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.

 

 

 

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.

Walks melt distance

Bonds between people play out over a lifetime of their own.  They fall prey to neglect and rust and when traversed after three years, I did not expect it to carry us over to the other side, like a strong bridge on a mellow river. I expected it to creak, to sway and to threaten to give away. Instead, it hardly seemed touched by time and Olivia and I enjoyed the walk.

The Appointment

I call her shamelessly out of the blue and ask her if she can meet me. According to her, I was in another state, a thirteen hour train journey away and I was asking her if I could walk to where she lived. She sounded angry and on the edge over the phone, still she granted us audience. Jigi and I were going to meet Olivia, the girl I haven’t met since school.

The walk .

Chennai is very humid and the evening was just around the corner when we started walking. I wore a chiffon dress which clung to me for dear life after 20 steps and as the walk progressed, the dress and I became one. Jigi was sweating in his own glory beside me, his’ is another story.  He speaks to me like nothing is amiss, his face is a playground of anguish and sweat and I look at him in absolute horror as he smiles and almost looks like he would burst like an overripe fruit with delight. His nonchalance to the humidity was annoying me.

“Look at you, you’re drenched”, I tell him, hoping for some kind of acknowledgement from him towards the absolute horror of the weather.

“Ah”, he nods, “This is me now..” , he says and continues to lecture me on encroachment of lands.

I still was very conscious of wallowing in my own sweat, in spite of, or maybe, more so because everybody else seemed to be enjoying the city sunset. I came prepared for an evening of strolls under arched ancient trees. I did not sign up for the “Experience the true Chennai” tour. I got one anyway and I wasn’t happy about it.

The walk – Part II

Olivia suggested meeting in the allegedly subsidized Café Coffee day outlet inside her campus. I found it too suffocating to sit inside glass door-ed, dimly lit corporate coffee house. Chocolate wasn’t on my mind, a very long scrubbing session, a tryst with hot water and soap, a sensual dialogue with shampoo was what I had in mind. Soap bubbles drifted across my field of imaginary vision as Olivia came walking toward us, as the last of the bubbles popped, I was hugging Olivia. Her long hair was freshly washed and I wished for my shower more passionately.

I introduced Jigi to Olivia and we start walking the lush campus of IIT Madras. It was quiet and cut off from the outside world. There was life inside which thrived at an entirely different frequency than the life outside. It was a high tension, low voiced, complacent environment where according to Jigi, the rivers would flow unabashed due to encroachments and where I sensed, thoughts would flow a very retarded course due to a lack of judgement. 

Deformation of thoughts would come naturally, where silence meets knowledge of a thriving business beyond the compound walls.

Jigi and Olivia get along well.  Olivia is the perfect tour guide. She guides us through the campus, as much as she tells us about her life there and her devious plans to marry a professor, so she could live on the campus. She doesn’t know which one, and a good part of me is scared to admit, she doesn’t care which one.

Olivia and I exchange very intimate eye contact now and then as Jigi says something funny or witty. This was two girls, acknowledging and assenting, evaluating and accepting, finally, nodding a silent and decisive  “yes” to the evolution from adolescence to early adulthood that we missed witnessing in each other. It was a rewarding experience.

The walk was a long one.

The dehydration was taking its toll and we stop for supplies. I buy guava juice, Jigi grabs the chance to have something else other than sambar and buys himself a puff and Olivia gets entrusted with extra strong coffee, thanks to Jigi. That man is a person of habit like I have never seen anyone be. Olivia texted me about the coffee two days after the walk, telling me how she won’t ever forget someone ordering something that they like for a person they just met.  She likes him.

By the time we reach the other side of the gate, the talk isn’t exhausted. Olivia hugs me real tight again and we wave our goodbyes. Jigi and I had another 30 minutes of walking to do through winding lanes, in chunky heels. There was a festival afoot that day. The loudspeakers played a very pleasing song, very loudly in Tamil and we passed by smoldering fires, heaps of flowers, women dressed for a coronation at 8 in the night and streetlight after streetlight, we reach the desolate stretch of  Jigi’s college.

The night life of his college milled around the tea shop, as I bid him goodbye and got into the taxi.  I watched him walk to the tea shop, becoming one among the many aspiring journalists, among a cloud of cigarette smoke.

 

 

Dust settles

I like the sound of rain, I really like to look at the world through a rain screen, I like the after effects and I have learned to like the muck but, Getting wet in the rain does not make me one bit a happier person.It means sticky hair, sticky skin and a longer bathroom routine. If your immune system is at least half the douche mine is, you will have cold and fever too. 
But that’s an attitude for concrete jungles. My morning walk, is through a well maintained tracks in a national park with an entry fee of twenty rupees. It’s a four kilometre track rampant with peacocks. Both human and bird kinds. Well, today after three kilometres, the sky had a sudden, scary mental breakdown and it rained. If it was a person, I would have ran for my life fearing contagious eccentricity.

But, strangely two minutes in it, I didn’t mind. The sound of rain falling on leaf carpeted mud floor, the sound of rain in puddles of its own doing and the sound of rain on treetops, all of these were strange sounds and it was delicious. I lapped up. Rain sounds sad and wailing on concrete and tar. It gets drawn to drainages, trenches and ditches, if you are lucky or it drowns the city. 

But the forest calls rain its own, treats it with reverence and rejoices in its coming. I like the colour green too, it was hard to get myself out of the forest. I can only imagine what kindness it is to have rains in cities where the only wilderness is at nights on lit floors and ceilings.

I carried the stupor back home, calls to and from chennai helped me keep it tightly still. I write this, sipping sweet tea, wet – crying for a wash hair coiled on my head, sitting cross legged on a dining table chair in wet clothes.