The monsoons has arrived in the city of Bengaluru and rains are always a fresh welcome for anyone working in a sterile office with little or no inspiration. I looked outside at 7pm and realized that the rains would not stop today. Whether it is Mumbai or Bengaluru, the only time the municipal corporation thinks of having a construction is during monsoon, because it is just so fitting to create roads and building so substandard with eventual dilapidation and shabbiness over months that it becomes a part of the city. Continue reading “One Day”→
There are times when you go though few million phases and you pick that one thing which has remained constant. When we were young, travelling by plane was a luxury and the best means to travel to you was the almost 48 hours train ride. The best thing about the gruelling travel was that the first thing that you see when you get out of station was the magnificent Howrah bridge on the Ganga. The city has not moved with time and somehow I love it! The old world’s charms still make me come back to you.
This year was the year of Pujo for me. Durga Puja is not an event or a festival. It is a legacy left by the rich long forgotten and carried on by traditions of future.
I went to Kolkata after a long time to see the Pujo. After I reached the airport and took a cab, I saw the city burning with happiness. The whole city was adorned by lights. The kaccha roads, the wide roads, the dirty roads and even the road which led to the brothel had garland of beautiful lights of joy. I couldn’t wait. It was 1 am in the night and somewhere I could still smell the fragrance of dhuno. With great delight I entered my aunt’s place. This story starts from a family which still believes in being true and simple.
My uncle and Aunt had lived all their life in Kolkata. I went to see a pujo mandap with my aunt. We both sat on the chair. She showed me all the places where she used to play and where she saw my uncle for the first time. Theirs was a love marriage unlike my parents which was an arranged one. I asked her why she never felt trapped being not only in the same city but also in the same area for more than 50 years. The Dhak had started. This goddess had the form of a fairy and she was mounted on a blue sky. Her children were also mounted up. The whole set up was extremely surreal with fairies floating around us. She told me ‘It’s a myth that one place can trap you. I have travelled in all the parts of the country and yes I have not lived anywhere except here. But the only person who can trap me is me. This place defines me’. My aunt and uncle like me have been travel freaks and have travelled around India, but they have lived all their life in Kolkata. I always thought they did not know what it is like being free. In front of me, the 4 men were dancing with dunochi with dhak beats in the background. The lord in front of me started glowing and the whole cave was under the spell.
It was 3am in the morning and I had gone out with my dad and my aunt and uncle to see the Durga in her various forms. We sat in the palatial mandap of 100 years of Indian cinema. Here Durga is not killing the asur who is the villain. The asur is looking at her with folded hands and she is looking at him as if she will forgive him which is not like the real story. I sat with my father and he gobbled mishti doi. He was like, ‘I miss this. You have no idea how glad I am that I left this city when I was young and still how I yearn for this city. I think I feel I am back home, more because you are here with me. But I can’t have too much of this city. I feel something is holding me back.’
I was walking back to my aunt’s home with my fiancé. I saw a small mandap which was very quiet. Hardly anyone was there inside the tent. We both went inside. I looked at the Devi. My fiancé whispered , ‘There is no way you will be at peace, will you? You are still searching something. You are trapped, aren’t you? I was still looking at the most simplest form of Durga. I finally looked at him, ‘Yeah maybe I will find what I seek someday. But right now. I feel like this is a place to be.’
I was browsing though few of my old music files and I found your track – Everything I do, I do it for you. I started reading up on the internet – Syria issue, Rupee falling down, Rape incidents etc. There were few good news too about a woman inventor who made diesel with plastic. I started wondering about my equation with the world around me. I must be the least common denominator. The track changed and after many ages I heard the first guitar strums of ‘Summer of 69’. My mind reeled back to my school days.
The summer of 1999. I was endowed to have a school with large ground, huge halls and gaming rooms. Between the summer vacations and exams , we used to take walks around the ground early in the morning. We sat below a huge tree and talked for hours about our future. Few of us always bunked the morning prayers in our convent school. While the entire school turned up for ‘morning assembly’, we lied on our backs and lazed under the sun. Took off her shoes and socks. We wanted to be ‘the rebels’. Made our uniforms shorter and above knees to show off our legs. At times when we were caught our school principal yelled – ‘Thick skinned animal’ and how she pities the world because we will soon pass out. We laughed and were proud. My friend Sahana has introduced me to you. I told my friend. If someone had to propose he should sing – ‘Yeah, I would fight for you, I’d lie for you. Walk the wire for you, yeah I’d die for you’. This was before I heard trance, rock, grunge and jazz. Now this line sounds cheesy and yet it is so uncomplicated, to the point. Of course a guy who actually sang something for a friend of mine ended up in wrecked relationship. She recovered and is not in Valencia and is a professor. I guess the song worked!
I see a message on my phone, ‘we have a pitch. Need all the documents by tomorrow’. I switched off my cell. You continued singing, ‘Sitting on mamas porch’. Yeah, there were only few cars that time, Maruti and Fiat were the most popular ones. Owning a Maruti 1000 was a sign of affluence. It was raining heavily one day and our car broke down as usual. It was a blue fiat. We were pushing the car on water-logged road . We got tired and sat inside the car tired. We were with our uncle. He lit a cigarette and we looked at him with hopeful eyes. He looked at me and said ‘Just take few drags. Don’t tell your mom.’ My first drag of smoke. Later that year gandpa taught us poker and we also had our first beer with my cousins in our porch. World book was equivalent to Google and there used to be library of cassettes. Some things remains to be a mystery. My friend preferred Star Trek over Star Wars. We had a fallout. To be honest, no regrets. How can someone prefer Star Trek over Star Wars?
The world was good that time and it is better today. But nostalgia is unbeatable. I gave my niece your tracks. She wanted to know how I was at her age. I cannot explain her the smell of photocopied exam question paper or flavor of kismi or sitting together in our neighbours place who owned VCR to watch a movie. I told her listen to Bryan Adams – This is how we were, this is how we always will be. May the force be with you.