Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Thank you ladies

Okay so here is the much contemplated (Sigh!) and awaited (well I like to suppose so…) post from me. When I thought and brooded and turned the matter in my head till it belched out, I came to a super conclusion. I travel exactly 1 hour and 18 minutes to work six days a week. And that set of 1 hour 18 minutes on most days give me enough to write an epic. However, the editor in me tells me that epics are sorta not in vogue. So lemme just fit in some of those moments in my blog, I said.

My mind: Hmm good idea. As long as you stick to it. You are shitty otherwise. :P

My heart: Don’t be mean. She just needs a bit of motivation. Not the Stephen Covey types, but a little to brood and bring out. (to me) you write baby, you will do good.

Me: Shut up both of you. I will write and I will stick to it this time. Hrmph!

My mind: Like hell you will.

Me: Go to hell.

My heart: Okay now stop brooding and write.

My mind: Yeah why not! Let’s see how much you stick by it.

Me: Darn! I’m a crack to listen to both of you. I shall write now.

And so, to win over my mind and of course, my oh-so-overflowing love for writing, here I go.

Now this happened when I was traveling back from work. I have a first class pass. However, since my train begins from my source station, it is empty most of the time, giving me ample seat. And I at times end up in a second class compartment.

On that humid July day, I clambered into a second class absently and cursed myself the next moment. F**k. I had been hammered on by a throbbing head ache and a cold build up the entire day. My taste buds had gone kaput and so I had had no lunch, the pangs of which had begun to make my tummy grumble. And the compartment was full of chattering women, wailing kids and barely one or two seats. I pondered over getting off and climbing into the next compartment which was first class. And a second long pondering cost me as the train started moving.

I quickly sat down on the nearest empty seat and took out my novel. It was a crime thriller and I was in no less mood to kill a few at the moment.

As the train chugged into a station, a few women around me stood up to alight. This was a smaller station. However, more women and their wailing kids got in the compartment, cramming it further.
Now, they say if you have not traveled in a local, you have not experienced Mumbai. I would fiercely correct them. I would say, if you haven’t traveled in a ladies’ second class coach, you have seen nothing of Mumbai. Women of every size, kind, type, shape, colour, odour, sight and whatnot. And each beautifully blessed with high decibels for the lack of everything else!!

A woman with a three year old and two teenaged girls came to sit next to me. Two minutes into the journey and the girls decided to quench their thirst with a Pepsi. Now anyone who has handled a bottle of sealed Pepsi or any carbonized drink knows that the only caution you need to take before opening it is not to have it shaken. But our girls here had to do a little cha-cha-cha with it and then open it…right on my salwar! Oh yea. Do you really need words to imagine my face when with throbbing headache and bad cold, I get sticky toes and ruined salwar?!

The girls’ mother surely was a doting mother, really. When her three year old wiped his chocolaty fingers on a co-passenger’s white sari, to the stunned co-passenger and an equally amused me, she very innocently asks, “where else will my baby wipe his fingers?”.

It was becoming hard for me to concentrate on my thriller. There was a reel of scenes running in front of me. However, after observing around for about five minutes, I noticed the background score had become a tad too monotonous and high. And irritating. Looking for its source, I found a mouth with half chewed bread crumbs in it. The mouth belonged to a body that was about the size of a kitten. And I had to look thrice before convincing myself that the voice was coming from that mouth, belonging to that body!

A kid, about four-five was wailing. No, howling. Pfrr..I don’t know what you call a monotone, high enough to break all records of post-natal crying of babies ever held, piercing enough to break a certain Dr Singh’s bullet proof window shield and yet so absolutely and totally devoid of emotions. The face did not carry any twitch resulting from crying and the eyes were as bright as the day and as dry as a municipal water tap. Yet the monotone was consistent and demanding. One question that hit me was. Who the heck cries like that??

Fifty minutes and a mammoth of a headache later, we reached Vashi station. Four more stations only, I thought and rejoiced. I was already dreaming of a hot cup of tea, a masala dosa and my husband to pamper me. That was when I felt someone sit next me, violently. And my ears begged for death than mercy that instant. She won hands down in terms of high decibels. She was about 50, dressed in traditional Marathi attire and with world’s most sophisticated amplifiers fitted to her tonsils. As soon as she sat down and the train started moving, she spotted a lemon seller at the opposite end of the compartment. “Eh nimboo wale”, she yelled, highly enough for lemon seller in Uganda to hear!!

I felt as if she was standing inside my head and yelling with all that might. My eyes watered from the explosion and my ears yearned to fall of from my head, too tired to bear more.

