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21 January 2015

The Lady of the Lift

Photo credit: homelift.com
We spent most of our time in India on this trip, in Bombay. Once the wedding and its associated madness was over, S and I found ourselves busy with a lot of other stuff that needed to be taken care of - housing society woes, bank issues, insurance policies... It meant that we had to move from Thane to the western suburbs (praise be to whichever higher power is up there!) where we had originally lived. 

Even though we owned a flat there, it was given out on rent. And so, we found ourselves having to rent a flat ourselves. Talk about life's ironies. Now, taking young A with us everywhere we went meant that we would be slowed down, and unable to finish at least 75% of the tasks we had set ourselves. 

It was then that our niece came to our rescue. She lives in Bandra, and even before we had moved back into the suburbs, called to find out when she could come and kidnap young A. Talk about blessings! After I made the usual noises about not wanting to disturb her, and her avowals that she wouldn't be disturbed and, on the contrary, looked forward to having him spend the days with her, we decided that he would be dropped off at her house in the mornings before we began our frantic running around, and pick him up in the evening after we were done.  Of course, I enquired about whether it was okay with her every single day before we dropped him off. (I guess I couldn't fathom someone who was so eager for young A's company that she would willingly offer to keep him there - day after day.

In any case, that is the background. 

The first day, my niece picked A up from near where we were staying. We went to her house in the evening to pick him up. She lives in a very nice housing society in Bandra, close enough to all the conveniences, but nestled in a quiet, leafy lane that kept much of the noise of the city away. It was an older society and so, the lift was still the old-fashioned kind - the one with two iron grills that have to be closed before you can operate the lift. 

We haven't been in one of those for ages, and so, when we opened the inner grill, we were taken aback by a sepulchral voice imploring us earnestly: 'Please close the door. Kripaya darwaaza bandh keejiye.' Barely had I composed myself, when the lift stopped at her floor. We opened the grills only to be stopped in our tracks by the same message. Leaving me to wonder aloud how they expected us to get out of the lift if we were supposed to keep the doors closed all the time! 

This went on for two weeks. It got to a point where I was ready to take the stairs each time, if only to escape that disembodied voice! S decided that it would be far better to make one of his 'pomes' about it. Perhaps that would lay the 'ghost' to rest. (No, it didn't work.)

But I got a 'pome' out of it, and so, here, after a very long time indeed, is one of Sadu's Laments.  

The Lady of the Lift
On a warm winter’s day
In the city of Bombay
Auto-rickshawing to our niece’s flat
Little did we know we were to meet
Something that we’d rather not greet
But t’was fate and that was that.

While making way into our niece’s dwelling
There for the day, our son we were parking
On entering the lift to get to her floor
We heard a voice agitatedly say
Please close the door. 
Kripaya darwaaza bandh keejiye.

Up the elevator we were elevated
And we think we should have anticipated
That as we exited the lift door
We would heard the voice anxiously essay
Please close the door. 
Kripaya darwaaza bandh keejiye.”

On leaving the flat we braced ourselves
Now forewarned, but, like nervous gazelles
We started as the voice once more
Shrieked into our ears;  aye,
Please close the door. 
Kripaya darwaaza bandh keejiye.”

So now each visit was pre-pended
And not to forget appended
And whereas in other visits before
We had never been harried away
Now it was all “Please close the door. 
Kripaya darwaaza bandh keejiye.” 

Certainly a woman with an axe to grind
Doors were to be shut, not open, mind
I’m not certain she would eschew gore
She seemed to  be willing to slay
If you didn't get, Please close the door. 
Kripaya darwaaza bandh keejiye.”

So in a society in Bandra there still exists
This lady of the lift who will affect your wits
She will rant, she will scream, she will implore
And she never really has much to say
Except, “Please close the door. 
Kripaya darwaaza bandh keejiye.”  

And so when the time came to part, 
We had to leave Bombay at last
and we thought we would hear her dulcet tones no more.
But we heard in the aircraft as it taxied to the runway
Cabin crew, prepare for takeoff,  please arm all doors 
Kripaya kursi ki peti baandh deejiye...”

© Sadanand Warrier


  1. LOL! That was fun.

    Might be an interesting idea for a ghost story, actually...

  2. :) Truly. That voice grated on my nerves.

  3. Nalini Ikkandath22 January 2015 at 11:30

    Ha, ha! I'd like to borrow the idea. Our flat in Bangalore has a similar lift and somebody is always leaving the door improperly closed so that you have to charge upstairs or downstairs and shut the door tight. A disembodied voice might help everyone remember.

  4. Ayyo, noooo! You have no idea how irritating it is!

  5. :) at least you got a lovely 'pome' out of it ! There is always a silver lining... I am often in a lift that keeps reminding me ' there are no cashiers at the parking exits......' And 5th floor, there are no cashiers.... 4th floor, there are no cashiers... 3rd floor, and it goes on.......

  6. Yes we've been there before.
    There are no cashiers on any floor.
    Nor at the parking exits
    so if you need to visit
    leave your car at the door,
    for the Boston police to tow.
    It might be cheaper to pay
    the towing fine for a day
    rather than the daily parking price.
    These Boston city garages aren't nice.

  7. Yes, I did get a pome out of it, and it looks like you got one, too... :)

  8. Wah what a wonderful 'pome'! I could almost hear the drone like voice of the mysterious lift God. The picture is beautiful.
    Such fun to read :)

  9. Oh how wonderful of you to write so aptly. Thank you ! For both taking the time and writing a lovely piece. You ARE good with your words, both of you are actually, verse and prose.

  10. :) Thank you (on behalf of my husband). I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  11. Hello Anu's husband! You'll be pleased to know that these old lifts are still very much in use in our cities, Paris for instance. My daughter lived in the 15th arrondissement and there was such a lift! It didn't have the voice though, which paradoxically made it a little more human. Here's a funny video with a voice, enjoy!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAz_UvnUeuU


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