Monday, August 30

Awake my soul

There are times I wish I'd never started an autobiographical blog. While the quality of the writing depend on me, the themes & by implication, the posts and their frequency rely too much on my experiences. Therein lies the problem - my job.

I've never made claims about a packed social calendar. I've never had one, come to that. There was a short period last year when it seemed like my move to Mumbai was the impetus for better things to come. Ultimately, it was not to be, but I took solace in beer sessions until those ceased also. But that's my life. Or a precursor to hell. Since then, I've almost solely depended on the 'reunions'; those sparkling moments when a group of people decide that a shameful amount of time has passed without meeting up. And then do something about it.


Could it be a coincidence that some of my fondest posts were born right after each of these memorable occasions ? I think not. However, each of us is caught up with our individual lives and these occasional oases of humour, happiness and contentment will, I'm afraid, become rarer. I'm hoping to be proved wrong. Earlier today, I was reading something about the work-life equation and how liking work eliminates the need to balance the two. I used to think I would find myself in that happy state. Last year, I even wrote something about it. Gradually though, I've come around to the school of thought that definitely calls for separating work-life from life.

I'm sure about the above philosophy because some moments and memories across each of the 5 months listed above have been so intensely priceless that I've willed them to become tangible, allowing me to hold on to them fiercely. It was no different this weekend too. That moment on the bike when I first sighted Panchgani nestled amongst the emerald green of the hill, itself framed by blue sky and patches of white cloud. The one where the taste of warm toast, butter and strawberry preserve caressed my tongue as I looked around the table and saw only smiling faces. The stillness of time as we played poker, pictionary and word-speller. Drizzling rain, ginger tea, a shared smoke on a white swing...

That's life.

Song for the moment: All the time in the world - Louis Armstrong        

Saturday, August 7

The weight of my words

The following is fictional, inspired from here. 

To the girl who got off the train at Mahim:

Hello there. Last Thursday around 8 pm, I was in the 1st class compartment of the Churchgate slow, standing near the doorway. The guy in the maroon t-shirt, blue jeans, the glasses and the haggard look. It's unfortunate that I was lost in thought as always because I never realised when you got into the train. In fact, it was only when you came and stood by me that I even noticed you.

You were dressed in a cream salwar with maroon print, a blue kurta and sensible shoes, overall a very simple, soothing ensemble. Your hair, reaching up to what I thought was a very graceful neck, was in a ponytail. Even though you'd obviously had a long work-day, your face reflected relaxation, rather than tiredness. Suffice to say, I thought you were very cute.

At one point, between Bandra and Mahim, there was a slight commotion at the other doorway and both of us swivelled to see what happened. It was on the return trip that our eyes met for a fraction; in that second I remember thinking how easily one could get lost in them. I almost worked up the courage to smile at you then but the moment slipped by like quicksilver. A million scenarios to initiate conversation zipped through my head alongside a few considerations. For example, I did not want to appear creepy. I certainly did not need you even suggesting anything about eve-teasing; the rest of the compartment looked like they'd be happy to play Sir Lancelot and take out their private frustrations on anyone, given a chance. So yes, I kept quiet.

You were talking to your friend (the short girl) and your voice sounded rather mellifluous. Your English was flawless and without trace of any fake accents which got massive bonus points in my book. I didn't mean to pry, but since I couldn't talk to you, listening to you talk was the only option left. That and silently praying you got off at the same station as me.

As the lights of Mahim approached, you asked me in Hindi (again flawless) whether I was getting off there. I wanted to say yes (and perhaps do a celebratory jig) but could only catch my breath and regretfully answer otherwise. I then shifted, allowing you to move ahead of me. You did so and I could no longer steal 5-second glances at your face. I then watched enviously as the balding old geezer at the doorway smiled at you and advised you not to try hopping off the still-moving train. You smiled back and assured him that you would not. I wanted to trip the old fool off the train and give you some helpful advice myself. Perhaps help you alight at the station also. Once again, I did nothing.

At Mahim, you stepped off the train, my life, and on to the footbridge. I stayed on the train, which moved on. I don't know whether you live in Mahim or if you live somewhere on the Harbour line. On looking up Mumbai's population, I found that the current estimate says 13,662,885 people live in the city. So, since the odds of (A) us meeting again & (B) me developing the courage to say something coherent to you even if we did; are like 1 in a gazillion, I'm writing this. If you do read this, here's what I wish I'd said to you that evening.

"Hello there. I'm..."

Song for the moment: I'd rather dance with you - Kings of Convenience