It had been a productive morning, interviewing a counselor for an assignment. As I drove back home, a serene pace in, a certain nostalgia took over and I remembered the amazing cakes and goodies from The Iyengar Bakery in Domlur. While I don’t seem to have too many fond memories from growing up in that that over-crowded, dingy locality, I do remember the bakery. Every time we’d drive by on the Airport Road, the smell of their freshly baked bread would waft into the air and my mind would wander.
I quickly pull over, smack in front of the bakery, and examine the wares in the display case that hasn’t changed in the last 20 years. Half dil-pasand, 2 honey cakes, 1 apple cake, 2 masala sandwiches – I would eat their goodies for breakfast and lunch for the next few days. He packs my loot into an eco-friendly cloth bag, I pay him a little extra, wait for the change and turn to look behind me cursorily. I see the Red Beast standing a few meters away from me, diagonally opposite to where I was standing, at the Bakery. I turn back to the boy hunting for change, and wonder what all the commotion around the Red Beast was!
Had I parked it obstructing traffic on the road? Wait! Did someone scratch my car? I look back urgently to spot signs of an accident. I see a rider in a scooter and a pillion point at me, frantically. I think the spot I’ve parked in bothers him and I wave back – “One minute, sir, I will move very soon”. I turn back to concentrate on my goodies and it hits me! I hadn’t parked the Red Beast where it stood right now. I had parked it right behind me, while I could see it diagonally away from me. It had found itself a new parking spot. All the while, I was busy buying sweet bread.
I run back to the car and the words of the scooter man become clearer “Can’t you see that your car is rolling away, madam?” I quickly jump into the car, stare in wonder at the disengaged hand break, and imagine the tragedies that I would have caused with this little act of stupidity. I pull over closer to the kerb, shut engines, turn on the hand brake and run back to collect my goodies.
I had fallen down in my own standards as a good driver. I was on probation until I decided when.
I had seen the owner of the Bakery today, after a few decades. He was much younger then, with more blacks than greys; Heck! So was I. A certain fondness took over me, a certain familiarity or willingness to connect. Would he know if I told him that we used to visit him as kids? Would he remember the number of times we bought his apple cakes and dil-pasands? He smiled back with knowing. But, would he remember the scrawny 10 year old and her chubbier older sister who would buzz around their bakery for those delicious honey cakes?
I lost my train of thought as soon as the man opened his mouth and yelled at the two assistant boys in the store. He wanted them to pack some breads, and weigh some cookies, and repack the bread, and attend to the lady waiting for her dil-pasand, and stop talking on the phone, and run to the back to check on the ovens, and do a million things more. As he started talking, I noticed a distinct change in the demeanor of the gentleman serving me. He suddenly felt emasculated, unimportant and stupid. He hurriedly stuffed all my goodies into a bag, and whispered my final bill.
It instinctively reminded me of how rude the baker had been when we were kids too. I do not remember a moment of smile or mirth from him. He’d always treated us with disdain, yelling at us for bringing too much change or too little. He would speak with just an ounce of respect when my dad came along, and in those occasions he’d ignore the fact that we even existed. All that angst and discomfort came right back to me. I no longer wanted to make small talk with this guy; I was ready to leave.
The thing, I see, about morose people is that they never change over the years, and continue to be miserable all through their lives.