Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Morning tidbits

Now, here is what I’d like to understand – why do children, the kinds who have moon faces and no teeth, drop everything on the ground? And then look down? And then drop things again? Why? What are they trying to figure out?

Maybe it is not so much the connection between the falling object and the floor. Maybe, instead, it is the falling object and some hysterical adult (mainly female) that unfailingly appears while the object is getting dropped.

It’s a theory I will work on some time in the future.

In any case, here’s what I see on my way home from my jogs. (I do go jogging – that is ‘ogging’ with a ‘J’ and not ‘ogging’ with an ‘H’. The latter has been put on hold until my upset tummy gets settled.)

There’s a little kid who sits in a wicker chair in the balcony of a building I pass by. Usually, a harassed lady is trying to get him to eat something. But the child has other plans. He throws orange quarts outside the balcony and looks down. This occurs some ten times. The harassed lady is now on her knees with an extremely supplicant expression. The child probably misunderstands the intention and proceeds to pelt the lady with oranges. Now, moving targets are more interesting than stationery targets, therefore the child is merry when using projectiles.

I find the whole thing really cute. So, from down below I yell, ‘Hellloooo baby!’ in a cootchie-coo voice. The child looks down and smiles…and then, throws an orange quart at me.

Well, I appreciate the familiarity but perhaps an introduction was in order before hitting me. The tangerine lands wetly on my nose and I decide that I must be on my way. So I wave a quick goodbye, and hurry ahead. The child is extremely taken in by how an immovable target can suddenly become mobile, so I hear another orange quart splunch behind me.

Hmm…definitely a place to avoid during Holi.

Then I come home to find my mother awake and abuzz with the excitement of several children with several peeled oranges. As the morning progresses, we have a small argument about how the nail polish I want to wear should be ‘tomato red’ and not ‘tomato pink’ as she’s suggesting. Father intervenes with ‘ There are also green tomatoes.’

Ma then asks me, ‘You still want to get married?’ pointing towards Papa.

Papa replies, ‘If we wouldn’t we married, how would you have got such excellent children?’

Ma re-thinks and asks me again, ‘You still want to get married?’

And that’s how I know it’s going to be a wonderful, wonderful day.

Monday, November 27, 2006

When all else is gone

This morning, I saw a short, old gentleman. He shuffled along with another sprightly senior citizen. From the snatches that I could hear, the animated man was telling his friend that one can't really expect much from children. They are so keen to have their own life and parents always seem to be getting in the way. And what's wrong with that? In today's world, each one for himself.

His friend refuted gently. Something like, 'They love their parents in their own way.'

But the fiesty uncle was not convinced. 'You come for a walk in these clothes. And why hasn't your son bought you keds if you come for a walk? You wear your wife's shoes, for God's sakes. If your son loved you, he could've got you walking clothes, no?'

With this parting shot, he went off to join some boisterous members of a laughter club. His mild friend, seemingly accustomed to such remarks, continued walking.

Now, because of what I had just overheard, I observed the man closely. He was dressed in a brown and white striped shirt and camel-colored pants. It must have been his office-wear when he was employed. And on his feet were black, stretch canvas shoes. Probably his wife's (as his friend had mentioned.)

After a little while, he started jogging - very slowly. He had walked faster than he jogged. But he jogged for a really long time. He must have taken around four or five rounds of the promenade.

On one of his rounds, our paths crossed again. His face was red, but calm. Strangely, he wasn't huffing or breathing heavily at all. Obviously, he must've been a regular runner.

A few young people had also noticed this man's stamina. One of them made some crude remark about how he was probably satisfying his wife in bed by going on and on and on. The others laughed bawdily at this tasteless joke.

The man must have known that he was being laughed at. For a brief moment his shoulders slacked, but he kept running.

Later, on my way out, I saw him walking to the laughter club where his friend was shouting 'Ha Ha Ha' with gusto. He took out a folded sheet of newspaper from his pocket and tore it into half. One half was spread on the bench he sat on. With the other one, he meticulously dusted his shoes one by one after taking them off. He'd wear them for his run tomorrow.


The last time I'd met my cousin, he was spouting wisdom on matrimony the way all bachelors do. He told me that real love in a marriage begins after 50 - when all the novelty and stimulations have been exhausted...when, truly, the couple only has each other.

