28 June, 2011

Good night

“Good night.”
The chasm between wishing goodnight and actually falling asleep.
You lie on the bed and stare at the ceiling and think.
Just think.
About your day. How good it was. How nothing went wrong. Or how you totally screwed up.
You shouldn’t have attended that lecture. And when you did, you shouldn’t have fallen asleep.
You shouldn’t have yelled at your professor. And you wouldn’t have been thrown out of the class.
That just proves that t-shirt you wore today is indeed unlucky for you. Doesn’t it?
You wore it the day of the results. That was the first big indicator. And the day your friend (now, ex-friend) accused you of gossiping about her.
You should have known it is unlucky. Never again, not even at home, will you wear it now.
You should probably stop thinking about all this, and go to sleep. Or else, you will fall asleep in another lecture tomorrow again.

Then you try to block everything out, random thoughts and guilt over things you can’t change, that were not really your fault.
Everything just floods into your brain at the same time.
The injured dog you saw on the street but didn’t know how to help him.
That old man at the station carrying luggage for someone and then being paid less than he deserved.
Those kids at traffic signals trying to sell flowers. The random kid waving you goodbye after you got off the train.
Abandoning the cute kitten in the park because your parents wouldn’t let you get it home.
The very old blind lady near your college who lived on the footpath.

All that guilt you hoard inside yourself threatens to take over…
…and then you fall asleep.

You don’t know when-how-why but you manage to have a good night’s sleep.

The best part of the day…hell, the best part about life on earth…is when you first emerge from a good night’s sleep.
As you slowly emerge from your slumber, you exist in a very primal…okay, even infantile stage. You’re rested. You’re safe.
On the most fundamental level: you are alive. You’ve stayed off death for another day.
The feeling of cosmic bliss is, however, fleeting. If you are lucky you can stretch it out to...oh...two or three seconds.
After that, old man consciousness comes to stay and he’s brought his pal reality with him, the bastard.
You try and hold them off, but…it’s too late.
You start to think…
You start to remember all of your responsibilities. All of the people who are counting on you, who depend on you. You also remember all of the people, all of them, who you let down.
All the people you have to face today… and all that commitments and… more and more and more.
A lifetime piling up.

And then they expect you to get out of bed.

 - Alex Robinson, Tricked

He roams around our college with heavy metallic stuff tied around his neck.

This women served us 'Pitla Bhakri' when we had gone for a trek to Ticona.

Some school kids in a village in Gujurat.

She was stroking that calf so fearlessly.

When we were leaving from that village, this girl came running and asked me to take her picture.

14 April, 2011

Fly like paper, get high like planes.

Some days, you know, you are so happy that nothing can ruin it. And the best part about such days is that they are never planned.

One of them was yesterday.

As usual, I struggled to wake up and get out of the bed in the morning. I was super late, so skipped breakfast and ran to the station. And guess what, the trains were late too.
When I reached my destination eventually, it turned out someone already did my part of the work. Which is good but I went all the way there only to return immediately.

On my way home, in the train, my mom called and asked me if I wanted to come to her school. She is the head teacher at a Kannada school. So, I got off the train at the next station and took another one to get to her school.
It is situated in Dharavi. It is a government-aided school and most of the students are from the nearby slums.

I entered the office room and was greeted by three super cute kittens. Next thing I know, the students in the adjoining classroom start singing Vande Mataram, followed by other prayers. They even said the ‘India is my country’ pledge but in Kannada.
So I peeped inside the classrooms, there weren’t many students. Hardly nine or ten combining both first and second standard classes. These days, parents prefer sending their kids to English medium schools.

The classrooms were tiny with tiny benches and tinier desks. Charts were hanging in the walls. All in Kannada. Nothing made sense to me. I don’t understand Kannada. Even my parents sent me to an English medium school.

It was their second last day in school before summer vacations. Their exams were done, they had just come to school to, well, waste time.
My mom asked me to draw something on the board - nothing very difficult because the kids won’t be able to copy it. So I drew a car, a joker, an apple, a pineapple and grapes. Which turned out pretty decent. The kids drew them, coloured the pineapple blue, the apple green and the grapes yellow.

I don’t know why, but those kids found me very fascinating. They stared at me. Everywhere I went, their eyes followed me. And when I looked at them, they just gave me giant smiles.
Then, I borrowed a slate from a girl, and doodled something with chalk. The kids kept jumping around me to see what I was drawing.

In the second half of the day, the kids sang songs. Of course, I couldn’t understand because most of them were in Kannada. And they were all clapping, tapping, dancing while singing. They sang a few English songs too, something about potato wadas with many sound effects.
Then, one by one, each student went to the front of the class and sang songs. One girl sang and danced to the Madhuri Dixit song - channe ke khet mein. We all clapped and cheered.

I taught them to make a dog using marble paper. It was super easy and they got all excited. There were pink dongs, yellow dogs and even green and purple ones.
Then my mom – their teacher – left the room and we kids were all alone in the classroom. I taught them to make paper planes and we flew them around in the class. Red, yellow, green, pink, purple, orange air planes everywhere. It was the best part of the day. Racing planes. Trying to catch them. Some of them flew out of the window and into the neighbouring classrooms.

The bell rang and the school ended. The kids asked me to come again on the last day of school. Maybe we can fly some more paper planes.

Some days, you know, you are so happy.

