Monday, December 31, 2007

A long time ago....

Sometimes I wake up with a sackful of butterflies in my stomach anticipating a surprise test.
Sometimes when I close my eyes, I am standing outside the gate to Sky lawns parking my cycle, thinking whether to have the veg mayonnaise sandwich or the chilli cheese one.
Sometimes when the cold Ahmedabad breeze caresses my face, I am sitting on the wall in the freezing January fog with a cup of coffee sending piercing pangs of warmth through the woolen gloves on my palms.
Sometimes when I am sitting at Chai gate with my friends, having Laloo's ginger laced chai served a sipful in a cute little ceramic cup, I am sitting at Nagarji's redi having sam chat and coffee with another group of friends.
Sometimes when the day ends in Ahmedabad, the lights go on in C'not and the pigeons return to roost on the Pigeon path.
Sometimes when I am in the auto waiting at the traffic lights amidst the chaotic city traffic, I am riding my cycle like crazy in the middle of the road, my hands off the handlebar, concerned friends in pursuit shrieking their disapproval.
Sometimes when I am brushing my teeth standing at the washbasin, the mirror reflects the Rajasthani dhobin with the paloo pulled all the way over her face.

Sometimes I don't know where I am...
Sometimes I don't know what I am to whom...
I didn't leave a part of me behind in that place....I just carried a part of that place inside me, into this place... into this time.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Yet again...

Am I the river meandering along my way…bending and twisting myself in any whichever direction…
Am I the river desiring to touch new lands in my final journey towards that all-consuming ocean…
Am I really that free spirit which is not bound by anything except its own imagination…

Or am I the piece on the chessboard, counting the squares, calculating the moves each time…
Am I the brave knight or am I the crafty bishop with its crooked ways or am I just the unassuming pawn trundling along with hopes of a nobler destiny at the end of the road…
Am I just one of them, moving as per the rules, hoping for a win but preparing for a paltry draw with the game of life…

Am I right in asking myself “Who am I?” when all others have failed with no answer in sight…
Am I really courageous to look myself in the eye and answer the question or am I just indulging in calisthenics with words…
Am I the one I think myself to be or is my mind playing mind-games with me?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

on my mind...

The disillusionment on realising that you are living in a much diluted version of someone else's beautiful dream.........

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A page from the past...

Here's something I wrote 6 months ago....just felt like postin it out here....

Experiencing a homecoming without going home…how would that experience be? Well….I had never actually pondered on it till I set foot in Bangalore. The cool morning breeze hit me...just the way it would on mornings a year ago… Maybe the gods were with me too…I found an auto driver willing to charge me as per the meter reading :) The 5-odd km long déjà vu made me recollect everything which till that moment seemed forgotten in a hazy vague misty past in my head. The name of the school where my CAT classes used to happen, the restaurant in the street corner, even the number of the bus that I took to office. It might have just been another morning of 2005-06. And that’s when the whole ‘homecoming bit’ dawned on me and I swallowed it as a wobbly lump in my throat.

As the auto rounded the corner of 8th cross road, nostalgia swamped me in its welcoming arms. The house had changed. The place where I had stayed on the first floor was gone. In its place stood a proper house with a sweet old couple. The terrace had to be moved to a less important second floor. I entered the ground floor apartment. It seemed so much like home. The bed sheet, the pink and beige slippers that my friend had, the soft toys frolicking on the bed. The kitchen stood all equipped and set for cooking and yet the cobwebs and carelessly discarded wrappers slyly slipped to me the information that it had been a while since she had cooked.

I took a long refreshing bath. The bathroom had the same narrow washbasin, which so irritated me and the same kind of door, which split from the hinges at the slightest excuse. My wandering mind was seeking solace in these minor details.

I was hungry. The choice was obvious…pasta. I offered a light to the good old stove and it responded with a passionate burst. Hmm…. old flames don’t die ☺
Pasta, mango-flavored Tang and Lord of the Rings. I devoured them all for lunch. The bus journey had taken its toll on me and sometime later I slipped into a migraine-laced sleep.