Looking at the short, old gentleman wipe dust off his wife's shoes, I agreed.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

And that's how it has been....

I am finally back in Mumbai. It feels yippee-dippee-doo great with three exclamation marks. (Like this – yippee dippee doo great !!!) I left Pune with a really smart top my office guys gave me. At first glance, it looks too trendy for someone as staid as me…but I loved it all the same. It’s a sheer, black ruffled top that scrunches a little bit at the waist. And the panache dimension of the garment is in the back – it has a pink rubber print of a pop-star. Really cool! (Of course J’s taste. She’s the only one who would select my farewell gift from ‘Potion 9’. Thanks J. Thanks a heap!)

In a few hours of reaching Mumbai, I left for Anumita’s party. Her house is really one of the cutest homes I have stayed at. The last time I was there, I clicked a whole lot of photos of her verandah and the rust-brown-ochre mountains it overlooks and the vibrant striped tray with the little cup and the diaphanous white and gold drapes and the illuminated bar that looks vintage and contemporary at the same time. I love her place. In fact, I introduced her home via the photos to practically all my pals in Pune. They asked me why Anumita or her husband weren’t in any of the snaps. A couple of them even speculated that I had probably broken in when they weren’t home.

Anyway, it was a really great evening. As with the previous parties at her place, I sat and hogged the bowl of the best non-vegetarian starters, while passing around other plates of vegetarian food. It has worked well in the past because all her friends are too polite to say anything. This time though, SS was there with me. And not so subtly she would nudge me to pass the potato and egg salad. I think that’s because she didn’t want to share the wontons herself.

Anyway, after a little bit of karaoke session where SS again stole my thunder (she KNOWS the lyrics of that ‘Ya Ali’ number – show off), we went to sleep.

But was party time over? Not at all because…

The next day I went to Anumita’s niece’s birthday party. And she is such a little scoop of vanilla….with two little teeth. Cho chweet! It was a whole lot of fun – all those cute balloons and excellent, excellent starters. I followed the tray of batter-fried vegetables so keenly that the bearer who was taking it around quickly swapped it for a platter of manchurian. Well, I didn’t mean to stalk him but food is such a weakness. And batter-fried stuff? I can offer absolutely no resistance.

And then there were the interesting young men I met – one who pulled people’s noses in greeting and another who somberly held court on a vast range of topics. A couple of other boys were the bullies you find at all parties. They kept bursting balloons just as I was about to put a starter in my mouth. Sheesh, God – a daughter…please!

And is it my imagination or are mothers looking scorching nowadays?

Finally, after two days of staying at Anumita’s place (I really am the guest that doesn’t leave. Shudder shudder!), I came back home. My house is getting painted so Ma was cranky. After I got the initial welcome whoop and bear hug, she asked me what I was doing there. On being reminded that I was her daughter and I will soon be married and therefore had come to spend my last few days in parental love, she shrugged and went back to do her hisaab. She has this habit of writing down expenses at the end of the day. This, she tells me, gives her perspective on the spending. Of course, she expects me to do the same. But as I tell her, my spending doesn’t need perspective, it needs more money. And then, in my case, the pattern is pretty much like this: ‘Saturday: 350 bucks – food’, ‘Monday: 280 bucks – food’, etc. etc. What’s there to write down? But I guess, I’ll try it sometime.

Other welcoming notes in Mumbai go thus:

This morning, I went for a jog and actually saw a crow shitting on a black Sumo. Strangely, so far, I have seen the shit after it has landed somewhere, but this time, I saw the whole thing in continuum. It’s so funny – watching this thread of something white and piddly come out of something that’s black and solid. I wonder if other birds poop like the crow. I know pigeons and sparrows don’t and eagles probably use toilet paper while peacocks and ducks seem constipated all the time. So, that leaves the crow and the raven and well, what about the vulture? Having no job makes one think. And I’m not too sure if it’s a good thing.

Then I misplaced 6,500 rupees somewhere. It really hurts because I have no job now and I so wanted to just enjoy Bombay for the next 4 months. I was counting on watching all the plays at Prithvi and working on my script or book or novel or play or cartoon character at Mocha, Juhu. But for now, much planning has to be done. Limited resources is quite a bummer.

