Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Information

An incident occurred near the mini sea-shore at Vashi. Had to contact the police immediately.

100 - busy

103 - Was put on hold for 5 minutes. Was later informed that these numbers don't work in New Bombay. Gave me another number.

27820346 - no-one answered

Called up Just Dial to get the number of the nearest police station. Here, the cops answered the call:
27823210 (This is sector 10, by the way.)

Putting this up. Hopefully you won't have to wait for 25 minutes before you get in touch with the police in Navi Mumbai.

Also, if anyone knows who to write to, to inform them of Emergency Numbers not working, please let me know.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Thank goodness for...well...goodness

Mumbai. Non-stop rains. Non-pause rains. Non-'hell, I won't even slow down'-rains. Some roads flooded. Some roads free. All roads packed. One wonders those kind of smart people are extinct - the ones that stay in on this dreamy day and sip ginger tea, looking at wet gulmohar trees. Nowadays, everyone seems to be out and about.

Bandra. I took a bus to Marol. Easy-peasy. Also, empty. Unfortunately, the catch was that it wasn't coming to Marol, for some reason. It would stop at Regency. That's a 25 minute walk to my office. 'Walk' is slightly erroneous. Trek, is more like it. I'd have to climb over rubble, hike over some insanely huge dividers, etc. etc. Also, I was wearing a dress. (It was sky blue with a nice, classy silhouette. Looked very pretty in the confines of my warm, clean home. On the road, as I hitched it up to skip from one pile of stones to another, I recieved a lot of attention. Mainly along the lines of 'Look at that freak!')

I didn't wait for another bus - too much crowd. I didn't hail an auto - I knew better. I did try to ask a motorcyclist to give me a lift. But those creatures seldom stop or slowdown. They are like rain on wheels. They keep moving like these little molecules of matter that have to take up every single inch of the road. I just couldn't get close enough to a biker to stop and ask.

So I walked. My umbrella flew. Its handle broke. One part ripped a little. My dress, just to join in the fun, started flying about. Ordinarily, I would've enjoyed it all. But I had to get to work. And this was no ordinary day. As I would soon find out.

I heard honking behind me. At first, I dismissed it. Thought it belonged to the general cloud of cacophony of Andheri East. It persisted, though. Again, I didn't pay much attention. Was trying to get my dress to not defy gravity. Finally, the honking got rhythymic. I turned. There was an auto-fellow, peering out. "Chalo, madam, main chhod deta hoon", he said.

I blinked. Hard. Was it really an auto-fellow inside a functioning auto? Actually asking me to get in? In...sputter sputter...Andheri East? In Mumbai scope, that's as believable as seeing Santa Clause riding a unicorn. Or, you know, a pothole with a cover.

"Chalo, chalo", he said again.

Out of habit, city conditioning, and refusal to believe my own good luck, I told him, "Nahin bhaiyya, mujhe Marol jaana hai."

He nodded and said, "Main Marol chhod doonga. Chalo."

I almost glided into the auto in joy. I could hear weepy violins in the background, and see credits rolling for some European film - where a war widow, after being amputated, brings up her blind twins in abject poerty. Then these twins, who also get amputated, win the Nobel Prize for inventing a see-through cape. Life prevails against all odds, etc. etc.

I wrote is meant to be...am not sure...some kind of an antidote, perhaps. A disclaimer to all the flak I've written about auto-fellows in the past. When, I have tarred and feathered them in the same brush and generalized without mercy and cursed their ilk without impunity or exception.

Today, even if nothing else goes my way, will be special to me. It came with a sweet sudden reminder about life. Not just shit happens.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sunday episode

It is Sunday and I’m in Colaba. This means that I am happy. Perhaps, ‘happy’ is too glint-y a word. I am soothed. Sunday is usually a mellow, older cousin of the impatient, rowdy Saturday – this one wants to get about town and create trouble. Sunday will draw the curtains, change into soft flannel shorts, and play piano.


I was supposed to meet a friend outside Regal for a movie around 4. I got delayed by a half-hour. Contrite, I jogged from Churchgate station to Colaba. On the way, I called him up. I apologized and promised him my first-born for making him miss the movie, etc. He told me ‘to chill’ and he said that ‘it’s okay’ and also that ‘things like this happen’ and wouldn’t you know that it’s ‘only a matter of 30 minutes?’ I floundered for a bit. I’m usually not at the receiving end of such gentle understanding. And today I was. Why? Not because some fount of infinite patience had descended on the said friend. But because he was still in Mulund. This meant that I had to wait for two hours before he reached Colaba. My mind immediately offered up lists of decibel levels I should yell at him at. But, you know how it is. It was Sunday. And I was in Colaba.

I wondered if should do some splurging at the Causeway. I’d spotted a cute, black smock. And some emerald-colored sling-backs and a magenta and turmeric yellow bag. But there was no money to spend on outfits that would probably never see the cobbled paths of Italy. And why wear such fine things in places where I get by in ratty denims and ganji?

