Aside

Road no 12, Banjara Hills

It was this road that ran a good length into Banjara Hills, flanked protectively by luxury brands on either sides. Amrapali, the store read and an elevated cobblestoned driveway led to the side door. I walked in, step matching with Jigi. The first thing I noticed was some girl’s bleached hair, coloured rainbow, falling dry and limp on her shoulders. I turn away to look at Jigi.

” What are we doing here?” , I ask. We don’t normally just walk into a high end store without first drawing gigantic sketches that always concluded on, ” We’ll probably regret it, but lets do it”.

Standing a good foot tall above me, he barely looks at me and says, ” We are buying you a nosepin.”

“Here?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah, No”

” Okay, I will buy a nosepin. You do whatever you want to do”

I sigh and maze my way to the bathrooms. When I was out, I could hear the lovely Indian classical music pouring right out of the papered walls onto the perfumed air. I could see the china, whose trims were writhed in pink roses and gold leaves. The world was a better place.

Jigi is waiting.

We climb up the stairs and reach our section of the store, that supposedly has nosepins. Well, not the kind my dear boyfriend envisioned. They were the size of a lemon. We laughed and looked around petty towels and perfumes until we got bored and out we went.

The first bubble of laughter from my lips escaped as fast as his first drag of cigarette that he blew at the setting sun. We walked, our backs against the sun, under a velvety blue sky.

Locked away in midnight hour 

Only the moist finger tips of a pregnant sky, irritatingly tingling my spine, running down along it, in rivulets, disappearing, but staining my cotton dresses, has the power to keep me awake after a tiring day.

The tiredness stays and stretches as I move about, it’s there, it’s slowly taking over my movements, slowing them down to a slumber. But, the summer keeps sleep locked away in some midnight hour. Till then, I move, as if wading a sea of mud, making my way to the midnight hour, to collapse, body and soul into the arms of sleep. 

And there I’ll lay dead till the hazy morning sun rises above the hills, and etches my curtain’s lace flowers on me, marking its territory. 

Ain’t no drape. 

I like curtains. Not the feeble, lace trimmed, airy ones. Those ones entice the casual stalker, by softening the otherwise hard lines of a woman’s silhouette. I like the thick curtains which once shut, shut out the world with them. They are fierce protectors. Hanging by heavy rods, falling surprisingly gracefully the length of the window, theirs is an oath to shield. 

Let morning come, in all its noise and gurgle, making an embarrassment of itself, gilding the window frame. But these curtains, they only let the faintest hint of the morning breaking outside to the house. Should you permit, should you choose to, you may usher the morning. Should you find your eyes comfortably shutting, you may lie in bed all day, or watch sopranos, and the morning will be sent out, on its way, till it sulks into night. 

Tomorrow is another day. Another choice to make. Till you make it, the curtain will act the secretary to a high seat and only whisper of visitors to you. You have the royal permission of sliding the hoops of your loyal protector through the unfailing rod. 

Self Administered Heavy Dose

I love drama. I exaggerate like I am getting evaluated by the drama council of my life. I need to blow things of out proportion for me to make it all comfortable to me. I am my most comfortable when a loud sound is followed by a glitter rain and a tall vase tumbling down the stairs. Keep the tears rolling, keep the eyelashes long and bat those eyes like they are having a seizure. It will not get you true love, but, you will look sensational when you are crying about not getting true love. I am terrible, thank you.

I’ve watched episodes over episodes of successful drama series on my laptop. And as drama series go, they are extreme. Happiness, Anger, love, although love isn’t an emotion. I think, it’s an entirely different ballgame. But, that’s the gist of it. The emotions are extreme.  And, sadness and grief are extreme too.

A few years ago, as I watched men leaving professionally successful women with a reality check to ponder over, in a bed rampaged by last night’s sex, I just watched. I watched it like I would watch a commercial.  I watched women hand over their two year old engagement rings and I watched blankly. I watched people lie down on the floor on my laptop screen, looking blankly up at the ceiling, not answering their phone. I never realized the background music is a blessing. Without that, it would be impossible to watch people disintegrating in front of your eyes. To witness a gutting of a person is impossible to go through without being hallowed out of all sanity.

