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Last batch out

I told him I belonged to no batch: no direct recruit, no quota product, not even a nominee from the services or cadres of political sufferers.

india Updated: Apr 28, 2006 21:41 IST

I live in a society housing complex. This society comprises and is managed by a biradari of what the media gleefully refer to as ‘babus’ -- mainly retired ones. To make life comfortable for themselves, benches have been set up in the common greens. At that age, it is assumed that most of them could be showing the beginnings of ageing oddities -- no unkind cut there.

While reclining on one of these benches one day, I was seized by the languor of the heavy weather and dozed off -- only to find myself holidaying in Acapulco, a classy Mexican resort.

I lay in a hammock in Omar Khayyam mode, sipping ‘a cup of wine’ underneath a ‘bough’ to the accompaniment of calypso singers, giving full-throated vent to the Belafonte classic ‘Six foot… seven foot… banana…’.

I was jerked out of my reverie by a hulk of a man feverishly shaking me.  “Do you live here?” he gibbered. I nodded. “Which batch?” he asked. I thought the man had quite lost it. I felt even worse once I became conscious of my surroundings -- far from Acapulco, I had been catapulted into the drab environs of Delhi. I chided him, “Why did you have to appear now? I was having a whale of a time in Acapulco.”

“Zazy place Acapulco. Never been there, though,” he babbled. Making room for him to sit by my side, I looked at him questioningly. “I am ’64 batch,” he introduced himself. “Yes, ’64 was a good year,” I responded on autopilot. “Which batch?” he almost shouted. Then it dawned. He wanted to know the year I’d joined the civil services. I told him I belonged to no batch: no direct recruit, no quota product, not even a nominee from the services or cadres of political sufferers. “Grade I, Grade II, Grade III?” he asked. The hulk apologised for troubling the wrong person. “How can I get in touch with the right man,” he asked. “You can try other benches,” I replied.

He sauntered about for a while and came back. “They are busy among themselves and have no time for me,” he said.

I offered him some free advice. “Listen pal,” I said, “Most of the people here are retired. No one relates to batch and grade any more.”

We all belong to the terminal batch.