The scene: A beyond crowded CG Road, one of Ahmedabad's only so-called high streets, at 9:00pm on Sunday evening. Roads choc-a-block with traffic, haphazardly parked cars, commuters in Sunday slow-driving mode, benign chaos, and the like.
The characters: A hungry Nino, Nino's Mum on a mission, An irritated with traffic maneuvering Nino's Dad and a very entertained Geetaben, Nino's care-giver.
The premise: A book fair.
Ahmedabad suffers from a frightening paucity of book stores and book fairs. So when a really good book fair came along, I was not going to be one to miss it. I'd wanted to have a go at it alone, so I could pour over the books without Nino's patience wearing out or for that matter of Nino's Dad's as well. Somehow I couldn't work that out and we ended up going to the book fair, all of us together.
The unity of the Nino family however, was doomed given the timing and the various moods of the characters. So eventually I stayed at the book fair and Nino's Dad drove Nino and Geetaben to a takeaway place where they grabbed some food and decided to pick me up on the way back. Unfortunately, I wasn't done. So they parked the car and fed themselves, arguing over spilt food, traffic rules and why three-year-olds-cant-have-chewing-gum. Atleast five irritated and abrupt phone calls from Nino's Dad later, I emerged from the book fair at around 10:30pm, sweaty but grinning at the lot I'd managed to pick up for Nino.
(Nino's Mum, walking towards car, struggling with jhola, and two very heavy plastic bags, phone ringing in her butt pocket): Hi! I'm back.
Nino's Dad: (to no one in particular) She's back.
Nino's Mum: Sorry, it was just too good to be true, I picked some great books for Nino, lots of Eric Carle...
Nino (interrupting): Mama, why can't three year old's have chewing gum?
Nino's Dad (before Nino's Mum can answer her budding 20questions champ): Did you remember to take the credit card back?
Nino's Mum: Yes, of course, what do you mean, the last time was an accident. All right and then I spent....
Nino (interrupting): Why is it called chewing gum, mama, can we really eat gum?
Nino's Dad: Why don't both of you get settled so we can get going?
Nino's Mum, who is quite dejected at the lack of interest in the books she's picked up, turns to Geetaben and says, with big smile: I got lots of books Geetaben, some 80 per cent off! 14 books for Nino. Some to keep for later... some I ....
Geetaben: You din't pick up his shampoo and soap?
3 hours ago