No Parking!


Madiwala, the place where my office is, is one of the most congested places in Bangalore. The building is small and there is not enough parking in the basement. So we have hired some spots in a nearby parking lot which is nothing but a couple of vacant plots managed by the local semi-thug, Mr Kumar. One of the first advice I got when I joined this company was to stay clear from Kumar.

If you brush him the wrong way, he can make your life miserable.

There have been instances where he has abused a senior person in our office for apparently not parking the car according to his liking. Everyday there was some problem or the other. He was even called in the middle of the office hours to take his car out to make way for someone else’s car. It became so bad, that he had to find some other parking place.

By nature I always wanted to stay clear of trouble. On day one itself, I gave a lot of undue respect to Kumar, spoke to him in the most polite way in his mother tongue Tamil and addressed him Kumar Anna. I think it worked. Till now he has always been helpful to me.

Everything was fine until that morning when I went to park my car. I was suprised to see a lot of Kerala registered Innovas and Tempo Travellers tightly parked covering almost all the spots. My spot was still vacant and so I could park my car however I felt something was amiss. This parking lot was also used by the nearby Mallu low budget hotels to park their guests hatchbacks and sedans but Innovas and Travellers were there for the first time. When I came back to take the car late in the evening, my worries had already become true. There was an awkwardly parked Innova in front of my car and there was no way for me to go out.

I went to Kumar Anna and complained. He said

Kumar: It’s your people only…

Me: Huh? My people?

Kumar: Yes. Kerala people for film shooting. Mammootty‘s son is acting.

Me: Dulquer? Wow nice. But how will I take my car out?

Kumar: Yes I will call the hotel guys.

So I was there waiting absolutely irritated and there came another Innova in. The driver got out and looked at me. I smiled and asked him in Malayalam…

Me: Hello. Which movie?

Driver: Anjali Menon‘s movie

Me: Oh is it? (I got excited) You know what, Anjali is a friend of mine. Where’s she staying?

Driver: (Looking a bit suspicious) Somewhere here in an apartment

I didn’t exactly want to know where she stayed. I was just excited that she was in Bangalore and was curious to know if she is somewhere nearby considering the production vehicles were parked there. What if we could bump into each other? It was quite some time after we met the last time and I had a lot of questions for her about some nuances of Manjadikuru and Ustad Hotel. But when the driver was reluctant to answer, I kept my calm. I told my friend who was with me about Anjali being my brother’s friend and her new movie was the most awaited movie of the year and all that. Since then on I became more tolerant about the issue at hand. Suddenly they became ‘my people’, like Kumar said.

The next morning, the lot was full again. Even my spot was taken and there was no sign of anyone taking out their vehicles. I was not as irritated as the previous day. But I went to Kumar again

Me: Kumar Anna what is this? Where will I park?

Kumar: @#4%$%$# I don’t know. These people are so unruly. Your people only. Mammootty’s son. Yesterday someone was saying Mammootty is the greatest actor in India. I asked him to get lost. @#4%$%$#

I didn’t like what he said, ¬†but then I wanted to park somewhere…

Me: Anna where can I park? Is there space in the other lot?

Kumar: No. Can you park on the side of the road. I’ll keep a watch on it. Don’t worry.

I was absolutely paranoid about parking on the road side away from my sight. One of the first things I negotiated during my hiring was for parking and that’s how I ended up getting it as part of my package. But that day I had no other go. So I parked on the side praying nothing should happen. And then I ended up doing it daily. Later on Kumar Anna felt bad for me and arranged a temporary spot in his other lot. The only catch was that I had to take the car out at 6 pm. So I started going earlier to work, which meant I had to wake up earlier too, so that I could leave by 6 pm. Again I wasn’t annoyed as I was doing it for a friend, ‘my people’ and of course Mammootty’s son :-). That was my contribution to the movie as a friend and a Bangalorean.

After a month or so, when I came in one morning the production vehicles were gone. I felt a bit bad that day but I got my parking lot back again. Kumar Anna bitched about the people of Kerala and Mammootty’s son a bit that day too but I understood that he was trying to make me feel better about the month that went by. Anyway life was back to normal once again. A week later I was thrilled to see the first look of the movie and then later the trailer. I have been following Bangalore Days on Facebook for updates and am waiting to catch the movie next weekend.

It’s funny to think how we can change others lives without either of us having a whiff of it. Like Hyperlink cinema. I was wondering if Anjali even knows about how my life changed for a month because of her decision to make a movie based on Bangalore. And many other people like Kumar. Like how Fayizi who was supposed to set up his upmarket career in London ended up running a biriyani kada in Kozhikode.

Which makes me wonder, how many people’s lives have changed because of me? Was it for better or for worse? Should I be thinking about it? Or is it Kismat? Like how Kareemkka says…

Kismat ennonnundu Fayizi. Athine aarkkum thadukkaan kazhiyoola!