0

Waiting

This is one the most boring and irritating things I have to do in life. Waiting. Usually waiting for someone to turn up. I have gotten into the habit of always carrying a book around, just in case. It happens quite often too…

Everything focuses on that one instant. Time slows down. Things around are moving so fast and you are stuck in this place at the mercy of someone or something else. It reflects in your fidgety posture, the downcast eyes. The arrhythmic glances towards the watch and your phone for messages almost seem like a nervous tic.

After a while of scanning the horizon for the person to arrive, you give up. Whichever square of space you are looking at suddenly becomes very interesting. You try to find meaning in the cracks of the pavement, some pattern. This punctuated by surreptitious glances upwards, when will the wait end.

Then they arrive. Life moves on, it is like nothing happened. No one else was in that moment with you, you lost that part of your life by yourself. All you gain from that moment was a temporary intimacy with the pavement.

IMG_20140522_191834

Aside
1

Accepting Genie’s limits on time travel and falling in love, what are my 3 wishes within the realm of reality?

Since I’m daydreaming anyway,let me ask for :

2 passes that will guarantee a seat in any people transport in the world.

2 passes that will guarantee food in any eating place the world

2 wallets/cards that generate 5 $ a day for ever

 

For solitude is well and good, but sometimes you just need the company of the fellow traveller…

0

Word Power

I hit that sweet spot, just late enough, the soothing calm of late evening as I walked along campus today. The light was diffuse, ambient brightness just soothing enough. Harsh reds and yellows of the afternoon replaced by mellow oranges and magnolia. I could feel the the light wind ruffle through my beard, a gentle caress. It brushed against my skin slowly taking away all the tiredness of the entire day. The perfect combination of cool and warm, spring. Birds were returning home, I presume, all of them talking at once. Not a cacophony, a melody. The ambience did not let anything harsh intrude upon itself, everything was filtered through a peaceful calm. It altered my mood, I could feel the trees around me gently waving in the breeze, a days job done, time to sleep. The road was almost empty, the few people who were on their way home not making a sound, probably reveling in this paradise of a moment.

I went into a building, came out about fifteen minutes later. The drastic transformation outside immediately invoked that word. The word that has been coming up in my mind for a while now, exerting undue influence.

CREPUSCULAR

Twilight had fallen. Birds silent, breeze absent. A dark, heavy stillness hung in the very air, you could feel it in pressing down on you. The failing light showed everything unfavorable. Long shadows, menacing. The city lights started coming on, but looked really ugly without the utter darkness of the night that usually frames them to make them look pretty. The other people walking around looked like pale ghosts, motives unknown, faces unseen. A moment ago, DAY had let out one final beautiful breath, and NIGHT hadn’t arrived yet, and we hung in this putrid purgatory, an uneasy state of transition. I quickened my pace, to escape this brooding, heavy miasma into the relatively safe confines of my office. Once inside the building, I deliberately slowed down, taking the longer route to go up, hoping that the spectre of this unseemly twilight had passed. It had. Night has fallen as I think about the events of the last few minutes and look out my window at the pinpricks of light that sit tight within the surround blackness, the interplay of white and black and neon painting minimalist painting of a city gearing up for some night time jiving.

Just that one word, crepuscular, transformed the soothing balm of the evening into a festering mass of dark thoughts. If you have noticed, the word has wormed its way into all my recent writings, usually in inappropriate places. It crops up in my head, exerting its power at unexpected times. It is not alone and the other words are not so dark either. There are many such words that become fixed in your imagination, due to some incident or other. Such is the effect of this evening on me today, the other words elude me at this moment. Sometimes, like in this case, there is no story, the word crepuscular just fascinates me. It invokes so many things within the confines of about four syllables transforming everything, from a gentle breeze to a vile miasma just like that. Creepy, pustular, are the other subliminal words that are whispered in the background. The word invokes a sudden darkness, not complete, but just enough to invoke the despair of the description above. Such power. I wont even venture to dissect the profound effect of this word, or others on the mind in the right context because it is so self evident. It is a matter of experiencing it, feeling it. The word is not beyond words, but all its influence is explained away by eleven letters in sequence: Crepuscular.

Do we give power to the words we use, or do they come equipped with their own force?

2

WHY

A candle. Fresh, virgin, unused. Nothing wrong with it, nothing special either. It just is. One day – a spark of of inspiration perhaps – it is needed to illuminate the patio. Lets do this.

