Monday, April 20, 2009

the first stop

Bombay, April 18, some time

This city is my consolation prize. If not home, here is where I’d rather be.
Spending time with a few old friends and some good old memories over some rosé wine and some rather Bengali Chinese (which isn’t very uncommon in the city) I was at peace.
It’s ironic; this city rejects and embraces me all at once. I cannot erase it from my wish list and neither can I go back on a whim. And yet, every time you ask me, this is the place I want to be. If not home.
J says I should come back. And I miss him tremendously. He and I share this strange understanding. We never tread each other’s path and yet, stay connected and concerned. Life has changed for both of us and we, as people, have changed too. But that ‘us’ has remained, the way it used to be.
It was so nice seeing R after so long. I really like the way she’s found her footing. And I have seen her struggles and shared some of the same pain. We’ve both fought for something that was so intangible that often, we’d lose track of what is it that we were fighting for. We’ve given up and regained our trial.
It was nearly a two-hour drive from Cuffe Parade to Goregaon where R was staying. I fell in love with her apartment instantly. There’s nothing fake in her welcome and she didn’t treat me like a guest. What more could I ask for?
I didn’t shop at all. In fact, I barely went out. I just spent time looking out her large open windows, wishing that nothing would ever change. Not in soul at least. I am so against this whole transformation that the spirit of every individual goes through. I think R loves me just the way I am. The way I used to be nearly 12 years ago when we met in college.
Something happens to me when I come here. I can’t explain that something. But the best part is I never really have to; at least to the people who matter.
And I would rather be with the people who matter. If not home.

Homeward bound

Calcutta, April 20, 8.55 pm

I don't mind the crowds here or even the dust that leaves a strange residue on my nose and between my toes. I don't mind the long standing traffic or the irregularities of life. I don't even mind the pungent body odour that doesn't remember its source.
I marvel at my insouciance – in another city I’d be intolerant, with a speech ready on how the world will never change, simply because of the sheer volume of ignorance towards urban development. Here, everything is forgiven. Here, time stands still. People still beg on the streets and labourers find a decent meal in ten rupees. Here, you are resigned to life. There can be no way out unless you are prepared to battle your way through various social layers that are often invisible but poisonous nevertheless. I have given up everything that I held true and moved to another part of the country looking for something that I have not yet found. Ironically, I have lost much. Words that I once took pride in. passages that were read under the light of a kerosene lamp and remembered – all through childhood and youth. And now, in the dark, without the lamp, I close my eyes, tightly shut, and try to remember a verse or even a line from an old book that still smells the same.
There is something about this city, he tells me. And I couldn’t agree more. As we both would walk down familiar lanes, in the heat or rain, thinking of those days that we never really wanted to move away from, we’d want to return to a place that we know more closely as the only home we’ve ever had.
My aunt says she finds it easy to breathe whenever she returns home after her travels - despite the pollution and the long stretch of stench that follows her into the shower.
And I smile, because I know that I will return and that stench will be mine too.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A point of little concern

So there was this man I met. Not alone though but I really wished I wasn’t there.
He spoke about youth and politics. I am not really sure how old he really is, but he was very passionate about the youth being part of politics.
Apart from that he also spoke about this whole ‘refrain’ from voting concept in India where the youth of course don’t vote because they don’t want to and mostly because they don’t know whom to vote.
And of course, when most of the candidates are either a stranger to us or of very little good, it’s best that we don’t condone their intent to come into power.
Then again, the whole political nexus that exists in our country can never really allow a different scenario.
There’s very little white money in politics and at a day an age when the so-called youth are busy wondering how to pay their home loan EMIs for their 3-bedroom apartment in a swanky part of a cosmopolitan, the drive to do ‘something’ for the country lies dormant within. Can we blame them?
Now Barack Obama is being used as an example. Only because of his humble backgrounds and of course the fact that he is different in colour, at least as far as the White House is concerned. And let’s not forget his unbelievably moving speech.
There are a lot of speech writers and makers in this country, which we cannot deny.
Coming back to this man – he is (apparently) doing his best to make people at the grass-root level to understand the basic functioning of the country and its people, or something like that. But he isn’t involved in politics because he isn’t sure that an independent candidate like him would cut a difference. Moreover, he doesn’t want to support any specific party.
So, he asks: would we vote for a man who has no right to represent his nation?
And I wonder: Why doesn’t he just not talk?