Sunday, December 30, 2007

Tales of many cities:

Bangalore: The city was sparkling silver and gold from above when the flight landed at 3 in the morning. It was a hurried visit to the city – a city which reminded me of Delhi, with its bunglows, parks, tree lined roads and even the over-charging auto-wallahs. All my closest friends, childhood friends, friends whom I’ve know for more than 30 years…are now there….so getting a chance to spend my birthday there amongst them was one of the best things that happened this year.

I also So wanted to meet friends there who I haven’t met till date – Manu, GS and Pallavi B. Hopefully sometime very soon.

Delhi: My mom called me up on my birthday to tell me that the fog had cleared up and it was bright and sunny and cold in Delhi…just the way I wanted it to be when I landed there. After all it Was my birthday and Delhi had to welcome me at its winter best. Surprisingly even the Indigo flight was on time.

It’s amazing what a couple of months in a good city can do to you. I found myself being patient and nice to all people around, trusting them a wee-bit more than I used to when I had stayed in the city. The week was a whirlwind of meeting friends and shopping. I went berserk shopping like I’ll never find anything back here in Bombay (which is true…so far I’ve found shopping to be an extremely painful experience here). And zipping through a 40km stretch without stopping (!) even once was so exhilarating that I had almost made my mind to go back there.

Rishikesh: I just had to touch base with the Himalayas. So I almost bulldozed my friend A, S and AB to go to Rishikesh for a day. I was horrified to see so many grotesque high storey building coming up right on the banks of the river. Even the hotel that we stayed at marred the beauty of the surrounding. I felt guilty staying there knowing that I was adding to the destruction. We should have paid more but stayed at an eco-friendly resort. The mindless destruction of nature is so apparent now….it won’t be long before the beauty of the place goes and complete commercialization takes over.

Despite all that, there’s something about Rishikesh that immediately calms your soul. The foothill of the mighty Himalayas and the beautiful Ganga….can bring peace to any troubled mind. Add to that a sparkling moon, a misty morning and some time stolen with some great friends…..the trip was truly refreshing.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Life or Something like that:

God is cheeky. He will make you struggle, test your patience time and again, take you to thousands of crossroads, push you down stiff cliffs, makes you write chapters for which you can find no meaning – but He ultimately gives you what you want.

Sometimes waiting and struggling makes the whole point of getting ‘it’ lose its meaning, sometimes you are dead tired and can manage only a smile at your success where you wanted to be ecstatic. Sometimes you forget what you wanted in the first place.

A friend of mine had once told me – if you know better, act better.

Now if I know that God makes you wait so much, should I just stop wanting so badly? But if you stop dreaming, then you stop living.

Is there any way I can cheat God to give me my life-dues on time? With time slipping away so fast, can I take Him to task at the end and throw a tantrum for not finishing my list? Or will He send me back to struggle over the same list all over again?

Does He do what we do – keep the most precious wish or gift for the end? If that’s so, should we cut down our list so that we get to the best faster? Or should we wish for the end to come faster because your dearest gift will be there?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A journey’s beginning:

I was bone-tired. I had to Get Out. My friend S suggested Kamshet. Lots of people suggested other places. Some said it will be too hot at this time of the year. I said – Let’s just Go!

So after getting up in the wee hours of one Sat morning, four of us hurriedly left the city behind. A flat tire just in the beginning of the journey did not mar anybody’s spirit.
A very bumpy 10km drive inside from Kamshet village led us to M’s cottage overlooking the lake and the dam. 3 happy energetic dogs greeted us at the gate. A rustic cottage, a hammock, cold beer, mellow sun and friends….nobody wanted anything more from life at that point in time.

Another group arrived in due course but we were happy to see that they never ventured out of the ‘campus’. Which meant that the lake was all to our selves and of course M who swam in its cold and quiet waters. We sat by the lake in the morning, evening and night. It was beautiful, serene and absolutely silent…one could hear the wind through the trees and the distant calls of the birds. Each of us took turns to sit or walk by the lake alone – to contemplate or to explore the physical or the beyond. I found peace, A found a snake which looked like a Krait, S found snake-holes and D found flowers and leaves to take pictures of.

What I simply loved was sitting at the lake in the night with a shining moon, a star-laden sky and the lake and hills in the distance all aglow in the pure silver light. It seemed like a different world – so beautiful, secluded and pure. I could have sat there forever.

The short hikes along the road in the fast fading twilight and besides the mist covered lake in the morning simply took away all the tiredness that had seeped in. The air was cold and refreshed and cleaned the cob-webs that had settled deep in the mind. Jim Corbett was my first real trip to the Himalayas. It was the place which stirred my restlessness, made me question myself and opened up a whole new path for me – as clear as the mountain air. Kamshet somehow reminded me of Jim Corbett…the same sense of calm, beauty and a seed of a dream. I wonder now at the path that I see slowly opening – will it be just as refreshing as before?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Good Old City:

I finished work late today and was standing outside my office waiting for a cab to come by. The road was comparatively deserted. One cabbie pulled up but then refused to go where I wanted to go. After saying no, he immediately got out and waved to one other cab for me. Some two more taxis stopped. He made sure that I took the one which was standing there for a long time waiting for a passenger.

I was amazed at this guy’s thoughtfulness. First for me and then for the other cabbie.

I promise I’ll stop shouting at all the auto and taxi-wallahs like the way I do – in my typical Delhi way.

And for the first time in four months I behaved like a Bombay-wallah – I loosened up and asked my taxi guy to switch on the radio. He switched it on.

“Tum bhi chalo, hum bhi chalen…chalti rahe zindagi….”

Yes, so right!

Sunday, November 04, 2007


One junior person in my team listens to ‘re-sung’ versions of old Hindi songs. Kumar Shanu-singing-Kishore Kumar-types. She thinks its original and keeps asking me how I could make out that it’s a ‘fake’!!

The juniors look at me strangely when I tell them that I like old Hindi and English numbers.

Another junior person wants to get rich fast. He keeps repeating ‘I have to earn money fast.’ He’s just 6 months in the industry and earning 3 times more that what I used to get when I was a trainee.

I met a woman a few weeks back; she was wearing a saree that day. The first thing that she said after saying hello was ‘please excuse me for being dressed like a moron but I had a workshop.’

I sometimes wonder what all I’ll get to hear in the next 10 years.

I burnt my fingers very badly the other day. The pain was excruciating but it didn’t faze me one bit. Because I knew that this pain will at least end.

Review meeting in Goa – it’s an oxymoron. Goa is a place for friends or families or lovers or for just being alone. I don’t understand the funda of taking people from all branches to Goa just to tell them how poorly everybody’s performed. Thankfully I could manage to slip away for sometime during dinner and spend that time walking the beach.

However these walks turned out to be just as claustrophobic – at one end were the office people discussing farcical issues while at the other end were the numerous amorous couples strolling in the dark. I found myself stuck between the falsities of both the world dying to run away yet again.