The evening was in its prime as I emerged out of the house. A light drizzle had sizzled on the sun-baked roads and finally made its peace to settle in little puddles. I walked down to the BDA complex, unconsciously scanning the sea of faces and bodies for a familiar face or even a shirt or skirt or bag. The efficient booking system still marveled me…a year later. Having booked my blore-goa return ticket, I went to book the ticket to Pondy. What I thought would be a cakewalk turned out to be a nightmare. Not a single ticket to Pondy on Friday night. Well…there was one. But I was not given the seat as it was a “Gents Seat”’ (it amused, angered and pleased me at the same time) So I had another day in Bangalore. Hallelujah!!!

Meeting after a year and still being able to carry on from wherever you last left off…that’s a luxury you can have with very few people in your life. And so it was with my friend and me. Roommates for a year and a half, there was so much to talk about. It went on right through home into ‘Village’ restaurant and into CCD (the weekend ‘adda’ as we called it back then), meandered through the walk back home and ended just when the fairies of the night hushed us and led us by our hands to the chasm between today and tomorrow.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

This moment...

a song that ruled my heart and mind three years ago.
a close friend's wedding snaps.
the peace of solitude in the hostel room.
diary entries written a year ago.
the tension of pending work lurking at the ramparts of my conscious mind.
Dilbert cartoons with cubicles n coffee guzzling managers
a mild bout of tonsilitis
offliners on msgr to two of my closest buddies
a gentle night breeze
a sudden craving to go home.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Do the Diu !!!

After many months of planning and postponing and replanning, we finally decided to 'Do the Diu'. So on Friday night, there we were - a group of 8 people on the bus to Diu, all set for the overnight journey with packets of chips and peanuts. I was overly excited about the trip for two reasons...well actually three reasons.

a) Goa Daman and Diu was one Union territory before they decided to make Goa a state ( a landmark day for all the MLAs who till this day are 'party-hopping' and making the best use of this decision). So I was curious to know what Diu is like.
b) Having stayed close to the sea most of my life, I feel a special bonding with the sea. Surprisingly the more I stay away from the sea (Pilani,Bangalore,Ahmedabad), the more I feel attached to the sea.
c) Fish Fish n more fish :D

So once we reached Diu and dumped our luggage in our rooms (the very "creative rooms" made out of cargo containers) at Sea Village, we hit the sea. Then we had breakfast and hit the sea again. Then we had a quick spin of Diu, had lunch and hit the sea again. I learnt to float. It is an amazing feeling to just surrender to the water and lie on your back staring into the clear blue sky above. I rediscovered swimming. :)) I realized that playing frisbee in water is twice as much fun as playing it on land. Post-dinner my chicken and fish-chilly laden belly did not quite agree with my heart's decision to hit the sea. So I sat overlooking the waves (or rather just the white foam on the waves visible in the inky darkness) and had silent conversations with them. Come next morning, and we hit the sea again. And then we did the quintessential 'Diu Darshan' on bikes. Fort->Diu Church->Gomatimata beach->Nagoa beach->Naida Caves(spoooookkyyyy.Do not even attempt to go there in the night). And took the night bus back to aapnu amdavad.

Some learning from my Diu trip:
a) Whoever coined the term 'sun-kissed' was definately sitting in the shade. (This sentence was written with one hand while with the other I was applying Lacto-Calamine on my terribly sun-burnt face :( )
b) Never ever go to Diu on a secret trip. Your tan will say it all when you get back. (thank heavens our trip was a well-publicised trip on the weekend and no classes were bunked for it :D)
c) Imagine this. You are all bathed and clean, wearing the last pair of dry clothes that you have. You have sworn a lil' while ago that you are DONE with the sea and salt-water. But now you stand on this cliff, just three metres away from the spot where a thousand white droplets of water from the waves crashing below rise up in a frothy mist and engulf you. WHAT DO YOU DO???
Just walk those three metres and get soaked to the skin in the frothy misty shower. Never know when you will get such a moment again :)
[Note: spending a day and night in sea-water covered clothes causes a mild to severe itching and rash on the skin :( ]
d) Diu is not very similar to Goa in terms of the people and culture. But you find a very strong Portuguese influence out there -just like you do in Goa. But what the heck....its a grreaat place for a quiet and peaceful vacation.
e) Fish is yummy whether you have in Goa, Diu or Timbuktu...... :)))))))))))) [burp!!]
For all those who have been inspired to do the diu after reading this - try the fish at the 'laaris'. You get to choose between a 40 Rs. pomfret, a 50 Rs. pomfret and so....and its aaaweeessoommmee.

