Cheap aviator shades, predictably a ray ban replica from CP and hair dyed orange. Late forties or early fifties, I guessed. The associate was different, looked like a puffed up low budget property dealer, the kind that I was quite familiar with from my hunt for barsatis.
They had come to warn me. The orange dye stopped his blue bajaj Chetek near me and snarled “Tera naukar thoda hoon har din ise yahan se hatane ko, ...! Kal se iska shakal bhi dekh liya na, iy will burrrrst the tyre...” The property dealer stared with a menacing face. Orange dye threw a hostile speculative look tilting his head up and down. A dramatic shift to the first gear and an exaggerated screech of the engine, they were gone.
Watching them fading into the galis, I fantasised of some supernatural powers to deflect the speeding Chetak into a nearby tree and relished the resulting spectacle of orange mixing with crimson.
I started the bike, pondering deeply over the next place to park it when I return from the office. This was the second time this month. A senile sardar was the first one to evict my two-wheeler. He, however, was courteous. His territory, I was informed, extended upto 6-7meters around his shop. “Aur kahin rakh do beta, yahan nahi”, he had told me in a quivering voice. He smiled and refrained from disclosing the consequence of non-compliance, letting me use my imagination.
I always had this notion that Bombay was a dangerous city where everyone inevitably has to face a thug sent by the underworld demanding hafta if he wanted to live peacefully. And I now I had the first encounter with the kind that Delhi was blessed with, the parking fiends. I was once told by a friend that they frequently pick up fights, stab and kill each other for parking space. They were normal men with families who turned into werewolves when they spotted an alien vehicle in their territories.
I could imagine them tilting their bikes and spraying a bit of gasoline on the lamp posts to mark their territories.
If I stay in this perdition long enough, maybe one day, I’d be one of them. With my own tiny spot to guard. Some future to look forward to.