Bahadur our watchman

R Ganesh
R Ganesh

I met Ganeshji not in the century that I was born but had to wait for the onset of the new millennium plus almost eight years for the planets to synchronise and be at the right position to create a favourable grah dasha.

Ganesh ji a prolific blogger, banker, company secretary, connoisseur of music and a foodie plus many things known and unknown.. had earlier written for Vrikshamamdir about Raju Thapa our guest house care taker cum cook when the three of us Ganesh ji, Virindra Behla ( Viru) and Shailendra were working for a Company based in Indore and used to stay in the company guest house during our visits to the city.

Here he writes about watchman Bahadur.

Sometime last year Bahadur breathed his last and we lost the Nepali friend who was a part of our life for more than half a century. Bahadur was the watchman at Anand Apartments on the Versova Road, Andheri where we had lived for over twenty years. And we had known him even before Anand Apartments as he had managed to move with our family from the earlier buildings as if he was one of our furniture. He had joined as a young boy on the watch duty at my aunt’s building in Ghatkopar and was invited to join our building duty at Gavthan lane sometime in late 60s until we moved over to Anand apartments and thus continued his association with our family.

We had always wondered how old he was as his short and lean body structure gave no clues! One could not fathom how this 5 ft man never added even a kilogram to his frame in all the years that I had seen him! He was always active, full of zest whether he was playing badminton with the building boys or watering the plants or even when he was driving away the kids from straying on to the main road. He was a master at badminton, difficult to beat in a game and must have coached every young boy in the building. His energy level was always at its peak during Holi and Shivratri when he would make the dangerous concoction of bhang and invite all the teen agers to the rear side of the building, away from the watchful eyes of the elders, to quickly gulp glasses after glasses of it! His preparations of fish and chicken were a legend and he would never forget to sneak in a portion for my family as soon as he saw my mother getting out of the building.

He was an ubiquitous presence in all our family events. He had his own storehouse of mischief and had a habit of shouting out from the ground floor “Ganesh bhai… come down…” whenever the neighbourhood girls were on the road so that I could go chasing them! And, he also didn’t miss an opportunity to narrate those Romeo stories to my own children! Yet it was difficult to be angry with him or admonish him as his charm never failed to win one over! Indeed his presence in our family can easily be assessed if you were to glance the wedding photos of my children where at the lunch table I am flanked on the one side by Usha and on the other by Bahadur!!!

There is one incidence that I can never forget relating to Bahadur.

Those were the days of black & white TV and colour TVs were still a luxury not that a middle class family could afford even a B&W!. But my father had managed to get a Cinevista B&W at a discount and it had already served us few years. The noise it made was an inevitable part of every song sequence on Chitrahar and even Arjun had started to look like Duryodan in Mahabharat due to the distortions on the screen. Consequently kids seemed to spend more time in the neighboring Gupte residence as they had a relatively newer TV set. The lobbying for a colour set was building up in the house and the tantrums had also become more intense.

That started the search for an affordable colour set and after intense enquiries we settled on a decently priced piece at a dealer in Four Bungalows. I do not remember the cost but I am sure it must have been the equivalent of at least my half a year’s salary! It was an investment made in order to buy peace at home and more as an instrument to retain the children at home during the regular meal hours. The set was booked with a token payment. The dealer had after a lot of haggling agreed to deliver it at home and collect the balance price.

It was a Sunday morning and the delivery was due at about 11 am. The house was decorated to receive the new member and a neat and tidy spot had been decided to place the piece. Children were awake early in the morning and had a quick bath and break fast all in anticipation of the arrival. The tension at home was quite visible as in those anxious moments no one knew how to be normal and enjoy the entertainment that was expected to be provided. Bahadur was also at our house and kept his running commentary of the world events in a non stop chatter!

We kept looking at the clock and were anxious as it was already 11.30 and the delivery had not yet taken place. Bahadur added to the drama with his constant lamenting “Ganesh bhai .. yeh aaj nahi aanewala hai…” as he kept anxiously running to our second floor balcony to check. And then we heard a vehicle’s arrival and Bahadur jumped in excitement and sprinted to the door to help the unloading and carry to the house. He would have, I am sure, wanted to jump straight to the ground floor but fortunately decided in his wisdom to take the stairs. The children had also run down after him.

Suddenly we heard a huge explosion and sounds of shattering glass! We ran to the balcony to check and saw our Tv lying on the floor crashed into pieces. Apparently they had not managed to properly lift it off the taxi’s carrier on top and the set had fallen down. We also then saw Bahadur few steps away in a frozen trance with his arms stretched out almost as if he was lending a hand in the process of unloading or dropping it to the floor!!

In a short while the dealer’s man came up and lamented on his boss’s decision in having taken the delivery burden but essentially accepted that it was their fault that caused the drop. They left after promising another delivery in two days. All this while Bahadur stood in a corner blabbering about how he was lucky not to have reached soon enough to lend a hand at the delivery process. He had been saved from being blamed for the damage just because he was a few seconds late!!

What a relief and we had saved our money as Bahadur was unusually inefficient for a change!


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