There is a glass hurricane-shade for protection. Simple, adequate, passively does its job.

First day, storm! The blustery squall rages in the darkness. The flame burns, quietly raging on. Illuminates. The shade looks on, not interfering, letting things stand, shading.

Next day. Sometime after the storm, in the crepuscular light of the grey morning, the flame went out. Something, someone, broke the shade. Who? What? The candle and the shade were too busy passively letting things be. The flame saw, but…

Now the candle is like before. Burnt, wiser. Awaiting another shade. It is capable of flaming up from time to time if it heats up enough, but the wind blows out the flame instantly, leaving the scattered carcass of wispy smoke…

Here I can think of two important questions:
What next? Well, the candle needs a shade, but the flame is still independent of that, in a way. The shade was the coming together of some sand an artisan and some money, almost free of any influence of the candle. Though, the flame and the darkness are the crux, they bring the ingredients together. It has happened before, will happen again, when the conditions align again.

More importantly:
Why did the shade break?

-Chinar

April 12 2014

Aside
0

Jindagi main badi samasya hain aayi…
Pura ulta pulta ho gaya hoon…

Meri to raaton ki neend haram ho gayi…
Aaj kal bas din main sota hoon…

Edit : I have been informed that this is a widely used cliche in shayari… So I cannot claim authorship… Maybe I read it somewhere and forgot. Hopefully it is still mildly amusing…

0

No More

No more

shouting

laughing

joking

WaHo-ing

No more.

 

No more

crazy nights

whatsapp fights

stupid card games

intense debates

No more

 

No more

Smiling faces

roof escapes

gaming on the sly

TV on the fly

No more

 

No more

Karaoke lights

fcg nights

fun toys

rum boys

No more…

 

maybe a little, please?

lets do a little atleast…

 

no no more.

0

Himachal Parikrama

Taken from my old blog, dated June 4, 2012

 

[For those who dont understand Hindi, Himachal is a state in the north of India and parikrama means circuitous trip]

So. Some of you may have noticed that I was out of the grid for the last 15-20 days. I was trekking in the Himachal 🙂 . This is an account of that whole trip… [Kindly forgive the hindsight-y digested account. Didnt have pen-paper to record live reactions.]

18 May
left from Nashik. AC chair car, nice reserved seats and all.
Met Mandar and Sharvari in Mumbai. Usual frantic last minute purchasing [camera, in this case] and we are off. Again nicely booked, reserved seats.

19 May
Delhi. Long haul to a place, where we had to keep Sharvari’s extra luggage. some rest, and off to see Swapnil. bus to manali at night.

20 May
Woke up [still in the bus] to see the Beas parallel to the road, completing a beautiful sunrise frame. Beas showed us the way right up to Kullu, and onwards to Babeli, that was our base camp. Mild excitement about the beautiful valley turns to OOOOH LA LA when we see our first snow covered peak from the road.
Once we get set up in the camp, rest of the day is off. We meet Naval uncle, one of the nicest people in our group [SK-26]. Later in the evening, me and Shar go off to explore Kullu. We meet Naval uncle there, and have a pleasant 7 km walk back to camp.
Food is superb

21 May
Early morning exercises leave everyone a little buzzed. Excrutiating and fun at the same time.
Acclimation walk. Much discussion about the difference between acclimation, acclimatisation and adaptation. Started meeting people. Kalyan has organised tent-14 into one group. We meet Ajinkya, also a Punekar. Naval uncle and I trade stories. Walk is over in a short time. Rest of the day is off, we decide to go to Kullu for more shopping after the orientation.
Kullu is a pleasant town. After coming back, SK-26 preps for camp fire. people sing and tell jokes. Hits are Mandars ghazal and Rishi uncle’s Saurkundi dhaam story.

22 May
Everyone is a bit bored, the schedule leaves us loads of free time. Today we just have the usual exercises and some rock climbing and rappelling. This is fun. Mandar becomes famous in the group by climbing many rocks. Later in camp, girls ask about the singer who can climb rocks.

