3 pm was always a tough time for Ganesh Lad. Customers were beginning to crowd around his tea stall. The benches were full and business peaking. Javed was already running out of milk. He asked chotu to keep an eye on the boiling tea concoction and stepped out to get the other packet of milk kept in the storage container.
'Bloody Fuckers! Deccan Chargers lost again!' screamed Rishi.
'Saale, what are you crying about a 5 re bet. Stop pretending like you lost a big amount on betting. You embarass me.' Mukesh cringed.
'Sure. The money was mine. Cost me a cigarette, you know.' Rishi spat back.
'Don't worry. The money goes nowhere. I won more than the complete betting pool. So the tea's on me,' Sanjay gloated to his 'poor' friends.
'Bhenchod! Aise bol raha hai jaise daan de raha hai. You forget the days I lent you money. Anyways, you are still paying for the tea. I did yesterday. And Rishi the day before that.' Mukesh
Javed served their orders with an eye on the door. He hoped that everything went smoothly. At least today.
'Did you read about the iPad coming out? A mini? I mean, what the heck were they all thinking?' Rishi got back to his topic he loved. Gadgets.
Manoj would have replied, and considering his vast knowledge it would have been difficult to shut him up, before the commotion on the street distracted him.
It was an argument. The waiters were trying to move an old man from the pavement. He was, naturally, not willing to move. The waiters were now beginning to curse, and he was giving it back. The argument had now caught the attention of everyone in the hotel.
'Another one of those beggars on the street starting a fight. Why can't the BMC take these people off the streets', Manoj grumbled.
'So says another executive from the upper echelons of the bourgeouise' Sarcasm was Mukesh's skill and he enjoyed mocking his friends. After spending 8 hours in a cubicle reading lines off the computer, wit and verbosity were his catharsis.
'Yes. I pay my taxes and I expect my streets to be clean, my tea time to be stress free' snapped Manoj. He hated when Mukesh got the better of him. 'And the guy is clearly crazy.'
'And how did you know that? From your previous experience in the Psychiatry ward?' Mukesh snorted again. He was loving this.
'Guys, ease up. Don't start another team meeting here.' Rishi said without looking up from the newspaper he was reading.
'Whoa! Hey, you started that fucking argument, saale. Stop acting like you had nothing to do with it.' Manoj half willed his tea to cool down, but the steaming hot May sun had not let up yet.
'I am convinced, Manoj. You do know the insane old man. You show his traits. Close relative, is he?' Mukesh sneaked in sarcasm between the snorts of his laughter.
'No, I wish. He is just another businessman, who lost his entire fortune in the stock market. Another one of those idiots who believed in the 'India Shining' prophecy. Doomed, i tell you.' he shrugged.
'That is not it at all. I heard that he was thrown out of his house by his sons and daughters in law. That drove him crazy. That is what the watchman told me.' Rishi added.
'Are you both making up stories again? Seriously, that is what this has come to now?' Mukesh scoffed.
'No. Rishi is making up stories. I know that the guy is mad because he lost his money in stocks. People, I have been working here since before you two novices came along. Believe me; I know more about local stories than you do.' Manoj was not about to give up the argument.
'Shut up! I got authentic sources telling me the story. Our watchman roams around these tapris more than us. You know, it is always them who have more information. And i source my information right from the bottom of the ladder. So don't gimme that crap of being here before me.' Rishi
'So what has this got to do with his having to be removed off the street? I mean he has every right to be here. More so, since he has been here before any one of us.' Mukesh argued.
The tapri was now closing down. People were returning to work. Manoj reached for his cigarette and lighted it. 'C'mon, don't start up with another one of your Anna hazare rants. I got no time for that. He is an old man. Maybe he would be better off staying in an old age home.'
'Really? With the facilities our government offers. He might be better off on the street. Actually, to think of it, he is living a better life. No payment, place to live, free food and no worries in life. What are you bothered about?' Mukesh stepped up to the argument.
This would have continued, but the solemn premises of the corporate workplace filtered out sounds of argument. They had other things to worry about.
'Shit! I still have the Accounts file to submit. Any ideas what I should put up in the Investments part? I really need to cut down my taxes.' Rishi wondered.
'So much for saving the country and helping old men on the streets. Bloody fuck!' Manoj laughed.
Back at the pavement, the old man opened his gunny bag. The office goer crowd would be coming out in a couple of hours. He had to increase his sales today. His son's school fees had to be paid. He had to work.