The trance-like crashing waves and the soft sand held me there.

The cheek-by-jowl buildings here block out the sky completely. I don’t think I have seen the moon or even a star in this city’s night sky yet. I miss watching the sparkling moon and the feathery clouds from my balcony in the other city. Sometimes – especially during approaching winter – late in the night when the moon’s high up in the sky and a faint cold wind blew, I could sniff the air and smell the snow-peaks and pine leaves – my dur khaima. My home. My peace.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Colour of Paradise:

I don’t like talking about movies here…because it’s a very personal preference and I don’t like raving or ranting about any. Let each people decide.

But a week ago, I saw an Iranian movie ‘Colour of Paradise’….a story about a blind boy. It’s not the story that I want to talk about. It’s the way the director has understood and captured the beauty of nature. Fresh, real and so beautiful that your heart aches with sheer longing. The wind through the trees, the sound of a bird, the colour of the field full of flowers, the gentle sway of the leaves and the crops, the boy’s hand touching the maize stalk, the silvery moon……so many times, unknowingly tears rolled down my eyes just at those simplest sights. Throughout the duration of the movie, I was spellbound. Nobody can bring nature out like this if he or she is not moved by the beauty around.

Go watch it with your heart.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Odyssey years:

Most festivals have lost its charm on me. I rather stay at home than participate. Thankfully my parents have let me be…never forcing anything down my throat in the name of tradition or religion. Till the time I was with my parents, going for the Asthami Pushpanjali seemed more like a duty than any other sentiment. However, this Puja I not only wore a new dress but made efforts to go out and give the morning Anjali. Maybe breaking that link with familiarity makes one crave it all the more. The sentiments haven’t changed….I still did it more like a duty but this time I remembered all that my mother used to say and do around this time every year. I remembered all the familiar faces in the crowd, the smell, the euphoria and tried seeking the same sense of space and time here in this still unknown part of life.

It’s true, however much you try otherwise, your roots always hold you firm and gives you your distinct identity.


I was reading in the papers today about the ‘Odyssey years’ - that journey from teenage to adulthood…how people in their 20s are postponing settling down in order to find themselves. Good to know that now they have a term for the travails that I have gone through in the last decade. I now seem to have reached a stage in life which they termed as adulthood – a period of settling down.

But for me the quest seems far from over… seems to magnify with each passing years.
There seems to be a certain truth about our parents’ conviction on how to spend your life. Simple living and doing one’s duty. ‘Finding oneself’ can take you around life’s many unwanted corners, not giving any answers and throwing you right in the middle of the maze every time you seem to find a path.

Maybe by that time it will be too late to go back to our parent’s way of living. Maybe in another decade’s time, while I will have reached another milestone in my search, they will give it yet another term and relegate it as yet another phenomenon.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Surprisingly I haven’t seen any cows on the streets here. Weaving through herds, being attacked by bulls, road-blocks by an entire family, lost calves…. were the ways of life in Delhi. A bovine-free road seems like a foreign concept to me. Come to think of it, with so many open fields, trees, parks and weekly vegetable markets, they have a field day there….out here they would probably be run over by the traffic or people.

The crows outside our building starts to crow precisely at 1230 at night….without fail everyday.

Delhi’s autowallahs always made me mad but like everybody else, I had also submitted to their dishonest ways. But my blood boils and I froth at the mouth when I find dishonest auto or taxi wallahs here who are out to rip your pocket. Perhaps finding an honest city turning dishonest is far worse than knowing that a city is absolutely dishonest to begin with. It hurts to see the city changing so.

I got a chance to travel the famous Bombay-Pune Expressway in day-time. I kept waiting for the scene to turn beautiful but it seemed to turn exactly its opposite. Hoarding all along the way, grotesque looking buildings stretching way into the hills – all in the name of luxury living in the lap of nature. In a few years time, there will be no nature, only man made disasters. I shudder at the very thought.

First it was the cellphone with ear-plugs. Now it’s the I-pod. Everybody out here seems to be plugged. In the train, while crossing a street, in the car, while working. I am one of those few people who hate to change especially when it comes to technology. But now I have realized its importance – long and arduous traveling. I miss the long drives around Delhi in my car with windows closed, listening to music and getting lost in my own world.

In Delhi, people are in groups mostly. Out here, it’s the rule of the single. With an I-pod plugged in the ears….lost in their own world, part of a crowd yet completely apart, hurrying to work, home or a party…or hurrying through life….trying to find those few moments of peace…through music.

Maybe that’s what defines the Bombay of today.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Stepping Out:

I had to get out of the city, the chaos of everyday life. So despite little sleep the previous night, I headed out to the shayadri with a bunch of people early in the morning. We turned away from the highway and stopped in front of a charming little village. J showed us the formidable looking hill in the distance that we had to climb. Looking around I saw many strangely formed hills shrouded in the morning mist. Anybody would think hundred times before venturing into these jungles and the hills – and looking at them, I finally realised the genius of Shivaji who knew every nook and cranny of these ghats and how he got to rule such a vast territory.

The trek to the top was a moderate one – one hour of climb, then one hour of flat walk through a couple of tribal villages and then again another hour of fairly steep ascent to the top. The trail was through slushy grassland, a few slippery patches of rock, elephant grasses, buzzing insects, snails and caterpillars. I wished for clouds and a little rain but the sun breathed down on us.

At the top we passed through an ancient gateway with a Ganesha on top and a huge water tank where a buffalo lay sprawled right in the centre. Just how did it manage to get there is one of the biggest mysteries I have come across. The view from the top was worth all the effort – the de-formed hills through the haze, patches of absolutely green meadows, a star shaped lake and tiny villages below. I stood gazing at the valley below for a long time, feeling nothing. These were not the snow-peaks which anchor my thoughts or the sea which magnifies them so. I felt strangely cheated despite the beauty around me.

Maybe I will realise this place’s significance once I am able to understand my place here. Till that time, there’s the Sea.

Monday, September 24, 2007


The city is a remarkable sight from high up in a plane. Tall buildings sprouting in various directions….and the rest of the area filled with slums. Not an inch spared….it seemed that more people lived in the slums than in proper buildings. In a city so expensive, just how do they manage to survive?

Travelling within the city, I was amazed to find that most buildings were as ancient as life itself….blackened walls, peeling paint, tiled roof, wooden stairs, age-old lifts…..the resemblance to Calcutta old city is just amazing (except for the caged windows here). What I absolutely love is the big sprawling Parsi bunglows on the way to Fort and tiny pretty houses in and around Bandra. For just how long these links to a comfortable past will survive, is a question I do not want to answer.

I also found that there are these perfect little villages right within the city with lush greenery and fields around. Some so isolated that people refuse to travel after nightfall from that area.

