Strange Days Indeed…!

You don’t know what to make of your days sometimes. Mine started with my phone ringing at work, I picked it up and answered, “Pragya speaking”. A brusque voice at the other end of the line started speaking sans pause:

“Hello this is Dwight Srules. We recently received a resume from you. In here you state you are looking for an equal opportunity employer. Why is that exactly? Are you in a wheelchair or something? If that’s the case then I got to tell you, our doorways are pretty darn narrow around here. Also it doesn’t state whether it’s a male or a female applicant and what with the weird names these days, we can’t tell. But we are looking for girls. Don’t call if you are a boy…unless…you like The Lord of the Rings or Battlestar Galactica…in that case do call. For more information about this opportunity please visit our website at…”

I was too startled by this message to make a note of the website address. The message sounded like a recording. So strange that it came to me! (ps: I don’t have any resumes circulating and never in a million years would it state I am seeking an equal opportunity employer!) How bizarre!I put the phone down in complete bafflement.

Then I glanced over to my office plant on the window sill. It looked dead! Never have I seen a deader plant! What’s strange about this is that the last time I glanced at it, maybe a couple of days ago, it was a healthy plant being watered once a week by the plant waterer guy. WHAT HAPPENED??
It is disconcerting enough to see a dying plant; fills one with all kinds of insecurities about ones nurturing abilities but a dead one, or a dead one that was alive till a couple of days ago? Don’t know what to make of that.

Then it was lunch time and during my daily stroll to the place where I pick up a few bites to eat, what struck me as odd, even though I witness the same scenes every day, was the city moving on at a steady clip, people unconcerned about anything around them, absorbed in their pocket gadgetry and electronic leashes, in a sleep like state. It felt like a dream. The kind of dream where you could walk over and around things without being concerned about their obstacle like qualities. I skirted around a hot dog vendor who was maneuvering his hot dog cart blindly, unable to see exactly where he was headed. I crossed the streets as I always do, just before the walk sign appears and as soon as the other traffic light turns yellow, some cars and buses ended up blocking the sidewalk but I walked around them as well as if they weren’t even there, the other pedestrians did the same.

The next sight is a frail old woman on the sidewalk. I have seen her before. She has been arranging her old shoes, old clothes, knick-knacks – the kind people arrange on their mantelpieces or above the crocheted TV covers – as if she’s setting up shop. All the things she’s so meticulously laying out are old and shabby and for sale! She appears to be selling all her meager possessions. Yet it’s only my peripheral vision that’s capturing this scene. My eyes are downcast as are hers, she never looks up or away from the hanging and arranging activity. I am too disconcerted to look her way and I feel ashamed. I wonder if her pride would allow her to accept money if I offered it or would she insist on handing me one of her old things for the money? I don’t want to find out and I don’t like myself too much for not wanting to find out.

Walking back with my lunch in my hand, I see a crowd gathered near 44th Street. The crowds didn’t seem to be sleepwalking or moving about in a dream-like state anymore, they looked anxious and upset. As I got closer I saw the reason why. There were police cars all over. Yellow police tape had been placed around a large truck and there was a body covered in white in the middle of the street. People wanted to know what had happened and were asking the cops. The cops just wanted them to stand back and not interfere with police proceedings. I walked away even as I kept glancing back at the scene. I didn’t know what had happened or how. I found out a few hours later that the person had been walking off the sidewalk, but close to it. A truck was trying to parallel park and was backing into a spot. The pedestrian was apparently in a blind spot for the truck driver and was hit by it as the driver was reversing. The pedestrian died on the spot.

Th clock strikes five, the work day is over and now it’s time for rehearsals for the show I have talked about in earlier posts. It’s at a studio that’s 20 blocks away. I start walking toward the studio with two other band members. We are, once again, dodging crowds and walking, it’s dark, even though it’s only five. And then, out of the blue something wet and slimy lands right on the left side of my eyeglasses. Had I not had glasses on it would have landed in my eye. I still don’t know what it was! It wasn’t bird droppings even though it fell from up above, in fact it was the same consistency as spit. But unless someone stuck their head out of the skyscrapers and spit, there was no way spit could have landed right on me from up above. Once again I am baffled and much more than just a little bit disconcerted, not to mention completely grossed out, for want of a more appropriate expression. I took off my smeared glasses and held it at arm’s length. I had to wipe some of the stuff off my forehead too and didn’t know what to do with my hands. The folks I was walking with tried to reassure me that it wasn’t anything nasty, that it was just water from the window air conditioners above, but the consistency was too spit-like for my comfort. I had to duck into the nearest delicatessen and use their restroom to clean my hands and face to my satisfaction (and actually I am still not satisfied!). This is also strange because just this morning as I walked to work I was upset and angry about the crowded New York streets where so many walkers didn’t think twice about turning their heads and spitting. That is the nastiest habit certain humans have. I remember thinking – “Do they even look around to see if anyone is near them before they do that?” – and it seems come evening I fell victim to my worst fears!

It reminded me of an instance a few years ago. I had watched Alfred Hitchcock’s – The Birds – one night. The next morning I was walkng across the University of Maryland campus, heading for class – when out of nowhere a bird flew straight at me and pecked me on the forehead, nicking me. Is this some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy or weird synchronicity?

That is the last word on this long day that still refuses to end. Goodnight all!

2 Comments

  1. Spooked out! Some days are strange, I knew. But this one tops all the abnormalities I've ever known.Here's to normalcy, and to better days!Ronj

  2. as i was walking from the parking lot at Maryland towards the engineering building on graduation day, a bird decided to unceremoniously deposit its droppings on my cap and gown… which foreshadowed that it was going to be all down hill from there. 🙂 … and just the other night as i was on the roof, i had this irresistable compulsion to spit at life… no worries though … there was no one below… unless you believe in those spacetime portal thingies… then it might be one of those cascading life vortexes… who knew spit would carry so far!the angry spitting god


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