When the train pulled off the station and I bade goodbye to my parents the hundredth time, only then did I open my newly borrowed book, ‘The Old Man and The Sea’ by Earnest Hemingway and started reading it from where I had left. It is a very famous book by a much more famous author, the lender had said. Continue reading
vWhen I got down from the plane I looked around to find a deserted piece of land.
Where is every one? Where are the people of Jaipur?
When the craft crew bade us, into the escort buses, I was still thinking if I was in a game mode or our aircraft was, genuinely, the only one on airport. While I was thinking that I had a view of a pipe being forcefully stuck, at the bottom of the nozzle of another aircraft, by around five people.
Thankfully I saw another plane, even more thankful that it wasn’t, by any chance, my next flight.
A minute into the bus and then at airport, I encountered complete silence welcoming me to the pink city. Glass doors opened to dry air and before I could take my luggage from the conveyor, I directed my pace to the restroom for a relief. Sobs and cries of an airhostess, in the bathroom, similar to ones we have at railway stations, kind of turned off my excitement of visiting a new place. Diverting my face with nasty expression, towards the exit, I lifted my luggage and carried myself off to the open.
“Padharo Maare Des”, Ah! The tune lingered in my head, exactly how it is sung in the authentic saas bahu sitcoms like Balika Wadhu, on Indian Televisions, I thought, looking at the sign of the airport wall that separated me from the roads.
I hit the roads, on a local bus, well yes, after being bugged by local autoriksha-walas who asked me, constantly where I wanted to go, ‘Haa, Madam kaha jaana hai, aiye’. I did reply back in a mocked tone, that I am going via bus then why are you asking me, to which they replied
Hmari apni gaadi hai, We have our auto that is why we are asking.
Don’t know what that meant but here I was, in a bus, with scarcely occupied seats, even lesser people. Attracting few glances, I sat nearest to the front door, reserved for the women and asked the conductor and driver to let me know when the Sindhi Bus Stand arrives. Roads were good but empty. I wondered if Sunday was so quiet at Bangalore, people would have definitely migrated somewhere else.
An aunty sat beside me, and finally I got to see how, people dress up here in West. Nothing much, a sari, with the pallu(veil), draped over the head, basic makeup which included a dark shade of maroon lipstick and kajal, bunch of colorful bangles in each hand, dangling earrings and a impeccably glinting nose pin. I asked her if she knew when my stop would come. She replied it was far ahead and exclaimed that it must be difficult with luggage and that I should ask the driver/conductor to inform me when the stop arrives. The bus was packed and there were curious glances that found me a bit intimidated, one among them, staring at me continuously. I was relieved when he got down some time later. The bus ran through few empty and wide stretches of roads and after one hour of hurling against traffic lights and the traffic, I finally reached Sindhi camp bus stand.
The bus dropped me about 50 meters away, from where I asked the way to the bus stand. People helped me out of courtesy. But I showed no signs of
‘Oh my God, I should have recharged my net pack for GPS in this unknown place’
and carried myself with confidence, as I had read in one of the travel tips, on travelling alone. An over cautious uncle, on being asked the way, told me to take care, as there was a heightened rate of abductions and murders in Jaipur, after telling me the way. Sure I was aware how far he walked along until he disappeared in the crowd. Through the corner of my eye, I kept a glance at him, just in case he turned out to be the burglar he was talking about. You know, like sarcastic villains in movies.. 😛
The place smelled pathetic until I finished my walking and headed straight to the Government bus, besides which the conductor constantly cried out my destination, Ajmer.
They charged 150 rupees, less than any other online ticketing sites, though the bus stopped in between for quite some time, charging more to the people, who got onboard from successor stops after me. The journey of two hours was comfortable; the seats weren’t all that bad. Sufficiently sufficing my journey needs, I took water bottle and some snacks from local vendors who would get on and off the bus, at the various bus stops it passed by. Network would puff off on the way, as the bus traversed through the arid lands. Villages, shrubs and fewer trees covered most of my view. Soon the mild winter wind drove me to sleep, amongst the sound of the engine that seemed to clear its throat after every change of gear.
I didn’t realize, I arrived in the tiny district, covering a total of 135km from the pink city. Oh and by the way, the pink city isn’t that pink except for few building made of red sand stone, straight out of the Aravali hills of Western Ghats. I was surprised to find that the Ajmer bus stand held more crowd than Jaipur airport. The journey didn’t end here though.
I was happy to see my friends who had come to receive me. We all got into the car and plunged into the merry yet seemingly old place, that somehow took me back in time. Houses and shops, showing off, not more than the purpose they served, stood not so tall. Luckily, I had the free view in a populated place, even from the car window, the one in which you look up to see the whole stretch of sky, even the horizon sometimes. No concrete forest, no skyscrapers, no honks, no traffic, no dust, emissions. With Ajmer, it was love at first sight.
This journey through Rajasthan was to encounter a cultural twist with a Bengali wedding that I was going to attend.
