I get on a bus to go to Sector 16, to take another bus to another destination, the entire bus is vacant, on the next stop a group of 14 gets on to the bus.
I move from the reserved women's seat to the seat next to an elderly man.
The group of 14 ( All Odiya people, as I can make out from the language they speak ) ask the conductor to tell them to drop to a nice place to hang out, everyone on the bus pitches in with suggestions, the old man next to me suggests spice mall. I pitch with Mall of India, and the conductor says Ambedkar Park and the bunch settles for it.
The old man asks me what language they are speaking, I answer with Odiya. He assumes I am with them, and asks where is my family based I answer with Calcutta, and then he asks what I do, and how much many I make, I answer both of them correctly.
A couple of women from the bunch sitting a few seats ahead of me take selfies, "Ise selfie kehte hai? screen pe photo kaha se aa rahi hai?" ( Is this called a selfie, how is the photo shown on the screen?)
I show him the front camera on my phone and he curiously taps the screen. "Mera nawasa hai 6 saal ka wo bahut saari leta hai selfie, din bhar phone apne paas rakhta hai" ( My 6-year-old grandson takes a lot of selfies, a phone is with him all the time!)
"2 saal pehle tak, 72 ki umar mein mujhe kuch na hua, ek din nahate waqt fisal gaye, kulhe mein haddiya gayi, haath ke upar gire to haath bhi gaya, ek saal aspatal mein pada raha, ab to bola bhi nahi jaata dhang se"
( I had no disease till 2 years back, for 72 years I was all good, one day I fell while bathing and broke my hip and a hand, had to stay in a hospital for a year!)
he starts a conversation.
"Yaddasht bhi khatam ho gayi pichle do saal mein, I used to remember 70% of the words in an English dictionary till I was 72, ab yaad nahi rehta. I have 5 PG Degrees, MPA, MA, Mphil, LLB, and another MA, sab alag alag jagah se li hai"
( I have lost my memory too, till I was 72, I could remember 70% of the words in an English dictionary, I even have 5 post graduation degrees, all from different places)
" Ek samay lagta tha ki kaafi taleem hai, but education never ends" ( Once I felt, I had studied too much)
"Mere paas to sirf ek hi UG degree hai sir" I add
( I am just an under graduate sir! )
"Kya farak padta hai, aap accha kamate ho, acchi knowledge hai, shaleenta se baate sunte ho, you use your knowledge a lot more than me"
( Makes no difference, you earn well, you know stuff, you talk well, and you listen, you use your knowledge more than me)
"I worked for ITPL then took a VRS and then worked at a lot of private firms, par kabhi ek bhi degree ka kaam nahi aaya" He continues.
( I worked for a government firm, then took early retirement and then worked for several private firms, none used any of my 5 degrees )
"12 - 22 aa gaya kya ?" (Is this my stop?) He shouts and then rushes to the door and gets down.
I wave a bye, which he doesn't see.