He saw one waiting on the other side of the road. Pankaj worked in an office complex right next to the tapri. He took the elevator to a floor near the top of the building, and walked into his cubicle. The e-mail was there on his address. He mailed the file to his boss, and headed towards the cabin of the boss.
The cell phone of the boss beeped with an e-mail alert. He checked out the file on his console, it was an excel sheet with names, numbers, and even addresses. They all had huge credit card bills. They were all going to be offered a scheme with a lot of benefits and fine print. The boss was happy. The boss called the canteen on the ground floor and ordered up two cups of tea. Pankaj reached the boss' cabin, just as the boss hung up.
"Want some tea?" The boss asked. Pankaj was happy, he said he managed to seal a deal for seven thousand.
The boss signed the cheque, and left for home immediately. He wanted to take some rest and plan for the next day. On his way out, he was surprised to find his nephew sipping tea.