Monday, July 22, 2013

Why I love where I live

Some time back, this was the topic for a blogger giveaway on Sunayana's blog. I wrote this there as a comment, and since I'm feeling lazy (and at a loss for words), I'm posting it here as well - more to preserve it, really, than to say anything new.

Why do I love where I live? Well, first of all, where do I live? 

To answer that I have to think about where I am most alive - and that is without a doubt Delhi. 

Call me a liar - because you know I live in Bombay. But I really "live" in Delhi - it brings out the "me" in me. 

Tattooed across Delhi are markers of my memory. Like height-marks in pencil on a kitchen wall, these chronicle my passage from childhood to adulthood - be it the grounds of India Gate where I learnt to play badminton or the shaded, shady bus-stops where I spent hours waiting to go places in life. 

Most of what I learnt in life and about life I learnt in Delhi. It is where I have learnt to love, to fight, to mourn, to move on, to confess my weaknesses and to celebrate my strengths. Delhi has seen me naked - before I learnt to put on faces to meet the different faces I meet. From a sheltered child to a college-goer on the loose, to a young professional determined to prove herself, to a woman in love - Delhi has seen me at my best and my worst. 

It is base camp for the heights I've climbed, and anchor for the depths I've plumbed - always elastic in letting me go, always firmly pulling me back into a cocoon of familiarity and unconditional love. Growing up relatively nomadic, Delhi was always the home I came back to. And even now, 7 years after I left the city, I have never been away longer than 6 months. I cannot imagine it any other way.

And even today, 7 years after leaving Delhi, I still say "I'm coming to Delhi" rather than that "I'm going to Delhi." Doesn't that tell you all you need to know?

Saturday, July 20, 2013


This song has been playing in my heart for the past several days. Like any one who stitches words together to make meaning of sights and sounds, I was waiting to build an elaborate cocoon around the song for my next blog post. I would use it to talk about the promises I make myself. The ones I don't (or didn't) keep. The plans we build but abandon. The dreams we leave in cold storage. And that's why I didn't post it. Till now. I waited for inspiration.

But then I heard the song while watching the last hour of the movie today. And I realised I didn't want to wait. And anyway, nothing I write can say it better than Sayeed Quadri himself.

So here it is - a beautiful song which shines on and illuminates far longer than the more showy and peppy songs of Barfi. "Usey muqammal kar bhi aao, woh jo adhoori si baat baki hai".

Friday, July 19, 2013

Oh shit!

This day, this time, this me will never be again. Will never come back. 


I will keep no regrets. I will take those decisions and have those conversations I have been putting off in the light of day but which haunt me in the middle of the night. My fears - are my mind's way of telling me what is important to me. I will respect that. But not be in its thrall. 

I promise. 

Monday, July 08, 2013

Sharing the light

The hawker had an affected, rasping voice. It wandered through the coach, waking the weary women wending their way home on the western line. When they turned their tired heads, they saw his wares - glowing plastic light-bulbs on a key chain. Each flick of a button turned on the light and then changed it to green, blue, yellow, red and more colours. It looked cheap, and at 20 Rupees, it was. No one was impressed. No one was interested. They all looked away, heads hung low in an inertia of exhaustion. 

And then a gnarled hand with uneven fingernails stuck out to touch, to feel. The hawker promptly detached one ring and handed it to the ancient woman. In a quivery voice that shook as the train rattled, she asked "how much?", in a defeated voice. 

Even as the hawker intoned the price ("bees rupaye"), she was looking down at the blinking little object. It glowed in many colours, lighting up her leathery fingertips and her weathered nightgown. She clutched her walking stick and a fraying bag in the other hand. Her permanent grimace eased a little as she narrowed her watery eyes to better take in the flashing wonder. 

He waited. She wanted. They locked eyes in a silent negotiation. The compartment watched. The old lady blinked first. She lowered her eyes and handed the object back - and the hawker reluctantly accepted it. 

But then another hand shot out - holding two tenners. Green bangles shone on the wrist. A cotton, well-washed salwar kameez stretched on the woman's ample frame. In a quick exchange she handed over the money and took the bulb, passing it on to the old lady sitting opposite her. 

A gummy smile and a head nod was all she could manage as she grasped her toy. The other woman smiled back, and got off at the next station. The bulb glowed, blue, yellow, red...