April 10, 2018 § 1 Comment
You know long ago, the outskirts of Mumbai was all forests and stuff. Tigers and leopards and all sorts of creatures roamed free. It was a simpler time.
In those times, the mafia was a real thing. And Salim Bhai was a dreaded thug. He ran smuggling and drug operations in mumbai.
Police was on the lookout as it always is. One day, it so happened that Salim Bhai was smuggling gold off Gorai, that police got on his tail.
He ran away, just eluding the police cordon. But not by much. The police was on his tail.
The chase was taking them up north.
Salim Bhai was in his Mercedes, with a couple of henchman as backup. They crossed Borivali, then Dahisar, raced up through the salt pans, but the police was on their tail.
At the edge of Uttan (the salt pans), a line of trees heralded the forests.
Salim Bhai had an idea, but before he could do anything, the front tyre of his merc punctured and the car slowed. He somehow maneuvered to the edge of the forests and ran off into the forests, ordering his henchmen to stand ground against the police.
The henchmen were not that great, the police nabbed them easily. The constables cracked a couple of dandas on their legs and the inspector asked “Kidhar hai woh?”
And pointing towards the forests, they said: “bhai andar hai;bhai andar hai; bhayandar hai”
And since that day, that area is known as Bhayander 😛
[ A story I told my wife as we were driving someplace some 2 years back; I think she actually believed me up to a point. Stories like this are the reason she doesn’t believe me when I share nuggets of information 😛 ]
I was reminded of this because of this meme shared by a friend:
July 6, 2016 § 3 Comments
Taken some months back. I was very astonished to see these small plants(?) growing on the very dusty, pretty barren and very unforgiving iron based surface of my window grill. The one thin that came to my mind while taking the photos was the iconic line from Jurassic Park by Jeff Goldblum that is the title of this post.
Life, uh, finds a way.
Pretty much sums up our entire planet, I’d say.
May 14, 2015 § 2 Comments
“We’ll paint the town red! Party all night baby! Lets give him a night he’ll never forget! Last night as a bachelor!” said the fellow, rather enthusiastically. Enthusiasm that came from not knowing ground realities, one might add.
I just shook my head rather wistfully. Seasoned as I was in failed attempts to paint the town(s) red, or any other colour for that matter, I knew this was not going to end satisfactorily. At least not in the sense satisfaction was intended for the evening.
We were in Hyderabad. We were 4 guys. Wanting to party. Which in Hyderabad is quite the normal thing, what with the lack of ‘hariyali’. But anybody who has lived in Hyderabad knows that the place shuts down by 11. Party arenas are far too few. And too ‘exclusive’. Knowing all this, I suggested what all engineers are ready to do in a heartbeat – a booze in. Basically buy liquor and consume it in the hotel room itself. But that was vetoed. So, we trudged off on the lookout for a suitable place to party. There was only one. And stags are not really welcome. And we weren’t conforming to their dress code either. So we were left with only one option – buy booze and consume in the quietude of our room. Which was easier said than done. Since all the wine shops also close by 10-11 in Hyderabad.
There was one we spotted which was half open. Dispensing elixir from within half shuttered confines. We approached it stealthily and just as we were going to get our fill, a police van approached. Everyone scattered. So did we.
We were left high and dry, in a manner of speaking.
Just then, the rickshawala spoke up. “Sir, daaru hona? Mein dilaata na. Ek jagah maloom mujhe. Masab Tank mein hai.” And thus the plan was made. The groom and I decided to make the journey with the rickshawala. The destination was across the city. It was an area I should have been familiar with, since I lived there for 3 odd years. He took us into the bylanes of Chintal Basti – which incidentally was the place where we’d come to get our Gas Cylinders refilled; who knew bootleggers operated from there as well? As I exclaimed in surprise at the familiarity of the place, a sense of dread filled me. Here I was in a not so nice part of the city, with a decent amount of money and was looking to purchase bootleg liquor with a fellow who was going to get married in 5 hours. Not exactly the most decent thing to do.