Finally, there are all these fittings for the engagement outfit and the wedding dress, etc., etc. The jogging has narrowed my waist and the push-ups have broadened my shoulders so none of the clothes really fit according to the earlier measurements. This leads to an exasperated tailor who secretly wonders why anyone would want to marry someone so disproportionate.

Love is blind is my telepathic response. But in case it gets its sights back, well-fitted clothes wouldn’t hurt.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cat Scare

Last night, I slept uneasy. My mind seemed to be regurgitating bad dreams. Full of this dread, I woke up at six in the morning to go to the gym. The lift in my building isn’t working, so I walked down.

From the last landing, I saw a pile of bricks. But I got this flash that I was looking at a heap of severed cat heads. But the heads didn’t look grotesque – they looked as if there were still alive, and the eyes were bright.

It freaked me out completely so I dashed down with my eyes shut. It’s a wonder I didn’t tumble down the stairs. But I ran out of the building, trying to get that image out of my head. Slowly, after I’d walked a few blocks I calmed down. The sharp cold breeze shaking unruly flowerbeds here and there, a couple of old men wearing mufflers and walking by, bird taking a strong twig for its nest - that sort of thing.

And next to an electric pole, I saw the stiff body of a cat…without a head.

If this is life’s way of telling me something, I wish it would shut up already.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Thoughts on 'Inheritance of Loss'

I just finished ‘The Inheritance of Loss’ by Kiran Desai. It’s well-written…very, well-written. If it were written in long-hand, it would be in an elegant slant, on fine bond paper, with an ink-pen. A dried daisy in a netted case would serve as a bookmark and much of the story would get written by a window overlooking a stream in spring.

The ‘Inheritance of Loss’ probably is more reminiscent of a scatter of well-composed postcards instead of a strongly written letter. It’s a story, rather it’s three little, inter-woven stories, set against the backdrop of the Gorkha movement. The Kanchenjunga serves as a sort of a strong literary motif in the narrative and is prettily described but….

What’s new?

I don’t quite get why stories by Indian authors have to be set against backdrops of political struggles. This is, of course, a minor fly in the ointment because a writer will jolly well write about what he or she wants to write about…but do they really want to write about stories this way? Or maybe there is some underlying compulsion to give a big context to simple stories so as to give them more ‘substance’. For more international readership, perhaps? This is pure conjecture but I wonder how far off the mark I am.

Like, for example, I felt that the premise of this book did not go too well with the scale of the concept. The stories of Sai, the judge, his wife, the cook, the other Anglicized families in Kalimpong, Gyan, Mutt the dog….they are too individual to be mired in such a large landscape.

There are also undercurrents of disturbing truths – like how, the real tragedy regarding people is in their shaming, not their killing. But again, this feeling of being displaced and other related angst…it’s been done before. And masterfully so.

After finishing the novel, I was left wondering what’s different here? Different from, say, Khushwant Singh’s ‘Train to Pakistan’, Salman Rushdie’s ‘Shalimar the Clown’ (this is a fine example of the Kashmir issue serving as a backdrop to a vendetta. But then, Salman Rushdie is a fine example of all things literary), Taslima Nasreen’s ‘Lajja’, Gita Mehta’s ‘Raj’ (now, THAT is one book that should have won the Booker, if it didn’t. It really, really should have.)

If I would ever recommend this book as compulsory reading, then it would be solely for the character of Biju. He is the son of a cook who works for a judge in Kalimpong. The cook sends him off to America after lying and bribing and deceiving many officials. The idea is that Biju will earn a good living, have a good life, and someday take his father there.

The story of Biju is what resonates with authenticity. It’s like Kiran Desai went through Biju’s experience herself, instead of keenly observing someone else’s life. (the impression I got after reading about the other characters.)

Biju confronts his own shame of Indians after being in New York for a while. Initially, he is surprised why NRIs or other Indian migrants are so embarrassed by seeing someone from their own country. Later, he understands. Because Indians are gauche and desperate to be liked and assimilated. There, he gets exploited more by his own ilk than foreigners..and while it comes as a shock to him at first, he understands that he couldn’t possibly expect anything different.