23 May
D-Day. We move to higher camp. We bid adieu to the field director Mr Gogate [he won’t be there when we come back]. Our group has 48 guys and 3 girls. Unusual combination. Off to Patlikuhl to start the walk to the first camp, Segli.
The walk is pleasant, through thick pine forests. A bunch of locals walk with us, plying us with buttermilk, rhododendron juice and food at every rest point.
Camp is in a village, in an old wooden house. after settling in, we roam around a bit. Later, everyone chats up Ajay, the youngster who is the scion of the family who owns the house. He is a big audience guy and gets going very nicely. Later, he also sings at the camp fire.

a note on the groups : we begin noticing groups and people of SK-26 by now. there is a big Gujju group, a tent-14 group [mostly from NITs]  , a telugu group of four, our group of 4-5, an older people group of 5-6 and 2 groups of four from mumbai and nagpur each. The rest assort themselves. There is a group of Deaf-Mute guys, 3 of them. Expert trekkers, they regale us with jokes and in general have loads of fun.

24 May
Farewell to camp leader Manoj kumar as we move to higher camp Hora. a brief interlude to a water-fall is the only new thing. Walk is good, the peaks move closer. After settling in, me Mandar and Ajinkya venture upwards for a bit of exploration.

Camp is nice, our first without electricity.

25 May
Since there is no camp leader here, some enterprising people light a camp fire in the morning. Much fun and talking. Some people organise cricket. Around 10, we move. shortish walk, we reach Maylee. Nice camp on a slope with a view. Best camp leader yet [and overall too], Mr Jignesh welcomes us. Camp has nice rolling greens, nice place to sit and chat. Some play cricket, some of us chat. Akash shares his love of movies with me.

Camp Fire is highly energetic today, this is our last one. We sing Beatles songs out of tune, play garba and whatnot. much fun. After everyone sleeps, a few of us go to the guide’s tent and ask them to sing local songs. they regale us late into the night. Super songs, that we hum all the way down to Babeli.

26 May
I wake up early today. Decide to foray along the sides of the mountain we are on, to check out the view from the ridge that is just visible. It is deceptive, and I walk through fields and brambles and whatnot to the ridge, a long way across. Its worth the view.
Short climb today, but virtually vertical. First sight of snow, small patches just before Camp Dora. After camp, again we explore the top. We see our first view of the full Kullu-Manali valley. We can hear a faint roar as Beas rages below.
The walk down is a run. The terrain has unexpectedly gouged holes and this is our first adrenaline rush as we miss the holes by mere inches, running at full tilt. 
Dora has the best views so far.

27 May
Usual sunrise. Everyone preps for a long day, the longest so far. Even our lunch is just biscuits and Frooti, to avoid high altitude nausea.
We reach the top. Snow is ubiquitous now, though it doesn’t cover more than 50% of the land. We have left the tree-line far behind.
Guides change, we wait and play in the snow.
New guides lead us downwards.
    Snow-Slides.
            There are two slides. Long steep patches of snow, where you slide down on your bum. The first one is quite long, about 1 km. But people clog the lane, we cannot go down full speed. A few of us climb back half way [walking on snow is fun!] and come down again, no brakes. Super fun! The next slide is a small one, but very steep. This time we are all experts and we slide down nicely.
Camp is a bit ragged, and in a not-so-nice spot. But the food is ample and we are high on the euphoria of the slide.

28 May
Climb down to Lekhni is fun, but nothing new to look at. A few people make some excuses and climb down all the way, to go home early. We stay put and reach the beautiful bungalow at Lekhni. Here we eat a local steamed sandwich, siddu. A lively game of dumb charades sprouts up, much fun is had.

29 May
We amble down to Alu Ground, chatting all the way down. On the way, we eat the most exquisite strawberries ever seen by yours truly. they are selling small cup-full of berries, at 10 bucks a cup. we finish all the cups they have. The base camp is almost packed up as we reach Babeli, since we are one of the last groups. We have lunch and depart for rafting. Rafting is fun, but not out of this world. Everyone makes plans, departs. Fond farewells.
We plan to go to Srinagar via Pathankot. We change our plans midway and get down at Dharamsala in the night.

30 May
Short naps in the hotel room at Dharamsala refills out batteries. We set out to explore Mcleodganj. It is a nice little touristy place, with a high concentration of Tibetan refugees. We cannot decide on a plan of action till 6 pm as loads of alternate plans crop up. Finally, on the insistence of Shar’s parents, we decide to stay put in McLeod, and leave on the morrow. we go down to Dharamsala, get our bags up and spend the night in the most awesome guest house ever. No frills, it is nice a clean place, with open spaces and pleasant styling. We eat tibetan food at Hotel Tibet. Gyathuk with mutton momos. Gyathuk is a soup-like thing, a kind of tibetan ramen, with noodles meat and veggies. It is heavenly.