There were many stragglers present around the place. Just like in the zombie movies, bodies moving around in search of something. They would converge at a common point and then disperse. I found it amusing. Just as we got out of the rickshaw, the driver said in a panicky voice for us to get back in. I noticed the stragglers also had quickened up and left the place. We got in. And just then a police van came, lights flashing. The rickshaw guy started the rickshaw, did some real NFS stuff and took us into a maze of bylanes and then parked at a dead end. For 5 minutes we held our breath, waiting to be discovered by the Police. The thought going through my mind was simple, “If this guy gets arrested today, who is going to get married tomorrow?” “Who can we call to bail us out?” “Do they serve breakfast in the lockup?”
The police van went past our bylane. Our rickshawala (who seemed like a pro at this) smiled and led us back to the bootlegger. We quickly purchased some stuff for double the usual amount and returned. I thanked all the Gods I could remember, all while holding a bottle of liquor. The rickshawala also did his duty and ripped us off on the fare, which to any Mumbaikar travelling outside the city feels like being beaten and molested the same time. But we were relieved at the end of it.
We drank to his last day as a bachelor, many stories were exchanged and many were not. At 2.30 in the night, we realised that his rituals start at 3.30, so he should get going. A quick mouthwash later, he was ready to leave. We dropped him off at his hotel at 3 AM. He had half an hour of sleep before what would be one of the most important days of his life and was boozed up for good measure – all thanks to us. but then, that is what friends are for.
At least he didn’t get arrested. Thank God for that. Then it would have been a night to never forget 😛
April 24, 2015 § 2 Comments
तूफान मुझपे है उठायें कहीं तूने, [Toofan mujhpe hai uthayein kahin tune, ]
हज़ारों शमा जलकर कहीं, शिकवे भुलाये होते हमने [ Hazaron shama jalakar kahin, shikwe bhulaye hote hamne ]
सूखा समुन्दर अश्को का, सिर्फ यादें अभी बाकी है…[ Sukha samundar ashko ka, sirf yaadein abhi baaki hai… ]
A multitude of feelings had you brought upon me,
Maybe if we could, we should have lit a thousand candles and wished away our grievances,
As a sea of tears dries up, there are only memories left here.
होगा वो ज़ुल्म…जो कहाँ मेने… [Hoga woh zulm…jo kahan meine… ]
की हसीन ना था वो पल जो गुज़रें हुमणे. [ Ki Haseen na tha woh pal jo guzarein humne. ]
सब कुछ भुला के में चाहूं तेरी खुशी. [ Sab kuch bhula ke mein chahoon teri khushi. ]
It will be wrong if I were to say that the time we spent together wasn’t beautiful, worth remembering.
I may forget everything else, but I’ll always wish for your happiness.
As he cut the call for the last time, he knew he had done the right thing. It was harsh, but it was the right thing. Unfair, but right. That was him, unable to make a decision, wanting others to take it for him. As the fates shall will, he used to say. The days and nights had become unrelenting, full of thoughts that did not let him be and left his mind and heart in a state of overbearing sadness. He couldn’t take it anymore. In the end, he had taken the easy way out. He had crumbled. He had let down someone. He knew that he would repent this. He knew that he would never be himself again.
All it had taken were a few words. And a few hundred which were left unsaid. As he cut the call and willed his tears to dry up, he felt the weight on his soul remove itself. Or maybe it was his conscience which had decided to leave. He would never know. But, he had done the right thing. The right thing. But for whom?
That he did not know.
[The beautiful lyrics above that inspired the short are from the unplugged version of Rehna Tu by A.R.Rahman ]
[Original Draft Date: November 2014]
February 14, 2015 § Leave a comment
January 14, 2015 § 1 Comment
When I was young, say 5 or 6, one of the things that I looked forward to the most was going to gaav. Gaav was where all worries dissolved, where there was no homework and plenty of space to do the sort of awaragardi that my generation used to do. But one of the highlights used to be hearing stories and other chitchat from Sood Ajja.
Sood Ajja was the maverick brother of my paternal grandfather. Unmarried, alone and always in good cheer, he was the perennial favorite of us children. We used to gather around him in the evenings to hear from him stories that seemed to come from his ever expanding mind. But as we now know they were a mishmash of old folk tales, tales from the Mahabharata and Ramayana and some just old tales spun to make them more appetizing to us. He was full of tales about Old Delhi, about the High Court there – where he was said to have worked, of Agra & the Taj Mahal, of Hyderabad and riots, and of places in India we’d never heard about. It was a treat to our ears and our minds. He was a favourite with us.