Today, the background music too betrayed. Because now, when I see someone slide down the door they softly closed on a person they softly asked to go, playing two years of togetherness in their head, I know, I don’t want to feel what they are feeling.  I don’t want to feel what it feels like to sit down on your bed and not have the energy to sleep or the resolve to get up. I don’t want to know what it feels like to get your heartbroken.

And scripted heartbreaks are even worse. Someone took time out, to figure out the lighting, the words, the music, the cameras and of course, it’s perfect, A perfect administration of tragedy into my veins, like a drip over the next three hours after I shut my laptop.

Cleanse the city of its gods.

The Tip off

“Did you look at the moon? It’s crazy”, texted Jigi.

I went into my balcony which faced east and looked up.  I couldn’t see the crazy moon. Crazy moon was on the other side, the side, I was not dressed for. I told him I couldn’t and went to sleep.

 

The sighting

I find it unfair that the light just before morning is no different from the light at midnight. The only indication of it being morning, were the huge, rumbling milk vans zooming past me as I braked.  Idiots.  I accelerate in anger; my car gives a jerk and effortlessly climbs the flyover.

As we go higher, it gets calmer. I am tempted to slow down, but I resist. When I reach the highest, I see the moon, now against a slightly lightened sky, which was at least a little indicative of the morning to come.

It was crazy. It stuck to the top right corner of my windshield, like a maniac. I take a turn, losing it for quite a few minutes. By the time it appeared again, it was pasted against a soft blue sky.

The sight

The wrappings of cold, desolate and far were ripped off of it, it shyly shone, like someone stretched a net of silver across a vessel of light. It was beautiful like I know it will never be after those three minutes I spent, with a glass partition between us.

It hung like an enchantment waiting to be cast upon Hyderabad.  If I touch it, will white dust light me up?  If I pray, will god grant my wishes? No.

The sun cleansed the city of the mist and the drunkenness.  Who will cleanse the city of the goddesses?

Flirtations, Listed.

Most of life’s mundanities unravel to me when I take a sharp left or when I go on an adventure of lazy lane switches. And, almost always, the Radio is blaring. I prefer the bad song sounds to my bad engine sound.

Today, while coming back from work, I was wondering if I could phase out and still drive and still reach safely?  I phased out for two seconds. At a red light. I love life, I am glutton about it. So I crank up the volume and refocus and the radio mulled over ” Two minute relationships”

What are those?  Like a silent pact between two strangers sharing standing space on a divider, waiting to cross the road? An agreement to not die or not push the other under a bus. Sounds like an important agreement to me. Then, I started thinking about all the two minute relationships I’ve had.

Flirtations Listed:

  • The never ending stranger meets in elevator. Who’ll push the buttons? Whats that perfume?
  • The red light romance. I see you, you see me. I turn away, because I have to pick my nose.
  • The co shopper. You and I, same aisle, same cereal? I walk away, muttering prayers for the oats in her cart and mine. Look at our waistlines, we don’t eat oats.
  • The book shop love.That one person who picks just the right book. So long, lover
  • The wait at the chemist’s. I know you are lactating, You know I am constipating. We share a bond beyond words.
  • The salesman at the jewelry store. Everything looks good on me? Can I model? No ? Why are you smiling?
  • The everyday guy gang at the end of my street. They hate me for my obnoxious honking, I hate them for the hoots.
  • My watchman, who is picked right out of a ghost story. We only stare, intensely.

And intensely staring, I get into my car, for another adventure. I lead the bug to the morning sunlight. Bathe, little bug. We have a lot more flirting to do.

 

 

 

Cars and Cameras

Moving cameras inside moving cars,  I pass by lights. Many lights. I click pictures. I check. 

Okay. 

Cars and cameras on phones fascinate me to no end. I am riding shotgun, I am jobless, I am thinking of how the ocean is a sink. I am thinking of how the time is 7:00 in the evening and the sun refuses to set. I am thinking of the noise from the backseat. I hope no one is choking. I am too absorbed to care. If they do, they’ll stop the car. I hope they don’t stop the car.

I turn sideways. I look at the steering. It looked so limiting. In front of me was the careless spread of the sky and the steering was taking me into it. How very un romantic. 

I realise, our days are such. We have a sensory ocean to jump into and ropes and technicians to make the jump easier. Easy, is the keyword. Take it easy. 

I ease off. I switch my camera off and drift to sleep.

