Thursday, May 31, 2007

Raindrops are falling on the hill

It has been pretty dull since morning.The atmosphere is weighed down by a certain expectancy.It is the annual monsoon arrival.Though it is still not monsoon season,the good lord understands our suffering under the unforgiving sun,and does send us a few coolers here and there .......under he table.this is one such day.

The signs are predictable.There is heavy humidity in the air.Grey clouds cover the sun up.The wind zips around wth new zest.But the most beautiful and assuring sign is that of the earth.As soon as you know that a drizzle is due,there arises an most aromatic and pleasant smell that every human has loved at some point of his life.The smell of wet earth.If heaven had a smell to go by,this would be it.

Everyone is out on the streets,including me.Kids have already started running around.As though wishing the wind to move faster.cycles are brought out.The kids are now speeding around streets ,racing ith each other.Those less fortunate,are even more happy.it doesn't matter if the arrival of monsoons announces wet floors,cold food and even drenched sleep.They are as happy as anybody else.I walk down a street in such muted celebration.Beggars are moving around happier.The few coins which show that their collection has been lower than usual,do not know about happiness as much as they do.One walks up to me and says,"Baarish aane waala hai na??(Its going to rain,isn't it?)".I only nod.

It has been a hour.The wind still blows around.The cloud cover refuses to move.People begin to wonder if this is a false alarm.And just when you are ready to give up hope.It begins.A sweeping hush falls all over the place.The rain is a star when it arrives.I look up,just in time.The first pearly,transparent drop,falls onto my glasses and goes splat.Soon there are dozens of it falling all over the place.

Kids come rushing out into the open,followed by paranoid mothers calling after them.Shopkeepers take a break,and step out of their guarded 'gallas',and enjoy the moment unadulterated.A few oldies step out,under the excuse of trying to stop their grand-children fro getting drenched.But beleive me,under that pouring sky;the smile of a two year old is as wide a s that of an octagenerarian.I am drenched.But i am happy.So is everybody under this blue,blue sky.

Then it stops.Leaving us with watered hearts.the sn steps out from behind the curtains of the passing clouds.As though he had been witnessing every one of our childish antics.He smiles brightly,and finds it being reciprocated.Ironic,that a few days back the same smile was being frowned upon.But he knows.He knows how weird we are.He knows that half a month into the monsoon,we'll be cowering under broken umbrellas when the rain comes.We shall run into buildings in the road,to protect our clothes from getting wet.We shall wish the rain to go away,and sit inside pining for the warm glow of the sun.But for now,he doesn't mind if we sing praises for the Great Indian Monsoon.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Bridge to The Lost World

It is a dark,moody evening;fast descending unto the night.A pale,orangeish glow is spattered across the heavenly cenotaph above me.I stand there watching faces melt away into the crowd in the street below.The aroma of street foods rise upwards in the humid air.A train stops at the station,while another departs on its journey.A horde of human bodies exit the station.Grimed in sweat,hunched by worries and on the constant lookout to escape them.

I am standing on the bridge that connects the eastern and western parts of my town.From where i stand,a long corridor of the bridge stretches past me on either side.The railway station is just below catering to hundreds of passengers,who pass on oblivious to its service.the lights are coming on in the streets below.The fair has just begun.

The bridge is home to a lot of different kinds of creatures.Beggars,Romeos,couples and the lost.The beggars are all but gone by now,except for a few who are counting their daily earnings.The place is now abound with lovey-dovey couples and crazy delinquents.One such pair of lovebirds stands a few yard to my left,cooing away happily in each others arms.A man stands puffing smoke rings into the air on my right.Maybe a metaphorical symbol of his life and dreams,rising high in the air only to vanish.All this while normal people pass us by.Often throwing a derisive look at us.I don't mind.As long as they do not know my name,I am fine.Anonymity has a certain power.One that turns Peter Parker into Spiderman.