As we grew older, the stories changed and the words were more nuanced, measured and seemed to impart wisdom which was mostly misunderstood by the listener. I always listened though, even if it took time. And tried to make most of it. The man was getting older and the world a bit more unforgiving.
I had always been of the mindset that I would rather not marry and live a life that was unfettered and unbound by the usual stuff of grah grahasti. part of it might have been due to the presence of people like Sood Ajja amongst the ones I liked. He lived a life unknown to most from the crowd, a different sorta life. When I was vociferous about my then decision, my mom used to tell me “Do you want to die alone? Uncared for? Surrounded by no one? There will be no one to remember you! Why would you want such a life?” She would be giving an example, obviously. Nobody to remember, she said. I would nod in acquiescence.
Sood Ajja is no more. He departed for the afterlife last month. I write this for many reasons, to pen down my thoughts about his life and what I thought of it, to acknowledge that of what he did – he played a good part in my life – through stories that I realise have taught me much but most of all to prove that nobody worth remembering is forgotten. Sood Ajja’s life and his stories live on through us and countless others who listened to him. I will forever remember how he recounted the riots of Hyderabad and Charminar teeming with sword carrying militia (how true, I have no clue). But remembered he is, if nowhere else then in this post. And this blog. Long live his memories.
Farewell, Sood Ajja.
[Ajja: Grandfather in Tulu]
November 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
So it happened that one of my close friends was getting married and all of us from the college group who’d gone to his wedding and reception were expected to provide things that are – to put things delicately – prophylactic in nature. Now, being the lazy people we are – not that I am overly lazy, but I sure as hell couldn’t buy this stuff before hand and store it at my house could I? I’d be thrown out as soon as the stash was discovered 😛 but I digress – being the lazy people we are, nobody decided to buy it before hand, not even the one married fellow in our group thought that it would be a good idea to buy and wrap it and keep it. So there we were, on the reception night, in Wadala/Dadar area with 2 hours to find all the stuff, wrap it into a good package and give it to the merezzing friend.
People familiar with the Dadar area might know that it is a commercial area, it is easier to find bhaaji in bulk, shirts selling at Rs. 50 than to find such items. So we searched and searched and searched. But we didn’t find what we wanted. Eventually we did find a hole in the wall medical where this stuff was probably present. First, there was a woman there buying something, so like every nice sanskaari boys we decided to wait till she was done with her purchase and then asked the fellow in hushed tones about the ‘stuff’. He said “aahe” and proceeded to show the small selection of stuff he had. My friend looked pensively at the stuff and said “This won’t do.” he shook his head, as if to convey his displeasure. “Aur koi variety nahin hai kya, boss?”, he asked the fellow. I wanted to tell him that merezzing fellow probably won’t be concerned about variety or whether it was made in the USA and that he shouldn’t be finicky like some girl at the saree store, but I didn’t. Store fellow said this is it and we plodded on.
Until we found this place where my friend saw all the varieties that he wanted to buy. We managed to empty the contents of the display case except for one particular box. “I haven’t used it”, my friend said, “I don’t know how it will be”. I said okay, seeing as we had probably brought stuff for months, I didn’t care much. Except that I had read somewhere that there was something else that might be useful. So I told my friend so. And he said “Lube is not necessary” and shook his head. I said “I have read that it might be. We should buy it”. He said “Nahin chahiye yaar. Fikar mat kar, everything will be fine”. And he tapped my shoulder. The chemist had heard us talking and was watching us with great interest now, with a smile on his face. He asked us. “You want something else?” And my friend goes, without batting an eye, “Do you have Honey?” I should mention that I was standing there holding a large bottle of Hersheys Chocolate Syrup which we had bought at a nearby general store. The chemist’s eye went from the stuff he had wrapped to the bottle of chocolate sauce to my face. And then to my friend, smilingly he says, “Hai na sir. You want small bottle or large.” And my friend asks me “Bada wala nahin chahiye hoga na? Chhota hi le lete hai”. The chemist smiles wider, gets a small bottle of honey, totals the bill and gives us the stuff with the most ridiculous smile plastered on his face.
He probably thought we were taking it all for us 😐