So, I decided to eat at Wayside Inn instead. I love that place. First, there is the view. Even though I could only see the Sahakari Bhandar opposite, and a little strip of a busy road, it was enough. It hinted at a crowd at Regal, and boats docked at Gateway beyond, and weird shops that stocked attar in gaudy, purple glass bottles and hung kaftans with rainbow-colored sequins.

Ordered a Ginger Rogers (a very Peter-pan type ginger-based drink. You have little spurts of magic tickling your nose). Also, had a rather large aubergine and cheese burger. It was tasty, messy, and oozed all sorts of rich, creamy sauces. Just the way I like it. All this commingled very happily in my tummy. So happily that I, for a moment, tried to recollect why my friend was calling me – the one who I had to meet and who was already 2 hours late and who was, in fact, calling to tell me that he wouldn’t be able to make it to town. So could I meet him in Bandra instead? To which, I laughed and asked, “Does a peacock dance in the rain?”



My friend’s heart is big and warm. And it’s nothing like his brain, which is very much like a pea – in size as well as ability to comprehend the rhetoric. He seemed puzzled with my remark. “I suppose a peacock will dance in the rain. Why? There’ll be a peacock dance in Carter Road? I don’t think I want to go for that.”

I hung up shortly and planned my route to Bandra. I could take a nice long walk to VT and catch a train from there. Or else, I could take a train from Churchgate. That way, I could stop for a cup of dessert tea at Tea Centre. Or else, take a bus ride. It had been a long while since I went by bus. A nice leisurely trip, seeing the sights and sounds of a relaxed Mumbai was tempting.

But the bus ride would be long, and the bladder’s capacity would be tested severely. So I decided to go to the loo before I left.

Now, the Wayside Inn has two rather roomy loos. One for the men. One for the women. I stood outside the women’s. There were very few people in the restaurant and I hadn’t seen anyone go in. But the door was locked. I waited. I could hear some humming inside. I waited. I could hear the tap being turned on and off a few times. I waited. I coughed loudly, but then realized that I wasn’t exactly trying to interrupt a conversation here. I thought I’d knock, but didn’t want to…well…rush anyone inside. I mean…some things just take the time they do. But after a good five minutes, when my bladder told the rest of me to do something, I knocked. A shrill voice shouted, “It’s occupied!” For some reason, I felt quite chastised. So I meekly stood near the sink.

Two minutes later, my bladder spoke up – rather sharply. So I knocked harder. This time, the door opened and out stepped…a man.

He was a little, well, fey. His hands looked manicured and soft – much more primed for fine dining than mine were. His linen shirt was uncreased and his pink skin was freshly washed. I could see a walnut face scrub peeping out of the pockets of his drawstring pants. (A very stylish, chocolate colored pair that was. Very stylish.) Ordinarily, impeccably groomed men intimidate me. But this time, my bladder was in control of my personality. So I looked pointedly at the sign on the loo.

He returned my glare with a look of complete exasperation, flailed his hand a little and snapped, “Like you women don’t already have everything!”

With that, he stuck his nose up in the air and left.



When they say you never know what to expect in this city…man, are they right!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I see it but I don't believe it

http://news.in.msn.com/international/article.aspx?cp-documentid=4302921

So, I look at it, rub my eyes, and look at it some more. What I find shocking is this...not that this traffic jam is so monstrous, etc. etc. And not even that it's 10 days old, etc. etc. Yet...YET...those cars maintain lane discipline?!

This may be the most cliched response, so often used for far lesser things...but truly...WOW!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

So what?

We built castles in the sand. The sand was golden, and the castles got swept away by the sea. What a way to be...what a way to go.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekend in the city

Sunday:

A friend and I were at the mall. He got into an altercation with an auto-fellow last evening. It got pretty serious. He went home. I walked around a little bit longer. It rained with the flamboyance of a peacock dance. Some spots on the drenched roads shone with moonlight – pure, cool, and distilled. I rummaged through my purse to see if I could gather enough cash for a coffee at CCD. I couldn’t. So I got a cup of tea. Shared the ledge of the roadside stall with another auto-fellow, who was wolfing down a boiled egg and a slice of bread. I thought of how I’d spent Saturday.

Saturday:

Had taken two trains to reach Charni road. Smiled a lot at bohemian women in the train. Stood by the door for my little joyous glimpse of the sea and Marine Drive when the train whizzes between Grant Road and Charni Road. Shared a packet of Hippo with a friend, sipping hot tea in her wee, little office in a crumbling building. Outside, rain poured from a sky that waltzed between grey, blue and purple. The little cul-de-sacs and grey pigeon-hole type buildings looked washed and fresh. You could put them up on mantles in some glass museum of faded dreams. Walked along Haji Ali. Saw sharp, tall, slices of buildings piercing into the sky. Bright salutes to a city’s quirky disorder – its relentless capacity to peel away a faded dream and birth a million ones.