His own hero in New York is a Pakistani guy. Saeed Saeed works out his moral dilemmas in the West pretty simply. He is okay with marrying a Westerner for the Green Card but is clear that he’ll only love the woman he’d marry in Pakistan.
Biju, following Saeed’s footsteps, takes a tough stance to not let his Indianness get eroded. He won’t work in a restaurant that serves beef. So, after hungry nights and some struggle, he finals lands up in a Gandhian restaurant. He’s made to work until his bones grind off, but he doesn’t serve beef.

Finally, one day, he decides to return home. And the description of his departure is what is brutally moving. He packs his belongings after brushing away rat poop, he buys gifts for his gamily and friends, looks into the mirror and gives a final salute. He lived and worked in New York for so many years. He’s finally leaving…without seeing the Statue of Liberty.

This…thing..that fragments so easily and makes your eyes moist…this is what I find to be the book’s fulcrum. A huge movement, powerful struggle, tales of loss and crumbling social order asides, to me, ‘The inheritance of loss’ will always be Biju’s story.

Friday, November 10, 2006

What can this mean?

Since the last two weeks, I’ve been seeing a camel in the living room at night. I get up for a drink of water or to scrounge for something in the kitchen, and when I step into the living room, I see a camel.

It sits between the divan and the T.V., facing me. It’s not chewing cud, like how I would imagine it to, but it just sits there peacefully….staring ahead like a sphinx.

I do know it is a hallucination, because how else will the camel come inside the flat? There are no spare keys or anything. But I thought a hallucination was rooted in subconscious desires or unfulfilled wishes. I don’t remember ever having any kind of thoughts associated with camels – subconscious or otherwise. And there have definitely been no unfulfilled wishes regarding the ships of the desert.

So, it is very strange.

The first night, I saw the camel, I was scared. It looked so real. I just went back to my bedroom and closed the door, burrowed under the blankets, and went off to sleep.

The next night, I sort of expected the camel to be there. I didn’t look directly at it though. Muttered holy names under my breath, ran to the kitchen, got some water and came back.

But then, I don’t know, I sort of see it on some nights and not on the others. Like last night, late, when I went to J’s room for a talk, I thought I’d see the camel. It wasn’t there.

This morning, at dawn, I had a feeling, I’d catch it. Around 4:30, I went to the living room. The room looked strangely blue, like a huge pot of ink had spilled all over it. I could smell ink. I don’t know if there was a camel or not. I thought there was. But I saw something glassy near the cabinet next to the T.V. It was a jar of ink with the label: Camel.

That really, really frightened me, so I hurriedly kept it on the table and beat a hasty retreat to my room. My room was purple now. I just shut my eyes and soon enough, was asleep.

This morning, I went to the living room and there was no ink jar. I knew I wouldn’t be able to find it.

I went back to my bed to catch a few more winks of sleep. When I got up, I saw a blotch of ink stain on the bed sheet.

The stain won’t go.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What happened in Delhi this time

A little background. From experience in Pune, I stay away from places recommended by natives. Here’s why.

When I was new in Pune, I put up at the company guest house. Naturally, the first people I befriended were other displaced-to-Deccan people. Once the sun went down and the last shot of ire was flared at the rickshaw fellow, we didn’t know what to do. For night-time entertainment (i.e.- clubbing, lounging, etc.), we turned to our local Pune residents. And they recommended with fervor and passion, with gleam and steam, with verve and vigor – Ten Downing Street (TDS).

For that, I hope owls squat and poop on their heads every Sunday.

Here’s my question: why would you direct unsuspecting people to a place that has not seen ‘crowd’ (meaning more than seven people) since the first time an Englishman bought spices in India? Why? Plus they don’t tell you that you PAY for entering a place slightly more somber than a coffin, get a wimpy inky tattoo from Frankenstein himself, and then creep up to a place that looks a little odd without Lady Havisham in it. Spectres meander around you – one for each person – with menu and funny recommendations. Funny because they’ll recommend a mocktail when you want a cocktail and vice versa.

So, my friends and I sat in TDS, looking scared at being trapped in a timeless bubble when all the people in Pune were dead except for us. This is when there was a ‘Thousand Oaks’ close by or even a ‘Toons’, or ‘ABC Farms’ for God’s sakes. They sent us to Ten Downing Street. Stephen King, were you there?

