It was a rainy afternoon. And when it rains in the Sahyadris–the long line of hills that run parallel to India’s west coast–it only pours without mercy. We were biking from Gokarna to Sirsi and there was nothing protecting us from the rains. We kept riding despite being wet and dripping, despite the raindrops lashing on us hard. Somewhere, at a fork in the road in a thickly a wooded area, it stopped raining in a while. We came across a tea-shop nearby and decided to break the journey a bit.
There were two people at the tea-shop, one of them the owner of the shop and the other person seemed to be his acquaintance from a nearby village. They were conversing casually, which was interrupted by our arrival as the shop-keeper broke off to slice a tender coconut for my fellow rider. I glanced at the shop, which hardly had any merchandise on it’s shelves. There were a few biscuit packets, local brands of crunchies, stuff to make tea and omelette, and little else.
From the looks of it, the owner did not look like he was too keen to make some good money from the shop. He seemed to be only using the shop as a means to kill time in his otherwise idle life. A few minutes later, his acquaintance was ready to leave and he looked unhappy about having to spend rest of the time by himself. He tried to stay busy by arranging stuff in the shop and finding things to do where nothing existed. I then felt it would be nice to have a tea after the rainy ride, and asked him for one.
Ondu tea maadtheera? ‘Will you make some tea?’
He paused from his work of trying to appear busy, looked up to me slowly and thought for a short interval, while I stared at him and awaited his answer. He took his time to think about my question and pondered as though he is working on resolving all the serious problems affecting the universe. A few silent moments later came his response in a lazy and uninterested tone –
illa.. eega maadudilla.. No.. won’t make it now..
I was slightly disappointed about missing my tea, and we moved on. Later, discussing about his response on our journey further, we burst into a laughter. He wasn’t the least bothered about how much money he was making at the end of the day, nor was he probably dependent on the shop to make his ends meet. And the place he had chosen for his business was so deserted and away from habitation that a dozen customers in a day would be the peak business he can expect. His targets were most likely his friends who would drop by at the end of a day to have a good time together, even if they did not bring in any business. No revenue targets, no growth pressures and no interest in making an extra buck, but just an idle and contented life! And no managers to report to, no fussy subordinates to keep up with and no one to be responsible for. Naturally, at a time he was feeling lazy, he was least interested in spending efforts to make tea, and subsequently wash the glasses and utensils!
Seemed like a good way to live!