Heart

Breaking Free

IBreaking Freen a rather first, today, a whiff of anxiety and scare lashed by my soul. For a moment I found myself lusting for being amidst the unseen and the exotic. The moment when one despairs at being fettered to inconsequential chores stood staring me in the face. It so happened that I ran into a gentleman who had that care free aura around his congenial face. A short striking conversation with him made me brood over for a while and I sat down to think of his talk about racism, about visual communication and of temples and beggars in far-flung corners of the country. In the rest of the journey that he alighted somewhere in the middle of, my mind flew away to distant shores. I heard the storming, gorgeous waves and saw those picturesque tides. The inability to have that world surround me for real meant that the world was no longer at my feet as it always used to be. I cannot recall the last time I yearned for anything not within my immediate reach as strongly. That fleeting moment I was yearning to break free. As someone who has maintained, if not professed, that breaking free is not an option available to the human race, that desire of doing so came as a tough pill to swallow. That leap of imagination has left me weaker in terms of my suitability for a set pattern that I have tended to follow and fall by.

Curiously enough, I was haunted yet again, equally ephemerally, when in the market I saw this group of young boys selling chillies and gourds. Sitting side by side, attending to buyers, weighing the greens, they were jostling their things at each other and constantly conversing about things I could not know much about. Amidst the shrillness and the chaos was their world- unfettered, jovial and supple. It is funny to admit but I will. I felt like being one of them for the evening. Oh that I could travel back with them to their fields on a rainy noon and tend to their crop. Thankfully, I was done buying by the time I could take a firm decision. Smiling to myself and at the pretentious sounding plans that got sketched in my head, I headed back home.

These fleeting distractions today in a way have left me confused and right now I am thinking about my confidence in things, about the levels of my contentment with everything that I have until now not taken very seriously. I seem to be scoring lower on these counts than ever before. Should this be a cause for worry? Be it or not, twice in the day today, I was not myself. That is the best face I can put up right now to account for a weakening of my faith in conformity and austerity, in being content and in being oneself. The day has seen me split into two. Another defense, I think it should calm me down- I am no exception. Its only natural to vie, to be jealous of others and to dream of not being one’s real self.

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Heart

Ecstasy

Was looking for a suitable word to title this post. A word that could rightly vouch for the state of my mind at the moment. It had to denote some intense energy and playfulness. It had to exude a groovy rhythm and had to be a bit raunchy. Many surfaced as contenders: bliss (sounded too pure and spiritual), delirium (was more like some psycho stuff) and delectation (was just too a happy happy one). Ecstasy won the race as it balanced the pros and cons of its own multi-meaningness the best.

3:00 p.m. left my room in a hurry to catch the metro train till the railway station where I had to see a friend.

3:20 reached the station, met my friend and decided to take a bus for the return journey for which I had to walk a little distance towards the Red Fort.

I am walking now. People rushing around for so many things. Sellers with their cigarette beedi stalls on the footpath make me meander my way through. From somewhere in the horizon, a thick cloud of dust appears and fills my heart with hope and joy in the sweltering heat.

On the way, a policeman chasing a pickpocket. He runs in full force and his massive belly jiggles. The thief, a thin man dressed in black, running for his life. Cross the street. Two young men on the footpath. They sit with a stove and are frying mini samosas. Another man urinates standing not so far away. Bus 26 comes and I get in. Take the last seat. It does not have a glass pane. Someone fought with it may be. The broad open view of all that happens outside thrills me. The hot gush of air strikes at my curls and I close my eyes now and then to prevent the dust from ruthlessly hitting the retina. Men and women busy walking. Some are just resting here and there on the dusty sidewalks. My eyes meet some of theirs. Some relishing cucumbers and smoking. Inside the bus, the conductor looks at a child and smiles. A fellow passenger playing songs on his cellphone player. I take out my cell too and randomly click all that is coming my way. I touch my hair, my fingers comb their way through. Smile to myself all the way. The city appears so much my very own. Like a fiefdom. I share this sense of ownership with the ones who are traveling with me in the buses, rickshaws or the BMWs and the Mercs. See the woman’s saree fluttering in the wind. She clings to the man who is driving her scooter.

