Saturday, March 22
they're the ones with eyes.
And you're not the vision, nor sight
the cosmos is your very eye.
So tell me, do you really see
a twisted crowbar called me?
questioning your existence
and half-counting every pence
given and un-given to me?
Or do you mock, like scriptures say,
the way I succumb to things worldly?
I shun temples to hear your voice
I shun silence and I shun the noise
Then one day,
when I’m drunk out of my way
you say nothing, just to say..
there is no dawn without promise of light
but to get there, we need the night.
Wednesday, March 19
Take this one for example. There's everything that made it work, but it's just not quite there on the blog. And i remember the parallel tracks again and how no one is parallel anymore once they stop moving. There's no rush really, no where to get to and no ticking clock. The train of thought runs out of steam and the landscapes don't change for hours at a stretch. And then you wonder if the view will ever change. If you'll get to where the rivers lie, or barren land where they run dry.. if your fingers will remain tied to the syntax that chains your wheels, or they'll break free to catch up with your thoughts before they fly too far. Nah, you won't get this. Nor will i when i read it next. Let's just say the fingers aren't chained, it's just the thoughts. They're going nowhere these days.
Wouldn't have re-posted this if it wasnt for you. Now i'm glad i did.
Friday, March 14
Saturday, March 8
Beautiful October. Bright, clear, hot. I was tiring a bit from all the grey rain. Wanted the blue in the sky back soon. The adorable grandparents come down from the east for a quarter. It's usually an annual routine this time of the year. Nani can easily boast of the warmest smile there ever was on a pair of dentures. She's gorgeous. It's been almost two years since i've last gone to that city. Calcutta.
I remember hating my vacations there when i was a kid. Two months in the heat, with all friends back in good old Bombay, holidays gone waste. My verdict on Calcutta was never in doubt. A mad city with smoke, traffic, heat, sweat, wierd people and no electricity when needed most. Holiday hell. And then, gradually, the city grew on me. Every winter during graduation, i'd pack my bags after each sem and do a little 'traveller thingie' to Calcutta. Alone. It was almost a tourist affair in spite of all the family in that city.
Music, books, backpack and a tatkal ticket on Bombay Mail via Nagpur. On fortunate occasions it takes a good part of two days to get to there. I chose the foresaid train because it gives you two nights and drifts into the Calcutta winter early next dawn. It's the minumum required to drain out the Bombay blues, soak in the rustic charm of rail-road India and mentally prepare yourself for the East. Mentally.
I love everything about this eastside rail journey, especially the anonymity of being alone. Everything from the smell of coal, the changing terrain, the desolate ghost towns, to the thrill of getting off the train when it stops in the middle of nowhere, in dusk dimly lit by fire from distant huts, lighting up a smoke and wondering what if the train starts moving before i got back in? It's a time travel, this thirty-six hour affair, and i'm in no rush to get to the urban hustle at the other end. Simply travelling, to travel. The most vivid memory of most of my journeys would invariably be catching a cold while hanging out by the train door, once Kharagpur passes. It's a ritual that i've followed with crazy zest and the beauty is worst captured in words. There's something absolutely magical about winter fog, the moist smell of unweeded ponds and smoke that hangs mid-way in the air, too soggy to rise beyond the horizon, as one by one, you pass the small, sleeping mofussil towns yet to wake up to the first light of dawn. Save the lone cyclist with a lantern and a beedi. All this while i wake up to an India that beautifully exists beyond my urban coccoon. One that's blissfully oblivious to the world i come from as i sneak past their's.
This post was meant to be about my winter holiday home in Calcutta. This was meant to be about the best street food in the world, palm lined lakes, quick wit graffiti, hyper-opinionated people, zero traffic rules, coffee houses, clubs, politics, societies, communities, Communists. About so many things that are typically eastern and deep trenched in a mystique that only be Calcutta. I can't really say i understand the city, i think it's not meant to be understood. Amidst it's many gods, godmen, fests and festivals, political dirt and public activism, liberal ideas and downright cynicism is a culture that melts every diversity into a vibrant, noisy cosmos. Behind the linguistic barrier is a city that's not a city but an idea frozen in time. For those plainly intent on travelling and exploring, it gives you everything. For the two cities that define the breadth of the country, and also it's spectrum of life, Bombay is home. It always lets you be. Calcutta changes you to suit itself. It doesn't let you be. It pre and post exists while you adapt to it.
It was my favourite destination for cheap travel, distance and grandparents, in that order. Friday when i pick them up at the airport i know their days in Calcutta are running out. They're getting old and maybe age has other ideas about them living independently any longer. They were the epicentre of my idyllic eastern holidays and deep down, i don't really want them to grow any older. The beautiful Valley Park flat will be the same as ever. I doubt i'll ever go back to open the house once they're here in Bombay. It'll remain shut and hold some pretty special memories. The Calcutta chapter ends with my grandparents, and i don't know if these memories will be relegated to antiquity or will ever be redeemed. Youth and carefree, anonymous, reckless travelling.