Then, there was the matter of non-vegetarian food and my Pune pandits recommended ‘George’ for biryani. Where do I begin with that place? Hmm. The selection of poultry is from a heap of chicken that committed suicide out of boredom. The rice is always in an ambitious state of marination and the spices date back to the time when the aforementioned Englishman first bought spices in India. And this was ‘good biryani’. (On our own, we discovered ‘Blue Nile’ and some other excellent, excellent joint at E-street.)

And Chinese – we were gently nudged toward some restaurant near ‘George’ which shares the same position when it comes to culinary dismays. This place is Chinese, right? So, it has to be red. (Because all things Chinese are Schezwan, which means all shades of red in happy commingling.) But food here wasn’t just red…it was sweet. Now, the only acceptable thing that is semi-solid, red, and sweet that goes into a human mouth – should be jam. Not gravy of minced lamb. But…sigh. What to do?

Getting to the point, here are a few things that I really liked about Delhi. Because I’m not a localite yet (won’t be for many years because I can’t find my way around at all), much of what I say must be taken with some seriousness because I ‘discovered’ how good it was. So, no, I won’t tell you how breath-taking the India Gate is and all. You see it once and that’s enough, really. Nothing much to gush about. But here are a few other things that surprised me so, so, so pleasantly.

1

Suji puris (in pani puris):

J tipped me off on this one. And frankly, I had no idea just what magnitude of difference the type of puri made to pani-puri. What I’ve always had in Maharashtra, (even Orissa – but the ones in Cuttack are the best…no contest there!) are puris made of aata. They are thinner, crispier, yet sharper when they break. They sort of splinter in your mouth when you bite into them. Added to the tart water of the chaat, this makes for an especially piquant experience. Well, no-one’s really complaining here, but the suji puri is a more …umm...mature, refined, polished version of the same thing.

The crust is slightly thicker, and the texture is smoother. When you have one of these, the pani softens the crust and it just fills your mouth more sedately. I suppose you could say that on the palate, it feels as the sharp edges have been rounded off. The remnant of the last bite lives nestled somewhere in your taste buds until you get to the next one. (In my case, it was every two and a half hours.)

Oh, and very strangely, most people who stood with me in a semi-circle around the pani-puri waala, preferred the aata puri without the meetha chutney. Now, this is something I cannot understand. If there is no meetha chutney, you huff and puff and demand it until you get it. If there is meetha chutney, you take a lot of it. But what is this business of not taking meetha chutney? Well, what do I care.. I got to have more of it. My favorite version is when a bit of the paani-puri gets completely soaked in the chutney itself. Then when you bite into it and roll your tongue to taste that bit, it’s pure bliss.



2

Deer Park and the drive along Lodhi road:

It’s a landscape etched into space, I tell you. Visually…it’s fragrant. But, what’s with all those Kwality-ice-cream stalls? So many of them? At first, it was cute – all those tiny little carts selling cornettos and other tri-color ices. But then, it got alarming. For some very weird reason, it reminded me of Dadar station, except with ice-cream stalls instead of people. They look like they’re taking over the city.



3

The Raan at ‘Punjabi by Nature’ in Vasant Vihar (or Vasant Kunj - I get confused…it’s in that place near that swanky multiplex.):

{What follows can prove to be offensive to vegetarians and non-vegetarians who don’t crack bones, suck marrows, or have gravy dribble down their chin, etc. The kinds who eat chunks of meat like chunks of potatoes.}

Now, on with the rhapsody.

The Raan here is the apogee of roasting grandeur. It’s quite a sight to begin with. There’s a huge platter. On it, is a little hill of mutton strips in a shade of brown one associates with adroitly spiced and immaculately marinated meat. Also adorning the gourmet caveman’s dish are huge bones, indicating a formidable carnivorous lineage.

Ordinarily, when you look at a pusillanimous goat, you can hardly imagine that such an unremarkable bleat of a life form has the potential of being transformed into something so, so, good.

To do full justice to it, tuck into it without the accoutrements of rotis, kababs, daal, etc. etc. Raan and only Raan is the way to go. (At least that’s the way I have mutton – wholely, solely the meat and nothing else.)