Note: (for mum n dad): all the floating and swimming was done in very shallow water, within a distance of 5 meters from the shore, in the presence of people who are good swimmers with prior experience of saving people from drowning. The sea at Diu is very placid and "user-friendly" :)) :p

To end the post....a link to the lyrics of one of my favourite songs...which seems much more relevant to me at this moment.
The Sunscreen song :D

Monday, August 13, 2007

Caveman instincts....

We all rushed towards the mess with posters. The rival camp was already there with their posters and had cordoned off the area closest to the door. The door was closed and would open only an hour later. And there we stood - a grimy mass of paint-covered limbs and sloganeering faces filling every inch of the staircase. All for occupying as much of space on the mess walls as we can with our posters. Fun and games. And yet I have seen best friends in opposite camps screaming into each others faces with a language that would make their parents think about their bad karma in all their past lives. Even a budding romance is put on hold during the 'Poster War' week and the girlfriend is all too glad to give the silent treatment to the dude. All for just one objective - possession. Possession of space. Possession of the cobweb-covered mess walls which reek of stale dal and rice and don't even elicit a second look (or whiff :) on usual days

And this got me thinking (which given the commotion and the push-pull that went on in that one hour is indeed an achievement) that 'what if humans were devoid of this urge to possess? What if the caveman had never used clubs to possess any and every woman that caught his fancy?' It would save me all those hours of going early to the popular classes to possess a seating place on the bench, floor or the windowsill. I thought of all the fights that I have had with my sister just because she wore my T-shirt or used my mug to drink her daily Horlicks dose. Images of my favourite shoes, book and perfume were flashing in my mind. I had a vague recollection of a protest march that my sister and me had staged (complete with slogans and posters) to coerce my parents into buying yet another Barbie for us. I got thinking about how the entire family had stood at the door as we sold off our ten-year old vehicle and kept waving till the number-plate disappeared around the road-bend. And then there was this time when my friend and I had a crush on the same guy and fought for hours over him (despite the fact that he didn't even know that we exist).

On a lighter note, I thought the filthy rich would probably throw away their money without the urge to possess it and I would get a part of the booty. But would I even want it ? Or would the filthy rich be filthy rich without the urge to possess? And then I had this scary apparition of a woman handing over her child to vagabond-like character who is standing at her doorstep and asking for her child. And that jostled me back into reality. Back into the pushing and sweat-dripping blob of bodies waiting to clamber over tables and beams - all for that last inch on the grimy mess wall. And I was thankful to the fighting. Thankful to the urge to possess. Thankful to the caveman who plastered another caveman's brain to the ground to possess the hairy cavewoman with the cute dimples. :))amen

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A visit to change it all....

I hate going to somebody's house when i don't really know them. When they open the door half-expecting you to be a door-to-door salesperson (i guess its the kurta jhola look that makes them think I have some homemade pickles stowed away in my jhola), my mouth runs dry before i break into my toothiest grin and introduce myself. And the greatest fear that grips my throat and makes me nauseated at the very thought of visiting people i don't know is WHAT DO I SAY? I mean I love to talk and all that. But after I know their entire family tree, the name of the dog they owned in 1978, the entire school curriculum of their third child and the 'inside story' about all their neighbours, WHAT NEXT??? I hate gaps in conversation when you just lie back on the couch and grin like an idiot or dust imaginary crumbs from your shirt, while your mind is desparately trying to grab onto another thread of talk with a longer runtime potential.