Check out this space to know how Rajasthani and Bengali culture and traditions blended to create some of the most memorable moments and why I promised myself that I am going to come back to the district once more.
I was often told that I walk with my legs a bit too apart and in opposite directions even while walking normally. Wonder to call it normal, because so many people have pointed this out that at some point of time I did think of myself having some defect or disorder.
You walk as if you are coming to hit someone, they would say.
And the ‘They’ include my friends, my colleagues and even my mother who obviously has to take care of how I look, dress up, talk and walk! Even while I struggled painfully in the only heels I got for my graduation day, she persuaded me to buy more.
The people, who taught me dancing recently, said I had a ‘different’ style of dancing. I took different as bad because I was the one who had to work a lot harder in my group. Another dance group that I joined went on to say I need to get the feminism in my dance. Though I get to hear a lot from my mom, who wants me to behave like a girl, dress up like one and carry the politeness of a lady, I again felt indifferent to it when I heard that again.
I envied their tucked in stomachs out of the dancing and working out, but not my style. I had my own. Thus a little or no attention was my response to it though I worked hard on my dancing steps, trying to make them perfect. Loose shirts and tops during the practice hours was told to be mandatory, to catch up exact moves of the body and make them perfect. I love superheroes shirts and I still buy them to wear for practice.
A lot of time passed and one fine day my best friend’s roommate pointed it out saying you walk a little weirdly.
Spine straight and chest out, that was how she made me stand. No don’t thrust your chest out, straight spine would do it, she said articulating my posture and making me walk. Feet close to each other and walk straight she said, there! A little change and you look like a lady!
Uff! I am a female; I still think if walking in a way makes my gender get an extra oomph, if yes, do I necessarily need to do that? If yes again, then WHY?
I tried with the practice honestly saying, I would get conscious, thinking what others might be thinking of me, watching me walk like a Yeti towards them. I was a female after all and knowingly or unknowingly we do get jitters if we don’t portray ourselves as good as up to our satisfaction in public.
But these days I just think a little less.
My stomach churned, twisted and grunted shouting and crying against the acid attack it underwent. I looked at my watch 8:48, still more than 30 minutes before I lose my cab. Alone near my cubicle, I hoped my colleagues would come sooner from the cafeteria, so that at least I could marathon back there and get myself a glass of juice. (Our project has to be under surveillance 24*7.) My phone buzzed with some stupid ringtone which I didn’t bother to change anymore. My roomy had called back; sheepishly she asked if I had called before. I replied enquiringly if the dinner was made. The words leaped over her tongue and dragged out of her mouth into the speaker tired of working out all day, “Yar, last night’s veggies were there’. I thanked God I had left some the previous night, albeit for someone to eat, ironically me in the end. Karma, I thought, what you give comes back to you. I said no problem and cut the call.
At 9:06 I had finished with the last minute ritualistic mails and given up my hope for an empty stomach when my colleague sprinted past and signaled me to go. The time didn’t allow but he told me to give a try. I hurried up the aisle, swiped my id at the door and waited near the lift thinking about the juice I was going to have within minutes. During this comprehension with myself I realized I never pressed the up button when a man suddenly came out of the floor door and pressed it. How stupid of me, I thought. I reached the 8th floor, avoiding running into people and dodging them I finally made it to the juice corner.
“1 mixed fruit anna”, I exclaimed and it seemed like ages until I thought he heard me.
Time suddenly started ticking faster. It was 9:15 and the sophisticated juice walas with shower caps covered unnecessarily over their heads didn’t even budge. Finally I heard the mixer buzz. On top of that I pleaded them to hurry else I would miss my cab. The juice came in soft plastic container that went empty inside the dustbin in a matter of seconds.
I rushed down to the area of lifts. It seemed like catching next fast local to Dadar. I boarded one and as it was about to close people poured in. The lift loaded itself and closed the doors when at the last minute a hero put his hand between the two almost-about-to-touch doors.
9:20 and we were still at 8th floor. I thought I will lose my cab for tonight. When the display in the lift changed from ‘8’ to ‘7’ the lift stopped, as if it was angry about being controlled every time. The door opened and the lift announced in a neutral yet sophisticated way that we were going down. The door closed but the same thing got repeated again. I smirked at fate and avoided the urge to look at my watch. It felt as if somebody had sucked the air out of that small movable compartment. I tried holding my breath through a swift pang of panic and relief.
This time a gentleman stepped out and pushed the already closing doors against each other, tighter as though trying to glue them with his bare hands. I saw in half-contemplation of his being stupid and half thoughts concentrated on what others would be thinking about him.
A “What is he doing?!” escaped my lips without a hint of sound. His voice followed saying,” Sometimes it works. The lift doors won’t close properly.” And his un-deterring gaze followed the red digits of the display inside the lift.
The digits miraculously descended from 8 to 7 to 6 and so did the lift. I was amazed whether it was a simple coincidence or an Indian jugaad that everyone knew but no one tried out of possibility of embarrassments.