It is late at night by now.The streets are starting to get empty.Those who have homes,go home and sleep.Those who do not,step into the streets and are lost forever.The bridge is now occupied by such ghosts.A couple of cops come by on their daily rounds,curse,take money and go away.The ghosts get back to their nightly occupations.My body decides its time to go home.My mind......It is lost somewhere in the middle.

For me,this is the beginning of an end.For them,it is just beginning.It is a hauntingly attractive place to be.This bridge.The closest definition of this could be 'The Lost World'.There is one thing common to each one of us on this bridge.We are all lost in the middleof something,somewhere.And we are all confusesd about which way to go.Between East and West.Between Good and Bad.Between Success and Failure.Between Life and Death.it is a thin line.But we all walk it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Confusions of a lost mind

Walking beneath the huge and gothic sructure of the Mumbai's CST terminus,i feel strangely out of place.This time though I am not alone.I am walking behind three guys.The only creatures in my book, who i can classify under the title of freinds.We go back a five years in the past.They know me from the first day i entered college as a gawky teenager .Back then,as now,I still felt out of place.

We are as eclectic a group of people as you can hope to meet.Eac one of us was,is and will be different.Till the end of time.Though today i hold them in much more esteemed eyes than when i saw them 4 years back.As we walk out of the station,past the bombay High court and a thousand cricket playing kids at the maidan,I can't help but wonder at the change.

I hit off wth them from day one.We were the 'outcaste five'.Outcaste because we were so not 'cool'.each one of us came from the middle class.The economical denominator even negated out cultural diversities,though we all belong to the same part of the country.The western part.Three of us are gujaratis.I put that in a common term,as i still am unable to recognise the various lingualdifferences in them.One is from near rajasthan and madhya pradesh.I belongto the south,but as i have spent 20 years of my life here,i think i am an eligible mumbaikar.Together we were the 'obnoxious middle benchers'.

But i was much more outcaste than they were.At least they were extrovertive and suave.I was neither.I still remember watching their bags after class as they ran out and tried to show off in front of the girls.I thought them to be silly.I guess i had grown up too fast,too soon.and then when i decided to become a kid again,the world looked at me and said,"Grow up".It was as though i was caught in the ultimate complexity of youth - caught between the danger of growing old and the immaturity of staying young.

"Hey,buck up.Sloth!!",they call out to me.We are now walking past Eros in churchgate.Nice name for a theatre.The roman god of love - attraction guaranteed.The first time i bunked lectures was with these guys.We had gone to a silly theatre in kurla,and watched what i'd call one of the most degenerate films made by our country.though they thoroughly enjoyed the skin flick.Boys,i had thought.Today,i am the boy in the group.each one of them is a man stepping out into theworld knowing its complexities and threats.While i ponder,arge and discuss on what it would be like.

We are still different from each other.Even in our career choices.Three of our group chose to graduate in commerce,one went in for hotel management.I,meanwhile,chose to stay in my 12th standard.Today,except me,they have moved on.One works in the hustle and bustle of the Bombay Stock Exchange as an intern,Other is employed at a CA's firm.The hotel management guy is going off to ITC in Kolkata,the leftover dude has his father's business.I,stay where i am - lazy,stupid and stubborn.

What happened?where did i go wrong?why haven't i started my career yet?As we walk along the promenade of the Queen's Necklace after buying the tickets for the movie,my mind is still stuck on my failure to be something.My friends call out to me.It is still a long way to the end.I ask the nearest guy ,"How long is it going to take?".

He takes one long look at me,smiles and says,"Just Keep Walking"

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Insomnia

It is very late in the night.Well,morning if you read the clock the right way.The only person stupid enough to roam around in this unearthly time of the hour is me.The stillness that envelops me is overpowering.I wonder what i am doing down here instead of snoring in my bed.The owl on the tree near the compound gate seems to wonder the same thing.

I don't know for how long i stayed awake.All night i kept twisting and turning in the quilt spreaded out on the floor(my bed) of our one room apartment.After quite a few desperate and unsuccessful attempts to fall asleep,I woke up.The only sounds in the room were that of the toilet tap dripping and my dad's snoring.Then something quirky awoke inside me.They say strange things happen to you at such times.I decided to go downstairs and enjoy the moonlight.I rose as silently as i could,picked up my mobile and my note and headed for the door.Just as i was turning the lock,my dad gave a slight shuffle.I stopped dead and stared at him,feeling like a runaway bride before the day of marriage.