I hate the ugliness of the city during the day-time but I love the dream-like sparkling city of the night.

In a city where everybody is rushing, in a tearing hurry….where there is only one chance that you get……its strange how the dream-like ‘another chance’ by roger sanchez, late one night with friends and zipping through another glittering road seemed to hold the very essence of my life here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I was standing on my balcony late in the night looking down at the vacant plot where my dearest car had stood for the past few years. I felt that slight nip in the cool breeze. It might have just been my imagination but I wanted badly to feel that welcome nip in the air. The afternoons already had mellowed feel to it, with a definite promise of the coming winter.

I love this season….autumn in Delhi. For me it defines my faith in life. Bright yet melancholic, happiness without a reason, anticipation of greater times, heart-soaring music, happy flowers, sparkling snow-peaks, ever lasting friendships, long coffee meetings, deep forever love.

I went around town looking for all these things or rather its impressions in the city’s many nooks and crannies. A sparkling laughter in a bylane, an eternal wait on the steps of a shop, lies to home from a phone booth, a secret lunch break from office, the hurried walk from the parking lot to get to the party, the long dreamy drives back home, ice-creams on a rainy day, crying under a neem tree. I never realises that so many memories lay all over the city for me to pick up again and remember.

I felt the city tug at my heart. I had tears…..yes, I was yet another of them who used the city and never called it my own.

And yes, I am going to miss badly the Autumn in the city.


Lately any kind of closed space makes me claustrophobic. That is, apart from my office and home. Pubs, coffee houses, other friend’s home….I feel as if the walls are closing in on me and then my heart starts to beat faster urging me to run. Good old music infact adds onto it. It reminds me of a past….the good and the bad, the expectations, the story in those eyes, the micro world that I had created for myself and lived in for so many years. I want to run away…I have been running away for so long….way away into the mountains to pitch all my unanswered questions again and again. Maybe that’s why I am here….the sea stops me….no more running away….the vast world is just out there. All mine and yet different. I can blow away all my questions….out in the sea….to be answered at its own unhurried pace.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mumbai Chronicles II

Mumbai’s street food has me drooling. I am dying to try out all the stuff at various places in the city. The only thing restricting me is my slowly recovering system which is used to the air and water of Delhi and not the spicy food of this place. Even then I can say that the food concept of this city never fails to amaze me.

The sweet, spicy and heavy Dabeli from (as per my friend C) the G-spot of Mumbai - Ghatkopar. When I asked him for a napkin, he gave me a piece of newspaper.

The cheese sandwiches at the Worli seaface….its so much better than the big sandwiches at the well known cafes.

The slab of sitafal ice-cream put in between two wafers from the Parsi ice-cream parlour near Churchgate. I kept wondering how the Delhi folks would react to such take-aways.

My friend barked at me when I asked for wooden spoons from the bhel-wala – “don’t you know how to eat bhel!!” When I looked baffled, he picked up the papri and used it as a spoon.

Delhi uses paper plates, steel plates, wooden or steel spoons…letting people stand and eat at a leisurely pace. Mumbai’s street food is built around its hectic pace….thrives on innovative take-aways. I never saw any people standing and enjoying the food around the stalls. No time.


Delhi spoils its people. Especially people like me. One can travel 35km in an auto for as little as 120 Rupees. One can park one’s car in a complex for the whole day for as less as Rs. 10. It has designated areas and markets for different kind of shopping. You just have to define your need, go to a locality and get everything under the sun. The local market in your area has everything you want at the cheapest price possible.

In this city, travel is like a jigsaw puzzle. You can never reach point a to b in a single mode of transportation without paying through your nose (on taxis). Trains, then auto. Auto, then taxi. Taxi to the bus stop, then bus and then another taxi. And shops are scattered anywhere and everywhere. I am still grappling with this complex method of living.


I wanted to see the sun set and the necklace light up at the Marine Drive. By the time I reached, the sky had become purple grey and the lights of the city were shining strong and bright. I kind of like the city during the night. It seems to come alive with energy after the sun sets…like me. Or maybe because it hides the squalor and harshness of life so well, which is all too obvious during the day certain truths of my life. The glittering light lets you forget….calms your soul and allows you to dream just a bit.


I looked out the window of my building late one night. On one side, the slum dwellers were having a blast practicing the human pyramid – for the Ganpati festival. On the other side, a sky-scraper stood in darkness with all lights switched off. As I stood staring, the lights on a 15th floor balcony came on. It glowed in the dark and looked so warm, loved and lived in. I closed my eyes and saw a view of a full moon on the sea from high above and felt a strong breeze around me. When I opened my eyes, the building was in total darkness again.

Yes. Someday. Yet another dream.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Mumbai Chronicles – I:

Its newness had long faded off…perhaps it was only in my mind. My reaction to the city now is more like slowly getting acquainted to a person after the freshness of the first meeting wears off. The subtleties, the pros, getting around the cons, slowly trying to pry its very soul and understanding its reaction to me.

I had perhaps come with an image of a city which had charmed me so much some ten years ago. Little did I realise that like a person even a city changes as events happen over the years. This city seems like a mere shadow of that long gone image….minus its lustre. There’s a nervous energy and not the happy chaos of yesteryears. The streets lack that shine which had once caught my imagination and I have seen better roads in Bihar than what exists now. The city seems to be fraying at the edges…slowly and surely…its strong fabric becoming loose. Remove the people – its soul and it will collapse, dead.

N took me to the Land’s End where we sat down at the sea’s edge looking at the vast grey expanse in front of us and the hazy city-line behind our backs….as pale as a winter evening. As the day faded, the city slowly came into life….like oxygen flowing through its vein. The glittering tall buildings shone through and lights lined up the city’s coast….a scene which I have always loved. Perhaps the dreams are not lost yet. Perhaps I can still find myself in this city’s warm undying soul.


The well known places of Delhi leapt out from the scenes of the movie (Chak de!) It made me smile, warmed my heart and I felt a strange sense of pride – of once being a part of that city. My relationship with the city has always been unstable – like that with a person who you cannot like and hence always resist but when the ties are cut off, you realise his/her importance.

If I go back ever, it will again get that volatile. Its better this way – to retain that sense of warmth and closeness, but from afar.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The morning:

Read in a newspaper today.

MF Hussain when asked what he felt about his exile, said:

"Jab raat ho aisi matwali ,
toh subah ka aalam kya hoga!"

Now that is what i call being romantic.

Yes, it all makes sense now.

Friday, August 10, 2007


My friend C indulged me. I wanted to walk down the Worli Sea face in the evening. We walked and we talked. The sea was grey and angry. The sky even darker. The wind sprayed the salt water across the road. I enjoyed having aloo-sandwich and coffee and watching the city’s skyline through the grey mist. We made a pact to come here often for walks.

