The other day, I was watching a movie along with a friend and something caught my eye in the interval. There was a child seated along with his mother in the same row as we were. I was constantly looking at the child who was moving around a lot. For some particular reason, my friend noticed this and asked me if I was looking at the child because he was really cute. Actually, the real reason was that the child was wearing shoes that had LED lights on the sole which lit up whenever the he walked.
So, I just remembered how I used to have such shoes when I was a kid. It was very long ago actually, maybe sometime in the late 90s, I don’t remember exactly how old I was but definitely less than 8 years of age. And the shoes I had weren’t as fancy as the ones sold today, but they were a thing in those days. So the LED lights used to be only on the rear part of the sole. It was a whole electronic component that fit beneath the removable inner sole of the shoe. It probably had some sort of motion sensor or pressure sensor because the LEDs would light only while walking. In those days, red LEDs were the standard and you had to remove the electronic component to replace the button cell batteries periodically, which I might add, were very costly in those days. In fact, even my brother had the same pair of shoes. And not just these shoes, we had lot of same stuff like toys, clothes, bedsheets, etc.
Anyway, I am provoked to buy such a pair of shoes for myself but I think at this age, such an endeavour will be too lively for my taste.
On a recent visit to Delhi, I was in the market along with my Dad for some work. Somewhere in between, we split ways to save time and I got free a lot earlier and arrived home. Unfortunately, there was nobody else at home and my Dad had the keys and so I had to wait outside the house for quite a long time.
As I was waiting outside of our house, sitting on the steps and biding my time, I noticed a rickshaw puller dropping a passenger in the neighbouring house. When the time came to pay him, he quoted what must have seemed a rather higher rate to the passenger and she started to bargain, which is not a very uncommon practice in Delhi. I don’t know why women have this tendency to bargain for cheap things in life with the poorest of people like rickshaw pullers or fruit and vegetable vendors but will not think twice while spending a bomb on something like a branded purse or clothes.
So the rickshaw puller began to defend his case by giving her ample reasons for the higher amount he was charging, one of them being the extra rush in J-block (which is where we live) because of the Friday Market (Shukkar Bazaar). He very intricately explained to her how difficult it was to cycle the rickshaw when there was a lot of rush and traffic and when you had to constantly stop every few seconds and then start peddling again.
Once the lady passenger seemed satisfied, she went upstairs to get more money. During the odd 60 seconds she was gone; the rickshaw puller looked at me and reiterated his reasons for the extra amount. I gave him a reassuring nod and told him that the lady had agreed. She came down and made the payment and he seemed satisfied. When she had gone closed her gate, he again looked at me and explained the reasons for charging a higher amount and I told him that it was okay. There was this honey like sweetness in his voice when he was talking to me; it felt like he was from Lucknow.
Anyway, he had turned back and taken two steps towards his rickshaw, when I called him out and asked him his name. He said that his name was Mishri Lal, which I could really swear suited him because of the sweetness in his voice. I asked him about his whereabouts and his family. He was originally from a village near Gonda in U.P. and his whole family was into farming. I told him that my grandmother had lived in Gonda for a few years when her father was posted there as an Station Master in the Indian Railways. He told me about his route; he plied from Ramesh Nagar to Rajouri Garden and back and he live in a jhuggi in Ramesh Nagar. I asked him about his family and he told me he had a wife and kids, two of them back home in his village. I was kind of surprised because Mishri Lal was not a man who seemed like a father and a husband. I then enquired about his age but I can’t recall exactly what he said, I think he was as old as I was or even younger.
All this conversation was over and there was nothing more to talk about. For a fraction of a moment, there was just an awkward silence. There was nothing more to say and nothing more to do. My father returned around that very moment and I terminated the conversation with Mishri Lal and told him to carry on and told him that it was nice talking to him. He smiled and said bye in his sweet honey like voice and carried on into the cold night, probably searching for a sawari going towards Ramesh Nagar.
Quite a long time ago, we used to have a pet dog named Doody about which I’ve written in much detail in one of my earlier posts. Due to some circumstances, we had to bid adieu to the dog and we put up an advertisement in the local newspaper and gave away flyers n the nearby supermarket that had a picture of the dog along with the message “Free to a good home”.
This festive season somehow I’ve found a little bit of inspiration to write something because I was drowning in the sea of nothingness and had to find a way out. Cosily sprawled on my bed with nothing but a large screen TV in front of me tuned in to the Animal Planet channel displaying the mating rituals of camels in the Gobhi desert, which is by the way very interesting.