And thats exactly what went through my mind when they told us that we have to do a field study for our project. I am working with children and my field study involved spending time in the school with the Senior KG Class. (which was a really nice experience....the bunch of kids were well-behaved and my bag didnt get plundered. Neither did they make fun of my red chappals with big black knobs between the first two toes - which I have realised over some time are objects of derision among the very old and very young and everyone in between :(( ) I also had to go to their homes and interact with their parents and siblings which was what bothered me in the first place.

Anyways...there I was in the auto fighting an urge to stop the auto and go back the campus. Finally after 15 minutes of road-rage and gujju galis by irate drivers, the autowallah deposited me in front of a huge pharmacy. Another 10 minutes of asking around and walking finally got me to the society where the child stayed. I took a deep breath and walked up to his house. Thankfully, I had met his mother and sister earlier. That would spare me the 'oh-are-u-another-salesgirl?' look.

The door was open. And through the door I could see atleast ten people bustling inside - eating, cooking, hurrying about. I had called earlier, so they would be expecting me. But maybe they had had some unexpected guests. What should I do? I stood at the door and didn't really have to wait much, for I got dragged in with a nice boisterous welcome. They were all unknown faces and yet seemed so familiar when they gave me that understanding smile. I made a feeble explanation about how I was late cos I had a little trouble in locating the house. But it was lost in the hoopla of making way between all the people and escorting me to the first floor. A glass of very cold water put me at ease. Who I had mistaken for 'unexpected guests' were actually family members who now surrounded me as I sat on the bed and pulled out my guideline questionnaire and book and pen. Two little girls with big round eyes which followed every movement of my hands. An elderly woman who sat on the floor with the mother and gaped at me with faint curiosity (thank god I left my chappals outside the house). A bhaiyya and bhabi duo who sat next to me and nodded vehemently when I told them about my project. And of course, the child under study, still in his school uniform scrawling away to glory on his slate oblivious to the fact that he is a guinea pig (albeit in a social setting :)

I started with the usual questions about age and family details and stuff. They are 6 siblings the eldest one being 23 years old (married with a 2 year old child) and the youngest one being 6 years old. The mother proudly said 'India is such a huge country thanks to women like me. What is this 1 or 2 children thing? See...I bore 6 children. If we have to play cricket , we dont even have to look for outside help. We will make a great team." She laughed as she talked and playfully hit me on my arm while making a point. She then went on to explain how people from her community have many children in the quest to have a son. She is a very spirited woman, considering the fact that two of her children are deaf since birth. But never once did she speak of the problems and difficulties.

Somewhere in between the conversation, a cup of tea surfaced from the ground floor. I was thankful for it . But the mother held it in her hand and would not give it to me. I guessed that she may not want to interrupt my questioning process. So I kept quiet for a while. But still she wouldn't. Finally I gave up and resumed my questions while watching the tea getting cold in her hand. Her reluctance I later realised was because she had asked for biscuits to go with the tea and didn't want me to finish the tea before the biscuits arrived. Later I had the reheated tea with half a dozen biscuits. :)))

For a novice surveyor, I do a decent job. But this cheerful lady almost had me. When I asked her husband's occupation, she said 'majdoori' which is what day laborers do at construction sites. The family looked quite affluent. I never knew majdoori could be so profitable. I was thoroughly confused. I changed the tack of questioning. But it still rankled me. So I hazarded another question 'does his father work quite far away?' and the bhaiyya-bhabhi duo nodded and informed me that he owns a jewellery shop nearby. And the entire lot of them laughed politely at the ignorant visitor (yours truly) who had in her academic zeal and confusion missed the giggles from the little girls and the gleam in the mother's eye as she said 'majdoori' with a poker face.

The more I spoke to them, somehow I felt drawn into the family and so much a part of them. I understood their subtle jokes. I could grasp the mechanics of the mother daughter relationship when the daughter jovially called her mother as 'uneducated' and 'angootha chaap' and she retaliated with how she managed the family jewellery business so well. They invited me to stay over for dinner with promises of yummy Rajasthani food and offered to drop me back to my hostel. I so wanted to stay. Or rather my stomach wanted me to stay and the rest of me agreed. But then thinking about my earlier feelings and reluctance made me feel guilty and I didnt want to impose my 'hale-n-healthy' appetite on them. So I refused.

