Aug 30, 2008

Dilli Meri Jaan...

So I am off. Yet again. Another journey comes to an end. A journey that began one chilly winter night in Morri with an acquaintance who went on to become a flatmate, a drinking buddy, a partner in crime and most importantly a friend who traversed a part of this journey with me. I remember how sceptical yet happy I had been when I came to Delhi. I had no illusions about how it was gonna be and having lived alone since 18 I knew I could handle most situations. But yeah I definitely did not know that this was what there was in store for me. Strangely it is only when you look back you realise how different reality is from the picture conjured up in your mind. You think this is gonna be a particular way but it turns out fundamentally differently. You chalk out a plan and want things to work out accordingly but things have a way to work out themselves. Otherwise how could I explain the comings and goings of people in my life and the funny course it took? How could I ever explain how desperate I had been for a change in job and looking around for over a year proved to be futile until I gave it up and said enough is enough and I am gonna apply for a Masters and that’s precisely the reason why I went to Pune, to sort out the documentation needed for applying for an LLM. But the bigger picture was slightly different. So here I am with a new job and a brand new city that I quite like coupled with Finooooo and my wicked younger sister and I am sure this is gonna be a heady combination.
What do I say goodbye to? I say goodbye to Delhi, the city I wasn’t born in, or grew up in, the city I never went to college in and except for an internship and two of my closest friends from college, the city with which I had no association with. I landed up in Delhi quite unexpectedly almost two years back and to be honest I haven’t felt out of place even a moment over here. I fell in love with it that one winter month I spent here over 3 years back and I continue to do so. It is not home cos home will always be Cal, can only ever be Cal. I wouldn’t have as poignant recollections attached to it like I do with Pune but I do have the most colourful tapestry of memories painted in my mind whenever the word Dilli will come up. I do know that I found a part of my self identity in this city and I wouldn’t be me without having spent some of the formative years of my twenties in this city.
I can’t possibly write about Delhi like a native Dilliwallah but I know that the most alluring quality of Delhi for me was the bouncy feeling it gave me every time, each time I came back. How happy I’d get when the cab would take me back to GK 2 through India Gate and the pang of envy I’d feel when we’d cross the High Court. How longingly I’d look at IIHC and the promises Khan Market always held. Morrisson became a second home after the initial disappointment of Turquoise Cottage shutting down faded away. I’d become such a South Delhi girl and I cribbed about travelling to Gurgaon or even CP saying “ Dude why can’t we meet at Def Col. Why CP? Tis too far.” Midnight drives from the Savirtri flyover to the airport, getting lost at the Noida toll road with barely any fuel in the car and praying to God that it lasts till the next petrol pump , the car breaking down on Lodhi road at 12 at night and putting the car windows up and chatting nineteen to dozen forgetting to keep a check on time as we waited for the mechanic to come. Those farmhouse parties at Chhatarpur where one could get totally talli on Patiala pegs and countless colourful shooters and flirt shamelessly with your forgotten crush knowing fully well this is not becoming with the sober and sedate image you have created but also knowing that worst comes to worst you will be taken care of cos there are countless people keeping an eye out for you. This is the place I learnt how to party till weee hours in the morning and still make it to office by 9 but what I also learnt was that living this lifestyle could also mean the death of my professional life and so I chose to lead a more peaceful existence. This is also the city where I met my almost mirror image, had the sweetest and the most bitter time of my life. But I had to let go cos sometimes that’s the best one can do for oneself. Evenings spent around the bonfire, winter time and the heater we carried from room to room as we changed our location. Meals at Pandara road, shopping at Sarojini and Janpath, M, Block Market, Kasbah, Cafe Fair Child, Cafe Turtle and Big Chill.
I could go on and on and on. Delhi is my comfort zone and I am quite surprised myself that I am ready to leave it and move ahead well aware that I leave behind a life I cannot come back to. I am being so clinical about this decision without a fear in my mind. But isn’t it always like this. We embrace something new with an inkling of what it can be like or maybe not even that. We move on and we don’t look back with any regrets. We don’t have that luxury. We’ll face whatever adversity comes our way and we will make our way through cos this is the beginning yet again.