I used to love the sea once upon a time. I used to dream of a tiny cottage by the sea from where I could watch the endless waves crashing on the shore. I could sit for hours staring out trying to answer life’s questions. Now the sea deepens my agitation and the salt in the air clings oppressively. I found myself thinking about the sparklingly clean air of the mountains.


It was a chance meeting and then hours of non-stop discussion. In the end he told me I was like the character in the Alchemist…I am following my dreams. The treasure is there at the end of the journey…at home, he was sure. I wondered whether he knew something about me that I didn’t.

And I wondered what kind of a story it would be, when the protagonist follows a dream that’s become a mere shadow and he doesn’t know where home is. Will the treasure at the end of the journey still have any value?

Monday, August 06, 2007


I looked out the plane window and saw a massive grey wall ahead. Even before the pilot could announce the bad weather, I braced for a tumble. The plane hit the first cloud-bank and shuddered and swayed. Looking out, a thought crossed my mind – that I had never told anybody that I want my ashes to be scattered in the snow-peaks of the Himalayas when I die. What if its now and they never knew?

I am not scared of death. Infact I welcome it. It’s just that I don’t want to die and be born again…..not in this world atleast. So I want to live through all my karmas in this life only. Strange situation.

I have never flown in the afternoon before. It felt great to see Delhi so clearly from high above with no smog over it. As the plane moved westward, we passed through huge pillar like clouds, mushrooming clouds as if a residue from a disintegration of the atomic bomb somewhere on earth, sea of white and grey clouds. A thinning ray of the setting sun caught the corners of the clouds turning it golden yellow.

When the plane circled over Bombay for ten minutes trying to break into the cloud cover, the sun setting way into the horizon came into view. Below were only woolly clouds reflecting the sun’s orange light. It felt strange to see the evening sun in reverse….with us above and everything below. It felt peaceful….very calm. This is what a soul sees and feels when it’s finally free….am sure.

The sudden drop, rushing in clouds, the tumbles and jerks brought me back from my thoughts. I looked down to see a grey world below. The sea was brown and the rivers were ribbons of grey. The greens had a strange darkness to it. The wet roads started getting larger, the evening city lights brighter and finally the blue sheets over the chawls appeared into view.

It was a smooth, perfect touchdown.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

An ongoing story:

Once upon a time, there was little girl who loved to stay in her own world, away from everybody. Some years later life introduced her to two ‘best friends’. They were very close and played together, lunched together, stayed near each other and giggled endlessly. The school however had a system of shuffling students when a new year began. One year all the girls were together; while in other years the little girl was with either one of her friends. But never alone.

Finally a year came, when the little girl was thrown into a class-section all alone. Her best friends were given different sections. She didn’t know a soul and she couldn’t make new friends because nobody could really understand her. She grew morose and forlorn. Something had snapped and her studies spiraled down.

Decades passed, the girl was now a woman - sometimes defiant, sometimes unsure of herself. Her ‘best friends’ of school days were long gone - each involved in their own separate lives. She however found two new friends who fast became her lifeline in the crazy adult life. They laughed together, shopped together and giggled endlessly though living very far away from each other. Life in its strangeness, shuffled their jobs in such a way that all three of them were near to each other at one time or one of them was always near to the woman.

Until now. Life has thrown the exact same challenge that she faced all those years ago and failed so miserably. Her lifelines have shifted out to a different city, each leading her own separate life while she’s been thrown into a completely new city way away from them.

It’s said that life repeats situation, episodes, and incidents to teach you some important lesson. Or maybe to remind one of lessons now forgotten. But what is the lesson here??
Life throws relationships at you when you don’t want them and it takes away people when don’t want them to go. It lets you fly high in your dream, letting you think its true only to push you down when you are at the top. So do you not make new friends, do you not fall in love again, do you not keep dreaming?

What really are life’s lessons?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Nostalgic yet again:

The rains finally came in the afternoon. When it rains in my part of the city, it means that the whole city and surrounding area are also rain-soaked. For the past few days, dark clouds used to gather and then blow away leaving this part high and dry. I stood outside on my balcony and felt the rain streaming down my out-stretched arms. The song ‘O meri jaan’ from the movie Metro playing in the background somehow replicated my mood. I looked up and saw this little girl doing the exact same thing I was doing. Suddenly she looked at me, our eyes met and we both grinned from ear to ear….we understood each other perfectly….we were euphoric. I looked around, no other kids in sight…all probably inside watching cartoon channels or playing games on mobile phones.

I looked at the girl again playing now with a bucket and remembered all those days when we would all rush out at the first sound of rain and get soaked to the skin and come back home to pakodas and chai; how it used to become so difficult for us to concentrate on what the teachers were saying as the rain drummed outside and we itched to step out and get drenched during lunch breaks; listen with a strange dread and fascination to elders tell flood stories, hear frogs croak way away into the night, chase dragonflies and catch fireflies; check the water collected in the bright orange and yellow Canna flowers, collect rose petals that would fall down and search for the paper boats that drifted away in the water that collected in the garden.

Suddenly, the faded smell of smoking wooden charcoal drifted in from the iron-wallah’s shack and I was again taken back to all those rainy trips in the mountain. The musty rooms at Binsar and an empty mossy dark world outside, the clouds coming in at Dharamkot and mixing with the smoke from the kitchen, the cloud covered valley below in Sikkim with the stars shining brightly above, a muted but distinct howl of a wolf on a rainy night in the wilderness of Ladakh, the smell of the wet wood burning while watching the last rays of the sun falling on the snow-peaks at Tirthan, the smoke from the angithi placed in our rooms at Kufri while it snowed outside, and the yummiest smell of skewered lamb pieces being roasted on a thela in Kashmir.

I was filled with this deep yearning…to hit the road and just go….to the mountains and the streams. Just the thought of being near to the mountains brought so much solace to my restless heart.

But now I will miss them so…..wonder just how much the sea will be able to check my itchyfeet. That sure will be a daunting task.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A few drops of Rain:

I tried to paint a picture
Over the years
Of hills and trees
Rolling meadows, cottony clouds
A little cottage and river running by

There were daisies, poppies
And perhaps daffodils
Which I would pick on the way
And give them away

How I wish it would rain
Heavy, grey and cold
Rough against my skin
So cold that it would seep inside my soul
And I would stand in that rain
Till it washed that canvas clean

I’ll give my paintbrush to Life
Let it paint its wish
Abstract and Uneven
For I am weary of my picture
Which doesn’t seem to end.

Maybe in that Life’s intangible canvas
I can still find my dream’s image
I can still pick up the daffodils
And then give it away.

Ohh, For those few drops of Rain!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The First Encounter:

It was almost 2 decades ago. 1989. I had just finished my 10th Boards. I was happy, considering that I had started preparing for my exams only a month ago and the fact that I had completely forgotten about ‘Civics’ in my ‘History and Civics’ paper. My father then announced his plan to take us on a vacation - to Kashmir. The paradise Kashmir…of the Bollywood fame before Bollywood shifted westwards to London, Switzerland, America and now Germany. This was to be my first (grown-up) long distance travel and I was ecstatic.

