The First Day in a PG

It sounds grand writing like this. At the end of another working day, I drive down 3.5km instead of 35km, and there I am. The road seems dustier than ever before. I park the car in front, the road leads to nowhere. In front, furious construction for some more identical multi-storied monsters that house these tiny cubicles. Perhaps, I think, my view is all too negative. Maybe there is a charm to staying here. I walk up, and examine my little room. There is the little mat, covered with someone’s clothes. It’s hastily removed. The geyser that should give me around a minute’s running time of hot water gleams in the bathroom. The LED TV welcomes me from the wall.

And then…the plumbing may be a little affected, I am told. Apparently, the pipe was broken by an overzealous worker. But it’s working, Vikas hastens to assure me. The TV doesn’t have a cable connection yet. Erm, ok. I never watch much of it, anyway I think. But there’s the rub. When you have it included in the list of features promised for the money you are paying, you start clamoring for it. The fridge will arrive in a couple of days.  Erm again. The promised Wifi? Erm, tomorrow. But there is something I can get today! And that’s the wardrobe. Color coordinated wardrobes. They are proud of this at the PG. Each room is painted in different colors. The wardrobe can match the red of the walls in my room. I walk down to the ground floor, and inspect the wardrobe. The owner of the PG is also down there. “This place will never be anything but a PG village,” he asserts. I look around at the buildings around me. In front of the PG building is an independent house. One of the few I see in this area. “The guy who owns the men’s PG next door owns this road, ” continues the owner.

“He owns what?” I query incredulous.

“This whole road. And he told me he doesn’t want to anything except build PG’s.”

In my mind, I imagine this PG dystopia. The Bangalore we are building. The PG of our dreams. All these ants running around clockwork to work in the massive IT parks, and then emerge, ID cards around their neck, smartphones in hands, to tumble out dreary and blurry and mind-drenched with the ennui of living. Little boxes. Little boxes. Is this life, I wonder?

Inside the PG, they are heaving the red wardrobe up to my room. I look at the narrow staircase. “Five minutes,” Vikas assures me. I sit outside in my car, a migraine pounding away. And wait. For the next 5 minutes of 1.5 hours. By the end of it, I climb up with two friends, and aghast find the red wardrobe lying ashamed by itself in the corridor of the first floor. The new walls are chipped away. The wardrobe’s own doors are chipped.

My friend asks a perfectly valid German question. “Haven’t they heard of IKEA?” he asks, looking at the damage as well. I shake my head. The Indian way is to first do. And then tackle the problems later, as someone I interviewed in Bosch once told me. Here, the problem lies in the corridor. Build a massive wardrobe. And make sure the staircase is narrow. So narrow that Posh Spice’s waistline would appear rather obese. “Tomorrow, we will break the grill and haul the wardrobe,” Vikas assures. There is something about this family – they are bumbling, fumbling, but I am yet to be angry with them. I leave the wardrobe to ruminate on its sorry fate in the corridor, and bring my own little luggage up the stairs.

In the night, the wind blows in through the window. It’s a little chilly. The plastic sheet on the mattress crinkles and crumples. And above it all, I can still hear the noise of the construction outside. Bangalore’s PG village never rests. But I do.

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