31 May

We get up and visit the temple of His Holiness The XIVth Dalai Lama. It is modern boxy structure, but it excudes charm and peace and quiet. The tibetan chants lend the place a spiritual aura.
We eat a HUGE breakfast at Jimmy’s italian kitchen. Off to Bhag-su Naag temple, the Kul-Daivat [Home God] of the Gurkha Regiment. It is a nice temple, chock-full with tourists. The Bhag-su Naag waterfall is long and nice.
We buy some yak and rabbit wool clothing from friends and family.
Lunch is at Tibet Kitchen. We eat bhutanese and tibetan food that leaves us smiling with joy. The food experience at McLeod has been awesome. Awesome.
Bus to Haridwar leaves from Dharamsala at 5 pm. Route is scenic, and we sleep as the sun goes down. Bus breaks down in the middle of the night and we spend a sweltering 45 minutes in the workshop of Uuna bus sand.

1 June

We wake up to the hustle and bustle of Haridwar. Uttarakhand is a big change from Himachal. We dont venture out from the bus stop at Haridwar. We somehow manage to get a bus to Rishikesh, an incomprehensible task at the chaotic bus stand. The bus is stuck on 3rd gear half way through, and we chug our way into a desolate Rishikesh bus stand.  We do not know that the stand is a little way out of the city proper, and the first look at Rishikesh is a bit surprising. We check into the nearest decent place. We are advised to take a 410 rupee rickshaw, that will show us all the sights of the nice little town.
We cross the Ganges via the Lakshman Jhula. Me and Mandar dip into the Ganga at a nice semi-isolated place. As we walk towards Ram Jhula, our way back, we start seeing the crowds that are expected at such a place of pilgrimage. We have tea/coffee in a hippy cafe, and walk back across the Ganga using the Ram Jhula to our rickshaw. He shows us some more sights. We go to the hotel and rush to the bus stand.
Here too, chaos reigns. Though we are in time, it seems the bus we had planned on using is already full. We catch the next one to Delhi.

2 June
We wake up as the bus pulls into Anand Vihar bus stand at Delhi. We make plans, and go to Mr Ganeshan’s place, where Sharvari has her bags. We eat some breakfast, take naps, say our goodbyes to Sharvari and leave around 2 to the railway station.
In the hustle and bustle of the last 2 days and the tons on conflicting instructions, We haven’t been able to book tickets back. We decide to rough it in the general compartment. The ticket person suggests Paschim express, we rush to New Delhi station to catch it. I cannot believe how full it is as it pulls into the station. We enter, somehow. Mandar goes left, I go right. We never see each other until we alight at Mumbai. I get to sit after a couple of hours, as some people get down. Once I sit, I get up only twice, momentarily to stretch my legs. No food, no bathroom breaks, nothing. We get down at Borivili, rush to mumbai central. Mandar gets me something to eat as I buy a ticket to Nashik.
Here, though there is a big crowd, I get to sit in the door. A breezy 4 hours is nothing compared to a sweltering 22 hours. at 8:30 pm, I step out of Indian Rail property after a total of 28 hours.




Weirdly, I am not tired at all.






 
The blue line is the valley. Saurkundi is just to the left of the line [near Patlikuhl]. 
Dharamsala is marked. Mcleodganj is about 10 km away, sitting pretty right on top of Dharamsala [on a mountain]
In the bottom right corner, you can probably see Rishikesh. 
0

An exercise in Tragedy

Taken from my old blog, June 8, 2012

 

Let me tell you a story. There is this man I know, lets call him S. All his life, S has carried an unusual burden of misfortune on his back. Recently, something more was added to this heavy load, which has triggered this blog post. Let me start at the start, though.


S is the youngest of four siblings, an eldest brother, and two sisters. His dad was a big leader, a do-gooder in their village. Being a bit more privileged than their peers, all four enjoyed a happy childhood. Big brother is a large, caring man. Big sister is the rock of the family, the practical person. Little sister is the emotional one, the one who takes care of everyone. S is a combination of all three. He is by far the most naturally intelligent person I have met in my life. He is practical, caring and all that, but the most striking thing about him is his ready wit and intelligence. He was literally the apple of his parent’s eyes. “S will become the most famous doctor in this land” his dad would often say, with good reason. 


When he was young, S was a carefree youth. he had a big future in front of him, everything to look forward to. At this juncture, he did something inexplicable. He skipped his 12th exams. Just didn’t go. You ask why, but I do not know the answer to that question. He just did. His dad got him a job in the local sugar factory he had started. He was married off to a cousin. His dad soon died in a haze of alcoholism, leaving behind a shambles of an estate. The vultures soon moved in. 


