Friday, November 17, 2017

In a 'manner' of speaking

Episode: 1
Place: A major road junction in Calcutta
Time: Mid morning on a weekday

I am on my way to deliver a lecture as a guest faculty. The venue is the training college of a large Calcutta-based bank.

I get off the underground Metro rail, climb up the stairs to bright sunshine, and move towards the line of auto rickshaws near the road junction. I locate the share-auto stand and the particular auto that is about to leave for my destination. It is nearly full. Just ahead of me a gentleman gets into the auto. He occupies a seat that happens to be the last one vacant. He sits down and looks up. Our eyes meet in mutual signs of recognition. 

He is the programme coordinator and also the person who has invited me to deliver the talk at his training college.

As his auto moves off, he nods to me and signals to the next vehicle in the queue. I find a seat in the auto that follows, get off at my destination, and walk up to the first floor of the training college. I meet him there, already at his desk, with a cup of tea in hand. All the way to the training centre, I wondered whether he should have acted differently.

Since I was his guest and a visiting faculty at his institute, should he have offered me the lone vacant seat in the auto and himself taken the next auto instead, or given up that seat to travel together in the next auto? Had I been in his place, I would have done either of them – but definitely not what he did. Was I wrong in being a bit pissed off with his behaviour? Was I expecting too much? I don’t know.

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