The thin line

The class is in full swing when I hear the sound of a thousand crackers bursting on the street. I’m waiting outside my daughter’s dance class when the rat-a-tat clashes with the sound of tapping feet.

The children freeze for a few seconds before getting back in position.  Even as they abandon themselves to the rhythm there’s a repeat of the same deafening noise. Diwali had gotten over more than 10 days ago. So what was being celebrated on the street?

“Does the sound of crackers scare you?” The other mom waiting with me senses my disquiet. It wasn’t just the noise that was bothering me. As I had walked towards the class earlier in the evening, I was surprised to see a huge shamiana (tent) in the middle of the street.

A family that was obviously celebrating something in their house had virtually cordoned off the entire street. There was hardly any pavement left for pedestrians. As I struggled with my bags walking gingerly past open drains at the side I was fuming with indignation.

This was not the first time I had faced a similar situation in other roads. Sometimes loud music blaring from speakers made matters worse. It was a blight on the hapless residents living in the street. Once when a neighbour had broached the subject of disturbance to a partying family, the ‘solpa adjust maadi’ line was dished out. Then it quickly degenerated into a scene from a bad movie.

As residents we have been adjusting for a long time — not ‘solpa’, but ‘thumba’. The line between the two is often thin and shaky and taxing on a person’s patience. Whether having loud parties on a weekday or jumping the queue in a supermarket the concept of courtesy in a public area is alien to us. The errant parties are at the very least defensive and more often belligerent. The word ‘sorry’ is practically non-existent in their vocabulary.

To apologise takes courage and we are none the worse by admitting our fault in any situation.

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