Drift to a sensory ocean I so romantically hold dear, but hey, ropes and all. Can’t get too hurt,  can’t get a scare. Let’s control life. One inch lowered at a time. I wake up after five hours. 

Noise.

What worries me? Hmm let’s see. People succumbing worries me. 

People succumbing, weak kneed, slack jawed, limp faced. Your fall has no purpose, no where to end, to reason to begin. You fall, because it’s fun to fall. Because it’s easy to fall. Beacause if you fall, you do not have to answer your conscience. Your conscience will see you falling into the yawning abyss, it will try finding reason in your eyes. But, you are mad. Madness knows no reason. So though, you are looking at the bluest sky of the year, your  conscience only finds cloudy black pools staring back at it. 
It mutters a distasteful scorn and returns. You are still falling. 

You are now alone, falling. How long has it been? A year? Two? A day? A second? Do you still remember to count? It’s just you and me now. You can be honest. What is being honest? Hello! Yes, you dozed off. No, it’s okay. I think so  too. It must have been all your lifetime. 
Relax. We will be at this for a while. Your conscience is now dead. Yes, it was a quiet funeral. Your mother was the gravest mourner. Get it? Haha. Sigh. 

So, it’s just you and me. How does it feel to finally meet me? You cannot hide your face forever. I am not that bad. There, that wasn’t too hard was it? Oh you are crying!

Mirrors have the toughest life man. Tch. 

* The sound of bones breaking, a devastating scream and the lost sound of a broken mirror* 

Mockery of the heathen gods

There are a few things in life, deemed romantic by a majority of the population. And then there are, half asleep, groggy eyes, silently watching with a half smirk on their lips with the taste of bile at the back of their throat, this romance.  I was one of them.  I hated the romance woven around rains. It was like seeing the kid you hated in the finest pink gown at your birthday party. Who invited you?  No, I don’t want your gift.

 The splash wasn’t a good sound, it was a death knell. The thunder was undeniably the true death knell and the smell of earth when it rained was the equivalent of the elixir like voices of cannibalistic sea nymphs. Yes, I have no reservations when it comes to expressing just how much rain ruins my life and it has earned me a lover and a few enemies.

But, one day, I met rain not in the school hallway with her miniskirt too high to be ugly anymore. I spied her from a distance as she sat alone, on the steps, braiding her hair deliberately, reading the fine print at the back of a hand cream. I caught rain in its element and the story follows.

 

I look back upon that day like it’s from five years ago and not five days ago.  The feel good factor about that day is so strong, according to my memory, there has to be thick insulation of nostalgia to it.  So, I let it trick me into it.  Somehow, what I was wearing in a moment becomes an important part of how well I remember that day or through which lens I remember that day. I wore a luxurious silk dress and rightly so, a thin; but noticeable varnish of luxury taints the otherwise pure memory.

I sit down opposite to the man I have missed terribly in these two months and the delicious smell of baked cheese wafts up from the ground floor dominoes kitchen. First bite into the cheeseburst pizza, I turn into a very confusing audio file.  I moan, I yell, I chirp and I almost sing.  Molten cheese is a pain to eat, quite literally and I never had a cheese burst pizza before that.

The man in front of me shrugs and continues eating.

In all this cholesterol championship finals, it started raining outside.  We were sitting next to a ceiling to floor glass window on the first floor. It wasn’t a brightly lit street. The streetlights were perched too high to illuminate anything but the shops and the traffic compensated. So the rain fell in many colors on a background of black and when it hit concrete, the city resisted it, with a tiny splash. A hundred thousand resistances like that, made up a pretty war scene. I took a picture. 

We were done with the intense talk and the intense pizza love; the rain too, had taken a break. The plan was to hail different taxis from there to our respective sleeping alcoves. But the talk was far from over and we had already started walking. To stop a walk is one of the most tasteless things to do. So, we decided to walk till his college from where I would take a taxi back to my hotel.  Agreed. The walk slowed to a more romantic pace, knowing there was a distance to cover.

It started to rain. Both of us hated rain with a passion but, we still walked. He held my hand over wide puddles, I held on to him when traffic skidded. Our talk had reached a crescendo as we turned onto the very desolate stretch of road, by which his college loomed. Ancient trees arched the wide road and the buildings on either side were high and walled. 

