In India, we are known famously for our unmatched ‘jugaad’ skills or the ability to fix up a solution out of nowhere, which are often wildly creative.
As I stepped out, I saw the rain water puddles were still there, so were a variety of birds, chirping and tweeting up a storm. A mama lapwing with its chick, a partridge, two sparrows, and a cocky egret merrily stealing a ride on the back of a languorous buffalo. This pastoral scene, was enough to rejuvenate me. Every now and then the adult lapwing would caution her young one, with a peewit, while the unfazed chick seemed to be absolutely riveted by the sights and sounds of a world, it was, perhaps observing for the first time – so it skittered on – ploughing forth on unsteady feet.
A weird looking contraption stood on the road, and a very old couple, the man straight backed and agile and the woman, a trifle stooped and slow, on their morning walk, stopped to stare at it, and even discussed it with amused looks. It was an old, ramshackle Bajaj scooter hitched to a cart of equal degradation. Soon the owner, a rag picker appeared, with a sack, brimming with plastic bottles, polythene bags and sundry other things, useless to the rest, but very useful to the rag picker. He upturned the sack into the cart, and went away in search of more useful trash, the empty sack flung over his shoulder. The old couple also walked on, still casting intrigued looks at the contraption.
One labourer was still sleeping while his wife was trying to wake him up with snide remarks, and tittering self-consciously at her failure.
Every now and then he would raise his head, and look around with a vague air, as though trying to get his bearings. When shouts and sneers failed, she picked up the bucket of water that she had just replenished from the community tap, and upturned it on him. He sprung up from his bed swearing himself blue in the face, but the wife just laughed, racing away from him.
“Pakdo to janoon,” (catch me if you can), she ran, shouting, while her sleepy husband chased her with jerky movements. The other labourers cheered them on; maybe they too would have joined the marathon, but they were too slothful to run with them. The man chased her for some time, but his senses were still groggy from sleep and from the country liquour that he had had last night, that he soon retraced his steps and slumped down on the string charpoy, cursing under his breath.
“Arrey apni lugai sey hi haar gaya,” (he lost to his wife) the rest of the labourers guffawed and clapped, a trifle rejuvenated by the drama just unfolded. The rag picker looked in their direction with a lacklustre expression and trundled away on his scooter-cart.
“Hum dono bhi iss jugaad jaisy hain. Kewal bajtey hi rehtey hain,” (We two are like this weird contraption – forever creating a ruckus) the man said, looking at the cart till it disappeared from sight.
The sun came out from behind the clouds to fix the contraption with a merry twinkle of mirth, and the earth too brightened, welcoming the new dawn complete with its whimsicalities and idiosyncrasies. In India, we are known famously for our unmatched ‘jugaad’ skills or the ability to fix up a solution out of nowhere, often wildly creative. The scooter-cart is but rattling and tottering yet actively ticking illustration of the great jugaad, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.
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