The lemon seller came and she started the customary and womanly ritual of poking every lemon that the seller was carrying. (I always visualize this ritual with a woman poking another's belly, when she is pregnant!) After satisfying herself with everything, she pulled at the bunch while the seller tried to loosen his grip, the train moved, the other women chattered, the kids wailed and I, well, whimpered!

And there!! His entire bunch of lemons was on me. The seller was good on this footing to hold on to himself, thankfully. But the lemons were all over me! And as I looked at the lady sitting next to me with flaming anger, all I saw was a woman happily checking her packet of lemons and for change. I shook my head and the lemons and got up.

I had three more stations to go but I decided some fresh air might do me more than good. So I sauntered to stand near the door.

Minutes later, when I told my husband about the experience he gave a hearty laugh and said, “Write a blog.” I thought, I should be grateful after all. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

My fair affair

And I am back!!
Both in love affair with Mumbai, and my blog. How I came back to Mumbai after a hiatus of a year is a set of another blogs in themselves, which I reserve for later.
Only this time, my love affair with Mumbai is not one-sided. Mumbai seems to be equally in love with me. What is in Mumbai that pulled me back here, I know not. Why I cant get over the charm of this place, I know not. All I know is that my awed senses are taking me along with what people describe as the swelling crowd of the city.
Yes, I am in love.
With the city, with its sounds, sights and smells.
With the fact that I am happily married into Mumbai.
And with the fact that I will be spending a good part of my life, here in this city of dreams.
All I need to do is build up the confidence to match upto a city that is an epitome of confidence.

Before this post, while I was going through my blog, I noticed that the month of March in 2011 has had the maximum posts from me. All of it from my month-long internship and subsequent experiences in Mumbai city.

Now that I am here, for a long long long while, lemme get back to writing.

So here's to my writing, to all those who read me, and to my love, Mumbai city :)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Fine Crumbs of Sand

Finally here it is. My oh-so-rare mood to scribble something! It’s not the lack of matter or the lack of activity, it’s more an issue of keeping up. And of choice!

When there are so many things to mention, confusion arises as to what is important and what is not. And that confusion prevails long enough to kill the mood.

Life it seems has become something of the sort too. Nothing that has happened over the last two months is unimportant and yet for any of it to become a post here, dreary confusion has played the spoil sport.

So, here I am living a life that every 24 year old wishes to live. Big and most importantly a desired job, great prospects, new city, new people, good money and the independence of it all! A perfect start to the career I wished for.

But then there is this feeling. A feeling that comes when people, with whom you lived every waking moment, become mere voices on phone. Comforting and loving but mere voices. It makes you realize that there is more to life than having a job or being independent. There is something in a loved one’s hug that money or independence cannot give you.

I know most people who stay away from family and friends feel this. And not surprisingly, they shrug it off or muse it over as ‘homesickness’. Some don’t talk about it thinking it’s uncool. Like I said, when you have the above said ‘amenities’, being homesick is a spoiler.

I miss everything about home. My folks, my dog, my bed, my dirty shorts that I haven’t been allowed to bring, my gate that creaks, my scooty that gets all the attention when it’s on the road for its sound, my fighting neighbour and everything that’s there and has been in contact with me.

It’s not like I am lonely here. There are people; there is my work and everything else to look forward to. But at times, when I am lying on my bed, thinking of all those moments spent just arguing with people, emptiness creeps in. A question pops up. Is this life really worth giving up all those people and things so associated with you?

If not, then what is life worth? Is it just about simply living it off? So many people I met, have been ‘running’ through life, not pausing to take a breather and see what’s passing them on the way. In their frenzy to establish and secure their life, they are at the end of the day, letting their life just pass. Like how in an attempt to hold a fist full of sand, the more you tighten your grip, the more it falls from between your fingers. And when you open your fist, all that you have are some crumbs; all the fine sand is gone. Just like those fine moments in life…

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Ritual

Oh well, so after a gap of almost two months, here I am writing or trying something like that, again.  Lots happened in these two months.  My life changed from one phase to another, transition after transition happened at such a pace, in such quick succession that it seems Somebody up there has great editing skills!  Anyway, that is not my story today.  My problem with writing is that I need a strong (and damn strong !!) reason or motivation to write.  I can write otherwise of course, but it won’t have a soul.  And then, what is the point of such writing? Hence I take my own time to feel and then write.  Today something struck me and got etched somewhere forever. 


It is said that at some point of time in life, when you close your eyes and see all those that have passed in your life, some faces come up.  They may be known, they may be unknown. I know this one face that will always haunt me for a long time to come...