I smiled and laughed to myself, while the man stood perfectly still, chest out in pride of his newly achieved act of making a lift work manually. Others just mumbled and bumbled. The lift announced my destination as Ground Floor in the most sophisticated way as usual and it ringed in my ears twice before the doors took their own good time to open teasing me with their control over my emotions. I dashed out to the reception area to find no cabs there. They were gone I exclaimed.
I hushed slowly and turned left when something caught my eye. The cabs were standing near the glass door that was on the left today unlike all other days.
Relief filled in the vessel of my heart while my mind told me to be early the next time.
There have been moments where I believe I come to realization that I have grown up. These moments come and go eventually, displaying the difference in change of my behavior and my reactions now and earlier. They often redefine me, my personality and my character traits. Amidst the series of changes of what made me who I am today, I still retain my personal best traits; few that they think never required a change because they were perfect. Sometimes though I like to go back to my past self and relive my being a child again.
This happened at home, just recently. Mom and I had gone for a walk that evening in one of the parks near my house. It was the same park where I would play as a kid. Running barefoot on grass, playing self-invented games and swaying away on the swings I had fun like any little girl of 10 to 12 years would do. I was a bulky little kid, more like the ones whose cheeks every other aunty would lovingly pull, sadly they never knew how irritating and painful it was at my side. Nevertheless I would love to get on a swing, though despite my efforts I couldn’t get much higher as my cuteness overweighed my force against the ground. So my friends would climb on the swing, keeping their feet across it, struggling to adjust in whatever space I would give them to stand and would push the swing while standing and swaying it. If you ever heard the phrase ‘ping bdade yar’, you would know what I mean.
The swing would creek and the iron chains would make strange sounds, as if struggling in pain of bearing the unavoidable fate. Despite that it would reach to a certain considerable height after my friend’s tiring attempts to accelerate it to the altitude. I obviously had fun, sitting there, with the air hitting my face and the world going Sswweeeeeeeee…….. Besides the fun I would feed my fears. If you ever tried this I bet you would be able to relate. While going back, i.e. the ‘fro’ part in the ‘to-fro’ motion of swing, I would look up to the sky or the tree and that would make butterflies flutter in my stomach. I would get scared of falling while looking up, so I would close my eyes or look the other way.
That evening while mom did an evening walk around, in the park, I sat on swing, once again. This time there were no friends to get me to that height and of course the swing that was glad enough to not to make a sound out of reduced weight. I pushed the ground and in seconds I soared heights, closer to the same tree that was above my head. That moment I tried it again. I looked up when the swing went back, reaching the height. Fear made me shiver and I looked down.
No! I have to overcome it
I looked up again in the second attempt and the swing took me closer to my fear as I increased the speed. The heights made me shaky but this time I didn’t look down. I was panting and I continued looking, my eyes wide open towards the sky, towards the bare tree leaves that had waited for me so long to come back and as the air became cool suddenly the fear receded and turned into a smile. Moments passed and I was giggling with myself, looking up at the tree leaves colored dark under the fall of the evening. I was feeling myself conquering my childhood fear and it felt as if I conquered myself instead and in that very moment when I was laughing at the very heights that scared me, I changed.
Trust not in the words they say
Read their eyes if those lies, they convey
Upon you shall not dawn betrayal
See to it they do, what they say
Trust only if your heart says you may
Post meeting a friend of mine, after a long time, I was returning back home by bus. Luckily I didn’t have to wait that long for the direct bus from Marathalli Bridge to my place. So tiresome the day went that I just needed my bed to drop down and sleep. I bode my friend goodbye and climbed onto the bus with tedious steps. Luck favored again and I got a seat just behind the driver’s. With soft music playing in my headphones and the cool wind wafting on my face, I closed my eyes to slumber.
Not more than a minute had passed when a kid, around 10 years, came from behind and hurried up to grab a seat right in front of me. His father followed him and sat beside him on the vacant seat. Some seconds went by when he nudged his dad and showed him his hands, one with two fingers gesturing the sign of peace and the other rolled into a tight fist. I noticed but didn’t get his actions until his dad raised his own hand into a fist and then a palm and then a fist. Suddenly his rigid expression broke into a chuckle.
I realized I was smiling. Getting to witness a little share of a happy father-son bonding made the tiring journey into a glad travel for quite some time. The game ended after two losses for father while the sun laughed the success away and sat quietly in his seat.
Few minutes passed and this time dad nudged his son to play another game gesturing ‘scissors’. The child gave a priceless smile and the game began. The father didn’t stop playing and hugged his son after each game ending in latter’s winning. Sometimes the elder actually played the game and disputed over winning it himself.
It all went on, until I reached my stop and got down with a smile still lingering on my face.
Through My Mind
Small unnoticed moments, that is how they pass. 2 little moments, swift they are. Don’t forget to smile…:)