Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sailing to Byzantium

People who are expecting that I will talk about some nice, picturesque escape route to my dream land, like Yeats (he is the poet for this one, right?) might be disappointed. I am rather going to write about my very realistic, painful yet adventurous trips on the bus from Tarnaka to Punjagutta, where my office is. First thing I loathe the most about it is the beginning, where I have to get up early in the morning to catch the bus. After a brisk short walk I reach my bus stop and hope against hope for two things, one that the bus comes on time and two that the bus has just enough space to accommodate the lesser mortals like me, who can’t afford an auto to work every day. Alas! Nothing of the two happens and right then the adventure begins. I and the rest, boarding the bus from the same bus stop, immediately become enemies after having spotted the bus that comes blissfully unaware of the panic it has caused so many of us and merrily comes crawling at its own sweet pace. Now ready to charge, we rush to be the first one to get on to the ugly, misshapen body, which at this moment seems nothing more than a mass of hands and legs, a few heads all attached together. After having squeezed myself into that whole mass of distorted human body parts. I try to find an inch of space to land my feet. Aha! I have spotted one, between to fat women that will be pretty comfortable, isn’t it? But nothing, comfort is this alien word in this moving planet. After having stationed myself there I realize the mounting pressure from all four sides and curse myself to have taken the endeavor. But just then this sweet lady compromises and lets me have some more of space that she all this while had managed to keep to herself. That really did come as a rescue as I could atleast get my other feet on ground now. I realized that these girls, who stared at you with disgust the moment you tried to nudge, are so very comforting when they realize that the whole trauma is new for you. They make you get used to it. The trips that I began loathing are now very much a part of me . I do not detest the mixed smell of coconut oil and jasmine now.

I am getting so used to my Bus journeys that now I have begun to recognize faces, faces that smile, a happy comforting smile even in the most uncomfortable postures, when they see me enter that mass. Faces that perhaps will miss me, when from day after I won’t get on to the bus at my bus stop. Now that I would no more be traveling by these buses, I wish I had a few more days. So this one is to all the pretty, Hyderabad girls with whom I have spent quite some time now, in those crammed spaces, where inspite of being so protective of the spaces entitled to us by the goddess of APSRTC, we have been so very accommodating to others

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Necklace Road - Seetafalmandi

The old eyes watched the expanse of waste land that one could usually see while returning back from the MMTS local train in Hyderabad. The piles of garbage, the motley of dirty, filthy houses, rags covering the thatched roofs everything might have been so much home to the old lady sitting in front of me, with a huge bag of her entire world, her tired, dry hands clutching to the bag, had a story of hard work and suffering. The train crawled on to a much filthier space ahead, a serpentine drain, with the city’s bourgeoisie dump, had the stench I or anybody my age generally associate with utter poverty and grime. With all the fellow faces contorting from the rotten smell, I saw the old woman remained with the same expression, placid and calm. Her eyes had this still, sad look that had seen so much filth that, this present muck made no difference to her. These eyes seemed so withdrawn from the whole world, ready to face anything that life could possibly bring with it. I engrossed in the life around me, could not understand the depth these old soul had experienced. I with my urban, affluent experiences of life could perhaps never understand that life meant living for her, food meant survival for her, and home meant the world for her.

I did not know how she lived her life, how did her hands become so rough that she could no more caress the little child her daughter might have given birth to. I did not know how her feet had become so parched that it hurt to continue walking or perhaps the blood seeping out of the cracks did not bother her of the marks it left on her torn, fragile sari. It did not bother her that people in the compartment preferred standing than sitting next to her. But it bothered me with my urban, educated mentality, seeing her sitting alone, aloof from the whole world. But my presence added nothing to her comfort, perhaps she was used to such pitiful, friendly gestures, which only made her feel more degraded. I realized that her eyes did not complain of the life she had lived. Perhaps I had got it all wrong, I perceived her to be sad, and perhaps she wasn’t all that sad after all. Her eyes did not have sad tales to narrate for her grandchildren; they will be stories of the king who lived a long, lavish life, of the princess who fell in love with a young, poor guy. My station was arriving and I looked more intently at her trying to decipher more of her life and suddenly the train stopped with a jolt, the cannonading sound stopped and a small packet fell out from the old woman’s tattered sari. A cheap green, transparent polythene packet, with a small new plastic elephant in it. Perhaps for the new born grand daughter, she picked it up and wiped the little dirt that had collected on one side of the packet, from one end of her sari. Nestling it safely to where it was, she for once looked up at me and smiled meanwhile the train had reached where I had to get down. Walking back to my hostel room, I no more gave a look of pity to the people living in the slums just opposite the huge gate of my institute.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