I was wondering that world has gone a little wild with this entire selfie obsession. And you’re just not supposed to ask anyone to click a picture for you, you’re supposed to snap out your phone and click a picture with the front camera, which by the way has very poor resolution. Not only does this give us very poor picture quality but also requires the person clicking the picture to have arms almost as long as the law (kyunki kanoon ke haath bahot lambe hote hain). I also think that’s made this world a little less friendly than it used to be because you’re not asking random strangers favours by telling them to click a picture for you, or giving a chance to opportunist thieves to run away with your cell phone.
And with this whole digital camera concept, people have stopped valuing the moments when we actually click pictures. Pictures are clicked for moments which one would wish to remember for eternity and it had such a different meaning.
In fact, people used to be very frugal in the number of pictures they used to click, because as far as I remember a film reel had about 30 pictures and the reels were costly. I remember when I was very little, maybe this was before I had even started school, we had gone to Lucknow once for whatsoever reason it might have been and stayed in a hotel. Before going out of the hotel in the evening for whatever purpose we had to, my Mum, my brother and I were sitting somewhere in the gallery and my Dad was handling something at the reception desk. And for the few minutes that the trio of us were sitting, I had the custody of the camera and simply switched it on and started clicking picture after picture of nothing particular, probably it was just the floor, but because I really loved the sound when the picture was clicked, the snap of the shutter and the mechanical movement of the film rolling. I did it till no more pictures could be clicked. Sooner or later, my Mum found out and all I can remember is that she wasn’t amused.
Few days ago, it was one of our classmate’s birthday. Very nice and chirpy girl who always gives you a smile, very genuine person indeed. So anyway, it so happened that I hadn’t gotten a chance to wish her throughout the day and had not even sent her a text message.So after this Pre-placement talk from a company which I have no intention of joining, I was the first one to exit the classroom and was waiting outside for any one of my flat mates to give me company for dinner in the pathetic place called the institute Dining Hall. While waiting outside, I ran into the birthday girl and finally wished her. And then she did something that reminded me of my school days, she took out a a bag of chocolates and offered me one. It used to be such a thing to take distribute chocolates in the class on your birthday. And not just the birthday boy or girl would be excited, but even the kids in the class. And when two kids in a class had their birthday on the same day, boy oh boy.. That used to be a real treat.
In fact, I also remember that if your best buddy was the birthday boy, you ended up getting a lot of chocolates. Sometimes, people would put an approach through the best friend to get more than a single chocolate.
Back in the day, there used to be this very smart kid in my class who had this cheap yet innovative way of getting more than his fair share of one single chocolate. When the official distribution process would be going on, which usually happened in the zero period, right after the daily attendance was over and everybody had sung that same old miserable Happy Birthday song, and when this kid’s turn would come, he would ask the birthday boy if he could have one more chocolate for his younger sibling. How cheesy is that?! It usually worked out for him. Sometimes he would even ask an additional chocolate for one of his parents!
Anyway, as I was taking the chocolate from the birthday girl, I just smiled at her. I was even tempted to ask her for an additional chocolate for my elder brother but I thought it would be too much. She did give me another chocolate though, after I told her about that kid from my class.
The man was standing in the balcony looking out into the distance. It was an unusually cool and windy night for this time of the year. He tried to ignite his lighter but the wind was too strong and the flame just vanished away after dancing for a second. He went back inside for a moment to light his cigarette and came back out. He took his nice big puff and let the smoke enter his body. The first puff always felt like taking the first sip of that warm cup of coffee when you’re outside on a cold wintry day.
Some thoughts came to his mind about the various things going in life but he ignored them because there was nothing he could do at the moment about them anyway. Suddenly he had this desire to create smoke rings and but it was too windy. He tried anyway and successfully imagined rings of smoke in front of him. And with each ring of smoke which was really just a puff of smoke, he saw a memory in the ring. Memories of laughing friends, campus trends, a trip to the hills, midnight walks, birthday cakes, ducks at the lake, disc brakes, mango shakes, skipping ropes, oil paints, dance moves, weed joints, whisky glasses and empty water bottles. Each ring of smoke dispersed into the midnight air along with the memory it contained.
The cigarette was burnt out and for a moment he thought about smoking another one but decided against it. Smoking kills..
It’s the dead of winter in Chandigarh, and the time is somewhere around 10.30PM. Five college boys dressed in warm sweaters and heavy jackets exit from a dimly lit, gloomy yet classy restaurant after having a magnificent meal. They are so full that it actually takes quite an effort to walk, and the cold only makes it worse.
