Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Great Indian Train Journey:

Bombay to Delhi:

Uncle dressed like a politician, Aunty dressed like a politician’s wife – in all white. I look at them apprehensively. After an hour or so I relax.

Well-dressed religious old man who instead of saying hello would greet everybody with ‘radhe radhe’. Was on his way to Mathura for a wedding, he informed me later.

Local ‘chalti-kya-khandala’ type of guy who showed his machismo by chewing guthka constantly. His newly wed bride was also the ‘kareena-kapoor-in-films character’ type with all the adas and jhatkas in place. Snippets of conversation caught…“tumne mujhe itna rulaya…” “akele chorh ke kahan gaye the…”

Dinner time: Religious uncle shares his parathas and acchar with everybody saying ‘Gujrati mirchi hain, bilkul teekhi nahin”.
Post dinner: He tells me the story of his two daughters and then helps me make my bed.

He shook hands with everybody before getting down at Mathura.

Delhi to Bombay:

Gabru jawan from sada Dalhi worked for a small publishing house.
Sweet married boy from ‘New Dalhi’ was from a pharma company. They hit it off in no time.

The first part of the conversation was interesting when Sweet Boy describes the relation between pharma companies and the docs or hospitals.
The second part of the conversation was even more interesting. GJ told this guy that he came to Bombay often and knew the city well. He convinced SB not to stay in an expensive place in Andheri (though his meetings were there) but to stay in a cheaper hotel near VT. Some snippets

GJ: (extremely confidently) Saari locals VT se jaati hain. Andheri adhe ghante mein pahuch jaoge.
SB: Achha? Koi problem toh nahin hoga?
GJ: Main itni baar gaya hoon, mujhe local mein koi problem nahin hua hain.
I cringe.

SB: Bombay mein yeh fast or slow trains kuch hote hain na?
GJ: Nahin, wahan lines hota hain. Ek harbour ki taraf jati hain aur doosri seedhi. Ek aur line hain…woh Marine Lines se Juhu jati hain.
SB: Aur locals mein maine first class bhi dekha hain. Woh kya hain?
GJ: First class mein sitting hota hain. General mein khade hoke jate hain.
SB: Accha, Film City kahan hain?
GJ: Andheri mein. Wahan bahut saare studio hain.
SB: Andheri side mein dekhne ke liye kya hain?
GJ: (coming straight to the point) wahan bahut saaren night clubs hain.
SB: Theek hain, mera kaam ho jaane ke baad main tumhe phone karoonga….(already become thick pals)

Dinner Time: GJ tells SB… 'Aao main tumhe pantry le jata hoon’…obviously hinting to little swigs.

I giggle when I get down at Mumbai Central. Now I’m dying to know what they did in this city.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

My Truths and some Observations:

I have a strange dilemma now. I live to travel but I don’t want others to travel. Now-a-days I go to places and don’t tell people about it. Reason? I had gone to Ladakh some 6 years back when there were very few tourists and no Indians. Blown over by its beauty, I recommended it to all my friends and other strangers as well. Now look what has happened. It’s becoming a mini Manali…tourists pouring over in that ecologically fragile zone destroying it slowly. Somewhere I believe it’s my fault. So these days I keep quiet.

I have been in a reflective mode these past few days….wondering as to where we all are headed. If wheel (I personally would add tissue papers and safety pins!) was the best thing that has happened to mankind, then I believe the www is possibly the worst. Too much info and easy access to everything leads to people not valuing anything. I mean, it does make life easier….but we did live happily before that happened, didn’t we. Technology is supposed to get you closer…that’s what all the ads say. But people, friends and families are moving away. All the magical untouched corners of the earth are getting infected with humans. Too many people are demanding too many things. In the end, it’s just you and a super busy life so that you don’t get the time to think how alienated you actually are.

Earlier I used to love aesthetically decorated houses. Now I like houses that are a bit cluttered and filled in. They feel warm, lived in. I get better sleep in these homes than clean sanitized ones. But when I get my own home, it will be neither. I am a minimalist. I don’t buy things because I don’t really need them. Maybe that’s why I like the houses in villages. Clean, white washed, bare minimum and yet so livable. Many people find it difficult to understand given that in these over materialistic times, not wanting seems like a crime.

I don’t know how to deal with rich people. They have a different style of talking, of doing things. They have a confidence which comes only with money. Maybe that’s why we as a nation deal with the westerners like the way we do. Maybe it’s not really about the colour of the skin but about money. I wonder if we were a rich nation, would we still be in so much awe of the white skin as we are now?