Commuting through Mumbai streets with your windows rolled up kind of disconnects you from the parallel world on the streets.You swear at the arrogant drivers of the black bugs on the road(autos in mumbaiiya for the uninitiated).The day your driver ditches you esp.when you are a non-driver like me you start blessing the same bugs.Double standards?..you bet!
Sitting in the auto you feel particularly vulnerable specially when it is stationary like in traffic or on the signals which we all know are abundant in Mumbai.
One such traffic signal at Juhu circle takes eternity to change and you are left with no choice but to be aware of the sights and smells around.A group of Hijras,akkaa for me since the incident i am going to narrate now,are regulars there.The long signal gives them enough time to peep in every auto and knock on every car window.Normally,inside the car you choose to ignore them though it is hard to do so but this particular day I felt 'exposed'and as though sensing my discomfort one of them came pushed his entire upper body inside the auto , his face right
against mine and then the unexpected happened;she smiled:)it was the most genuine smile and it came right from her heart.After the initial shock as a reflex action i beamed a smile at her and we laughed out loud.To my "kaise ho" she said "good" and to my "kahan rehte ho" she said "Yahan-Wahan"
Respecting her privacy i left it there and we chatted some more till the signal changed only this time it seemed to be the fastest change ever.A mango bite and an invitation for chai later i sped off only to be in great spirits the whole day.
I make it a point to smile at akka whenever i see her and have started believing that she brings if not good luck,a good day to me.Her smile is infectious and I spread it to my workplace and home.
Exchange of smile with a complete stranger-simple pleasure!