Let's Check the
Abid was a graduate
student at a prestigious educational institution established well
over a century ago on the banks of a sacred river. He is Muslin
in predominantly Hindu student community. But this didn't bother
either Abid or his friends since he was considered as a dove.
Abid though Muslim attended Hindu temples and Churches with his
Hindu and Christian friends though he preferred attending Hindu
temples over Christian churches because only at the temples at
the end of prayer session, a highly buttered sweet dish prepared
with cracked wheat was offered to the temple attendees.
Dark skinned and thin
built, Abid's command on languages including English was
impeccable. With no regional influence on his accent, he could be
from anywhere in the country or even outside the borders.
Abid was pursing research
in Entomology or science dealing with Bugs. His research work was
on mating habits of mealy bugs. He said he liked mealy bugs
because they were quite and worked undersides of the leaves,
sapping the plant juices and in the process making a defensive
white wax like material for their own protection from predators.
Was that a good reason for choosing one bug over another? One
would think working on attractive Ladybug would be more
Veera in short for
Veeraraghavan was from South of the country. He was Abid's side
kick. If Veera were not to open his mouth and speak out, he could
be mistaken for a person from up North because of his very fair
skin. With heavy emphasis on pronouncing letters like 'R' and
'T', made him readily recognizable as a person from South.
Whether he spoke English or any language for that matter, it
pretty much sounded like his native language since his speech
pattern was the same.
It was a tradition on the
campus for senior students to show the new comers the town
attractions that include good eating places, places to congregate
to watch girls, temples that serve free food and other places of
interest including market places.
In the evenings Abid
would gather the new arrivals to the campus particularly those
from the South for a chat and a short tour of the town. Among
many temples in town, one or two were selected for a quick visit
on bicycles for blessings and more so for free edible
As usual, one
evening, Veera rounded up few new comers to his room for Abid to
"To day we are visiting
Hanuman temple and then we are going to old town to check the
pulse(s)," announced Abid.
"Whose pulse we are
checking and why?" asked Juggernaut, a short light weight from
South with no knowledge of local language at all.
"Follow and learn, no
questions," it was Veera's turn for leadership.
After a quick visit to
the temple, the small student group with two students sharing
each bicycle was headed for old town, spearheaded by Abid and
Veera. On turning into a narrow, winding and dusty street, one
cannot ignore the strong pungent odor of frying mustard oil
emanating from the road side food shacks. Dismounting from the
bicycle, Abid made an announcement "This is the pulse market also
called 'Dahl Mundi' in local language."
Juggernaut with his
fellow freshmen looked around only to see brightly lighted shops
with several gunny bags opened at the top with its sleeve folded
down to expose its content; beans or also called pulses in all
colors from bright yellow split peas to red kidney beans to cow
peas or black eye beans and many other varieties of legumes with
colors ranging from white to black and in between.
"Now check out the
pulses," ordered Veera.
Juggernaut and others
started checking the pulses in the open gunny bags with their
fingers to get a feel. "Not in the bags you fools; look up at the
buildings," shouted Abid.
All the buildings were
two or three storied with dimly lighted balconies attached to the
windows. The students stopped meddling with the pulses and gazed
at the balconies protruding from the buildings only to see women
waving at them. Some just sat on stools in the balconies and
others stood waving their hands as an invitation to come upstairs
into dingy upper floors on the store front.
Veera smiling with his
gum line exposed made a pronouncement "At the pulse market, in
the shops downstairs money change hands for protein rich pulses
and money changes hands upstairs to rev up your pulse."
The ladies were still
shouting and throwing their hands in air inviting the students to
come upstairs to have fun. Apparently, the pulse market is also
the red-light district. A rare combination of commodities market
in holy city known for miracles.
Abid and Veera with
difficulty steered the unwilling students to ride behind them
waving back their hands to the women on the balconies.
Since then, Juggernaut
and the other new arrivals at the campus understood a whole new
meaning for the expression "Let's check the pulse(s)."