It is a Sunday and the roads are not so packed. Paced out traffic. The bus driver plays a catchy song and I sing along loudly. I have found songs playing in running vehicles to be extra musical. An elderly woman looks at me and I stop singing. Leave the seat, walk till the front gate of the bus like a drunken man. Ask the driver to let me alight  at the next stop. He smiles back. Even when he knows its name, he asks “Khyber Pass”?? I utter an emphatic ‘yesss’. Tightly holding the hand rails, I hum again and swerve to the movements of the bus. He pumps up the volume. The tune touches my soul.

My stop is here. I say a loud thank you to the bus driver and get down almost dancing to the tune in my head.

Love was not in the air. Something else was.

Dear Delhi, I am sorry. Next month, I will complete some 12 years of my life with you. And yet it has only been some 12 times that I have felt about you this way. I want to love you and own you as my very own.

Do me a small favor. Please make sure this high tide never slips off my head.

Exuberance of the physique…wow! the way I swerved on the sidewalk and the dancing steps that guided my head!

Yay!

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Book Review: Hot Tea Across India

(It was extremely nice of the website http://www.blogadda.com to have selected me for reviewing Rishad Saam Mehta’s latest book titled “Hot Tea Across India”. I wish to express my thankfulness to the site for giving me this opportunity and for ensuring the timely delivery of the book.)

Hot Tea Across India is Rishad Saam Mehta’s new book about his adventurous expeditions to so many parts of India. The stories of the many trips amiably told give the reader a wonderful glimpse of the landscapes and the people he encounters on the way. It is also an insightful journey into the soul and mind of the new age, modern Indian. The average  audience has been of late coming more and more in contact with this personality (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, the Hindi film released last year was one such occasion). To break oneself off from the routine and the mundane and explore the world in one’s own way has been an idea that seems to have picked up fast and is so ‘in’. Marking a break from the established norms and conventions, the new age young man is willing to exoticise the ‘everyday’ more than ever.  Hunting for moments in life that can be necessarily metamorphosed into occasions for laughter, witty analysis and ultimately a written book/blog post/diary entry seems to be the newly found pastime.

The book opens with a striking comment about the ubiquity of tea stalls in India. Un-arguably the most popular hot beverage of the country- tea has been rightly selected by the author to serve as the binding thread of the lovely stories he sets out to tell. However there is nothing more about tea per se in the book other than  harping on the fact that tea is prepared variously in various parts of the country, that “a lot can happen over a cup of tea” and that a hot cup of tea can be really a source of rejuvenation and energy in the hour of fatigue. That’s almost all about tea that the book has to say. A reader who expects a fascinating and fresh account of the beverage or its stalls is likely to be disappointed. Kashinath Singh’s Hindi novel Kaashi Ka Assi is the novel I recommend in that case!

Mehta’s descriptions and his skilfully crafted narrative are a delight in as far as his language is concerned. Coming to the events and situations presented in the book, the reader would be  reminded of the 1970s era of Hindi cinema (specially while reading the stories from the mountains) when “scenes from the hills” became a rage . Remember Shammi Kapoor randomly deciding to go to Kashmir and singing a song in the hills and meeting the Punjabi Kashmiri tourists on the way- I think we have seen it all. Most stories that Mehta tells are so predictable. They are also short enough to make sure that none of the people we meet in the book stay with us after the book has been closed. If not rampant, stereotyping is something that the author has resorted to throughout the book.

Mehta does bring in moments which enthrall and captivate. These are few and shorter than the long, prosaic and clichéd sections (the one about his bullet motorcycle for instance was a lot of effort reading for me).

Hot Tea Across India is likely to interest someone who is new to India and wants to know about some of the easily observable incidents and people while travelling through its length and breadth. A deeper, lengthier and slightly heavier account of things, places and people could have definitely made this book better!

Cover of the Book: Image taken from http://www.helterskelter.in

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com.  Participate now to get free books!

 

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