News about extremism was just trickling in and we decided to take the chance. Our backup plan in case of trouble was to go to Rajasthan. I was shivering with excitement when the small IA Boeing finally took off from Delhi. After a few hours, the Himalayas came into view like stretches of grey and white crumpled sheets and the shadow of our plane riding on those undulating landscape below. The pilot announced the temperature to be 8 degrees in Srinagar…which was an unexpected blast of freezing air as we came out from the plane.

The airport was empty as we booked a cab from the tourist office there…a blue ambassador with a middle aged and a very helpful driver. It was mid-April and the tourist season had not yet started, so the roads and the city were completely deserted. Dry poplars and barren chinars lined the lanes. All the houseboats were docked at one side on the Dal lake. The air was crisp and the mountains a deep blue. The driver took us everywhere…all around Srinagar, half way to Sonmarg as the roads were blocked by snow and to Gulmarg where I and my over-enthusiastic sledge driver threw snowballs at my mom and sis.

I learnt a few Kashmiri words (now I remember only treyesh or water and Jaylum or Jhelum), ogled at the very handsome Kashmiri guys, marveled at the way they carried angithis inside the thick overall to keep themselves warm, gaped at the beautiful, happy faces of the women all around, walked the empty roads with my father in the piercing cold evenings and had the most delicious lamb pieces skewered and roasted on charcoal served with red hot chilli dip.

It was a happy, peaceful and breathtakingly beautiful place even in the cold, dry month of April. Even the talks in the city about how the Indian government was not helping them and how they felt more Pakistani than Indians did not dissipate that all-encompassing serenity. It all seemed other worldly – something which will never take shape.

It was my first tryst with the Himalayas. On our way back, when my father asked me about the trip, I told him I preferred the Sea to the mountains! Little did I know the future, mine or the state’s.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Past Few Days….:

45 degrees in the city, 49.5 degrees in the airport, the house feels like a pressure cooker, outside its like a blast furnace, nights are like the blast furnace has just been switched off, hot water from the tap in the morning, boiling water from the tap at noon, sweat dripping from the folds of the elbow, knee and neck, face itching constantly, my medicated gel toothpaste is now melted and watery, soaked clothes, umpteen baths, roads are empty, a 40km stretch covered in record 1 hr 15 minutes.

I don’t want to think about the stray dogs and cows outside. I can’t look at the kids selling books and car shades at the traffic signal even at noon.

I choose to ignore.


I have been listening to the song “koi fariyaad” on my comp again and again hypnotized by these lines.

Jaagte jaagte ek umr kati ho jaise
Jaan baaki hai magar saas ruki ho jaise

Ek lamhe mein simat aaya hai sadiyon ka safar

Zindagi tej bahut tej chali ho jaise


An incident keeps coming back to my mind again and again. It was almost 10 years back. I had just stepped into the professional world and life had a pinkish hue to it. I used to take a chartered bus at 8, take the window seat and promptly go off to sleep as office was some 35kms away.

That particular day when I got up in the bus, I saw that my window seat was already taken…by a woman in her mid thirties (almost the same age as I am today). She looked different from the others who were the typical gossipy “mera husband na..” variety. So I took the seat next to her. The radio was on and playing some very lovely old Hindi numbers. I looked at the woman. She had her head rested on the window and staring unfocused at the world going by outside, completely lost in her thoughts while the songs played on. Her face was completely composed, but tears rolled down silently from her sad eyes. Once in a while she would pick up her white handkerchief and dab at her eyes. She never turned away from the window.

I kept looking at her thinking what could have possibly led to this. An uncaring husband, a love lost, family problems, dreams unrealized? I wanted to shake her and tell her to stop crying, that it’s not worth it, that there is so much more to life.

Now after 10 years more of life and at that same age as her, I remember her tears. If I meet her now, I can look in her eyes and tell her – I Know.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Bombay Blues:

Life and luck is westwards…so they say. Hence I decided to try my luck there too. Couple of weeks ago, I found myself in Mumbai, ready to take on the city and explore life there. Not as a tourist or a professional visiting the city on work. Those were safe times and days….but this time as a beginner.

The sights and smell were familiar but everything else seemed different now. Too many people, chaos and organized confusion, crazy traffic jams, narrow roads, buildings without verandahs, sweat pouring down your neck, and the pace. People are perpetually in a hurry, rushing and rushing – to the station, to the shops, to offices, to home. I didn’t see a single person just stand and enjoy a moment anywhere. People are helpful, very much so….that’s in their blood…in the city’s soul. But that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily friendly. Nobody has the time. If you ask them for direction, they will just lift a hand and point and not even look up from what they are doing. When I persisted, I got a strange look but always got help. A nod, a jerk of the head, a finger pointing is all they have the time for. Even a chai-wallah on a footpath near Churchgate. I don’t blame them…that’s what life is all about here.

I am a seasoned traveler, and I easily melt into any city’s culture….or so I had thought. Mumbai shook me up, tossed and threw me around like a rag doll, physically and emotionally. I experienced everything in the city. I traveled by autos, local buses and AC buses, I took the local train; traveled on the western line and the central too. I traveled in the slow (super slow) and the fast as well, in the general ladies compartment and the first class too. I traveled in the morning, afternoon, evening and nights. From Nariman Point to Powai. From Malad to Juhu.

I went to a fishing village in Andheri where hundreds of fishermen and women sell thousands of fish. Gold laden women shouting for attention, brightly coloured boats lined up at the shore, crows having a field day with all the goodies around….it was a strange and a very fascinating sight.

I went to a typical Maharashtrian village on the way to Ahmednagar, set against the strangely shaped hills of the Shayadri. Stretches of red earth, a long winding road and then the misty hills in the distance….I could just imagine how beautiful it would look when the rains came down. Stopping at a small dhaba for a yummy bada pao and ‘full’ chai was a good way to start a day.

I went to the Gymkhana Club, I went for a morning walk near the Powai Lake, I watched Chini Kum in a creased Capri and top because nobody cares, I went to Hawaiian Shack for an impromptu party with my friend and her friends (lovely music!), I had mangoes and cream (not the famed strawberries and cream at Haji Ali thou), spicy konkan food, and lot of prawns.

And then one day the first (pre) monsoon rain fell cold and hard after a particularly muggy day. I was standing near the door of a fast to Andheri at 8.30 in the night feeling the wind and rain on my hair and arms. The drops reflected off the lights of an oncoming local and the girls in that first class compartment squealed with joy. And when I saw the lights and the wet city-line passing by, I finally felt at peace - a part of this crazy city.