The descent down the corridor was scary.In the dark(Da society is saving electricity),it resembles a spooky dungeon.The light from the mobile wasn't enough to guide me through the place.Good thing,i was barefeet.Or the sound of my tripping would have awoken my 'friendly' neighbours and presented me with embarassment.Not that i am not used to it.

The place was empty.As empty as my brother's head.But there was also something mystical around it.It is amazing,how a less-than-ordinary housing colony is transformed into something mysteriously attractive with the fall of night.The cold breeze fluttered a few leaves as it floated across the deserted complex.Not a light stirred amidst the windows.All and sundry were deep in their sojourns with fantasies.I was feeling exihilirated.

After an hour the motionless silence was exciting me.There seemed to arise a suppressed energy inside me.I wanted to scream as loudly as i could to shatter this impenetrable silence.But i knew i shouldn't,so i couldn't.I sat near the watchman's cabin.He was asleep.I don't blame him.My mom said,"only people with lots of money and secrets don't sleep at night".The watchman didn't seem to have either.He was a hardworking man with little cash to spare and an open heart.Just like my dad sleeping on the third floor.So much for class divide.

The warm,humid air was making me sweat.I looked into the mirror hung outside the cabin(w'man beleives that if you sleep with your face to the mirror,you will be captured in it forever).I stare into it.For that moment,i am scared.Boy do i need a haircut?I look like a cross between Jim Morrison and Lennon.

The air around me is suddenly abuzz.The dawn seems close at hand.Birds are beginning to stir in their tree-houses.The sky has started to change into a recognisable blue.I decide to head up home.I switch on the Fm airwave in my mobile.and Billy Joel talks to me

In the middle of the night,
I go walking in my sleep,
To the jungle of the true,
To the river so deep.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The date that I almost could have gone.

Well,life has been hard on me for the last two weeks.The most exciting thing that I did is also the most stupid thing.My mom is mad at me for not doing the house chore,dad is mad at me for not doing a part-time job,and I am mad at myself for blowing the best chance that I could have got.I guess there are some people in everybody's life whom you meet only whenyou are depressed.People who are probably born to annoy you.I have quite a few in my life.She is one of them.

"Hii!! What are you doing here?",she says in her annoyingly sweet voice.

"Uhhh....eating.I guess that is what peoplelike me do???" I hadn't expected to see her here.

"You could be a little cheery for a change,ya know?",she snaps.

"Not with ya around.You found me by accident or by purpose??"

"Well, guess what you'd like?I'd like a masala dosa.",she turns to the waiter hovering above me."You sound as sour as you were during that bhelpuri episode",comes the next quip.

Boy,I so remember that.It was,is and will be the singularly most embarassing thing that i have ever done.Bicker with a girl in the middle of the street.It was the year before last.One of the most depressing periods of my life.I had flunked my 12th boards twice in a row,my boss at the day job was pissed off at me,dad was totally upset and mom was going through hi-blood pressure.I was living hell,and she rubbed iodised salt into my wounds.Every one of her projects at my comp class would be selected,and mine disregarded.It was one of those'effing-days';to borrow a phraseology.My friend offered to take me for a free treat,but didn't have the money and I ended up paying for it.But just as i was about to dig into my first spoon,someone bumps ito me and sends my plate spiralling at the speed of light from my hand to the platform.What followed was the most embarassingly hilarious event of my life.

It was her again.Giggling,gaggling in all her petite,prettiness with her friends.any other boy in my place would have actually utilised the opportunity,But i had some other plans.I tapped her on the shoulder,mind it tapped her.

"don't you think you owe me an apology??'',I scowled in hindi.

"What??? ",she lookeed quizzically at me.

"Well,you just spoiled my 10 bucks.The least you could do is apologise".By now,the devil was inside me.

