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Posts Tagged ‘Life’

City, Nights and Fear

June 30th, 2009

9 o’clock

10 o’clock

11 o’clock

Night,

dark,

inside their homes – the peoples

but, this is Mumbai, does not sleep – the city that does not sleep.

Someone asked me the other day – but you said that people do not sleep here in Mumbai. Look around, everyone seems to be asleep – and he smiled. I thought to myself, maybe it is the weekend and so everyone is sitting tight in their homes.

Then, returning back home at 11:15 PM at night, sitting in the cab, I looked around. A sense of fear had also gripped me – how will I return home? When will I return home? When will I snuggle up in my bed and feel safe. How can this happen to me in Mumbai – the city whose prodigy I am. Fear, that feeling of lack of safety, was creeping up my neck.

Sitting in the taxi, I asked the driver – no public on the streets?

He said – Sunday nah? Little public out at night.

But, I prodded further, even the bus services into the city have reduced at night. What is th deal?

The buses kya? They run empty at nights and so, the BEST has decided to reduce them. But yes, the streets are empty at nights these days, after the bamb-kaand.

Bamb-kaand? You mean 26/11?

Yes. After that, people have reduced going out at nights. A sense of fear has gripped people. We taxi drivers, our income was mainly from the fares we got at night. Now, that has reduced drastically. All the shareef, good character people don’t come out at nights. It is only the badmaash, the bad characters, that come out at night. Plus, so much naaka-bandi, police watch. Who will come out? Which shareef person will come out?

Just a while before the driver was drawing a distinction between the shareef and the badmaash, I had watched a bunch of well-dressed prostitutes and one of their clients in the classic white kurta and pyjama, laughing and making jokes around the corner of a hotel at Grant Road. And I had thought about respectability. Now, I think of the shareef, the badmaash, and the night and the city – transformation, perhaps it is happening at these subtle levels.

Then, I watched the city last night as we rode past one end to the other. Are the streets really silent? Is this what the bamb-kaand has done? Penetrated into the fabric of the city and spread fear …

We halted at a signal around the corner of one of the posh Western suburbs. There she was – no fear – just dexteriously weaving the flowers through the thread and making garlands, perhaps readying herself for the clientele in the morning who may want to offer the flowers to their gods and goddesses, allaying a fear of a different kind (that between the devotee and the devout). She weaved away quickly, without care. Is she afraid, I thought to myself?

Then we passed the roads. There they were, those people, those people we call slum dwellers. Three hutments jutting out from the walls, just onto to the streets. They had also called it a night, lying down in their beds, drawing their sheets onto themselves. There they were, stepping into the world of dreams and nightmares and desires and hopes and aspirations – some had their TV sets on, some just oblivious of the roadside traffic and preparing to go off to sleep. Are they afraid?

Then, we went pass the highway, those big roads that have been created to facilitate the movement of cars (and traffic). On the highway, covered under blue plastic sheets, supported by a few poles, they were also going off to sleep. Perhaps they were construction workers who had settled into a little space on the footpath and called it a night. Perhaps they were contract sweepers, spending their last few days in the city before the rain lashes vehemently. They were almost calling it a night, drifting off (or just about to …) … Are they afraid?

And then, just a little ahead, three-four men and women, playing hide-and-seek in the bushes by the side of the highway, perhaps some kind of a foreplay. They seemed happy, playful. Are they afraid?

Fear – what of?

Fear – of what?

Fear … and the city sleeps at night …

Fear … and we sleep to prepare for another day to come …

Fear …

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Making conversation … Relating … Anxiety of Silence

May 16th, 2008

All the leaves are brown …

I write listening to California Dreaming by Mamas and Papas. Nothing could be more appropriate than this.

All the leaves are brown …

So these days, as I take stock of myself and everything around me, there are things and issues that I think about and feel amused about and muse about …

Making conversation is one such issue that I have been thinking about. Ah, the joys and anxieties of making conversation …

You wonder whether you are being stupid, you wonder whether you are coming across as smart, you wonder whether you will run out of things to say, you wonder when there will soon be a silence …

(Dreaded Silence!!!!)

Will the silence be short?…

Will it live long?…

Will you have anything to say soon? …

Will you have anything to say sooner than later? …

Will the words come immediately? …

What will happen if the silence prolongs? …

Will the conversation just end? …

Will you then have to drift to talking to someone else? …

Will the person you are conversing with get bored and move on to talk to the next person around? …

All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey, I’ve been for a while on a Wednesday …

If I didn’t tell, I could leave today …

California Dreaming on such a Wednesday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Taking stock [Perhaps …]

May 14th, 2008

It’s been a few days, looking back on my life yet once again, those things that all of us do once in a while, trying to figure out where we are going and why we are going where we are going.

So where am I going?

Sometimes it feels like I am walking into an abyss of professionalism and just then, I pull myself back, asking what I want from life – professionalism or madness or can I have both?