I saw it first on one of the sweltering May afternoons, sometime around last year when I had come back home from a movie.  The palatial looking house beside ours had been demolished and a new society set up.  A family seemed to have moved in newly into one of these houses which could be seen from our bedroom window.  That day, when I was parking my vehicle, I saw him.

Clad in a linen kurta and soft cotton light blue coloured pajamas, he was as such quite ordinary looking. Except for those eyes.  For those who read eyes, his are Shakespeare or Tagore to them!  They were glassy, classic and large with a myriad of expressions playing in them. 

That day when I reached home, I was told that the house has been newly occupied.  The Devs moved in today only, I was told.  There were Papa Dev, Mummy Dev, Son Dev and their daughter-in-law.  “So who is that old guy there at the gate?” I asked.  He was Papa Dev’s elder brother.  “Is slightly ‘out’ in the head!” my sister added.

That day onwards, whenever I go out, I see him.  Rather he kind of stares at me, with those big eyes.  At first I took it all in the complete wrong sense. ‘Saala budhha, kaise dekh raha hai?!’ once I told my sister angrily.  Then one day, I observed him through my bedroom window. He stared at almost everything around him.  Those eyes were constant on a flower for more than a minute, before shifting onto a mooing cow nearby! And he was always near the gate of the house. 

Somehow, observing him then became a ritual for me.  I figured out his routine, which wasn’t hard.  He was made to sit near the gate, every morning at ten and given tea.  He would be there till he was given lunch.  He continued to sit there till evening when he was given tea.  At around eight, he would be given some dinner and by nine, he would be taken in to sleep. All this time, the main door of the house was kept closed. It was quite peculiar.

One morning the entire society woke up to his loud cries.  We all rushed out to find that he was shut out of the house and the family has gone somewhere.  The man was howling at the top of his voice.  No one could do anything.  He tired himself out by noon and at around four, the family came back.  Later we came to know that some relative of theirs had passed away and they had to go suddenly at night.  As they could not leave the man locked inside the house, they had left him out, “…and the gate was definitely locked, so where could he have gone anyway?” as the daughter-in-law of the house put it!!

Today morning I observed Papa Dev making him sit on a chair near a gate and a barber trying to give a shave and a hair-cut to the old man.  He was sitting quietly, but there was an innate restlessness in him.  When the barber removed his covering cloth, I saw that his hands were tied with a thick rope.

Later in the afternoon, another big vehicle came.  Many men came out of it, all dressed in white.  As we all started looking out, we saw the old man being carried out by his arms by these men dressed in white.  He walked calmly, almost resignedly.  I ran up to my window to see what was happening.  Just as I reached my window, he had reached near the vehicle.  Papa Dev and the rest of the family were at the gate, quite  nonchalantly.  As I turned my eyes from them to the old man, he suddenly looked up and met my eyes.  He held on to the look for about a minute or so and then the vehicle went off. 

“He is taken to the mental hospital.  Good for him.  The way the family had taken care of him, the hospital would any day be better for him.  Devbhai was saying that he was getting quite difficult to handle.  They have so much business, so much to do, where will they have the time? And what is the point of having so much wealth, if your mind is not in place?”  I heard my father say. 

I came back to my window.  Now there would be no glassy eyes to observe by the gate.  The gate that seemed to look forlorn at the loss of its companion. My ritual had come to an end, abruptly and something wasn't feeling right inside me. I knew I won’t be able to get over that old man’s face, the last minute look in his eyes and my ritual…

Monday, March 28, 2011

Finding it all!

Last August, we had a film making workshop with Madhusudan Agrawal.  I would say he’s a film maker with a difference.  I would not talk about him here, more because he is a person to be met and experienced.  So during one of those sessions, he had said something that struck me as the most important part of the whole exercise.  He had said, “Whatever film you make, in fact whatever you do, you need to find the ‘chi’ or ‘che’(pronounced as shi) in it.  It is the soul of your work and that’s what makes it worthwhile.  Whatever you do, the soul of your work has to be there to make it a great piece of work!”

I had thought, ‘Hmm. That means my life needs to have the chi too.’  Since then I have been in the process of discovering it.  

26th March, 2011, I was on my way back from Mumbai.  I had gone there purely for my own selfish need.  To see how I would fit in a place I heard so much about. To live and experience life there.  If you have been reading my posts, you would know that I did not really like my stay there.  It was hectic and my time with my own self was scarce.  But something changed my thoughts about Mumbai.  Something that made me re-think about the dream city.