After having taken some photos (more because I felt like it than for academic record), I said my goodbyes. They all stood at the door, waving me goodbyes as the mother accompanied me till the road. The small walk was seized as the perfect opportunity to advise me, a young girl unknown to the ways of the world, about how it is unsafe to travel alone and that I should not do it again, especially so late into the evening. (I considered telling her about how I once travelled from the airport to the campus at 1 am all alone....but spared the the good lady a cardiac arrest by keeping mum)
And then she made sure I got safely into the auto (which was driven by a sweet-looking old uncle and not some young driver with shifty eyes) and haggled with the driver to reduce the fare from the usual 40 rupees to a special just-for-this-good-little-young-lady 30 Rs. She asked me to visit again and held on to my hand till we drove on.

I still feel paranoid about visiting people I dont know. I still have the dry-mouth syndrome when I stand on their doorsteps. But after that day's visit, I have this faint hope in me that the next family I encounter might be like them. And that is what makes me go on. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Mid-20 crisis??? ;)

There was a time
when a casual glance
but not a word to say
foretold a happy day

A time when love
seemed magical
And schoolgirl crushes
were perfectly rational

A time when closing your eyes
to a romantic song
You swayed to the music
and hummed along

A time when you believed
in all thats beautiful
In dreams and in reality
you played nobody's fool

But today is different
Ground in harsh reality
Life seems so real
so devoid of beauty

Love is a game
for the young to play
it seems so distant
from where you stand today

Are you a cynic
Or a dreamer gone to sleep?
has time drowned you in its tide
too far and too deep?

Today you listen
to the same good ol' song
and sigh and switch off the ipod
the battery's drained - its been so long.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Thoughts in motion

(Written in the train en route to goa from bangalore)

Sitting by an emergency window has its own advantages. Besides the obvious, its the unhindered view of the world outside that I enjoy. And the world rushes by you as you go chugchugging along to your destination.

A shepherd chasing his lambs and goats down a narrow pathway. Colourful clothes hanging on a clothesline against the uniform green and brown background of nature. A stationmaster standing at a tiny window in tin shed- the green flag fluttering against his white vest. Impatient yet curious faces waiting at a crossing, observing you as though you are a face in a framed potrait. A light rain starts up. I put out a hand- relaxed and lifeless on the windowsill and feel the raindrops on my open palm. They feel like the tears of an old friend. A song comes to mind from nowhere - "pani pani re"
The breeze blows curls of hair all over my face and the familiar train smell of burning fuel clings onto my skin.

The train hurries by at some points and leisurely glides through at other places- just like life. Dark clouds loom all over the sky. They seem to be suspended mid-air by invisible threads, against the light blue sky. The land is dry and tilled- the lines in the soil are furrows of worry on its forehead-awaiting the rain. There are a thousand shades of green in the surroundings. The sky is a bowl of water and the clouds are formed when the gods dip their shaving razors full of soapy froth in the sky bowl. I know that I am tripping and Im enjoying it. The beauty of the moment is making me want to cry. I want the moment to last but I want the jouney to go on. I want life to go on.....

Monday, May 28, 2007

Just a thought...

Its amazing how you get attached to fictional characters in books...sometimes even more than how much you allow yourself to be in real life. Its amazing how the make-believe sorrows make you cry or how you laugh with the happiness that is carefully constructed with a melange of words.

And when I think of it...I feel that every page is a key that opens the doors to the character's life. Doors through which you can see every thought of his/hers...good or bad. Doors that let you into the privacy of their bedrooms as easily as they let us access the public porches of their lives. You read into their words that remain unspoken. You know their fears, ambitions, secrets, regrets....the way you can never know a living person. And when the character dies, the loss is as though you have lost an old friend...or maybe even more. Th image that you build in your mind, the face that you construct from bits of words and phrases doesn't leave your mind...and the dull ache remains.

