Saturday, January 29, 2011

Love's Labour Lost

Ever wondered if killing someone's feelings should be punishable ?? The law of the land punishes only crimes which can be physically verified. What about the lashes on the souls, the daggers in the hearts, the strangling of emotions and the treachery in relations ??

The beauty of human life is such that we are able to cope up and start afresh post setbacks MOST of the times. That attribute is innately necessary for a successful person in the society. But what we forget is the value of the pain we endure during those moments of grief.

Lets for a moment think of feelings as investments, they grow with increased interaction with the other person, only to turn to zilch, once the mirage vanishes or the dream ends. To objectify now, isn't it a great deal to lose? The accused is guilty if not for killing a person, then certainly a part of him/her. That part that grew up with you, that part that shared his/her dreams with you, that part that dared to dream with you, the heart that pumped extra strong when you were in sight, the mind that ensured fidelity amidst distractions, the body that met the calls and demands of the partner, the conscience that felt most responsible to rule in your favour, when moments of making choices appeared.

Some of the best writers have given such brilliant quotes on loosing in love/relationships. Over the times the pain of separation has achieved a different romanticism in itself. So many verses dedicated to the very feeling of sadness. Maybe we realise that we are now alone, and with this heady feeling of sadness thereby deciding either to console and pamper the self, or inflicting more damage upon it as an act of turning into one's own nemesis. Choices really, the value base of our life !! I'll leave you with two contradictory quotes below:

"Better never to have met you in my dreams, than to wake and reach for the hands that are not there." - Otomo No Yakamochi

"It's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all" - Lord Alfred Tennyson

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mumbai - Passing Dhobi Ghaat and some more - II

Aye Dil hai Mushkil, jeena yahan..
Zara hatke Zara bachke, yeh hai Bombay meri jaan !!

Sunset at Worli Sea Face
I had heard this song so many times during the sunday morning "Rangoli", that i always took it at face value. Taking a song at face value, would mean being happy just by the tune and look of the song and having never to delve into the lyrics part or what it meant to the protagonist singing the song. It was when i happened to listen to this song on the radio, while on a local train, that i finally took notice of the clever words, that hid behind Johnny Walker's amusing face.

There's a running joke, that the best way to make God laugh is to tell him your future plans. Well, that gives a rather sinister picture of the old man up there, doesn't it?? Holds good in my case. When you live in a fast city, disappointments come thick and fast and after a few knockouts, you do start thinking fast in your head and try coop up with them even faster. Plan A never works, there ought to be a Plan B and yeah while you are at it, please also prepare for Plan C,D and E.Heck, u might as well be a crisis manager and have no plan at all. To each his own, calamity has no funny bone !!

Jobs changed, roomies too.And what great ones there !! These two were my past and my the chaddi buddy and the other, fresh out of my B-school. The trio had some great times and even now when we retrospect almost invariably we end up miming each other on that statement "Rangari heights" was the bestest times in Bombay". Yeah, the place i'd taken up, was a 1 room+kitchen MHADA flat (for non-mumbaikars, slum development flats, which the original slum dweller leased out to me, as he was already living in another proper 2BHK slum development flat!!!). The two of them joined me later, and while space was a big constraint, it never dampened our spirits and we lived in full glory at "Rangari Heights", the modified name, we'd given to "Rangari Bori Chawl", which was the actual name of the apartment. How a 300sq feet flat accomodated 3 folding beds, 2 cupboards, a TV a DVD player, a Playstation, a whole lot of clothing and three adult individuals, will remain an unsolved mystery forever. There are a lot of funny stories of our times there. We had a humongous big head of a neighbour, who was a self-proclaimed "Retired-Model". He was henpecked, and was found outside our door, laying flat on his fat ass (we'd high jump him everytime we had to step out !). Everytime we ordered Pizza, there would be an enquiry if it was somebody's birthday today. The females coming into the house, had to have a strict dress code, and a straight-to-lift-and-room-on-the-left-policy.