It is really funny how things just walk into your life.  All through your life, you run behind things and suddenly, when you are least expecting anything, bang! It just pops up in your life and it seems like it was never missing.  It may be people or things that you thought you would never ever confront.  It would be events that would change your life forever.  All you can do is be dumbfounded, then be happy and savour the moment. 

In the process of finding the ‘chi’ or ‘che’ of my life, I think I have come across something that could be it.  The probabilities are more.  The excitement is more.  And so is the process.  I think I have found it.  All I am waiting is for it to be confirmed. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

A tempest inside

Today is my last day here, in CNN IBN office. My much-desired, much-coveted internship is finally at its glorious end today.  I say glorious because I enjoyed lot during this period, more importantly learned a lot.  I met some wonderful people, made friends, nurtured feelings, hoping that I left an impression.

I thought I would personally go and say bye to some people. This was planned some days back. But then towards the stipulated time, I am having different thoughts. I shall tell you the reason.

Yesterday, one intern left and today I will be leaving.  While we were in office yesterday, I saw them taking interviews of 15 new interns.  Our positions were filled even before we had vacated them.  Like how it happens in government hospitals.  I saw the process and guess I had a pang inside. Somebody else would be occupying my seat, working on the same computer that I am working at the moment and no one would even think about me.  My hours of work and dedication would soon be confined to a letter of appreciation.

I have always been sure of my feelings.  Well, lets say most of the times.  Sometimes, there has been a chaos. Each emotion trying hard for the biggest space in my head.  And in that chaos, the moment gets lost.  Such is the situation today.  I know I will miss this office, some people, the running around etc. But will I do it again if given a chance? I dont know.

I think the change of dreams are responsible for this havoc in my head.  I mean I always wanted to belong to the media in Mumbai, but when I actually went through a 'test-dose' in this one month, I am not sure if this is what I wanted.  Failure in dreams is at least an end, but confusion at this stage is scary.  I know I want to be in the field of media but in Mumbai is not something concrete in my mind anymore.

Hmm. I guess that is too much of speaking-my-mind done. So that's all for now. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My morning sandwich

It was Tuesday morning, 8.16 am and I was waiting for a local train at Malad station, Mumbai.  There were about 40 to 50 more women near where I was standing, all voraciously waiting for the train chugging ever so slowly on to the station.  The immediate imagination I had was of a cute little white rabbit hopping ever so lazily into the lion’s den, and a set of cubs, all set to pounce on and ravage it.

The ladies’ bogie hadn't even reached where the women were standing and they all ran for it.  I did not want to get into this one.  It was too packed, but before I could back off, the human tide pushed me in.  I had no option than to get it.  And that, as I realized later, was a huge mistake.

As soon as I got in, there was a searing pain in my right foot’s last two toes.  Some girl, who had decided to try heels and trample others in the train in the process, had had a sudden realization that she was supposed to move ahead.  Which she did, killing the red blood cells of my little toes in the process!  Anyway, except for a little swell of salt water in my eyes, I couldn’t give it more.

The next station had more adrenaline-filled females push into the coach, chattering and arguing, some about their husbands who can’t buy cars, some about the crazy heat and some just about anything.  The tide became stronger and I was pushed in further.  Then she came.

She was well…healthy.  I would not exactly call her fat because she wasn’t.  She was just a little healthier than others and that commanded a little too much of space than there possibly was.  And she tried to push her way in too.  It was as if a tsunami struck an already turbulent sea.  This time I wasn’t exactly pushed.  It was worse.

I was literally sandwiched.  I did not know where my bag or earphones were.  I could only see part of my hand and hair.  I was twisted and stuck in the most unbelievable manner ever.  If I was a cripple like that, I would be a physiotherapist’s dream.  If I was poised like that, I would be an artist’s muse.  Every organ of mine screamed again my epidermis that they are not able to breathe.

10 minutes went on.  The next station was announced.  Some un-sandwiched part of my head thought, “Ah! Finally!!”.  As the train chugged into that station, the jostling continued and intensified for some women were to get out.  My healthier co-traveler too pushed out.

Out of many hands clasping onto the holders, I saw that I was three stations (still??? Gosh, it's been ages!!!) away from my destination.  As more and more women got out, I felt air rushing in and that felt good. I was amazed at the way my body had needed air.

In a few minutes (that seemed like years!) my destination came and I formed a tide pushing my way out towards the door.  Those in my previous condition were giving me the looks and their hearts abusing me. 

As I was about to step out, on one side another great tsunami pushed in all over again.  With all might that was left in me, I got out, gave a toss of my painful head and said, "Women!!"