Everytime I decide to maintain that no-mans-land between reality and fiction. And yet I end up crossing it; and when the line between the two blurs, there is no looking back. You see bits of yourself in the characters...the fears that you refuse to accept, the regrets that you refuse to let go, the secrets that you smother inside....somewhere the fiction of our lives connects with the reality of the character.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

for all ye bored ppl out there...

Ten odd books leaning on each other, with the cobweb covered wall and a much-read and flipped thru copy of Hitchhiker's Guide (hail douglas adams!!....followed by a brief prostration before the book :) supporting them at one end.The bookmarks peeping over the pages at the world outside. A stack of books at the other end of the table. Magazines, college newsletters, classroom notes, an overdue library book, a colour palette with remnants of a thousand different hues (tip for the shoestring budget students: never ever wash the palette. a drop of water can revive even the deadest and dullest scrap of color :), a pink polythene bag full of poster color bottles, other flotsam and jetsam collected over the semester piled up in one big stack (not the LIFO variety though...sorry to disappoint all ye geeks :)

And sandwiched between the two, a small wooden platform with an idol of god that has accompanied me ever since i left home...and photos of other gods (well....actually just 3 representatives of the 33 crore gods that we have :) before a tired mind indulges in blasphemy lets move on.....

a mug that says "i am one in a million" filled with pens(none of which actually work...they are just for the kleptomaniacs who frequent my room :) and some unsharpened bamboo sticks ( victims of a sudden fascination for calligraphy which died away as soon as the ink dried on the first A-Z trial sheet). The ink bottle hiding behind the mug testifies to the same.

a half-empty bottle of chyawanprash (mama's obedient girl...:) a bottle of fevicol (not for gastronomic reasons...pls note)
a coffee mug which has provided shelter to more specks of dust than to more drops of coffee till now....

photos of my parents and my sister....(home is where the heart is..even after 6 long years :(
a deformed distorted face made out of terracota ( my first experiment in the ceramics lab :)
a yellow smiley softball....the ones which u can gladly fling at the wall and give vent to all your frustrations on a bad day
(next to the deformed terracota seems so paradoxical...almost like life....)

two dvds sitting pretty in their glossy polythene covers. A passive reminder to get rid of the 22 GB of movies thats been occupying my hard disk...

A packet of Tang....(ahmedabad heat and heatstrokes.....)
A tsunamika doll....another doll on a keychain....(a symbol of the "sisterhood" :) and the guardian of a bunch of keys for whom life is always a roller coaster ride :))

A plastic container full of trinkets and the like.....(gals will be gals :)

A laptop for someone who is bored enuff to the sit at 1 am and describe her desk.
A watch whose hands keep shaking with wrath, as though saying "good night bugger...cut the crap and off to sleep"

Saturday, February 17, 2007

mid-afternoon blues

Anguish rises to the throat like bitter bile from a much-starved stomach!!! It drowns the words, silences the scream and strangles the breath!!! A solitary tear finds its way to the eyes. Falling down softly over the cheek, leaving a trail of miseries behind…catharsis.

Pain is stabbing the heart with a sharp dagger blunted at the tip. Ripples of pain wash over the lub-dubbing lump of flesh and fade away. They don’t reach the face….they don’t reach the ends of the lips, curved in a smile. A song is playing in the background “Why are you smiling so much beloved…what pain are you hiding behind that smile?” Life creates beautiful montages in its wake…

Why the pain? Why the pangs that arise at irregular intervals making one wanting to scream in anguish and pour the cup that brimmeth over in one’s eyes for the world to see? PUO I call it….pain of unknown origin. A steely resolve grips the heart. A quivering lip bites on a finger….an amnesiac mind racks itself for a beautiful memory. And the canvas splattered with visceral pain is painted over with a collage of happy memories. Forgetting is haute couture…camouflage is street fashion…

A pair of kohl-lined eyed are looking out of the open door at the world outside. The birds are reveling on the tree in the soft evening light. The evening brings to her doorstep a procession of unannounced visitors as faces from the past file in through the door and enter her mind. The tree is dancing in a thousand blurred images. She wipes her eyes and closes the door. Darkness rushes in through the crack in the door. Darkness is her anodyne…..