The street is one public/ transitory space that I have occupied with utmost consciousness or the absolute lack of it. The street it one space that I have always traversed the quickest and been most lost in thoughts. Every time I am on a street, depending on the purpose of my being on the street, my body language changes. When I am in a hurry to reach or leave a space and hence am on a street, I would not notice anything or anybody but just try reaching the required destination. On the other hand, if I were in a street like Brigade road or Commercial st, I would walk slowly, looking at the billboards, looking at people etc.
For the most of my time at public spaces, it is spent by looking at the whole space and not people in particular. Even when I do look at people, it is never to establish eye contact or to attempt conversing with strangers. This one time, however, I had an interaction with this stranger that I hope was a misinterpretation.
Domlur bus stop, 22:00 hrs.
After a visit to a friend's place for an evening, I decided to take a bus from Domlur to Koramangala in an attempt to save some money that I would have otherwise spent on auto and ironical as it was, ended up spending a little more than what I would have if I had taken an auto ride back home on the first place.Walking for about half a kilometer through dark alleys that eventually led to an ever darker bus depot that was so empty and ill lit, that I was absolutely certain that about half a dozen hired goons would surround me and I would, if Indian cinemas have taught me anything, would have to establish my worth by fighting them in the most unimaginable ways imaginable. Unfortunately, that did not happen and I just had an uneventful walk around the bus depot trying to figure out the duration of my possible wait for the next bus, only to notice that I was the only one at the bus depot which meant I had just missed a bus and the fact that the space was no longer accumulating people meant that the bus I had just missed was possibly the last bus for the day. Walking out the depot, I noticed this one man, in his early thirties, his attire clearly signifying his social and financial background, standing, leaning against the wall that separated the depot from the main road looking around, and this was noticeable as no one waiting for a bus or wanting to board a bus would wait against a wall as it would be visually challenging for him to follow buses that would enter or leave the depot. Not speculating his presence or actions or the lack of it, I just walked past him trying to hold an auto with no passenger that would probably pass the depot looking for the wise people like myself who planned their evening well enough to miss the last bus.
Answering a call from a friend and talking to him not-so discreetly, I was rather obvious about my ethnicity with my conversation in Tamizh and the dialect. Half way through the rather unimportant but very engrossing conversation with my friend, I heard a whistling sound from the man resting against the wall. Writing the first few calls off as attempts to entertain himself or trying to stop autos that I realized weren't around, I slowly reacted to the periodical whistles that were increasing in frequency and decibels. Turning around in response to the whistles, i realized the whistles were not for an auto as I hoped them to be but for me. Trying to get over my shock of such an act from a stranger, I saw him trying to usher me into a darker corner of an already dark space. Looking at his hand pointing to a bag, it hit me that he was probably trying to make a drug deal with me or was a pimp and misconstrued my presence there as looking for some action. Every elapsing second of my presence there and my responding to his very existence only made him presume I was interested in him and his deals and he grew more obvious and loud in his gestures of trying to probably signal to me something that I failed to comprehend. I knew it would be a terrible idea for me to be there even for a second longer and just walked at a pace that would not result in my running but fast enough for me to get to the adjoining main road that held the first rays of street lights that seemed a lot more to me than just rays of light to light up the street. Not looking back and not acknowledging his calls, I walked across the main road little caring for the oncoming traffic and crossed a 2ft divider to ensure I was in a safer space and contrary to my usual routine of getting into a long debate with auto drivers over the tariff, I just got into the fist auto that agreed to take me to Koramangala, not even questioning him about the charge.
Two years hence, there have been other instances that have surpassed this incident in terms of its "shock" value, but this this incident is one of the most unforgettable one of the lot as I as a spectator or a participant have always been better prepared and have managed to handle the subsequent situations better.Shrikar is a student at Srishti School of Art Design and Technology. He wrote this while doing a workshop with Blank Noise. more here!