Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Glimpses revisited...

Since October 1st, 2005, I have been to the following places(in the order of visiting them)

Going to Bangalore this weekend. I have not spent too much time at any of these places but have managed to collect and collate some snippets from these journeys

I am going to Mumbai Central to take a train to Jodhpur and I notice a couple standing diagonally opposite to me. Seemed like a newly married couple with the woman wearing the sindoor and the works. At first glance there was nothing conspicuous about them. They both stood there with their arms folded. However, after a while I noticed a furtive movement in their direction. When I looked it seemed like nothing had happened. This time I decided to watch and I saw the man under the guise of folded hands trying to feel his wife up from the side. Immediately she rebuked him inorder to end his lascivious intentions. However the man did not seem to be in a mood to listen and tried it again after a while and she reacted similarly and suddenly she looked up and our eyes locked for a second. I do not know who was more embarrassed-she or me.

I am back from Delhi and now waiting at the Vile Parle station, sitting on a bench for a train headed in the direction of Mumbai CST when a man slips beside me. Here is the translation of entire conversation we had-
"Hello sir! I am Maninder. You don't mind if I speak to you for some time. I shook my head to say fine, go on. Bad times these are, aren't they? I am a Sikh from Amritsar. Do you know where Amritsar is? Its in Punjab. Sir my life has been very tragic. You see I was to get married to this girl-everybody told me she is very nice and beautiful but after I got married to her, I realized that she is addled in the head and has some mental problems( the exact words he used were- Dimaag se paidal hain!) However I did not give up on her. Our public gurudwara has a very good doctor and I took her there and I spent lakhs of money on her treatment. After a prolonged period she became better. Now her parents have come and taken her away-after I spent so much on her. They say that the only way they will send her back is if I transfer all my assets in her name. I am very distressed by this. I don't mind doing this but I am not able to make up my mind. Can you please help me out by suggesting what I should do?"

My train pulls in to the station and I tell him that I will have to go. He seemed like a fair guy except that his breath was reeking of alcohol.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Just read...

Finished reading Fury by Salman Rushdie, The Black Album by Hanif Kureishi and The Kennedy Men by Laurence Leamer.

The first one was a delight to read for the sheer force with which the protagonist's fears are portrayed and dealt with. The second one was an interesting read especially in the parts where the author talks about the baser instincts of man and our need to be desired. The last one was...hard to say...boring in parts but then in the end gave an illuminating insight into the most speculated-about family of America and into a family that has dominated American polity like none other.

Currently reading- Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie and I like what I have read so far.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Some glimpses...

Two weeks and I have been to two states, Gujarat and Rajasthan-despite the fact that I have been in each of these cities for exactly 2 days each. But its been fun nevertheless and here are some things I saw and was in no little measure, amused by.

I am at Mumbai Central and I have been walking for half hour looking for a place to surf the internet. I have been walking around looking for a place to browse or surf but I was met with indifferent stares and grouchy mumbles when I ask people around me and suddenly in the distance I saw a sign board-"ComComputer One; your search ends here" and I felt relieved that at last some place where I could, if not browse, atleast ask them about the nearest browsing centre and won't be cast away like flotsam. So I walk in with a triumphant air and ask the person in-charge- "Is there a browsing centre nearby?" and he quipped back-"Bole to?" I gave a sardonic smile and walked away.

There is an old couple walking towards me, the first thing I notice about them is the frown on their faces. They seem like a South Indian couple and aged approximately 55-60 years. They are looking in separate directions with a distinct huff on their faces that would indicate to any person who cares to see that they have just had a tiff. As I walk towards them thinking what they must have fought about, I notice it in the end as we cross each other. They were holding hands and walking. Could not help but smile.

I decide to have dinner before I go back to the station to catch my train and so I begin to look out for restaurants. There were a number of restaurants around but I don't stop until I see the perfect place to try. I step into the hotel purely intrigued by its name- Punjabi Ghasitaram Halwai Karachiwala. I am thinking what made its owners give it that name-could it be that the name had a historical slant to it and did the Punjabi in the name refer to the one in India or in Pakistan. I finish eating and go to wash and see a cockroach scurry away from under one of the plates kept for cleaning. Raised eyebrows.

Footpaths are a horrible invention of mankind, I mean I have just finished eating and I walk up the footpath and then down and then up and then down. I get sick of this and my stomach is tired of this exercise. I would rather walk on the road even if there is the added danger involved. Then I notice the name of a bus stop- Dr. Bhaydarkar Naka Marg and I think this seems like the perfect name for a scary bed time story for your 5 year old. Just opposite to that is Hotel Park Shilton. I cringe.

I am 5 minutes away from the station and I decide on a whim that I would like a paan because its been so long since I had one. So I ask the paan vendor for one sweet paan and he laboriously prepares it-adding all the ingredients and I stand there waiting restlessly until I see that its almost the size of a burger and he says just pop it in. I push the paan in slowly and for about a minute struggle with it in my mouth. There are 4 people around me who are smiling at my predicament but I stick to it and in 5 minutes, its gone. I walk away.