The Republic of powai, viewed from Hotel Rennaissance
The gang gained numbers thick and fast. It was also then that i realised, i was not Superman. I could never be at all places at all the required moments. The party groups changed, commitments broken and rituals unobserved. It was time to move on, and to a new place. Powai it was !! The central suburb of the city. No more the craziness, no more the hustle bustle. It was time to settle down and enjoy what a majority of people in the city never can - tranquility. And with the best loved company !! Life was in much order now, when we were at home. Travelling took a toll but the first class compartments of Eastern Line Local Trains, were quite generous ( i use were, as i haven't taken the locals over the last 2 years, bless me !!) and it was all good. Bombay had this side to it as well. The greenery across the railway tracks, was something i had forgotten while dwelling amongst the hard landscapes all the time. Lifestyle was cheaper in comparison. While "Going out" was the mantra for the day, now "house parties" were somehow the most happening agenda we could come up with. Wild bunch of people, with lots of spirits and food, music in full blast, enjoying each others company. And lo behold...a gazillion times, and still rocking !!! Sometimes it felt as if we were playing "Settlers", or you know "The Sims".

With great powers comes great responsibilities, and with recession comes the management ability for lay-offs without any credibility. How much ever amusing the last statement might appear, losing your job can be a bitch. I'll quote Jolie's tattoo here - "What nourishes me also destroys me". While maximum city here, opened its mouth to engulf you while all its expensive tentacles blocking your airway of monetary passage, the spirit of the city, never allowed me to retreat, repent, sit back and retrospect. It was Bombay, for heaven's sake !! If i couldn't bounce back here, i couldn't anywhere. The ideology paid off in sometime. While i might project it as a victory of the soul, it wasn't possible without the best buddies' support. There was this one time, i even went to Haridwar, for a great job opportunity and had made it through, but a thousand things were not right about it . I remember foolishly asking someone about broadband connections. I'd asked for a smoke in the main market and was gazed upon as an alien, leave aside, the expectation of booze. The film they were airing in the nearby theatre, was "Barsaat" - Bobby Deol's debut movie !! Bobby Deol !!! OMIFFFFFFFGAWDDDD !!! A week back from the holy place, my sins were washed off and i managed to strike gold in Bombay. Been close to two years now. I ain't looking back (except the retrospection i have had to do for this post).

Maybe, its just me. Maybe thats what Bombay does to you. Decreases other cities expectations, by such a drastic limit, you fear leaving from here. Maybe i am wrong. Maybe i didn't take the right decisions, board the right trains to success. But, i am happy, yeah deep within i am. My words may not sound poetic, liberal, or like the last scenes of Luck by chance, Konkana Sen taking the taxi or whatever. But the feeling is the same. My last two years have been a delight I have met up with awesome people, lost a few of my best buddies to the bitch called "migration" and yet am living amidst all love and friendship.

I'd been to Nariman point a few weeks back for a meeting. Did manage to pass through the same point of the sidewalk, where it had all started. It was empty. Innocence gave a weak smile from inside, as if i was about to tease it for what i had done back then. The smile was priceless. It was one of those that you realize alone, and close your eyes immediately.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mumbai : Passing Dhobi Ghaat and some more - I

Off late i have been pretty intrigued by the "different" trailer Aamir Khan's new movie "Dhobi Ghaat (Mumbai Diaries)" has showcased. In retrospection, I have been in the city of dreams since the last 4 years. And yes i have my diary of thoughts about Mumbai. I guess not only me, everybody, who's a part of the city or has been a part of this city, has thoughts and memories about the maximum city, some expressed in words, some etched in memories, something wonderful, something ugly, but yes, experiences that are a part of our lives, and will forever be etched as a part of us.

I "basically" come from Orissa (interviewers like me can have a lot of fun with what i just wrote), and I studied in Pune for a bit. Hence i never had an inkling of a thought how this was going to be. How Mumbai was going to be. And yes, i never wanted to be here in the first place. The interviewer who selected me at campus, might have thought else-wise and thats how i landed up here. I came to Mumbai late in Jan 2007, to figure out my accommodation first before i moved base. Armed with numbers of several P.Gs and a few brokers and with the smallest possible idea of geography in this city, i made my way here. And that is when realisation struck. And badly !! The city appeared huge, wanting to engulf me in an ominous manner. Every stranger i met seemed to know i do not belong here and spoke with an air which made me suspicious if he/she was trying to con me. The black n yellow cab drivers were faster than their meters, the brokers appeared to be land sharks and the sweet 50+ aunties managing Paying Guest accommodations no where appeared to be as kind, as i thought they might be.