But whether the city accepts me and lets me live there is still to be seen.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Ramblings of an Idle Mind:

While in Chopta, we saw a bus from FRI – Dehradun (Forest Research Institute) stop there in the evening. Boisterous students got out for a cuppa. Long time ago, when I was trying to figure out a meaningful career for myself, I had thought wistfully of joining this very institute (of course I couldn’t since I had given up science in Plus 2). Watching the students talk and shout, I thought about all the wrong decisions I had taken in life.

Of leaving Science because I was forced to take math; of not trying enough to get into geography; of not being persistent about a career in archeology; of quitting my job without anything in hand, of not being friends with a person…..the list is endless. After all this, when I look back at the path that has finally brought me here, one thing stands out so clearly. It’s not destiny that can be blamed but my very own choices!

Now, my idle mind is working overtime. But I just can’t help thinking what would life be like had I taken any one of those decisions correctly. Would I have had a satisfying career, would I have been as restless, would I have found ‘the’ man, would I have been happier or would I have been worse off, would I have met all my fantastic friends, would I have traveled the world by now? What?

So it’s not Destiny that brought me here but my many faulty choices and hopefully a few right ones. Life is a jigsaw puzzle of choices then with many permutation and combinations which we are messing up everytime instead of simplifying and making sense of it. In the end, unlike what I have believed so far, the pieces of life’s puzzle might never fall into place.


Now taking this whole thought forward… me others’ lives are also dependent on their choices (like a massive game of chess). Looking at most people’s lives around, I can say that 50% of their choices have been wrong. So if we look at a larger picture, the current status of earth and life here is basically a cumulative result of the wrong or right choices of so many people – dead or alive. If some people long ago had chosen not to use the wheel, probably the earth would not be dying right now.

But then the Mayan calendar ends at 2012 – a prediction of the end of the world or the beginning of the end of the world. And now The Report on global warming warns that we have only 8 years (year 2015) to current our mistakes (wrong choices). 2012 or 2015 – give or take 3 years. The Mayans as usual have been right!

If you we go by the Mayan prediction, then 2012 is Destined. So does it means it’s not our choices which led to this but destiny OR are we destined to make wrong choices at the right time?


The report on global warming is just an attestation of what we all knew (but chose to ignore)….the signs of destruction are everywhere….right at our doorstep.

- the extreme climate of Delhi (blast furnace like summer and freezing winter) has now changed to a rather temperate climate
- Bombay’s once temperate climate is now soaring
- Rain in the cold desert of Ladakh
- Snowfall in Dubai
- Grass in Antarctica
- Near freezing temperature in California
- Forest fire in Germany in the ‘spring’ month of April
- Massive floods in Europe
- Where 7 years ago I was enthralled by the beauty of the Gangotri glaciers, now pictures of the same place shows barren hills with people wearing sleeveless shirts
- Germany is trying to save its ‘last’ glacier from melting
- And many more

I envy my father’s and grandfather’s generation – they lived a simple life and experienced nature at its best. I am happy about my generation – at least we have still managed to lead a simple life and we have still managed to see the pristine, untouched beauty of nature. We however will suffer the maximum pain because only we know what we are losing. I pity the teens of now – they will never know what real beauty and life is. I am terrified for those who are being born now – they will face the full brunt of the destruction.

Despite the bold writings on the wall, we continue to choose the wrong things in life. We still choose to run after money, to buy that ‘home theatre’ than seeing the real life all across the world, we still choose to tell lies and not change, to ignore the old people on the street, not to love, to take our parents and friends for granted, to keep our eyes shut, mind closed and hearts dead…..

…….even when we know that we do not have too much time and all these in the end will be absolutely fruitless?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Chopta Chapter:

N & I decided to rough it out…local buses and jeeps and at our own pace and time coz we both badly needed a break (me – a break from a break!). The idea was to go as far north and as close to the snow peaks as possible in those 4-5 days. So we hopped, skipped and jumped all the way to a tiny peaceful hamlet called Chopta.

Beyond Haridwar, the entire Garwal region is called the Dev Bhoomi and rightly so. Each town we crossed or stayed was steeped in mythology and set in fantastic valleys and on edge of gorges; one can only bow down to the might and beauty of nature there.

Reaching Haridwar in the middle of a sun-baked day, we plodded onwards to Rudraprayag in a bus that was hot, sweaty, cramped and dusty to say the least. Instead of a promised 5 hours by the driver, it took an un-ending 6 hours to reach the small town. Heavy rained poured and gushed down the narrow road when we reached Rudraprayag in the evening. We reached our guesthouse just in time to see the evening aarti being performed at the Prayag of a muddy Mandakini and a green Alaknanda river. A complete ‘ciggie moment’ as per N.

Saying a quick prayer down at the Prayag in the morning, we headed north. The sense of community and solidarity of these hill people never ceases to amaze me everytime I travel this area. The helper in the bus knew and waved out to so many people on the way. And the bus waited as the passengers went about doing their own personal business along the way….a guy had to pick up petrol from a station, a woman collected a packet from another village while a man had to give a packet to somebody somewhere.

The short ride took us to an unassuming yet enchanting little town of Ukimath. The GMVN at Ukimath overlooks a valley and opens to a fantastic view of the majestic peaks of Sumeru and Madhmaheshwar. We sat at the balcony of the guesthouse hogging Maggi (Its amazing how Maggi tastes so wonderful in the hills) and sipping hot tea while the rain lashed outside.

We got up the next morning just as the first rays of the sun lighted the tip of Sumeru and in an hour’s time we were off to our final destination. The narrow empty road was exceedingly beautiful with deep gorges – so deep that the river below looked like a ribbon, dense and fabulously green deodar forest and snow-peaks just over the shoulder. The dangerously overloaded bus dropped us at a juncture with a few dhabas and told us that it was Chopta.

Chopta, we realized was not a hamlet (you will not find a single woman there!) but just a ‘breakfast and lunch’ point for pilgrims taking the trails up to Tungnath - a temple set in a spectacular valley (which we did not visit….am still upset about it!) On the other side a beautiful meadow opened up to the massive and beautiful Choukhamba range. We hence went down to the meadow - a mini and very rustic Swiss setting….and amazingly with no soul around. Pure silence broken only by the tinkling bells of the grazing cows. I sat looking at the clouds fleeting in and out of the entire snow range - one can pitch all the emotions at those silent, sturdy and cold peaks and know that one can always find salvation there in the Himalayas.

I love the travel, stay, pack and travel again routine - constant change and complete freedom. I was just warming up to it and my itchy feet were dying to travel way up north and away but N had to come back. So another hop, skip and jump routine brought us to Devprayag the next day, where Bhagirathi meets Alaknanda to form the Ganga. After collecting water from the prayag and warding off a pesky pandit, we retraced our steps further south to murky Haridwar and the unwanted reality.

A journey both short and long – a journey which began with an end


Some Signs on the Roads

Ab itni bhi kya jaldi hain.

