Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dear Diary..

"Can I lower your berth?", asked the old man as he shook me out of my not-so-deep sleep. The train was to arrive in one hour and there was already a lot of hustle bustle at eight in the morning. I was sleeping on the middle berth and everyone was awake except. of course, me. For people who know me, would also know that they ought to stand at least ten feet away when I get up and shut their ears while they're doing so. The profanities, screaming and grumpiness are barely enough to express my disgust. As you must have realised, I'm not really a morning person. In no mood to shout, today was the man's lucky day. I didn't want to start my first day in Mumbai on such a bad note. Yes, you got that right. A seventeen hundred kilometer journey from Delhi to Mumbai, a sixteen hour transition from my past to my future.Here I was, ready to let go and move on. The train chugged into the station. It was forty five minutes late.

As I tried to tug my juggernaut suitcase out of the train, while balancing my red airbag and my guitar, I saw my mother waving at me with her huge Makavity cat smile, without the evilness of course. After one cup of tea and a vada pao, we were off to my new home, Navi Mumbai is what my mother told me, someplace called Seawoods.

The moment I entered the house, my dog had her paws all over me, greeting me in her own warm manner. I love it. She had aged, but had grown more graceful with the years. An uncanny adjective to use for a dog I thought, but it was true. And here I was, at my new home, breathing the humidity, sweating like a pig, unpacking my suitcase and my mind for a whole new world.

And before I knew it, I was on a local train to Colaba to meet my other Delhi friend who had come down for a day. Even though I knew virtually nothing about the city, I felt I had to show her around, considering the fact that I am technically a local now. My mother told me to buy first class tickets as she dropped me off at the station, "or else you'll get raped in second class." Not the best choice of words, I told myself, But I got the picture. Being the notorious adventurer I am, I bought a second class ticket and was on my way to the Victoria Terminus, or is it the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus? Indians and their obsession with changing perfectly decent names. "The biggest Sex change in the history of mankind", is what my father called the terminus. Anyhow, coming back to the story, 'We were like packed sardines', is an understatement to what was going on in the coach. At the peak hour rush, with a second class ticket, I knew I invited death for a cup of tea. But I tolerated and reached, alive and thankful.

"Cafe Montegar", I ordered the driver as his taxi started. That is where I had to meet my friend. Trying to show the driver that I wasn't a lost soul in this gigantic city, I started discussing names of routes, streets and places with him, (of which I had a very faint idea of course) obviously in vain. After making a fool of myself, I payed the man twenty two rupees and made my way to the cafe. She was standing their, flirting with the waiter trying to get a glass of water. "Some things will never change", I smirked to myself and met her. "Hey, how about some beer or coffee", I asked her. But she had other plans in mind. I should have known - shopping.

Having spent an hour at shops, I finally convinced her that we had to head to Marine Drive to watch the sun set. It was beautiful and calm. Two words that could sum it all up for me. The gushing winds, the sun diving into the sea, the people on the queen's necklace, it was all so surreal and I took it all in. After walking on the pavement for a while, we decided to grab some dinner from Piccadelli, known for its Hommos, Shawarma's and Filafel. Eating dinner and eavesdropping on a conversation between people we thought were gangsters from a local mafia gang, we knew dinner couldn't have been more perfect. We were wrong. The mint tea and the blueberry cheesecake did the trick. I now have a new name for chocolate Ecstasy - Theobroma.

Colaba to Seawoods wasn't exactly close, so I had to say my goodbyes early and catch the local again. After experiencing the 'terrors' while on my way to the Terminus, I obviously bought another second class ticket on the way back( I never learn, do I?). But it wasn't too bad this time round. I found seat, rested my head on the wall, plugged in my headphones and before I knew it, was fast asleep and reached my station. Walked home, met the family and came online. This is where I experienced the highlight of the day. I received a letter from an organisation, congratulating me on being accepted in an institute in Turkey for a three week course, on complete scholarship. I went numb. Absolutely numb. After the Goosebumps, the numerous heart attacks, I finally let it sink in and jumped around the house screaming like a maniac waking everyone up in the middle of the night. With my parents ecstatic and my twin already making a shopping list to send with me, I realised this was real and was happening to me. I hope I havent jinxed it by writing it down here. Touch wood!

The uncertainties from the past gave way to a brighter present and a better tomorrow. My anxieties found new comfort, and the first paragraph of the next chapter in life was written. Such is life, with one door shut, many more open. A cliched and banal statement, but its so true for this moment.

As I write this piece, my other friend in a village in Sarguja, Chattisgarh is writing an article to be published in Tehelka. The same friend who did not know where her life was going 2 weeks back and knew she could never become a successful journalist. There is so much to learn from this and more. Hard work does pay off and hope is something that is real and is now. Life shows its colours in so many ways, its how we absorb and reflect those colours is what determines the course of our life.

Today. I am Happy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


It was over. As the final bell rang and I placed my pen on the table. She took the paper from me and I smiled at her. As I packed up my things, I breathed a sigh of relief. "Finally", I said, "Its over." And what I thought was happiness, was suddenly hijacked by this sense of poignancy. No, my paper wasn't too bad, seems as if I've been praying too hard and someone's been listening for a change. As I stepped out of the hall, that anxiety kept growing, the smile seemed more fabricated and my mind flummoxed. I knew it was the last of my exams, but I also knew that these were my last steps here, my last high fives, my last chai at the tea stall I thought was my second home, the last time out of the gate.

"Life is merciless", I thought to myself as I realised the inevitability of time. Trying to hide my sorrows behind my laughter. I couldn't grasp the situation, I still can't. It was one of the most overwhelming experiences of my life. You really can't live this life again. Here, where everything is taken for granted, where you know people by name and they know yours. As another chapter closes in your life and the page turns, your story shall reveal a new twist. The hourglass has been inverted and as you try to clench your fist to catch hold of the last particles of sand, they melt away into memories.

Memories, you can't live without them, but then again, you can't live with them either. They give you strength to move on and then hold you back. I'm standing at my crossroads now. It sounds cliched, I agree. Its where I go from here with the handful black and white thoughts I possess. These sound like random ramblings. My eyes are heavy and my mind is numb. I leave for Bombay tomorrow, to start afresh..........Words fail me today. I can just sit, pray and watch.