"Yeh Mumbai hai Mumbai..yahan time ka matlab hai paisa !!" A then-recently seen movie, had this dialogue. I was on the path of realisation. Why didn't Pune prepare me for this ? Why wasn't this a part of the costly B-school education i underwent ??  Any ways, miracles do happen. The city made me do something i could never have otherwise. Pull a fast one. Yeah... my FIRST CRIME !! Managed to note a cell number from a broker's cell phone, upside down, break away for a minute and manage a conversation in English in front of the broker. The cell number belonged to a guy, who was ready to share his 1 room kitchen space with another guy. Managed to strike a deal with the guy, managed to save brokerage money (which looked huge back then) and managed to sideline the broker.

Thats how i moved in to Mumbai. It seems incredible now. I was possibly lucky. My roomie turned out to be a fashion designing chap, in his second year at college. This gentleman was queer to say the least. I had to bear up with odd activities of seeing a guy shaving his legs, wearing capris, strange temporary tattoo designs, apply kajal in his eyes and speak with a language-fucking accent. The first time he invited me to go shop with him, we went to a mall and he insisted at the beauty section to have the latest lip gloss be applied on his lips. I was scandalized and maybe my face still gave nothing away, but i was terrorized with how i am about to coop with this human. Well, it took time, a bit of it. What however turned out later was that i had the place all to myself. My distinguished roomie, was out, most of the time, sometimes at college, sometimes at functions and fashion parties and a lot more time back home in his native place in Maharashtra.

The place i resided those days was in Mahalaxmi, yes as close to "town/south mumbai" as you could call it and yet affordable. And yes I passed through the "Dhobi Ghaat" almost every day during my daily commute to office.After getting down at Churchgate station, i needed to hire a shared-cab which took me straight to my office building, but not before giving a splendid view of a stretch of the famous marine drive, that we get to see in select movies.  I worked at Nariman Point, the poshest office area in all of Mumbai, and with one of the leading Financial Services companies in India. Work was good, colleagues were great and supportive and my professional life was off to a good start.

I had received my tuitions well about boarding local trains in Mumbai. The key was to stand amidst the crowd waiting to board. They did the rest. They pushed you in a queue and within moments of restlessness and armpits and sweat and cursing, you found yourself in the train !! Okay, it might not be as fancy as i just made it sound, but what the hell ?? These are my memories and i had a jolly good time in the mumbai locals, so many people have such negative opinions about. The perspective always has to be clear if you want to enjoy yourself, and in this case there was no point complaining complaining about the crowd while you yourself forming the crowd in the first place !!

I remember after my first day in office, going up to marine drive, standing upon the pavement, which majorly witnessed joggers or love-lorn couples or few lonely souls. I dropped my bag, and tried opening my arms wide, as if to engulf the sea before me, to embrace the city and to say it out to myself - "I have arrived". It was quite a filmy moment, and i wont forget it ever. Especially the reactions i got from people around me. Two sets of couples were looking at me with puzzled expressions, a rag picker with contempt, and an old uncle, who just smiled while passing by.

View of Mumbai from the 18th Floor BSE Building, clicked on my cell cam
Living in town (South Mumbai) was a boon, as i realised much later. There was so much to do, so much to see and the city opened its arms to you, be it when I took a quiet walk across the stretch at Haji Ali or sped off in a cab from the famous J.J flyover after a night of partying in Town. The streets of Colaba, which always had something to offer to everybody, Gateway, which was flocked by tourists all the time and the old cinema halls which still managed to retain the old world charm. I used to aimlessly wander in town, after office, without a bit of fear, without any worldly burdens on my head and without any deadlines. If there is something in Mumbai i miss, i miss those moments !! The foodie in me was satisfied by Delhi Durbar, Cafe Noorani, the  midnight buffets at Marine Plaza and the small eating joints that we stumbled across.Special mention here for - Bachelor's, the best ice-cream joint i'd been to. The pirated DvDs we siphoned off the streets in Fort, was serious cinema and for crying red murder here, but i still will, coz' this treasure, will not be available at any tom,dick and planet-m store !!

"Town had action, town had soul
the sea breezes, the skylines and the watering holes..
Town had a lot of me, and a little bit of you...
and lo behold we passed off a year and two !!!"

To be continued.........