The sisters married off to men outside the village, into big cities, soon lost touch with the family. The men were hot-headed, up and coming engineers who shunned their ‘callow’ in-laws as they moved up in the world. They had forgotten the all important push S’s dad had given them when they started. It was left to S and elder brother to take care of the mounting debts and old family home. Hoping to avoid conflict and acrimony, S left for a nearby city and elder brother took care of the family farms. 


In the city, S supported his wife and small kid by starting a small business of his own. Very precarious, but he managed to get a toe hold in by dint of hard work, ingenuity and his innate ability to talk his way into any situation and setting. This is the first time we meet his daughter. Looking at the precocious girl, you could shades of S in her. Very self aware, she had realised at a young age that her dad would have to slog all his life to keep his family and her just above the water and surviving. She vowed to lend a hand as soon as she could. She, with her single minded devotion, applied herself to her studies, building a dream to someday be an IAS officer. In time, S gave her a baby sister too. Big daughter looked at her and was spurred on. Things were looking good. 


One fine day, the business he had set-up went bust, and S’s partners ran away with a load of cash. He was broke, jobless with nowhere to go. During this time, S and elder quarrelled over the family estate and the farms were divided into two. So S did have something to do, go home and start farming. Mrs S didn’t want to go and live with her in-laws. She persuaded him to go and live at her folks place, them being old and alone and all. This is at a nearby village, so he could easily tend to the farms and such. Since education is such a costly business, he scrimped and saved every tiny penny and shored it up for the future. You’d be amazed at his resourcefulness and a rare capability of extracting the maximum use out of any object.


Farming in this area is hard. There is a severe shortage of water. S has a well near his farm, but its source has dried up. So his well is essentially a tank. What he and a couple of neighbours  do, is borrow water from the well in the vicinity that has water. Now since everyone wants more water, you have to be constantly aware of the levels of water, best times for use etc and make sure no one is cheating and that you get the best deal. 


In any case, he started to re-build his life, at his in-law’s place. Farming is a tough business, but he stuck to it. Daughters went to good schools in the area, progressing steadily. Mrs S found a job at a local school. Stability looked just around the corner. I use the word stability very loosely here. What kind of stability is this? The whole village laughs at the two brothers, for squandering the family fortune. They forget that most of it was spent in the betterment of the village and the villagers themselves. Their sisters try to find time and come and spend some time with them, as and when their husbands allow and help in their way. S lives with his in-laws, with taunts and jabs at every corner, not sparing even his small daughters. Everyday is full of hard work in the farms and come home to this. Each paisa he earns, he saves. Nothing for himself. His life is a patchwork of hand-me-downs and second hand things. S, though, is content. He knows, all this hard is going to pay off, when he see his daughters grow up to be strong, confident and independent human beings soon. 


As we enter the present, we see that elder daughter has passed 12th with flying colours. Trained at mofussil schools and a junior college at the local taluka place, it is a miracle that she secures a seat in a big engineering college. S is loath to send her away to big city centres like Pune or Mumbai, considering the cost of living. He decides to send her to a very good college in a middle sized town, keeping everyone happy. Without making a fuss, he somehow manages the gargantuan task of getting together enough funds to get her secured in this place. Here too, his in-laws mutter behind his back, saying why make such a big investment, who is paying etc. He ignores all, happy in the fact that his efforts have borne fruit. 


Her studies are going swimmingly well. He manages to talk her every day, go and meet her as often as possible. He has started a parents group of people who have sent their kids to that college and live nearby. She is also happy at her college. She works hard on her weak points and manages to get through the first year. 


This week are her year end examinations. On the eve of her 2nd paper, her room-mates call up S, reporting her missing. A frantic night is spent canvassing relatives and locals to see if any trace can be found. They wait till the exam time, to see if she turns up and immediately inform the authorities. 


It is 5 pm. We come into the police station where he is waiting for any news. There is no place to sit, he is standing in the courtyard. He cuts a forlorn figure, waiting for any news of his little girl. No sleep, no food. His sister has come to see if she could help. There are about 4-6 people around him, sounding out suggestions and strategies. After the discussions, everyone turns to him. What do we do now? My heart breaks into tiny pieces as he says “I cannot think of anything right now, please do whatever you think is best. “. A “Help me” goes unsaid. 