Aug 25, 2008

Come Walk With Me Down The Memory Lane

Last Night I dreamt we were back to where it all began. That Red Head had long black curly hair, piercings all over and her irrepressible sense of humour was intact( she was yet to meet the cute boy) , Fido Dido was still the tall thin beanpole of the distant guy I fell in love with and Fino her usal confident self the one who would make a difference , while She was one of those friendly seniors who’d help you out and show you around as you entered this new world and an even more bewildering city. I saw Motu as he was when I first met him and the darling he had been and continues to be 7 years down the line. I saw Miss Touch Me Not as reserved and icy she seemed to be back then and can still be today. I saw Goldilocks, the simple girl she had been, minus her designer airs and not the Miss Bling Bling and diet control freak she has turned out to be. I saw myself all shy, naive, eager to please and a little apprehensive, not quite sure of myself and wondering where had I landed up amongst this mixed bag. There were others too, those we lost on the way, who never walked the entire length and didn’t play that important a role in my life. But these few people did and in some ways continue to do so.

Why the sudden nostalgia? The reason being I was in Pune for a week and it opened floodgates of memories. When I left Pune two years back I didn’t wanna come back to the city ever again and this time when I visited it I couldn’t have been more happier. I was running away and needed time off on my own, do what I want to, when I want to, not be bogged down by social commitments, not having to share my space with people, not worry about the bills, the groceries and yada yada yada and I got all of that and much more. I got to spend time with Red Head after such a long time and tis was lovely. Miss Touch Me not , Red Head and I spent hours and hours reminiscing old days, our infamous episode with the cops, living together with a psychotic flat mate, me making Miss Touch Me Not take me to the loos of 5 Star hotels just to take a dump at the most unearthly hours cos we had no water at home, watching the silliest of movies with Red Head at Rahul ( which btw is so jazzed up and has been redone and doesn’t look like the derelict old theatre it was) and Cute Boy( her fiancé now) would drop us to the theatre and pick us up after the show was over as he wanted to have nothing to do with movies like “ Padmashree Lalu Prasad Yadav” . Yes Yes there was a movie like that a couple of years back. Red Head and I got seats in the stalls and we laughed and laughed to the utter astonishment of the locals and we were the only two girls in the hall .
Once Fino, Red Head and I had gone to see Munnabhai and that one scene when Sanjay Dutt is asked to dissect this starved and emancipated body and I couldn’t stop giggling at the body cos I found it so funny and I laughed out of my wits until both of them got suitably annoyed and walked out of the movie. Another time we guys went for some college fest where Salman Khan was to be the guest of honour. We waited all evening patiently as they kept saying “ Sallu aaya rey”. In retrospect how could we do so? Salman came and went and all Red Head and I had done was to express amusement at the reactions of the star struck girls as they screamed and oohed and aahed. Salman wasn’t half as interesting as his fans were. Sigh!

I digress time and again. Nostalgia can be oh so very tempting. This trip was quite a whirl wind affair cos we were there for a specific purpose. I needed to collect some documents from college. The whole day would be spent running from pillar to post in college trying to get my work done. The evenings would be spent with Red Head and Nik as both of us waited for them to come home we’d chill at home, playing cards, checking out pictures, reading my blog, and exchanging notes about life and how it has been treating us. We even saw “Grudge” as I convinced them saying it is one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. We’d joblessly sit around watching Big Boss as Red Head made such a big fuss on how she wanted to save Sanjay Nirupam and not Raja from elimination and how hard she tried messaging but failed to do so and in exasperation said “ Sorry Sanjay I could not save you”. We had lunch at Zaffran which is the prettiest open air restaurant I have ever been too and serves an amazing buffet for lunch on weekdays. It was windy and beautiful as we gorged on delicious food and an even yummier dessert of chocolate mousse that Nik ordered. The day we landed we had been taken out for lunch by Miss Bling Bling to Malakka Spice and I adored the casual and laidback ambience of the place and the spicy Thai Curry, the brown rice and the Khau Suay which was surprisingly cooked in a fundamentally different way from the way it is in Delhi. I should also mention Post 91 another joint where we had a lazy Saturday Lunch. The Irish Stew was mouth watering and the desserts were to die for.

