Thursday, July 13, 2006

... THE SEA...

Masked by smoky clouds the sun is nothing but a circle of light. The timeless sea rumbles back and forth, striking sand then retreating. Its frothy waves die out on the each. The sea as grey as the clouds above looks endless, stretched up to the horizon. Crows and eagles soar above the mangroves, swaying in the breeze. Strong and pleasant breeze tickles the sea, playfully picks up a grain of sand and gives it a joyride through the mangroves. The breeze, with its salty breath, kisses me.
The smell of the sea…a smell I’ll never forget though I may be miles away from it. It’s a smell I grew up with, a certain, unwavering sort of smell, certain and unwavering as the sea itself. The ageless, timeless, sound of the waves comforts me.
The sea is never still. It cannot be. Even if it’s clam on the surface, underneath it’s full of life.
The sea has a certain romance about it that makes you want to love. Lovers hold hands as they walk along the shore. Words of love whispered to each other like the breeze. Love pledged and love sworn… FOREVER. A forever that rings across the waves and is swallowed by the sea.
The sea is a keeper of secrets –some beautiful, some not. Yet it guards them, never to be revealed to anyone. Who knows what kind of secrets it hides in its deep dark folds –mermaids, sea monsters, treasure??? Anyone who is drawn to those secrets and goes out in search of them is lost forever. They will be enraptured by those secrets and the spell will never break. Have you not heard the sea whispering to you? Calling you? One day I will stop, face the sea and embrace it, to be lost forever among the secrets. No one will find me though they may search. I shall dance among the mermaids, listen to the secrets, hear words of love whispered on the shore and laugh at their foolishness. Love doesn’t exist, it’s just a fa├žade. I will tell that to the dolphins, I will tell that to the mermaids. The kiss of the salty sea shall never leave my lips. When I enter the world of the sea, human voices will be lost to me. Human voices –sugary sweet, full of hate and lies. My ears will hear the song of the waves and spells of the sea. “I” will be ageless... timeless…

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

...and he shall wipe the tears from their eyes...and there will be no more pain...
rock on mumbai... we pray for thee...

BLACK TUESDAY

It could have been me… could have been my family… July isn’t a lucky month for Mumbai. First the Deluge then these serial blasts. SEVEN of them, SEVEN. Rush hour, in the general compartment. Innocent lives of people who existed to make others happy and go about their own business. Mumbai has never done anything to anybody. It has always been at the receiving end of these attacks. What did we deserve this for???
Students, office goers, fathers, brothers, sons, friends. People dead or injured are predominantly male. WHY??? WHY??
Mumbai was in shock. They still are. The anger and pain will come later. For now it has swung into action and is helping make things better. That’s why I love the city so much, that’s why I love its people, that’s why I love being a part of this. Look at the resilience of the city. Any other city would have collapsed. I sympathize with London but …nothing beats Mumbai. First the rain and flood, then the riots then this. We have pulled ourselves through all sorts of mishaps. Mumbai pulled itself together and through the pouring rain and through the hurt and blood they are helping. Helping injured, helping the dead, helping to put the city back on its feet.
As I watch the news I see friends of mine bleeding, on national television, yet they are helping. The city is praying for the injured, the dead and itself.
It could have been me or my family. Reports of the dead are filtering through and I cry out as I see familiar names. FRIENDS …Dear friends who I worked with and chatted with and laughed with a couple of hours before are no more. I can’t believe they’re gone… I don’t think I ever will…
We don’t need to protest, You see it in our eyes. They tried to bring us to our knees and break our resolve and spirit... it has only been strengthened. Nothing, NOTHING will break us. We are ONE tonight. We will get together and fight back. Today cries and wails may fill the air but through all this you will hear the eternal song of hope that sings the people to sleep. They have not died in vain…

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Last year's deluge

The deluge last year was a much better story than this year's ... check it out...

How much of human life is lost in waiting. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are good times and there are bad times and there are some times that you can’t slot under these two. 26th of July started out a wonderful day. The sun’s rays poked its fingers through the window as I left home for the coolest place in the world –college. The birds sang, the traffic hummed and God was at peace with humankind. Friends, meetings, classes, hanging out, projects, eating, studies, some more hanging out –all like a normal day at college. What happened after 2 p.m. totally redefines the word NORMAL.

Three classmates and I decided to take the car home as all of us lived close by. We had just found out that the railways had stopped owing to the rain. We didn’t think that there would be much traffic and we felt safer together. Ipsita’s car with the driver arrived and we piled in. Four of us plus the driver makes five. WOAH! What a crowd! Little did we know that the car was going to be our home for over 21 hours. Before hopping into the car we decided to get wet in the rain. Ah! The blessed feeling of being one with nature! We were soaked to the bone and when we sat in the car we realized that our getting wet was the stupidest thing EVER. The A.C. was switched on since the windows had to be closed and very soon we heard four pairs of chattering teeth. Also Ipsita had worn a white skirt (another dumb idea!) and we had to take care not to dirty it.