25 March, 2011

Watch what you are watching!

Summer vacations started barely one week ago. And I was already bored.
So on this boring Thursday afternoon, I thought maybe watching TV will entertain me.

I grab the remote from my dad who is patiently watching some cricket match.


I land on some channel where a woman with extremely heavy make-up is reading tarot cards and twirling her fingers at the same time. “Buy this expensive gaudy green stone to find love.” I don’t think so.


“Mein toh sirf pyaar mohabat mein vishvas karta hoon,” Rajnikant drawls in his south Indian accent in ‘Tamacha’ and then very next instant, a female dressed in white runs across the screen singing and dancing “pyaaaaaaaaaaar!!”


Shilpa Shetty (pre-plastic surgery) and Govinda are dancing on a dimly lit set. ‘Gambler, gambler hoon mein.’


On some home shoppe channel, a woman is wearing an extremely drab salwar kameez and is trying to sell it by explaining how a matching chiffon dupatta is so hard to find. ‘You can wear it for evening parties and when people ask you where you got it from, you will have to tell them that it was from our channel!’
Ha, no, silly woman, just no.


Some south Indian channel which makes no sense to me. But all the men in that show have mustaches. All of them. Even some of the women.


Cartoon Network.
Bangbang. A man with a skull for his face is running. Killkill. He flies. Kills some more.
Too bloody violent.


Discovery. Something about the Second World War. But with Hindi voiceovers. It is weird to watch white guys mouthing out-of-sync Hindi words.


Some Gujarati channel. A woman is making thepla.


Ah!! Advertisements!! Great! Then some crappy reality show starts. No music videos.


Some Hindi music channel. Kangana Ranaut is dancing to “Jungleee.”


On some news channel, some bhenji-type female is cutting a watermelon. ‘Kalingad khao, garami bhagao!’ Which is shown four times.
How is that news!?

I flip through some more channels but I don’t stay on any one for more than five seconds.
My brain is numb from excessive exposure to concentrated amounts of crap. I surrender the remote to my dad and go back to the good ol' Facebook.

06 February, 2011

Kutch Kutch Hota Hai.

Looked forward to this trip for months. Talked about shopping for it. Finally bought nothing. Packed warm clothes, woolen socks and Hide & Seek.

Boarded Bhuj Express at Bandra Terminus. Created chaos by yelling a lot. Fought for the window seat. Made new friends. Screamed at the top of our voice. Sang cheesy songs. Stayed up late at nights as the temperature dropped down to 2 degree Celsius. Shared ghost stories. And got scared when another train went hurtling by. Realised that two jackets, one monkey cap and gloves wasn’t enough.

Visited Swami Narayan temple on the way to our resort. Admired beautiful marble sculptures. Clicked a million pictures. Scared away pigeons.

Jumped on the beds in our room. Almost got injured while jumping. Played in the swimming pool. Had cold ice water baths. Got badly tanned. Snuggled inside warm blankets. Listened to awesome music on headphones.

Screamed some more. Got a sore throat. Clicked a zillion pictures. Posed for another zillion. Reminisced our childhood by playing some old games: kho kho, lagori, red letter, langdi, sakhli. Fell flat on my face. Gazed at stars. Tried to identify constellations.

Visited the fossil park. Searched for cool fossils. Marvelled at the process of sedimentation. Realised how cool evolution is. Pocketed some fossils to take home.

Woke up early. Had a scrumptious breakfast. Visited the Tropic of Cancer. Stood on the Tropic of Cancer. Took a two-hour bus ride to view jackal-feeding. Got disappointed when the jackals didn’t turn up. Were told that we scared them away by making lots of noise.

Visited the India-Pakistan border. Stood on the India Bridge and saw a glimpse of Pakistan. Got mesmerized by the White Rann of Kutch. Simply stood and stared for five whole minutes. Realised five minutes wasn’t long enough. Realised that photos can not capture even one-tenth of the beauty.

Went shopping. Hogged on some Gujurati pani puri. Ate some Gurati sweets. Roamed on the streets of Gujurat at night. Got lost. Finally rescued by our group in-charge. Sat at the window in the bus. Stared out as cars zoomed. Almost froze to death but still didn’t shut the window. Hogged on dinner at the resort. Had rasagulla. Had another rasgulla. Then one more.

Sat by the campfire. Laughed till our stomachs hurt. Laughed some more. Played dumb charades. Laughed. Laughed. And laughed.

Visited a village. Discovered Rogan art. Played with kids. Tried to handle the charkha. Clicked pictures with kids, who offered us berries. Laughed with them. Ate Banarasi paan chocolate for Rupaye ka do and drank cold drink from a Pepsi bottle priced Rs 4.

Went to Mandvi beach. Saw tons of dead jellyfish. Poked many. Saw camels. Rode one. Got super excited. Ate bhutta by the sea. Ran on the beach. Bought channa bhel from a vendor. Got blessings from him for free. Saw giant windmills.
Stuffed our bags. Asked our professor to extend the trip. He laughed. We didn’t.

Finally returned to Mumbai.
And realised it isn’t so bad either.

Our room.

Swami Narayan Temple.

Grazing camels.

On our way to Tropic of Cancer.

White Rann of Kutch.

Mandhvi Beach.

Gujurati women.

Village kids.

A house in the village.

Camel rides.


Sunset at Mandhvi beach.