After Whisky, Driving is risky

Drive Slower and Live Longer

Go slow on Curves

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Nostalgia – II

The area where I grew up (in the small capital town) epitomized the ‘mohalla’ culture of yesteryears perfectly. The mohalla had an eclectic mix of houses, slums, a strange general hospital cum office building which no mohalla-folks visited, a coal yard, a guest house where stray foreigners used to stay on their way to holy places of Rajgir and Pawapuri, a huge orchard and a very stagnant and slowly decomposing pond. All this in a tiny kuchha lane magnanimously called Beni Babu ka Bagicha.

As per history, Mr Beni Babu once owned the whole area and after selling away most of the land was left with only the ‘huge’ orchard and the pond at the end of the lane. In remembrance, the lane still held the original status and hence name.

In keeping with the mohalla’s diversity, all the people living there were as varied. Bengalis dominated the area with as many as 7 families (including us), 2 Bihari, 1 Gujarati, 1 Sikh and 2 Marwari families stayed there. A few more came and went.

The huge Chaterjee mansion in front of our house representing the archetypical educated, cultured Bengali joint family, the handsome Bengali with terrible temper who used to beat up his epileptic wife, the unheard situation of two unmarried working sisters who stayed alone at the far end, the lovable Gujarati family who always used to invite and pamper us kids with yummy gujarati specialities (I still can’t forget the taste), the sexy and smart Sikh aunty with terribly dull kids and the pretty jovial bong kakima who was my mom’s thick friend….everybody knew everybody else and gossips flew unchecked.

But we kids didn’t care about anything….we were one huge mohalla gang ready for any mischief at anytime. Friendships were formed with ease. On the first day of our arrival in the mohalla, Mamta just came and stood outside the gate and smiled. Later that day, I was playing with her. Similarly, we used to go and stand at the gates of any new arrival and thus the gang grew.

We climbed trees and stole kuchha mangoes and guavas from the orchard in the peak of the day when everybody slept. We scared the foreigners during Holi and bullied their kids. Sunday movies had to be seen together, initially at my friend Sangeeta’s place and after we bought a colour TV, at our place. The windows and doors were kept open for the slum children to sit and watch. Boys and girls formed teams and waged war against each other in intense games of pitto and kho-kho. We also fought to see which team learnt cycling first, laughing our guts out when the fat bong boy fell into the naala. I hated it when all chose to play cricket because I was given ‘baby’ overs to play. We used to search the bushes for snakes and centipedes and sit near the pond telling stories of the ghost which haunted the pond. We stole peacock feathers from the innocent little girl (I think I still have them!) because she was too girlie. We forcibly poured sand on the sikh girl’s head and made her cry everyday because we found her dumb. We used to scale walls and jump gates to show that we were no lesser than the boys. Moti, the mohalla’s black bitch and her puppies were pampered by everybody. Once a month, on Saturdays a huge screen would be put up in the middle of the lane and we used to sit on the walls and watch any movie that was shown. And when the electricity went, we would sit together in the darkness, count the stars and tell each other many-a-stories.

Each and every detail of those days, colours, dresses, feel of morning dew, running for the school bus, jumping on puddles, little voyages of discoveries in the backyard, songs and dreams…all are etched vividly in my mind. It just seems like yesterday. Just when did we grow up…and more importantly why?

Sunday, March 25, 2007


I got chicken pox when I was in Class 9th. My sister was preparing for her board exams which were just round the corner. So, I was grounded. For 15 long long days. I was made to lie down in one bed and forbidden to move out of that bed lest I pass the sickness to my sister. I was treated like an untouchable and nobody was allowed to come near me.

I had a strong will power. I refused to give in that murderous itchiness and after two days I didn’t feel a thing. Which left me all the more bereft because I didn’t have anything to concentrate on. A few mohalla friends would drop by for a quick hello through the window grills and tell me how much they missed me. My school friends would send me chits through my sis and tell me about the fun in school. I could only look on forlornly at the warm mellow world outside. Then my ‘best friend’ did what best friends are supposed to do – send me a lifeline. The novel Gone with the Wind.

For 15 days I lay immersed in the book not bothered about my confinement. I fell in love with Ashley Wilkes (unlike kids of today, I became aware of the ‘opposite sex’ around that age and like all, at that age I knew and understood only puppy love). I was physically transported to the open meadows and undulating land, riding lazily along with Scarlett. The mellow sun outside my window became the mellow sun falling on Tara and I could smell the red earth of the cotton farms. The optimism of youth led me to believe that I could also one day ride in such open meadows and feel the mellow sun. Now the cynicism of age tells me just how far away I am from that dream.

A few stray days of mellow march sun in this city just reminded me of those heady happy days and that deep longing. It sure has been a long journey since then.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Yo Baby!:

4 years back or just yesterday. A fragmented and disjointed group of friends, a hurriedly made plan, dashing away to Rishikesh and rafting for a day! A weekend of great fun.

My friend K. Her friend S, S’s friend A. K’s other friend SB and her husband AB. And Me.

There was warmth in those first hellos. A lot of enthusiastic talks, getting to know each other and common holds in the cool shades of the tent near the Ganges.

A day of tough rafting through roaring rapids, skin peeling sun and muscle freezing cold water chanting ‘Yo baby Yo baby”. Heedlessly jumping into the muddy river from a 30 feet high cliff. Even when you are dead scared of the water.

Sunset among the low hills, sitting near the river bank, aching muscles, lazy laughter, lots of booze and rolled up ciggies. Nobody can ever get a higher high than this!

4 years hence, the rapids of the Ganga have calmed down and the roars become less deafening. The group has become as fragmented and disjointed as before.

Time and life sails by. But that one single high remains and still holds us together!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Into the Wild:

I have just finished reading this book by Jon Krakauer – Into the Wild and to put it simply, my mind feels like it’s in a whirlpool! It’s a story about a 24 years old man, Chris McCandless who was well educated and came from a well to do family. He was idealistic, passionate and excessively independent. After graduation, he gave all his money to charity, gave up all his belongings and left his family to travel the whole of America for 2 years…hitchhiking and sleeping with the tramps making friends along the way. In 1992, he went on this ultimate adventure to the Alaska wilderness on his own and to live off the land, but never returned. His decomposed body was found much later.

Okay so why is my mind in such a chaos?? If this guy were alive, he would have been about my age today. In 1992, when I was in college I was swamped under by existential dilemmas and questioned everything around me. I had this excessively independent streak in me. My dreams, day and night were about escaping from all this…to just pick up a bag and vanish without a trace…to live in the jungles, mountains, streams. Hence each and every word in this book brings back my truth and I not only understand but also appreciate each and every thought of this man.

Some excerpts:

Chris McCandless – ‘The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure….The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. And once you get accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty. Move around, be nomadic, make each day a new horizon…..You will see things and meet people and there is much to learn from them. And you must do it economy style, no motels, do your own cooking, as a general rule spend as little as possible and you will enjoy it much more immensely.’