We wined and dined and I shopped quite a bit as we women went a little berserk at Body Shop cos there was a sale on. I bought the sweetest smelling Chymara Eau De Toillette and the Moonflower body lotion. ( Naiceee) . Oh and not to forget I bought books and books from Odyssey and Crossword and I have 7 books waiting to be read. Nah 5 now as I read 2 on the train itself. I simply lurveee the Apple Martinis we had at High Spirits and the cutesy trinkets, beads and hair bands they were handing out cos the theme was retro. We checked out the boutiques at Koregaon Park that had some appealing stuff from Thailand and each one of us picked up something that we wore the same night to High.

All in all I had a lovely time. On the way back we drove down to Bombay and took the Rajdhani back and I was feeling Pune Sick. Lord I haven’t felt Pune sick for years now. What’s with us meandering, running away, trying to form different and newer ties but ending up strengthening older ones? What’s with us not realising that we’ll never share the same bond again with other people? Yeah maybe sometimes what you want is right where you left it.

Aug 11, 2008

And something did happen to me as I happily made other plans :-)

And what have we been up to lately? Lots and lots. Not quite as exciting as I would like to make it sound but tis been good. Weekend wasn’t so great although for a change I had two whole days off and not just the odd Sunday. But the maid didn’t turn up and all of Saturday was spent looking for ways and means to make the house look a little respectable and not like the pig sty it had started resembling. Batty Woman hadn’t been well and so I stayed over at her place. We watched a lot of TV, mainly Travel and Living, ate yummy sambar, chawal and poppadum as she moaned and wailed about what was wrong with her and how she thinks she is dying. She had this terrible cold and Giant called her at 3 in the morning and hearing her croak like a toad wanted her to sing “Smelly Cat” for him heheh! Quirky isn’t he?
I have been having the strangest of dreams lately of certain people getting married and even the idea of it did not appeal to me. I am unsure though why it did. I got up 4:30 in the morning messaging saying “ I had the funniest of dreams and you were in it. Strange.” Yes I did get a call back saying “ Stop having wierd dreams about me. :-)” Batty Woman just looked on at the TV as the expression on my face brightened up and said “ I am not saying anything.”
I am looking forward to certain things. Actually just waiting and watching and hoping things fall into place. Maybe then I would have that new start I have been wanting for the longest time. There I was so sure about how life was gonna turn up for me and there went all my plans woossshh as if someone just waved a wand and opened the Pandora’s Box of endless possibilities. She called me a nomad the other day cos I don’t seem to want to settle down in one place. But I feel I am not ready to strike roots at a particular place as yet. Thus here I am, if you happen to get a glimpse of me anywhere you’d notice the spring in my step and the song on my lips and yes I hope to be on a high.

Aug 1, 2008

Mostly we gushed about them together and forgot about them together!