Around 6 15, about 24 hours since he last talked to his daughter, news filters in through the police station, that a body has been found in a local well. No one tells S. He immediately figures something is up. By the time they reach the site, he knows something is wrong and makes up his mind. You wouldn’t believe me, but he doesn’t shed a single tear. He has made his mind up. As we move towards the hospital to retrieve his daughter, he is the one who handles everything. His sister, a few friends and relatives who have come with him are all lost for words. Crying. He calmly identifies her. He is told there will be a few procedural delays. He relays the information home, where they prepare for the funeral and the word spreads. 


Here was a daughter who was the most rooted girl you will ever meet. She had a meticulous diary, written from the first day of college to the birthday in February. She outlines her hopes and dreams and daily expenses in simple and straight-forward details. No one among her friends suspect an affair gone wrong. The pressure of success was there, as is omnipresent in all engg. kids, but it wasn’t blown out of proportion. She would talk about everything to S, or at least to her cousin sister, who was especially close. There are close to a thousand people at the funeral. Each and everyone is saying the same thing. There has to be foul play, this cannot be something she would do. The post-mortem and police action remove all traces of doubt or foul play. It was truly one of those random events. 


A note here, on the funeral. As soon as word spreads, that S is arriving by afternoon with his daughter, people start coming to the house. Not his in-law’s place, this is the family place. As soon as you enter, you see S’s brother sitting on the floor. He is weeping copiously, a husk of his former self. Inside, a bevy of ladies surround Mrs S, trying to console her. S’s sisters sit in a corner, their faces twisted in agony as they denounce the cruel God who doles out this fate to their kid brother, silently, as tears roll down unhindered. A group of S’s nephews stand outside, faces blank, wondering how did this happen. Slowly, the place fills up. People turn from all around the village and nearby places. Large carpets are soon laid out on the road outside, to accommodate everyone. Some people stand along the roads. As we stand outside, you can feel the grief mounting to a peak, as the news of the hearse filters through. Half an hour away. Now 15 min. 5 mins. Just around the corner. 
As he disembarks, S heads straight for the house. He embraces elder brother, who bursts into tears, piteously crying out aloud. The calmest man in the whole mêlée, S consoles his brother. As the daughter is brought out, the women rush out. There is a lot of shouting and crying. One of S’s sisters faints and her kid and husband revive her. A couple of kids keep a glass of glucose water handy. The bier is quickly whisked away to the funeral home, to be cremated. The ladies all array themselves around the grieving mother. She cries out, her sharp comments tearing at every heart in the vicinity. As we move over to the cremation, a group of enthusiastic organisers quickly get it over with. Some politically minded person addresses the large group of people assembled there. The family quickly disperses, sickened by the whole process. 
Some semblance of sanity returns as everyone goes home. Only the close relatives are left in the house. To dispel all doubts and rumours, S tells the whole story in detail twice. To see him speak with an even voice, emphasizing each important point, you wouldn’t know what a titanic struggle must be raging in his breast. 


He married according to his dad’s wishes. He was duped out of his business just as he was starting to break even. He has to live in a place infested with taunts and jibes. He has two pillars of strength, his daughters, but one has been taken away from him in her prime. 


Fiction has a sense of balance to it. Even tragedies, they end. But real life doles out its emotions without regard for aesthetic equity, a novelist’s sense of equilibrium, of justice. It just goes on. We are left with a tragedy of colossal proportions, apparently without rhyme or reason.  


We stumble through life, thinking we have seen sad and joy and everything. It is precisely when you least expect it when life slaps you hard on your face, and says look! Someone else has it worse. 


As we depart the village, leaving this grieving family to their lot, you can see a house near the end of the village all decked up in finery as the sounds of dhol waft through the air. There is a wedding here. Life, it seems, goes on. 




p.s.: I havent spent much time on the reactions and implications of S’s younger daughter. This isn’t because it isn’t important or that I haven’t given much thought to it. It is simply because I cannot string more than 2 sentences together without choking up. It is simply too much for me to handle. Probably, S could do a better job. 


p.p.s: Some details have been embellished or downplayed for privacy. This voyeuristic portrayal of S seems to be a selfish thing to do. He doesn’t know I wrote this, and I don’t think many will agree. We all have our ways of grieving. Some cry. Others are S. I hope to think that the memory of this sad turn of events will live through this post, and that at some level, in some unexplained way, it will help. 

