Tuesday, March 31

Memory Canyon

When it's raining, ginger tea and mirchi pakodas are best. If that doesn't warm the cockles of your heart and leave you looking at the world with a benevolent eye, then nothing will.

For me, taking a bike ride or a stroll comes a close second. A long time ago, when my friends were enthusiastic about bike trips, taking one in the rains came with mixed feelings. Sure, you enjoyed the rhythmic rat-a-tat on your helmet, but only for about half a minute. After that, you tended to focus on how wet you were getting, particularly in the socks and family jewels departments. Of course, there's nothing quite as soothing as taking a long, hot shower, accompanied by a rum & coke (or whatever you want) after the ride is over. It's as close to a meditative state as you're likely to get.

Now, there's less keenness to experience the pain before the pleasure, everyone reasoning that it's just as simple to get into the shower with a suitable beverage without the hoopla of the bike trip. Can't really argue with that. Still, whenever I get a chance, I do take my Kinetic for a spin in the rains. And I chose my words carefully there because the bike is, in fact, trying to kill me. I'd written previously about the Kinetic Honda's propensity to skid in the rains so it won't be repeated here. But its reputation does force you to focus on the act of riding rather than letting you watch life whiz by. If you're lucky though, you witness things; tiny moments that are part of someone else's narrative but become indelible bookmarks of a day in your life.


They walk in the rain, slowly, savouring the pleasurable respite from the heat, looking at each other and smiling secret smiles of intimacy. He holds his hand out slowly, unsure about how she will respond, and she may see his momentary terror and choose to not break his heart so she gives him her hand, and a unsaid sigh of relief passes through him, and then a spark of joy as her fingers gently twirl in his.

Bullet Generation

He is goggle-eyed by the wind and the moment, his heart hammering harder than the engine of the Bullet. His elfin face is framed by a yellow handkerchief tied like a bonnet and he holds on to the handles for dear life, experiencing something he may or may not remember years later. The old man sitting on the seat, the actual rider, has a rakish mechanic's cap on his head that oddly seem to fit right in with old-fashioned square, metal spectacles. His back is straight, his expression serene. The lady in the green sari in the pillion seat sits regally, as if it is her throne. Perhaps it is. She is enjoying the ride, the drops of rain streaming past her face, the wind failing to disturb her hair-bun. The bike goes past a Kinetic and she locks eyes, just for a fraction of a second, with the rider. He smiles, she does not.

The languid grey clouds see everything, and say nothing, leaving the scene stilled against a backdrop of whispers from the wind & water.

Song for the moment:


Sunday, March 29

Heat of the night

Contrary to what the phrase connotes, an Indian summer does not lead me to think of life favourably. The monsoon has a certain romance and the winter lends a cosy, rosy bonhomie to things. I can wax eloquent about the delights of the rain and become wistful about winters. But summer? All it does is leave me feeling like one of those dish-rags your mom put out to dry but which fell off the line and is now dangling on the ledge, beaten by the whims of fate.

The only good things about the season are mangoes, panna, kokam sarbat and that delicious Puneri invention - the Mastani. Once upon a time we eagerly looked forward to this horrible season because 2 months of vacations came along but that's in the past, when vacations actually meant freedom (after a fashion) unlike now, when I simply want to crawl into bed and be left alone to nurse my chronic fatigue.

Bombay has already started steaming. I try and leave early for work to beat the heat. But in the oven that passes for the train bogie, forced by the morning rush to experience more physical intimacy with my fellow man on a daily basis than I have experienced with any woman in a while, any deodorant is about as useful as a pick-up line is to a marooned sailor. I may apply it copiously and strategically, but when you're spat out of the compartment at your destination, you smell like a rather suspect cauliflower. Though my social skills have made me an expert at cold showers, an actual one is also a lifesaver at the end of the day when I feel like something the cat dragged in. And, heaven help us all, it's still only March.

Finally home in Pune after a hectic month at work, I have been gifted 2 drizzly evenings. It is indescribably lovely to sit staring at the grey skies, listen to the gentle hiss of the rain and desultorily read a book, particularly when I have no energy or enthusiasm to do anything at all. Heck, I even took the bike out for a spin. But more on that later.

Still, some other poor sod (read farmer) is suffering the flip side of this weather, so that tempers my glee somewhat. But that's life.

Song for the moment: Walking in the air - George Winston