‘Two years he walks the earth. No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate Freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose Home is The Road.’

Everett Ruess – ‘…I shall always be a lone wanderer of the wilderness. God how the trail lures me. You cannot comprehend its resistless fascination for me. After all the lone trail is the best…..I’ll never stop wandering. And when the time comes to die, I’ll find the wildest, loneliest, most desolate spot there is. I have always been unsatisfied with life as most people live it. Always I want to live more intensely and richly.’

John Haines – ‘I faced in myself a passionate and tenacious longing – to put away thoughts forever, and all the trouble it brings, all but the nearest desire, direct and searching. To take the trail and never look back. Whether on foot, on snow shoes or by sled, into the summer hills and their late freezing shadows – a high blaze, a runner track in the snow would show where I had gone. Let the rest of mankind find me if it could.’

Our thoughts might have been the same but I lacked something that he had an overload of; and I still lack it – that is Courage.
The life of Chris MaCandless is how life should be – passionate and totally Free. Live the life you always want to. Die young but die happy.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Challenging God:

I wanted to take advantage of this impromptu break from work and cooked up some grand plans for a month long travel. Looked here and there, asked friends, friends of friends, friends of friends of friends who were travel freaks – but all were caught up with something or the other.
So my grand plans dwindled down to a week’s break in Goa but K was off to her mom’s place for a whole month and forbade me to come.
Then I decided on Bangalore but S&R just had a baby, so couldn’t force them go gallivanting with me.
That left me with Bombay. But S with whom I was planning to stay was shifting back to his parent’s place and N with whom I was planning to go on a Shayadri trek tore his ligament.

Clearly God was against me! Still I decided to challenge Him. I went to Dehradun to visit my college friend after 7 years. And what do I get there….days of constant rain! I looked up at heaven and could almost hear God’s laughter. My plans of going to Mussouri or Dhanaulti just vanished. We did however manage to sneak out to Rishikesh, Haridwar and a tiny slice of tranquility called Chila for a day. It was like game of cat and mouse with the rains…always managing to get out of a place the moment the rains started.

I think by the last day, God finally took pity on me. It poured incessantly the whole of Tuesday…thick grey sheet covering the sky. Finally in the afternoon the rain stopped. My friend and I immediately took advantage of the situation and stepped outside and got the most fantastic view ever. The whole range of hills from Mussouri to Dhanaulti was covered with thick layers of snow… seemed we were in Himalayas proper and not the foothills. The setting sun peeked out and the pure golden rays lighted up the snowed peaks. The colours slowly changed from orange to pink and everything around simply turned breathtaking (my only regret, I did not have my camera in hand that time).

I saluted the heavens and He smiled back turning all the clouds pink. The game between us was finally over.
You see, now that I am back, its pure sunshine here and in the hills as well!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I Found a NeverLand!

This is dedicated to Kahini:

Almost a year back, I moved to this organization despite a Huge Stop sign posted by K. After staying in Delhi for almost 15 years (by now I think even the Gods would call me a Delhite!), I thought I could face anything! Now I am not at all sure…..

My first conversation with my colleague on my first day –
C: Are you married?
Me: No.
C: Good, we hate married women!
I dared not ask what happens to working women with babies!

Kv had joined around the same time I did. For the 3 months that she stayed, she was my lifeline. Coming from the same industry, both of us were amazed at the lack of guys in the office…we both thought that it was unhealthy, contrary to popular belief there. After 3 months, she told me – “I’m missing them guys” and left. I was bereft.

I, like all my advertising (ex) colleagues have no qualms about using the hindi swear words. One fine day, I happened to say the K word loud and 10 heads popped up shocked. The F word was looked down upon but conversations about S—and B—bs were a done thing. If you have it or done it, flaunt it! The bolder, the better!

S and I used to meet in the washroom and look longingly out the window plotting our escape. S was like me, a complete ‘jhalla’ – a total misfit. She was presented with a lipstick by her colleagues to cover up her “chaffed lips” and asked to do something to her “wind-blown hair”!

The regular morning conversations over coffee were on the clothes one was wearing. I was oft told – “Ohh you are wearing this for the 2nd /3rd /4th time!” “This top will go with that skirt of yours which you wore that day” “Ahh, a silver earring!!” Omigod!! I don’t even know if I have a silver earring!

All PA’s, apart from doing their regular work, were supposed to report to their department heads what the others were talking about!

Ohh, these are just a few examples…but don’t you think I deserve a gallantry award for staying there for a year!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Of All the Things…..

…..I wanted to become - such as

Wild Life Photographer
Wild Life Researcher

…I have ended up being in the most confused profession - media! In fact I have even forgotten the meaning of most of these words above. Sometimes I Really wonder what would life be like had I been any one of these….was it destiny that brought me here or was it that I simply didn’t try! Where is the time machine…I want to go back!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Foggy Memories:

So much is being said about the Delhi fog that I feel this great urge to add my bit also. I find this all pervading, blinding, cold, grey, straight-out-from-the-nightmares type of fog very interesting. For me it is synonymous with a lot of firsts.

I came to Delhi in 1991. That year or maybe next (it was so long ago..!), the temperature had dipped to 1 degree. Mind numbing cold…even 2 sweaters, 1 coat and a shawl couldn’t give that much warmth. We used to brave the early U-special rides to the North Campus standing on the bus steps, chattering and noses dripping….and still trying to catch the eye of ‘that’ particular guy! Some evenings and nights were spent with friends singing and roaming around the campus area (ya…it used to be so safe then) with the not-so-thick fog swirling lazily around our feet. My first taste of independent life!

My first serious job happened in 1998. Our client had sponsored a New Year extravaganza at a Vasant Kunj farmhouse where Daler Mehndi was to perform (he was big that time!). The fog was so thick that it seemed like a white wall…the car which I and my colleagues took crept slowly hugging the divider. At the venue, Daler Mehndi belted out hit numbers but all in vain. Standing inches away from the stage, we couldn’t see a thing! My first ‘live show’ experience!

Sometime in the 2000s, I had to travel to Bombay for work. By luck, He was also traveling to Bombay the same day. We decided to take the same flight. Thick fog ensured that the flight got delayed by hours. I loved every moment of it…coz I got a chance to be with Him for such a long time! My first love!

This time, on the first night of the year I was standing outside on the balcony watching the heavy fog swirl crazily under the street lamps and feeling the cold damp air penetrate my brain. I felt so free…free from unnecessary tensions and mindfucks! My first time when I have quit a job without any plans or knowing what to do in the future!
As I stood watching the fog thickening and the colourful bulbs lighting the New Year banner fading, I went inside knowing that next day the sun will be bright and beautiful, the full moon will glow brilliantly and the rest of the days of this year will be just as fresh and free!!

Happy New Year folks!!