0

LIttle Things

Taken from my old blog, dated March 17 2012

 

 

After a trip out in the sun, everything on and around you is hot. The clothes, the metallic dial of the watch, the glasses, everything. Even the bag is hot to touch. When you reach inside the bag, and take out that cool book from inside, isn’t it simply the best feeling ever? It is to me. When I find something like this, a cool coverlet on my bed, on a hot afternoon, a warm pillow on winter nights, the pleasurable cool of the laptop that I have just taken out from the bag, it is just my favourite thing in the world. 
 
I have never shared this with anyone before. I dont know how many, but I am sure most people would have noticed this phenomenon and like to some degree. As I was thinking about writing about this, I got to thinking of the aftermath. 
 
Though I like this thing, more than anything in the world, I would never seek it. I would never go out of my way to make sure I encounter this thing. I mean, I flip my pillow just before sleeping to get the coolth out, but I would never put my clothes in the fridge just before wearing them on a summers day. It is just one of the those things, that you just smile when they happen, and move on. 
 
But, now that I have made public my admiration for this little thing, every time I experience it, to whatever degree, I would HAVE to like it. I couldn’t be true to myself if I have said it is what I love, and then not like it when it happens. So when it does happen, how can I be sure that my smile is due to actual pleasure of the occasion or because I have to? The joy is somewhat diminished when I make public my pleasure, it seems. Making public, making superlative statements to the fact, impose a sort of burden on me, to enjoy it to that degree. The actual joy and the expected joy are now inseparable. 
 
This does not happen all the time. There are some small things, whose qualities we tend to exaggerate in talking about them, then suffer from this burden of expectation. Dont get me wrong, the exaggeration is not always false. At that moment, we do feel that extraordinary amount of joy or bliss. But that the same degree or type of feeling will be replicated the next time or not, is not guaranteed. But the description, now on public record, binds us to seek out that particular type, whether it is there or not.
 
It is like we get caught up in our own words. And what are words? just words, right? But they do carry a burden.  
 
I guess this is why some of us don’t like to talk a lot about small things. 

post script: [4 days later…] : hmmph. Just as I thought, the joy of the the cool things on a hot day is a bit diminished. What for? Just words. Just words.

0

Mumbai: Urbs prima Indiae

Taken from my old blog, dated February 2, 2012
After agonising for 10 minutes on the title, I have settled on a simple [Orhan Pamuk-esque] title. During a recent trip to Mumbai, I had the opportunity to explore the ins and outs of Fort and CST on foot and via BEST. I had tons of fun and some nice moments. Lets see what.
So, It was the wedding of a school friend of mine. We hadnt met in 7-8 years since 10th, but such is the school-friend phenomenon, that you pick up the threads as you left them, even with such humongous gaps in between. Quick description:
Left for Pune on saturday, attended his Ring Ceremony, at Mahape [near Koparkhairane, New Bombay]. Came back on Sunday morning [more like afternoon] to attend the wedding of The Devika. Had fun there too, a nice little sojourn to Chocolate Room with a bunch of friends, and loads of juicy IISER gossip. 🙂
Saturday evening back to Mahape, to attend the reception [the wedding had taken place in the day]. As the groom left for the venue, we took it upon ourselves to decorate the bridal chamber. It was fun, trying to think of innovative ways of arranging flowers to make it look elegant 🙂 . We wanted to seal the deal with candles, but the hotel literally snuffed out our idea by saying no fire in the room as it triggers the fire alarms. So we had to make do with flowers and a nice little cherry cheese-cake.I went to CST the next morning, to meet a friend, who promptly stood me up. Waiting for another friend, a fellow wedding-attendee, I started roaming about the nice old buildings of CST. This friend was at Borivali, and 2 hours turned to 8 and I had 23 tons of time on my hands. It was fun though, I was in no particular hurry, and I had a whale of a time, roaming around aimlessly, soaking it in.

There are plenty of buses that do the CST-Nariman Point-CST circuit. All I had to do was hop onto a double decker, and sit myself down on the first seat on the top and have a nice sight-seeing tour. Turned out, a couple had hogged the front row, both sitting one each on the 2 front benches. As the bus was virtually empty, out of courtesy, I had to sit on the second row. Best 10 minutes of my day! As you can imagine, I sat behind the girl. There is a window on these seats, where the windshield would be. As I sat behind her, the wind wafted through these windows and through her, hair all flowing and nice, into me. A sweet, fragrant time… Take a second to imagine this situation and realize how awesome it was 🙂

[was thinking of putting this photo here, but it doesn’t cover it, and such things are best left to imagination.]

