Think of a traffic policeman, fondly known as ‘mamu’ or ‘pandu’ in Bombay slang, and what comes to mind is a pan-chewing, pot-bellied old man hiding in the clump of trees just beyond the traffic signal, harassing you for ‘chai-pani’ or else…!
Baby M and I had a very different experience this weekend. A cousin’s husband was treating and the whole gang landed up at New Yorker’s, Chowpatty, Baby M (on his first restaurant outing) included. The interesting-looking food on the table, the sparkling cutlery and the colorful menu cards – all this was too much for the poor child to take though – he lunged this way and that, spoiled for choice and unsure what to attack next. Mom and baby thus made an early exit from the restaurant, mom having gulped down her yummy lasagna in a record five minutes!
The rest of the evening, we strolled along Marine Drive, mom trying to walk off the lasagna and baby taking in the interesting sights and sounds, while the party continued inside. As we neared Nariman Point, a balloon-seller walked past us. Baby M, fearless and single-minded as always, threw himself in the direction of the balloons as soon as he spotted them.
The balloon-seller ran to us, spotting a potential customer in Baby M. (More like potential destroyer if you ask me, but never mind!) Fumbling around for my purse, I realized I had forgotten it back in the restaurant. ‘Nahi re, balloon ghyaycha nahi ahe, khoop lahaan ahe na baby!’, I tried to tell the little boy. (The baby’s too small, we don’t want to buy the balloon.)
A young traffic policeman standing next to us, smartly dressed and fit as a fiddle, was keenly following our conversation. To my great surprise, he walked up to us, handed a ten rupee note to the boy, placed a balloon in Baby M’s gleeful hands, gave us a shy smile and quietly walked away. Talk of breaking all stereotypes in a single shot!