Sunday late night:

Sipped my way to a sparkling little reverie.

Later that night, spoke with the friend again. He sounded a little sad at the way things had gone. We become a particular way, when day in and day out, we live a boot-camp experience. I told him he shouldn’t be too hard on himself. I know what being angry for extended portions of time can do to you. You start emitting a hostility that can positively sear through any civil behavior. We were silent for a bit after that. I don’t know what he was thinking. Me? I remembered Saturday. I remembered my life that has been filled with such Saturdays. I thought of my future that’ll have many such Saturdays. A few moments later, he sighed and said, “It’s still a good city, you know.”

I know.

This exasperation…and then, immediately, the solace. I wonder what it is about this place that erases the agitation so quickly, so often and so much. Sometimes I want to shut myself down and transport myself somewhere far away. Yet, I hear the song ‘Pee loon’ from ‘Once upon a time in Mumbai’ and my heart lurches. It could very well be an ode to the city. To that part of the city that is lodged somewhere, like a sharpnel, in some vein that only exists to transmit longing. Like this line from the song goes: ‘Jis tarah ki koi hum nadi, tu mere seenay mein chupti hai, sagar tumhara main hoon.’

It's odd - how this city can belittle me so many times, and make me feel big a second after that. What can you do with such a fickle, generous storm of a place?

Maybe sing for it at night, when the lights are off and the rain comes down:

‘Tere sang ishq taari hai,


tere sang ek khumaari hai,


tere sang chaiin bhi mujhko,


tere sang bekaraari hai….’

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wanton

They tiptoed across a channel of time

Sagely, mistakenly they took her along

She splashed about in liquid rainbows

And threw them a sea-shell in a song
 
 
A nod to everyone who stood in this city - anywhere in this city - looking at the sea...wondering what to make of it.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

It will happen soon enough

Last evening, my friend and I went to the Sea-Side café in Bandstand. One of his friends also turned up. We didn’t know each other. So, I smiled and said hello. He grumbled something and gave me a stern once-over. I offered him my sandwich. He ate it up and then casually announced that he is well-versed in reading auras and such type of things. He mentioned that although I have a good energy field (not surprising, since I had eaten a very hearty portion of paneer chilli already), I don’t have ‘a marriage in my destiny’. Apparently I had a strong spiritual journey to undertake and I should not get distracted by the love and companionship of mortals.

Perhaps I didn’t respond with as much deference as I was expected to. Or maybe I burped a little too loudly (it was the paneer chilli). To prove his point, he got serious.

He asked me: ‘You must be having trouble falling asleep?’

‘Yes.’

‘You are also very distracted? Can’t be pinned down with any one thing?’

‘Yes… how do you know?’

‘There’s a reason for that.’

‘What?’

He takes a good long gulp of coffee and wipes his lips.

‘It’s because you don’t have much time left. You’ll die soon.’

I gape. He catches the waiter’s eye and orders a chocolate and cookie milkshake.

Turning to me and my friend (who has blushed the shade of beetroot-carrot-turnip juice), he asks, “You guys want to watch Predator-4?”

Sarcastically, I respond, “No thanks. I don’t have too much time to waste on movies with no storylines.”

He nods understandingly and asks my friend, “You coming?”

Now I don’t know what to do with this information – where the major events in my life have been spelt out with such certainty. But here’s something interesting – Predator 4 has Adrian Brody. He was also in the movie ‘Brothers Bloom’. He plays the younger brother to a dominating Mark Ruffalo. In one scene, he tries to tell Ruffalo that he doesn’t want to live in his shadow. But he’s having some trouble saying it. So Mark Ruffalo tries to fill in the blanks for him. “You want an unscripted life?”, he asks Brody. Brody nods.

Weird how this scene somehow applied to that episode at Sea-Side café. Maybe it’s a stretch. But my life’s short. I’ll pick my ironies where I find them.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Slowly, surely...Hemingway

I sat in the pantry, looking out at chattering tree-tops. A kite soared miles above bricks and concrete. It seemed to do a soft salsa glide in the sky. Maybe it liked looking at brown-grey strips. It was going to be a long day at work. I wanted this tepid coffee to fill me with as much satiety as it could manage.


This sad satisfaction of looking at the world go by, to be dimly aware of time passing…this cusp of peace and wistfulness…I find it in Hemingway’s writing. As luck would have it, I read one of his short stories a few hours after my coffee-break. ‘A Clean, Well-Lighted Place’. This story is so ephemeral. Light, gossamer-like, sea-spray like. All true yet almost there. I love reading Hemingway’s stories. They’re so short, yet I lose myself in them completely. Not knowing how long I’ll be remembering pieces from it, or quoting from it.

Reading Hemingway is like sleeping off after doing something decadent. You may not recall everything, yet you’ll always remember waking up to chocolate on your fingertips.

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

The short story is here: http://www.mrbauld.com/hemclean.html