As I look back, I see that the entire day could be typified by this one moment. I could soak in the beauty of the surroundings, virtually as an outsider. But in the end, she got down with her boyfriend, oblivious to my presence. I didnt mind it though! The moment was good enough. As I roamed about the streets of Fort, I could see and observe many things. Mostly the intersection of the very old and the hip and young. The city itself, or the people, were oblivious to this soaking in of mine though. They were engrossed in their own loves.

If I try to describe the city in one overarching theme, I would fail. By city I mean just Fort, but still. It is like the neo-colonial architecture in the area. A hodge podge of many different styles. Gothic pillars, English decorations, Islamic onion domes, Parsi symbolism, Indian materials, Brit-Raj architecture etc etc etc. A hodge podge, true, but not a mess. What emerged was neither of its components. They didnt just merge seamlessly, they melted together to forge a new style. Thats the flavour of that area. Yet, it is not too. Do not try to reconcile this paradox, coz it is there, like a living, breathing thing and you cant explain it away. Metres away from the Taj, we have a poor kid selling fruit slices for 2 rupees a slice. Just below the financial nerve centre of the country, the RBI HQ, are two guys selling Vada Pav and Chai. Just outside some of the oldest buildings in the country, you see some of the most forward thinking kids to ever set foot inside a college. All this created even more hodge podginess. But again, there was the total absence of incompatibility. Every niche was occupied, every opportunity utilized, to present a seamless facade.  Every element was just that, in its element. Everywhere, again and again, there was this feeling, that my being there or not being there was not making one iota of a difference. Some places engulf you, some entertain you, some demand entrance qualifications. Mumbai did nothing of the sort. It just didnt care, you come and you go, we have enough of our own cares to worry about…

There was a road, so small that only one car could pass through at once. It was small because there were cars parked parallel on both sides of the road. In such a small space, I found the longest sedan I have ever seen.

This Chrysler Fleetwood is LONG. If it doesnt seem so long in the pic, here is a telling observation. There was a Honda Accord parked beside it. To my [admittedly excited] eyes, it seemed to be atleast 1.5 times the length of the Accord! It was a maroon car, lovingly preserved, spotlessly shiny. The interiors were a nice suede leather, plush seats. Not enough room inside it seemed, for such a huge boot, but there it was. Almost exactly as new, except for the stolen chrysler symbol on the front.

Jostling for eye and leg space, were a multitude of shops. All those old building bearing this attack on their frontage with a stiff upper lip. Most of the windows above level 1 were closed or broken. As the light declined into twilight, most of the windows were dark too. I was insanely curious to go up and see what is inside. Were there actual rooms, or was the facade of the building just painted on? It was that lifeless. But not in a bad way, you know. It wasnt forbidding, not abandoned, just out of reach… There were a few beacons of lights dotting the windows here and there, to show that yes, there was life in them. Not like the the forbidding gates of Mordor, but equally inaccessible.

These buildings were decades old. All those years of the sea breeze coupled with a fierce monsoon had failed to make a significant dent, but the softening around the edges gave them character. Worn out, but still quite unused. everything smacked of paradoxes.

On a previous visit to this area, with Santosh, Yatindra and Yoga, we had chanced upon a nice little burger place, Fidos. It has since closed down, but every time I come here, I try to find another place like this. A previous hunt with Swetha in tow brought us the amazing Mad Over Donuts. This time though, I had no such luck. After a while, after much searching, I gave up. I decided to get lost. It was slightly difficult, as the roads are quite intuitively laid out and signboards are a-plenty. I did manage to lose myself, and one of favourite Beatles songs came to mind….

Magic feeling indeed.

After a while, I got tired [and however comfortable clothes you wear, chafing is unavoidable after walking for 4-5 hours with a bag on your back…] and decided to go back to the bus trips. As dusk fell, I could see many kid-parent jodis wend their way back to bus stands and into buses to CST to go back home. The faces of an excited kid after a day at the Gateway, quietly enjoying their icecreams as worried dads held the the other hand to make sure the kid doesnt get lost way told the entire story.

I made two more bus trips before my friend finally turned up and we made our merry way back to Pune. All my euphoria and exertions coalesced into a nice feel-good feeling, on the way back [quite like the icecream-kids]… on the back of which I am writing this whole thing. Many more things to write, many more thoughts, but right now, this is what springs to mind…