Now, the rain was steady and strong and the road was deserted. It was 10 in the night, we were wet to the bone, and I still had to hail a taxi to get back to the hotel. Only one obnoxiously priced taxi was available in the area then, and reluctantly, I took it. The driver would take fifteen more minutes to reach our spot.

Fifteen minutes of waiting when no one dares speak, is an experience worth paying for. I paid for it with a week’s of ill health. The experience started with unrest and wonder at the inconvenience of rain and as the minutes deepened to a five minute wait, I resigned and lost my posture, swerving slightly to his side and hearing, actually listening to the roar of the rain. Seven minutes into the wait, I wrapped my thin, wrinkled fingers around his arm and widened my eyes to a much greater downpour. It was golden, it was alone and it did not care. 

Ten minutes into the wait, I felt my heart beat very loudly against my chest. The rain was getting under my nerves, It rained entirely too much and too loud for me to ignore it. I was forced to acknowledge it and it looked beautiful and sounded like a love song. My love song. Fourteenth minute into the wait, I was maddened with fear. The rain wasn’t stopping, the clock was ticking and my brain couldn’t stop noticing heavenly tinges around the edges of my madness in the rain. One more minute and I would be one of those romantics who weave romances around rain.  In time, two lifesaving lights pierce through the hypnosis and I wave a relieved goodbye and get into the car. The windows were appropriately fogged and restored a sense of normalcy towards rain in me, slowly. It still made lives dreadful.

There will always be a little part of me that will like rain. For those fifteen minutes, I was a slave to its beauty, in a way I will always bow to it a little, like a faithful servant to his queen, even after she is made to wear the scarlet letter.

First flights. 

I remember my first flight vividly. I boarded the plane not through an aero bridge, the tube like, grey, boring way of getting into flights.  I got on the plane, as the doors hissed open and the stairs fell at my feet, like a heroine, I stepped onto the first step. Aero bridges now put me off. I have always liked the machine air of a plane chasing me till I stepped inside the cabin.

It was five in the evening, and eveything around me was lit in those happy, Sunny, single tone Colours wax crayons used to be come in.

Kingfisher airlines was known for their very pretty air hostesses and for domestic air travel that wasn’t “Air India” .I shamelessly gawked at each one of them. My mind was screaming “They’re only people.” But my eyes refused to look away from the impeccable ness they were. My shirt was XL and too tight. A few of them smiled down on me, benevolently and I grinned back, like a perfect idiot. 

When the flight took off, sunlight streamed in. I say ” streamed” , because it was so beautiful, it filled the vivid red cabin to a memorable scarlet. I look back to see if my father noticed that.Hesmiled at me. He didn’t notice anything. I don’t return the smile and go back to gluing my nose to the window.

This was also the era of digital cameras. Where a 10 megapixel camera was all the excuse you needed to switch to “macro” mode and embark on a disturbing course where all the pictures you took, involved lying down. Buttons. Rugs. Idli. Anything, with an excuse of a texture to it  was brutalised. One such camera, I owned too. I took so many dirty pictures of the sun, the clouds, the sky. The heavens must have issued blatant indecency warrants against me. Like pornography for instance.
I walk/ tumble across the aisle and reach my father and show him the pictures. He is disgusted and worried about my future as a citizen,still, he tells me I am an artist. I roll back happily to my seat and click more pictures. If I would have listened better, I could have heard my parents sighing. 

I get down from the flight, the happiest fat kid in town. 

Today, I write this, sitting next to my colleague who has boarded a plane for the first time. When it took off, the generally genial person in him was gone. He lit up. All adjectives and grammar were lost to him. The city of chennai hung like an expensive tapestry off an ancient wall, as the flight tilted. He looks at me. 

” Lighting…… ” , he says  and looks out of the window again and before my face could lose the smile, he turns back and says ” Super!”. I haven’t stopped smiling, we are about to land now and the city of Hyderabad makes its grand entrance. 

“Zeenath”, he says and points at the window. He hasn’t regained his grammar or vocabularily yet. I crane my neck and look. The city of Hyderabad looks like scattered pearls and peices of gold. Nizam’s fortune.  We descend. My colleague will definitely have to do something tomorrow about his neck pain. The person refuses to look away from the window for even a second, except  to point at more lights and exclaim. 

Home, at last, the familiar Telugu fills my heart with ease and my head with a numb indifference I missed, trying to decipher Tamil in chennai.