In Conversation:Part I

Solan: hiya
Shyamalee: hi dear...
Solan: busy kya?
Shyamalee: No dear... not at all for you...
Solan: ok tell me your views on this reservation fiasco
Shyamalee: what to say... though as an instrument I am very much for it...I can also smell the dirty politics behind it.
Solan: leave the politics but as such are u against it. Do you think India does not need reservation?
Shyamalee: No... I think India needs reservations
Solan: that’s all na do u think sitting in air conditioned offices and thinking and writing about all these issues is a crime?
Shyamalee: No... What we need a healthy debate...? I too get quite a few mails against reservation. Most of those are based on stupid arguments. I ignore them like Jesus..."forgive them they don't know what they are saying". Of late, I am trying to learn the art of Non-violence... what I understood... it is a very difficult art. Hats up to Buddha, Jesus, Gandhi who practiced it to the core.
Solan: but then, the rate at which these anti- reservation mails reach my inbox from all over, I think any such callous forwards will have a repercussion in the ever so gullible Indian minds. Don't u think so?
Shyamalee: No... This type world is too small in this country. And it is not easy to penetrate the mass in this way. You can wash out only a few fragile minds... not all.. And yours is not among those.
Solan: no m not talking about myself. But others, and though the percentage of people capable of reading such stuff is low, but from amongst these only we hear loud voices na, the mass anyways is not concerned
Shyamalee: And that’s the point of debate.. What we want is let this unconnected mass be a part of it. Then, it does not matter which side they take.
The wonderful thing about this country is its democracy. In last fifty odd years it has only strengthen... I for think so. And the politicians have to connect themselves with this unconnected mass. So its not easy to anti- the policy. So all these noises will turn out to be meaningless at the most.
Solan: are u suggesting that these anti resv. Stuff might go unheard of
Shyamalee: Yaa.. There is no way out....
Solan: haaan? But don't you think the intensity with which things are going will bear no consequences
Shyamalee: This is my feeling... After working with the unconnected people...seeing policy and bureaucracy from close quarters...That’s where the irresponsible politics lies...that distracts the youth from healthy debate. But its, I feel only a transitory phase.
Solan: amen! What else can I say?
Shyamalee: You are not among the one to oppose or support.... you have the duty to understand it...though I know we all live in politics, but, our politics has taught us to be so..
Solan: then who does so?
Shyamalee: partly...activists...others include those fragile minds who are in the herd. We are supposed to learn things. Society to be precise..
Solan: humm
Shyamalee: And as learner we are open to viewpoints…Now you recall what I wrote on your feminism blog...I meant this...
Solan: humm

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I am Losing The Ability To Dream…

It’s a weird sense of loss that I felt the other day when trying to recover my soul that feels like leaving my body after a weeks work. It’s been a habit with me since my early childhood days to lull myself to sleep, trying to recreate my dreams, interrupting every time I felt that my dreams weren’t beautiful, every time a felt that this particular thing might not look good if someone chances to see it. But day before when I lay alone trying to create one of my often dreamt dreams, I just could not. There was no me getting a booker prize, there was no me dedicating that prize to my brother – nothing. Just a white blank space loomed large.

My whole world felt numb suddenly. I feel so disturbed.

May be this will make a good beginning of a story, a young girl, with her dusky skin and long black hair that fell on her mauve shirt like waterfall forgets to dream. And suddenly is faced with the harsh reality that life is.

Won’t make a bad start actually.

Let’s see when I venture to write further.

P.s- got my first salary and sadly I did not at all feel excited about it, the way I am supposed to.