Sunday, November 26, 2006


“If Life is a stage, then I have a blocked view!”


A Calvin moment which describes me perfectly: Calvin goes to mom and complains – “I let my mind wander and it never came back!!”


Favourite lines seen on trucks and buses:

Boori nazar wale – eye test kara le

Koi puche to kehna, abhi abhi aayi thi, chali gayi


Seen at a South Ex Bhel Puri stall – “Save Puri”


The fantastic duo of Shiv Kumar Sharma (Santoor) & Bhawani Shankar (Pakhwaj) on a cool wintry night under an open sky
Bob Dylan’s numbers sung by the Indian Rock god Lou Majaw in a smoky, crowded, small pub

Two extremes in one single day – amazing experience!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sounds of Silence:

While standing in the office balcony one sunny Oct day, an image of clean blue mountain sky with the Himalayan range in the distance flashed before my eyes. That was enough to set my heart racing and after a failed plan to go to Mukteshwar, decided to go and visit my friend P in Lansdowne instead.

After a smooth ride in the metro, the Old Delhi railway station was utterly chaotic…a prime example of the extremes that is India. Waves and waves of people, narrow platforms half blocked by cartloads of luggage, no dustbins and huge scurrying rats everywhere. A firang woman attempting to experience India to its fullest, sat straight down on the dirty platform and waited peacefully for the train to arrive. A minor stampede like situation happened when the train arrived with people and luggage going in all direction. An old caring coolie helped me find my compartment and after settling down realized that my fellow passengers were those ever gregarious but highly avoidable group of bong travelers. To avoid any kind of talks with them, I promptly went off to sleep.

My friend picked me up from the tiny station of Kotdwar in the wee hours of the morning. P’s house is situated at the quiet outskirts of the town with a huge orchard surrounding the house…just like the one we stayed in when I was a little kid. P’s Alsatian greeted me with joy but dared me to touch him. Despite the attitude he is one of the most cowardly dogs I have ever come across. He would call out for P or her father till one of them came out and only then go after the cows and monkeys that often raided the orchard. But he was a king and had a harem all to himself. Cherry, Nene, Kali, Whitey and J (name forgotten) were all street bitches, adopted by neighbors, who doted on him. Watching their antics, soaking in the sun in the verandah and having aloo-paranthas was just the way I wanted to spend a quiet Diwali day.

An overcast sky and incessant drizzle greeted us the next morning. We decided to drive up to Lansdowne. A layer of mist had enveloped the hills and the drizzle echoed in the valley along with sound of the flowing river. As we drove higher, we saw the clouds settling in folds in the valley below. By the time we reached Lansdowne, we were all curled up tight due to the cold. Lansdowne seemed deserted when we reached…I later realized that it’s always like this there. One can hardly see people there…only in the town centre. A silence permeates every nook and cranny of that place.

Only towards the afternoon, a weak sun broke the sky and covered the whole place in a golden glow. Old British era houses surrounded by freshly washed trees and the slanted rays of the setting sun made the heart heavy with melancholy. There’s something about evenings in a hill station – they can make you feel so lonely, even when you are with your nearest and dearest ones – a realization that you are alone in this world – and hence an immense desire to rush to the warmth of home. We had dinner over discussion on leopard sightings and ghost in the army mess.

The sun was strong the next morning. I hurriedly dressed up and walked all the way to the church from where one can view the snow-peaks. Again not a soul anywhere. I stood and watched the peaks slowly turning pink in the morning sun. A haze still remained not letting the peaks shine in its full glory. I was slightly disappointed. Two morning walkers came by and enthusiastically filled me with stories about Garhwal…how William Wordsworth had sat at that very bench while looking out at the Himalayas, how the Hindi poet Nagarjun hailed from the same town, and how the name Garhwal came into being. When they realized I was getting bored, they moved off and I went back to wake up my friend.

After another lazy walk around the area, we decided to go back to Kotdwar. When I turned and looked at the mighty Choukhamba one last time, a layer of clouds was just covering up the range. I was glad that I had managed to catch a glimpse. And throughout the journey back to Kotdwar and then on to Delhi, the gripping sounds of silence kept echoing in my ears.