Yup Fino and I always had a thing for similar kind of men. Invariably I’d end up liking the men she liked. The men would range from 28 year old, guitar playing, confused , engineering drop outs to slightly eccentric, bloody well read, confused and eloquent contemporaries in college to the quintessential confused boy next door. They all had one thing in common the predominant state of confusion that reigned supreme in their minds. Yes now in retrospect I recognize the confused trait in all of them. But to give them their due credit all these men, boys or lets just call them members of the opposite sex were sooo much fun. We have had the funnest times with them. Be it researching for the moot court with the eccentric lawyer when we’d invariably end up taking coffee breaks together and Fino and MR. Eccentric would be arguing on the nuances of the case and me trying to grasp all that I could to try reaching a level closer to them to meeting Boy Next Door in the middle of the night in a deserted lane and chatting non stop not realising one doesn’t make a half an hour long stop over at such an unearthly hour to staying up all night with strange guitar playing boy and singing songs the very first night we met him when everybody else we knew had hit the sack. We were foolish young girls acting on our crushes and not a worry in the world that we liked the same men almost always. Not that we did anything about them ever except for going out for drives, getting stoned or just hanging around in college or at oaks drinking away merrily. The infatuations came and flitted past by with a regularity and we were happy.
I remember telling Fino “ Nothing can ever go wrong between us.” But it did and guess it had to someday. For once she fell in love with somebody unintentionally and incidentally I had been nursing a broken heart for the same idiotic beanpole for the longest time. I remember that day vividly when both of us had tears in our eyes at the NCC canteen . She had finally figured that I knew something was not right. We were crying for the same man and this time we felt it from deep down inside. It wasn’t some silly laughable crush. Things weren’t quite right for 6 months as I tried to get over the one man I should have at 18 and not wait for so long to do so. I handled things hap hazardly and didn’t know whom to talk to cos the one person to whom I could talk to about everything , all my heartaches , my goof ups, my goals, my dreams, my aspirations was the reason why I was hurting so much. It was nobody’s fault but a twist in the plot none of us expected. We kept out of each other’s path for some time until I was fine with it. Yes I found another object for my affection and life was la di da’ again and we were back to where we had left off. We had never thought we would but there we were that rainy evening sitting in Barista as I told her about Frankenstein and how Fido Dido did not matter to me anymore and this was the only way I could have ever gotten over him.
Fino has influenced me in Law School in countless ways and I can’t even begin to thank her. She was the one who urged me to take part in my very first debate and said “ No you can do it. You are taking part. No two ways about this.” So there I was stuck in the auditorium and as they closed the doors the sinking feeling in my heart told me “ Ah well you are truly stuck. You have to, have to go ahead with the speech or else you’ll let yourself down and her belief in you down.” So I went ahead and I didn’t do as badly as I thought I would and Fino went on to win the debate with finesse and they mentioned fine performance in ‘The Indian Express” the next day. . She managed cajoling me to come for Mood Indigo when we had the most cheapest and magical of holidays in Bombay. She knew I loved singing just as much as she did but hadn’t had the courage to express it so I got a chance to sing at the Antakshari. I remember that stoned night when I wanted to go for a walk on the field and she was the only one who indulged me and both of us jumped over the ditch walked a mile just so that I could look at the stars while sitting on the grassy field. I recollect songs being sung at the top of our voices, Fino playing the guitar to the best of her ability and Red Head and I begged and pleaded her to Play “Last Kiss” once more. Every year unfailingly I would get a job in a call centre to earn some extra money and every year with clinical precision she’d convince me into quitting it to take part in the moot courts. She‘d attend my every hearing even if I’d be dying from inside cos she was in the audience and what she thought of me mattered to me the most. She was my friend, philosopher and guide. When she got through London School of Economics for her Master’s in the final year of college with a scholarship I was one of the first people she called and I remember both of us running gleefully to embrace one another cos I knew how important this was for her. I met her before she went off to London. I was about to start working in Chennai and we bid adieu. I’d always known she had the passion and zeal in her that I seldom saw in people. Now she is a lecturer at a law school, think she is the youngest lecturer in college and one could easily mistake her for a student if not for her attire and stern ways hehehe! She can still make me see reason when I am bewildered and we still express amusement at what we use to be. The greatest phenomenon being we can laugh at ourselves and the absurdities that defined our friendship then and continues to define our friendship now. Yes Fino we'll always have our moonlit nights, your guitar and you and me singing.