I met this brat pack one afternoon (June, 2005) in Ladakh right in front of my hotel. The biggest brat of the pack was the youngest too; he is sitting in the lap of his sister in the photograph above.
The sky was a blazing blue (quite unlike the pale one I see in Delhi), far in distance, loomed chocolate colored mountains dipped in a little white snow and the weather was mild that day. Pink and yellow rose bushes were part of the landscape and I had such good company, if only I could break the ice.
I asked the kids, what were they playing? The pack giggled but did not tell. I am sure it would have involved a lot of explanation and they were not sure I would understand it all.
Instead they asked me, “Where are you from?” To my reply, “Delhi” they pointed out to the tallest lad (standing) in the picture and said, “He has been to Delhi.” He was a shy kid and said he liked Delhi but found it difficult to cross the roads. He was the big guy of the gang, already studying in a boarding school and was in Leh for vacations.
I asked them which standard they studied in? They told me about it and pointed out to that the youngest of the pack has yet to start school. By this time, he anyway had lost interest and started playing with a long twig.
The girl with the kid in his lap was the most talkative and the two rose buds (sisters) at either extreme, the most shy. I cannot recall even a single word uttered by them apart from their names and the class they studied in. The only time they showed some excitement was to view their pictures on the LCD screen of my camera.
So, the next (predictable) question from my side was, what did they like about their studies? This brought in some interesting replies. They were fascinated with doctors, engineers, pilots, airhostesses, army men and even astronauts. The reply seemed too good to be true. Thankfully, they had never heard about MBA.
I asked what they liked on TV, as there is cable TV in Ladakh, so the kids can see MTV and all that. Cartoon network had the pride of the place and soon enough the girls shyly mentioned something about watching ‘Miss India’ too. But they were quick to add they will not like to be one. Ah! Such modesty was refreshing because in my apartment block, kids play ‘Miss India’ in the evenings without batting an eyelid.
The bumper question was asked very shyly by one of the girls, ‘Are you married?” I said yes, and they giggled some more and then asked me where my husband was? He had actually gone to the market to pick up something.
Soon, H walked back and the girls giggled some more. A little later, I went off. And even after six months I can remember this conversation.
But ask me what I did last Tuesday and I will tell you Groundhog Day.