A is not much of a meat-eater. He has his tender chicken-tikkas wherever he goes. So, when my eyes gleamed and I almost leapt a good three inches from my seat on seeing Raan on the menu, he ordered it for me.

‘What’s Raan?’, he asked me.

His friend (an ardent meat-chomper himself) and I explained it to him, taking turns to inject all forms of primal eating behavior that goes with this dish. I think we scared him a little bit, because he meekly asked for malai tikka. I’m happy to inform philistine suggestions were not entertained.


4

A South Indian joint called ‘Nyevedhyam’ (I’ve got the spelling wrong):

Interestingly, the yummiest stuff I had there – hot rasam and papads – are complimentary.


5

The metro:

Clean with AC. (No return tickets though, which was a cute departure from what one expects). And nice people. I have this theory – that one is likely to find more helpful people in an area where public transportation is available rather than places designed to limit access – restaurants or parks where you pay to get in or even movie-halls (tickets less than 50 rupees don’t count).

It was wonderful to see so many people from such varied walks of life share the same space that was taking them all somewhere. There has been no dramatic breaking of walls yet but I think the metro will go a very long way in melting social divides. Next to a really good-looking young girl (in short red hair and a blue nose-ring), were two ladies peeping through their gauzy ghoongats. The man escorting them looked around rattily for an empty seat. (Ah! The evolutionary stirrings of the train commuter. Slowly, this species will evolve to gauge body language and predict who’s going to get off first, it will know where exactly to stand in a crowd and fold a newspaper just so that it can be read comfortably and tune the body clock such that senses get sharper at the approaching destination, etc. etc.)

A was being quite difficult.

‘I have to STAND upto Dwarka?!’, he hissed in my ears, as if non-vacancy of seats was my doing, just because I come from Mumbai. His mum and I chatted merrily, while a little boy with a mushroom-cut pulled A’s finger and laughed. It did nothing to brighten A’s mood, who was just being dour on principle. He scowled fiercely and the child who turned his attention to his father. Dad anxiously looked around for Mommy in the way all dads do when their children suddenly start taking interest in them…at least to ask questions like: ‘Papa, what is this?’, ‘Why?’, ‘Why?’, ‘Why?’, ‘Why?’

Finally, a couple of stations before Dwarka, someone got up and A almost collapsed there. (He must have stood for a measly 20 minutes.) ‘You don’t want to sit, do you?’, he asked me.

‘Nope, go ahead’.

And it wasn’t love, really. I honestly didn’t want to sit. The thing is, the metro has seats line alongside the panels of windows. So there aren’t any window seats, so to speak. I may as well stand and enjoy the view.

Finally, we finished our train ride. However, the station of many exits presented an honorable conundrum and we got out the wrong way. And while I know I must go on with the incident, I shall take a few moments to extol the many splendors of Connaught Place.

It is the prettiest thing I have seen in Delhi so far. (This includes Deer Park – very woody and all, but as far as looks go, concrete is my thing.)

CP is so…buzzy. I like buzzy-busy places. All shops open for business, throbbing little waves of pulse in the opening and closing of doors, the beautiful park in the centre, bluey lampposts, neat little benches. There’s a sort of alacrity in the variegation. It is tricky and amusing and happy and full of verve. And you know, the rick guys actually looked at me and asked me where I wanted to go. Now, this may seem like a small thing to most people, but here in Pune, this seldom happens to me. No-one ever asks me where I want to go, so sniff! it was an emotional moment.

And the little carts that served steaming cubes of sweet potatoes with mirchi. Unfortunately, I couldn’t sample that because Grouchy Marx muttered something about not finding his beloved car anywhere around.

‘This metro business will never work! How can you remember where you parked your car?’

‘So that’s why people shouldn’t take the metro? Because they are likely to forget where they parked their cars?’

‘What’s the point of saving time traveling by metro if you’re going to waste it circling CP?’

I look at those huge coliseums and the colorful wares displayed on the roads and the pretty park in the middle, the lovely arterial roads, misty in the exhale of the winter-evening fog,…. how is wandering around this place a waste of time?

But I should’ve guessed knowing A’s perambulatory prowess.

0 - 10 steps – okay, let’s go.
11 – 20 steps – groan
21 – 30 steps – this better be worth it
31- 40 steps – STOP THE EXPEDITION ALREADY!