Two of the boys go to a nearby Paan Wallah to give into their nicotine cravings, the third joins them for a single puff and the remaining two join the group with a judgmental temperament. After the thoroughly enjoyable sutta and gossip session, the group somehow squeezes into their car. It takes a while to fit in because everybody’s bloated up with all the food, even the car groans under the weight.
The car engine roars to life and in a second the background is filled with the sound of Jagjit Singh’s song ‘Gum Sum Yeh Jahan Hai’. The melancholic yet melodious sound which is particularly apt for the spirit of Chandigarh city at this late hour, puts everyone in a drowsy mood. Inside the car, two sub-groups have formed and each is discussing a different topic. One group is in an intense debate about something related to politics or art, the other group is discussing about make out spots in the near vicinity or whether it will be possible to smoke up later in the night. The audio track in the background subtly changes to ‘Mera Geet Amar Kar Do’. One of the guys is busy texting his significant other this whole time, more out of obligation than affection.
The comfortable drive takes a little bit more than 15 minutes along some of the best roads in the city; Jan Marg and Vigyan Path. After the drive, one guy goes straight to his room and starts his night calling session with his girl with whom he is in a long distance relationship. The rest of the guys gather around for a while in the corridor continuing the discussions that had started in the car. Slowly, one by one disperse to their own rooms after roughly half an hour.
One of the guys realizes that he is out of drinking water and goes to the water cooler to refill his empty bottles and on the way knocks on the three doors that come in his path and invites each of the guys if they want to accompany him. Someone always gives him company to fill water even though they have enough water for the night. This water refilling ritual is the final event of this ‘Mehfil’.
It’s 2015 now, and the world is still nowhere close to making toggle switches the standard for electronic switches.
The single major life changing event that happened in 2014 was graduating from college. And the single most dismal thing about graduating is not being able to live among my friends in the hostel.
Leaving the hostel has been a major lifestyle change for all of us. We were not just a couple of friends, we had evolved into a family. There was always somebody there, no matter what you wanted to do, no matter when you wanted to do. If one door was closed, the other was open, somebody would always be there for you and with you if you needed the company and sometimes, even if you didn’t.
I would give anything to be able to roam in those corridors again and go through all those moments with my dearest friends again, including some of the most pointless and stupid things on earth like throwing lit matches dabbed with toothpaste on the unlit end on the ceiling and skipping rope in the middle of the night. Hostel Corridor on a Foggy Winter Morning (the black spots on the underside of the beam are a result of our stupid endeavor)
She came up to me and asked me for a safety helmet. Although, I am usually very particular about not lending personal items to others, I gave it to her. Something about her made me do it. I wasn’t attracted to her in any way but the moment she came close, her scent engulfed me and my heart skipped a beat. It was that same scent which she used to wear. The same scent that I would smell almost every day but never perceive.
As she was wearing my helmet, I was trying very hard to inhale large amounts of air to smell more of her scent, without looking creepy. It struck a chord in my mind and I tried very hard to make sure if it was the same scent. She slowly walked away and as she did, her scent trailed off behind her. Every whiff of that scent brought back those memories which had long been forgotten.
It wasn’t that I had forgotten her. I still remember every physical detail about her. Her hair was a rich shade of black which flowed down in waves. Her brown hazel eyes which would gaze eagerly at me. Her hands were tiny and cute resembling those of a child. Her figure was slender yet curvaceous. Indeed she appeared to walk with a jumpy saunter, as she moved swiftly along the road in front of the college Gate -3.
But the memories had faded with time and with a whiff of that scent which she used to wear, all my emotions and memories came rushing back to me in a second. It was as if I was reliving the memories again.
I sat down to take a moment to process all those memories. Those carefree days spent roaming around on Chandigarh roads with nothing to do but spend time with each other. The countless meals at the bakery in Sector-9 and the endless walks at the lake. The first rain together which ended in trouble. And countless other memories which lasted a little more than two and a half years.
And that dainty scent followed everywhere all the time. It was an inherent part of her with its ghostly presence. Although, it has been a long time since I parted ways with her, the memories seldom come back. And that particular sweet scent will always be etched in my memory with an image of her.
With regard to my earlier post dated 21 June 2011, on the subject of worry, I think it’s high time I take appropriate measures to stop all this worrying for once and for all. With this new FIR scam that I have recently committed, I can’t sleep at night. And the problem is that I can’t really do anything to resolve the scam but just wait, watch and pray that my illicit, lawless, fraudulent and indictable act may go unnoticed and just get overlooked.
Well, here’s the first step in solving the problem for my thirst to commit deceitful and corrupt activities – to stop worrying about them!