He carefully placed his large square thick rimmed spectacles on his nose, lovingly combed his rock-star like shoulder length hair, gave the same treatment to his moustache, wore a thin plain-white half-sleeved cotton shirt that could be easily mistaken for a ganjee, pulled up his bell-bottomed trousers over his torn underwear, slipped on his frayed black leather chappals that he had himself polished lovingly last night, grabbed his colorful thelaa that contained his flute and his lunch dabba that his mother had packed and headed out of his tiny but clean apartment with a spring in his steps and a song on his lips. He felt good about himself. He was confident of his future. It was the 1970s in Bombay, the air was clean, the people were friendly and the roads and buses and trains were commutable. He was recently employed full-time with a famous band that made music for the movies and he could play the flute like nobody's business. The band had promised him lifelong employment and then a monthly pension plan after retirement, as was the case with most types of jobs back then. He believed in honesty, uprightness, hard work, doing the right thing irrespective of the outcome, respecting women, valuing people over material things and all those ideals that people were expected to follow. He didn't have much education but he knew his job will see him through the rest of his life.
His secure future brought him happiness. His days were spent playing the flute, gossiping with his fellow musicians during breaks, eating his dabba under a shaded tree in the movie studio's compound, sneakily eyeing the movie's beautiful heroine getting her make-up done, mentally tracing her body contours under her tight saree and sleeveless white blouse that was knotted in the back and transparent enough to reveal that she was wearing a black bra. He wondered why the black bra got him much more excited than the white (other colors weren't available yet). But immediately after such thoughts he felt guilty since he was taught to respect womenkind and so he made a mental promise to the heroine to never again check the color of her bra (but he kept doing it). He dreamt of having a family, with a wife more beautiful than the heroine and kids who would go to good English medium schools. His evenings were spent wandering around the city aimlessly, breathing in its sights and sounds, perhaps catching a movie with his band's music where he felt mighty proud when he heard his own flute being played. In the evening he sometimes took the luxury of gorging himself with a few street wada-pavs when he knew that his mother was going to make his much despised brinjal curry for dinner. He could afford these royal pleasures. He believed that life was perfect in his India of the 70s and his beloved Bombay would provide for him and his family.
(to be continued in part 2)