First day at “work”. Interesting start to the day. Firstly, asked to report at 12 p.m. which to her old-world mind is a bit of a turnaround from the usual 9 – 5. Picked up by a friend of a friend’s. New to biking, a frail Muslim boy tries streaking though the dusty, hot streets of Bangalore with a disgruntled, apprehensive pillion rider. Hair a deliberate mess, branded shirt – a snooty label sticking out in the whirl of fast cars and faster dreams in the big city, she stumbles down in front of a derelict, paan-stained building and looks up. Hands shielding wary eyes as they travel upwards, an inconspicuous hand to the neck, a hitch of the trustworthy pair of denims and the trek up begins. Two floors, formal introductions and wary first impressions later, she waits in a squalid room with worn-out plastic chairs, a single yellow light bulb and a friendly south Indian techie working feverishly at his Acer notebook. Looking around, nothing seems like a part of the glamour associated with a premium “North American” brand, Greenwarriors. Not the tiny room divided into two with a vulgar ‘ladies washroom’ sign attached to it on rusty hinges, not the friendly techie, not the north Indian with visibly bloodshot eyes who scans her figure as she enters. Dazed and confused, she waits on the initial briefing, the first steps towards normalcy, towards a routine that’s been so well instilled in her being, towards the only centre she’s known.
The briefing that lasts exactly seven minutes involves a Delhi boy, one of them who wear fake Ed Hardys’ picked up from Lajpat with beautiful hazel brown eyes that dart around the room and her so much like a lizard’s tongue when searching for its prey, a leech on the wall, while he proceeds to explain “what exactly it is that Greenwarriors is about.” The drive to save the environment, the ideology of the rich, directionless, looking to associate themselves to a cause that’d lend some meaning to an otherwise languid, uninspired existence. “What was I thinking?” is what she finds herself thinking, sweating in that sickly, yellow glow that the bulb emits, the low drone of the techie’s discourse over a grimy telephone and the invisible lizard tongue all over her. Why the feeling of claustrophobia? Why the feeling of distrust? Life was in stop motion – images, moments overlapping each other in a haphazard order while she tries to arrange them in some sequence, bring a semblance of order to the vortex of chaos picking up pace in her mind. She waves her cursory goodbyes and steps outside, frown in place and phone in hand, she’s armed to flag the first auto to the nearest pub. Beer would, once again, be the knight in shining armour.