Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Friday Returning


It was a sudden trip to Mumbai last Friday. My father had had an accident. He was unhurt (knock on wood)  but everyone else was shaken. My mother is usually alone at home. I always seem to forget about that vulnerable spot until something like this happens.

Also, there was an old friend who was visiting from the States. It had been very rushed at work so I hadn’t had the time to meet him in Mumbai. And frankly, something inside of me had changed after I left the city. Bombay somehow feels like a scab that has fallen off. I don’t feel the need to go there. I don’t feel the tug. I don’t feel the pull that I had earlier felt when I had moved cities. As long as my parents come to visit me, as long as I see them often, it’s all fine. I am not in touch with any of my Bombay friends anymore – or rather, nothing more than facebook air kissing. So we like each other’s statuses on facebook, maybe share the occasional Ganpati greeting or ask about a Diwali holiday...but it feels like we have drifted apart. Each one of them from me and me from each one of them.

I’m reminded of an evening in Carter Road. This was when I had started falling for someone – very hard and very deep. He had been my friend from years ago, from college. He was a Bandra boy and an avid runner. He ran everywhere. He used to run from Khar Danda to Juhu beach and back every morning. We used to meet at Carter Road in the evening and sit on the promenade. He was really good at chess and Carter Road has these stone tables which have chessboard markings on them. People get chess pieces there and sit and play by the sea. We did that once but I was no good at it. I knew the rules but was far too impatient and short-sighted to be good at the strategy game.

I loved the way his eyes used to change from honey to mahogany as he thought, made a move and slowly grazed at the scene in front of him. Then he’d knock over my king, give an easy, lopsided grin and say ‘And that’s how it’s done, Mukta.’

One evening, he was late. I walked on the promenade and sat at a little amphitheatre type of structure. The sky amazed me that evening. It had flecks of green! The standard brushes of orange and pink were there, of course, but there was also a distinct, subliminal bed of red underneath. Like a boiled red moon was waiting to peel back these covers and come shining out. I saw the colours merge and separate, meld and bleed onto the rim of the marsh. The sea seemed to be on a different kind of earth. It looked like a tray was filled to the brim with grey water and placed in front of a colourful canvas. People walked, sat, talked. I got the distinct sense that although these people were with other people, they were by themselves. Interesting how the topography of a place washes over its inhabitants. I remember thinking how, only in Bombay, would one see for sure how much of an island a human-being really is.

Anyway, coming back to the night of the trip. A friend and I had decided to share a cab. She was going to pick me up and I manically tried to wrap up work in office. The cab was late so I got a few sandwiches and drinks from Cafe Coffee Day. The trip was swift and snappy on the Expressway.

Then we crossed the toll. We crossed the toll to enter Bombay.

The roads were wide, the Palm Beach Road was pretty and lit up, cars zoomed, trucks heaved, large buses drove past and I saw the people. So many of them in so many places doing so much. So oblivious to everything. Like little, fragments of island. They had floated in from Carter Road from five years ago and were caught in my net of now.

My eyes saw that crazy headless chicken energy and the ‘take no hostages’ grunt of traffic. They also took in that unmistakable expanse of open arms.

I reminded myself, “And that’s how it’s done.”

It was a lovely trip.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Writing elsewhere

It has been a very hectic month with much solace coming from watching plants grow and flowers bloom.

Also, I had been reading a lot and that just caused a lot of pent-up energy inside of me (much like acidity or gas, really). I don't have too many friends here who I can talk to about books and blogging about them, somehow...well, I couldn't muster up the discipline to write about books here.

So I wrote about a book there: http://www.indiabookstore.net/bookish/

Do read. My review, yes. The book, yes. But the other reviews on the site as well.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

These days...






August onwards, life is behaving rather strangely. You know that feeling how...sometimes ‘life’ (as in your life) seems to have ‘a’ life of its own? It’s not always a bad thing, I suppose, but the mood swings that accompany this whistling, winging adolescent trapezing of the ‘vie’ is rather inconvenient.

Here’s what I was thinking – how is it that you may not know what you want; you could be rather clueless about everything. But...BUT...something happens and you become acutely aware of how you don’t want that. It’s funny – the subconscious.

Anyway, I want a quiet life now. It is actually a quiet life now but I want it quieter still. No people. Not even one. Maybe a bunch of plants, a large room where I can sit and watch light and shade shift with the passing of clouds and season. It would be nice to have a pond close by. Or a lake. Winding and rippling and cold. Little leaves would float away on it. Maybe a large-ish leaf would have a ladybug riding it like a raft. Also, it would be nice to see a different kind of forest from the window of every room. Maybe even different seasons.

The French window of the living room would look out to a misty meadow – one that is carpeted with green grass and soft, violet flowers. The sky is this foggy, milky white and grey. The weather here is stilled at that magic moment when everything is ripe and ready for the rain to fall but it doesn’t.

The kitchen has a series of small windows. From here, I can see a storm churning on the beach always. As I brew tea or melt butter for coating roasted vegetables, I hear the howl of the wind and the ghoulish songs of the ocean. Trees crack and large driftwood line up the shore. Shingles and gravel ride up the sides of the house, scaring my black horse, Thunder.

The bedroom overlooks a large wintry expanse. There are supernaturally tall trees and dark, thin trunks. The trunks are in a shade of deep cocoa and have a little bit of sweet, smoky flavour too. Sometimes I climb out the bedroom window, rip off a bark, and chew on it. This world is very stark. Everywhere I look, there is snow and tall trees. Some trees have purple buds and purple berries. They are clustered right on top. I wish I could climb there or wait for them to fall. It never happens. But I have noticed a huge red bird with black wing-tips squawk peck on these flowers and berries. One night, I got my wish though. I slept (that night, I’d put up crisp, cotton lilac sheets that had a pint of lavender sprays on it) and saw that huge bird fly really close to the window and drop a sprig of buds and berries on the bed. I haven’t been able to wash off the stain of the berry juice since.

The library overlooks a garden throbbing with light and fragrances of the Indian summer. I see rows and rows of yellow and pink melons and pumpkins. The skins of the watermelon gleam brightly. Sometimes even the petals of the jasmines that hover over it looks tinted with green. There are lots of dragonflies, bluebottles, and honeybees too. They waltz around the rosebushes, scaring away sparrows.

I have a sprawling bath. It’s tiled in white and lemon tiny mosaic cubes and there are always fresh flowers – buttercups by the window sill. From the bath, though, I can’t see anything outside. But I can sense that there’s a large island that may be getting formed. When I lay seeped in warmed water, focusing intently on the slightest upturned tip of the third petalof the fifth buttercup, I sense that things are happening. I sense the shift of the earth, the slow, deep, sonorous heaving of water, and the grudging almost gluing of land. The island, I know, will be blue.

And Thunder will be happy there.