"Oh!!sorry,it was just an accident.No need to be all angry.",she reasoned.

"Accidents don't happen for free,ya know!!",.Man,was i cheap.

"Excuse'moi??",she crooned

"ten rupees,that is what you cost me right now..Pay up".By now my poor friend was embarrassedly tugging me away.

"Where do they make cheap-skates like you?",she snapped back,understandably.

"The same place where they make you".You couldn't have held me back with a titanium barricade that day.

"At least I have more money",was her wise remark.

"Good for me.now pay up."I was out of my blistering mind,now if i think of it.

"Here have a twenty..and guess what.Keep the ten as a tip.'',Then she turns to my friend and says,"I know institutions that take care of people like these.I'll give you their numbers if you want."

I would have choked the royal air out of her lungs if it weren't for my friend.Most of my family won't beleive this if i told tem.But this happened.In the middle of a damn,bustling street.

"You aren't eating ?Lost appetite?",she snaps me out of it.

"UHH no.Just that...I am sorry for that" the faster it is out,the better.

"what???",then it dawns on her,"Ohhh...never mind.You were going through a bad phase.Anyways,wanna join me at a party now??",she ends it in a strange way.

"NO",I stutter.

"C'mon.Show some civility.It is not some unknown place,it is rahul's Bday."she answers before
adding,"rahul???ur comp partner.???"

"UHh...No thanx.I..I'd rather go home now.It is time.",I still am thinking.

"Ok.Dnt regret it later"

Ohh by the way,wish rahul for me."

"Yah sure",was her last quip.

As i step out of the eatery,I am still thinking.Should I have said yes.It is not everyday that I am asked out by a GIRL.But the other part says,Remember how strange it would be.For you two to walk into a room full of people from your class,together.two days have passed,I am still arguing about it.The date that I almost could have gone.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Alone

I step out of my house.The stairs in the corridor are empty.Behind these latticed,snaking corridors i've spent most of my childhood and youth.And yet,not a sound speaks to me now.All way down,they look upon me as they do upon anybody else.As a stranger.I walk alone.

It is late evening.The sun is taking its last sigh.Birds are returning to their nests.the sky seems melancholic in its own way.The dogss are raucously howling their song.Nor a soul lookd up to me.Not a bied chirps my way.No leaf stirs from their branches.I walk alone.

The road spreads ahead of me to welcome the workers coming home.I see an old friend speeding home.Another aunty ,her grocery bag overflowing,trundles past me.The worry of her son's exams is writ large on her face.They do not glance at me.cars speed past me,accompanied by the rickshaws.The street lamps flicker to life.I walk alone.

The markets have sprung to life.Hawkers are yelling around their wares.Curious shoppers check them out,while the experienced ones pick the right stuff.they are both arguing about the peices.The sweetmeat shop is crowded.Children run about happily ahead of their parents.I walk alone.

There are people all around me.families moving around in groups.A father carries his son on his shoulders,while his wife holds the hand of her daughter.I spot a few familiar faces on the road.Friends accompanied by their friends.Trying out a new dish at the street corner.The hotels are filled with couples sipping on a single milkshake,cooling off.Boys and girls of all ages,travelling in packs.Laughing and enjoying their way out.I walk alone.

I turn home.I pass my school.where i spent 8 cherished years of my life.Where i made my first friends,my first enemies.I found mentors,allies and knowledge within its walls.Yet it stares back at me coldly.As empty as its heart.No soul stirs awake within its windows.I move on.I walk alone.

Thr kids are playing near the garage.My neighbourhood kids are playing with them.I smile at them,and get a similar reply.But none is warm enough to crack the ice in my heart.they carry on playing.I walk alone.

I step back into the empty corridors leading to my house.They are dark,black.The power hasn't come back yet.NO door is open to show me light.No voice asks me to watch the next step.No hand guides me through the dark corridors.I walk alone.

I ring the bell of my house.My mom opens the door.She scolds me for not telling her where i was going.MY dad is back too.He asks me where i was.I tell him.I had gone out for a walk.Alone.