Though a lot of my colleagues have gone into politics and are standing for elections, I would never do so. Not I live to be another 79 years.
The nearest I have been to being in politics was when I was residing at the MLAs' hostel here for a couple of weeks, courtesy a BJP MLA.
After living all my life in Bombay, I suddenly found myself without accommodation. The landlord of the flat I was staying in wanted it back, and, since it was a condition at the time I had got it that I would vacate it the day he wanted it back, I had to do so. An advertisement in the ‘Accommodation Wanted' columns of The Times of India (which set me back some Rs. 750 for a single insertion), fetched me just one reply. That was for some dormitory accommodation somewhere in the outer suburbs, with a condition that I should pay monthly in advance, plus pay a deposit, and should not bring with me a truck of a size larger than a certain specification.
I was quite desperate. Then the MLA offered me his room; he was not using it and I could stay there as long as I liked, he told me.
The room was on the second floor, and it faced the rear side of the hostel. There was a balcony, but I could never open the door leading to it, because facing it was the rear of another facing it was the rear of another building and narrow gully in-between there was garbage accumulated over a decade, among them mango seeds of several seasons.
There were two rooms, a drawing-room of sorts and a bedroom, both furnished with government furniture. And all the furniture had numbers painted on them, like government files. The bathroom was large and sticky, the shower worked at one speed, the tap did worked at all, there was no provision to hang towels, put soap.
The room stank of cheap beedis, and entire building of paan and paan juices, red evidences of which could be seen all over.
Still, I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. It was very kind of the MLA to give me his room and I made full use of it. There was a bookstall downstairs, where I could go down in the morning and buy the papers, then sit in the MLA's restaurant and have a breakfast of tea and wada-sambar. Then come up again, sit on the same typewriter that I am using now, and write my column. And it was interesting meeting new crowds of villagers every day, who would come to the hostel to meet their MLAs.
At the end of two weeks, I found another accommodation, so I left. When I went to the counter to settle my bills, the clerk said: "No, no sir, you cannot pay. You are the MLA's guest.