What does it mean to live your life? Stream of consciousness? Too heavy duty for me. As I took some stock, I recognized that what I want from myself is honesty, that honesty which stands out in the stark nakedness of vulnerability, that honesty which is apparent in that one drop of tear which you shed in the purest moment of happiness, that honesty which needs no pretense, no show, no comparisons, that honesty which needs only me, me in all my colours …

I want myself back from life. Hence, can I wed myself to my words as much as I can? Can I write for the sake of myself, of redeeming myself from the abyss? Yes, write I can, to reclaim myself, to claim those that I am yet to know and to know that of myself which I don’t know yet and am yet to know.

Perhaps …

I will whistle the song in my heart

[If I don’t care for the tune as long as I am in tune with life and all that surrounds me …]

Perhaps …

I will let my hair down

[And not bother how knotted it can get as long as letting my hair down will let me untie myself …]

Perhaps …

I will fall

[As long as falling down helps me to leap into faith and let go of holding myself back …]

Perhaps …

I will dance

[In madness, in laughter, in passion, getting in tune with the lives around me …]

Perhaps …

I will do none of the above

[And hope that I will do all of this some day, one day, some time, one time …]

Perhaps …

I will do all of the above …

[And open my heart and existence to all the wonders that exist and those yet to come …]

(This post is dedicated to my friends Dinesh, Altaf and Tushar and all for all the wonderous times we have spent together and that absolute togetherness that binds us somehow!)

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Some random thoughts. (Some not so random …)

March 8th, 2008

Heaviness.

Weighs down.

Sigh.

Burdensome.

Weighs down.

But I bear,

Bear it all,

Willingly,

Trying to un-will.

Comfort.

I bear it all.

Distance,

From a stranger close by.

Distance,

From a known person who is close, yet far away.

Distance,

I bear it all.

Burdensome.

Heaviness.

On the same bed.

Within a distance of few inches.

Yet, distance.

Distancing.

Burdening.

Distanciated.

Liberating.

Distance,

Heaviness.

Burdensome.

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Stock taking …

March 4th, 2008

So I cannot recollect what triggered this, but as the auto was passing below the double road flyover, I suddenly felt that I had accomplished a good deal in my life.

Yes, I have not written the book that I was supposed to write.

I have not touched my guitar in years inspite of promising myself that I will be a sexy rock singer.

Yes, I have not even started working towards the restaurant that I was supposed to open.

I have not become the dancer that I have always imagined myself to be.

I have not written those stories of films that I thought I would produce.

I have not been drawing from the right side of my brain.

But come to think of it,

I have loved the people I have wanted to.

I have loved those people who I thought I would not.

Some troubled relationships have been worked out (mostly by themselves).

I know how to play chords A, G and D on the guitar and can sing happy birthday!

I can write to please myself.

I can write to please others.

I can cook.

I can be happy.

I have traveled through places, to people, away from people, towards myself, away from myself.

I have managed to retain friendships.

I have started giving up friendships.

I have moved away from home and by doing this, I have moved closer to home.

I have taught,

I have learnt.

I have created memories.

I have lost memories.

I have immemorialized myself.

I  have hoped.

I have given hope.

Now what?

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Of the adventures of the adventure called Life!

March 3rd, 2008

So it was just Saturday.

One of those Saturdays, when there was to be a party in the evening.

And it also happened to be one of those Saturdays when I peeked back into my past.

To come alive in the present …

M had come down from Bangladesh. Those times that I spent in Bangladesh, nearly 4 years ago, were the happiest times of my life. It was a life of risk, of fun, of cheap living, of enjoying each day that passed through as mundane an activity as cleaning the house!

I was living in Khulna, a small student town in Bangladesh, close to the Indian border. It was a time of my life when I was beginning to make some firm decisions and life was also leading me in that kind of flow. It was also a moment of learning, of learning by making severe errors. And it was a time when words just flowed by me, as if they were me, as if I was them.

M was known as Captain because he was the captain of the university. He was Big Brother. His cockroach eyes would want to peer at everyone, through everyone. And he was an absolutely voracious eater. And he would make me laugh to the extent that onlookers would wonder if something were wrong with me! For M, I was an out of the world creature, different from other girls in the university, one adventure freak! I had been to the Bangladesh road border with a visa by air only to be returned back to India and condemned to flying the next day on a 20 minute flight from Kolkatta to Dhaka!

Those were the days of my life, my life which was rife with adventure. Each moment was beautifully, painfully and anxiously unsettling. Today, I find myself relatively settled, but this settlement is itself unsettling. Even when I am moving from home to other places, it is an unsettling feeling because a certain adventure, a certain joy, is missing. It seems that having become professional, I have lost the adventure of life. But then, have I? …

M also seems settled. I wonder whether he feels unsettled in his settled state. Or perhaps, he has no time to think about this. Sitting in the hotel lobby, we were inquiring about each other’s friends, where they were, how they were. M tells me, “why is it that all of did not keep in touch once we left university? Detachment … psychology of detachment! You should study it!” But then, whoever said that I was detached? I am still very attached with those memories, with those times. I loved them and I still love them. They give me hope, the hope that the adventure of life has not gone, that this is one more phase, one more adventure. So what if it does not appear thrilling, it is still an adventure. It is still a state that I have never experienced before and I will not experience the same things again.

I am ready to be unsettled …

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