I couldn’t figure out what he was getting so het up about. I told him in a very reasonable voice that we had parked the car near a Mac Donalds and a sweet-looking fellow in a red and green shirt had parked it for us.

And in a not so reasonable voice, he snapped, ‘Do you know how many Mac Donald’s CP has?’

Well, it’s not my fault if every place in Delhi is divided into goddamn blocks. And if they are ‘blocks’, why are they in circles? Although they are very pretty circles, straight-forward squares or rectangles would do just as fine, right?.

Anyway, we finally reached the car and A kept muttering under his breath why we couldn’t be happy roaming around that blooming Hauz Khas village. (Close to home, see…the car goes there.)

I mean – puh-lease. CP and Hauz Khas? Really. That’s like missing a fire-cracker lit sky for the flicker of a tubelight.

I am besotted with CP. Once I move to Delhi, I shall roam there, every day.


5

Coming back to my round of suggestions. There is Urban Pind in GK some block. (My cuz here told me that there is a ‘Great Kailash’, then there is a ‘Greater Kaliash’, and finally there is an ‘O Kailash’ which is the greatest of them all. He insisted that I ask about this to someone there. I did. I was laughed at. My cousin doesn’t have much longer to live.)

It’s a club or lounge or something of that sort. Nothing spectacular for anyone but me because A and I had our first dance there. Also, there was a private party going on, but they let us in because we were just the two of us. Sweet.

Now, something happened here that I can’t quite make anything of.

A and I were sitting, having our drinks. (The Margarita was very nicely done.) This group of men, slightly tipsy were dancing next to our table. They were steadily getting a little boisterous, and sort of encroaching our space…but not really. A was already getting uncomfortable. (Sheesh! Little things…) Then this bald guy, who had been looking in our direction for a long time, came up to us. A, already on his guard, looked up, getting the Amitabh in Agnipath gleam in his eyes. The guy, looked at me, looked at him, and said ‘I’m sorry.’ Then he went away.

‘I’m sorry.’ ‘I’m SORRY?’ He was sorry for A because he was with me? What did that mean? Now, my friends here laugh it off, and A said that sometimes alcohol gives one more insight than sobriety. (I understood the dig when I was back in Mumbai, so he escaped a mean pinch this time.) But I am not amused.

Hmph! I’ll prowl around and someday I’ll go up to the lady the bald guy is with and tearfully hold her hand and weep, ‘I am profusely apologetic! Ah! The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune! Boo hoo hoo!’

Yep. That’s the plan.


6

And finally, what makes Delhi the olive on my pizza, the ache in my poetry, the rhythm in my song, the longing in my love, the dream in my sleep, the tizzy in my dream, the mystery in my beyond, the solitaire on my ring….is the evening sky.

There’s a dreamy sadness in the way strings of orange, red, and pink trickle across a cold, grey sky. Some parts are bright like a sword flashing in the afternoon sun. And the rest of the expanse looks like this harsh battlefield, where a warrior bleeds in victory. And this valiant blood spreads forth to color and illumine for a population parched of courage. I have seen skies that are ethereal, sublime, amenable to lyricism, vibrant, and whatever else that lifts one from the ordinary plane for a few moments. But the Delhi sky is noble.

If ever in Delhi, look up when the sun’s going down.



*************************************


So, this is it. Enough memories… of the Delhi I fell in love in… and the Delhi I fell in love with.

My tale of two cities.






It could easily be Capote's art

If the author doodled while writing 'Breakfast at Tiffany's', squigglies would look like this: http://kalman.blogs.nytimes.com/

Superlative!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

It's taking it's toll (again)

Close to midnight now. Z is hungry and eyes me enviously as I lick mayo from my fingers. Also, I do not hesitate intelling her that the chicken wrap I just finished was yummy.

Z looks sad.

'Why don't you get something to eat?', me being concerned, but not really.

'I won't get anything to eat now.' Z being smart. Seldom happens.

'Mc Donalds will be open.'

'Yeah'..she brightens up. 'They'll have their Happy Hours.'

'Happy Meals', I correct.

She shrugs and walks off.

Tsk! Tsk! and all that...but I'm lovin' it.