In the beginning it was all La-di-da (inside the car). We sang, listened to the radio, and got to know each other better. The outside situation was hell! We took an hour to go from one end of the road to another. Families were contacted and then the networks collapsed.
I sat as far away from Ranjana as possible, considering she dances (or tries to) anywhere possible. So we had some fine display of Odissi dance viz. the Thribangi and Mudras –INSIDE THE CAR!!! Then if that wasn’t enough she started singing! She only stopped when we threatened she would find our fists in her face. The dear girl was only trying to help. Reuben was in the minority being the only boy( Ipsita’s driver kept mum throughout). Reuben bowed down to the age-old rule –‘let the women talk and do their thing’. So he was bombarded with ‘girl talk’. Three girls chattering at once was too much for the poor guy, so he tactfully suggested we listen to the radio. The silence reigned in the car except for the radio.
Outside it looked like a mini lake. As the evening darkened into night so did our tempers but eventually we cooled down to spend a joyous night in each other’s company. The darkness pressing against our car when we were stuck in a by-lane somewhere. We had an absolute blast even though we got to know the gravity of the situation. Thank God for Parle-G and Thank God for petrol bunks (we went to the loo there. If it wasn’t for that, the trees would have got a free watering.). Santa Cruz was the worst affected and we passed the night in the same place. The others slept fitfully except for Ranjana who slept like ‘Kumbakarana’ (her snoring shook the whole car!!!).
The way we came was a miracle because:
1. We were running out of petrol and
2. We did not have any money with us
3. We unknowingly kept the windows closed when the A.C. was on.

We got to know that the spirit of Mumbai was alive and well. People got a free swimming lesson, a first hand experience of the wrath of mother nature, some got a free trip to their final home, so on and so forth. It was an adventure and it is a once in a lifetime experience. This hasn’t happened for a 100 years and I pray that it never happens again.

We managed to survive all that and emerge as winners. The road to three of our homes was blocked so we went to Ipsita’s house where we cooked for ourselves and had a cool time. Our families couldn’t be contacted because of the network collapse but out of the whole ordeal RANJANA was the most difficult to bear and if I hear the ‘Vrindavani sarang’ once more…. People will accuse me of murder!!!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

adventures... adventures... adventures...

Call me a freak but I love college SO much that I went in spite of the Met department’s warning. I wasn’t the only one though. There were 45 other people AND the teacher. Well… after lecture 1, it was 26/7 all over again. We were SO psyched out!!! All of us in the foyer chatting and laughing about how cool it would be to be stuck in college again.. all jokes that in some twisted way CAME TRUE!!! Frantic calls from concerned parents, boyfriends, girlfriends and anyone who cared about you!!! MUMBAI WAS IN ACTION!!! Last time the spirit of Mumbai manifested itself in the outpouring of help and support. This year it was the same if not more.
So here are my adventures…

Lectures end at 10.30 because of dire warnings of “THE DELUGE”. So we convince our enthusiastic teacher (Vara) to take a rest and hurry home. She sportingly agrees. Considering the experience I had last time (stuck in a car for 22 hours with four wacky friends) the same four (Ipsita, Ranjana, Reuben and me) decided to go home together (because we stay 5 minutes from each other). So with our 18 year old wisdom we go to the foyer and stuff ourselves with food… and we weren’t the only ones!!! Talk about people who think alike!!! Everyone who attended that day was eating like it was doomsday!!!

Fed and watered we decide to brave the journey home with the spirit of adventure and a feeling akin to what the three musketeers had. But hopes of making a safe way home came crashing down with parents screaming at the other end of our cell phones that the trains had stopped. So with no other option left but to either stay at college OR go to a classmate’s house we choose the latter. Poor guy (Thapas)!!! We pounced on him like a tsunami and he had this look about him that “what the hell did I get into???” he was a close friend and we had crashed into his place many times before but never dripping wet… and the best part was… no parents!!! That didn’t mean anything coz his bro and sis were there with his cool, hip grandma. We had fun… not total fun because Thapas’ brother beat me at chess. But we ate, danced, talked and basically had ourselves a whale of a time!!!

Parents call frantically again : (( [those cell phones should never have been invented. they are like tracking beams!!] they say, no scream, leave and leave quick before it starts raining again. So we bundle ourselves out as fast as possible into a cab and ride to Mumbai Central station. Trains arrive with a frequency of one every half hour so we quickly get into the first one. Full isn’t the word for it!!! Overflowing, bursting at the seams, call it anything. It was more than full. It looked like the exodus!!! We made our way back safely though. The usual journey that took us 40 minutes took us 2 hours. But looking at the bright side we made it back to our station in one piece!!!

Then we are waiting for a bus at the bus stop. One bus every hour. Then the good news cell phone rings again proclaiming that the place where I stay is safe but all roads leading there are flooded. A collective groan from the three of us is interrupted by the arrival of Ranjana’s bus. She ditched us and ran for it and jumped on with the agility of a gymnast. Ipsita had ditched us at Mumbai central station in favour of her best friend’s house close by. So Reuben and I are waiting helplessly at the bus stop because we don’t want to walk home. The adventurous spirit was wearing down. We just wanted a warm bed and hot coffee or tea. Ruben (another friend) to the rescue!!! He surfaces with his bike and I vroom away leaving Reuben to his destiny. I promise him I’ll send transport soon enough … translated as Ruben will pick him up. I LOVED going on the bike through knee deep water!!!

So I get back home safely, silently cursing the rain Gods and my parents’ vocal chords. Whoever thought there was an age limit to be grounded!!!

NOTE TO ALL WHO READ THIS: this isn’t as horrifying as what happened last year. Oh the AGONY!!! I’m emotionally scarred for life!!!
I’ll post that next time!!!