Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bombay ki Hawa 6

I remember the first time I experienced a sense of high. It was on my 22nd birthday and I had just had my first drink .And my companions were two new found friends I had met in a flight three months ago.

I remember that evening so well. I left hostel around 5 pm , walked up to Mahalakshmi temple and watched the waves for a long time. Long after the Aarti was over, I let the wave of loneliness overpower me. I wanted to spend some moments with people I could call friends.

I had been in Bombay for over 6 months and yet in that large metropolis barring a few classmates, I had no close friends. The only ones I could relate to were two men I had met a couple of months ago.

I had met A&S on the flight from Madras, hitched a ride with them and then lost touch with them . But a month later, the blackboard near the hostel phone announced that I had missed a call from A . I was excited and irritated - I hadnt taken his number and he has called back after a month and not left a number either. But common sense told me that if he had called once, he will call again. So I waited and the call came.

We three became good friends later on - well, if friendship meant enjoying each other's company, having a comfort factor, cracking up a bit here and there and not getting into personal lives ,then we were all friends then . And so, on my 22nd birthday, I reached out to the pay phone and asked my only friends to come over for a coffee to Marine Drive.

It didnt take them long to figure out and we realized that we were all January born and were Capricornians, except for A who was a cusp. And it was his brilliant idea that we celebrate and lo we were in Marine Drive having a beer each. The conversations poured in and so did the beer. I started protesting but A& S would have none of it. The Cindrella hour for the hostel was getting closer, and A poured more beer into my mug. Soon the tensions eased as I let my loneliness be lost amidst the laughter.

It was a new high. My first drink and I was out in a new city celebrating my birthday being treated by two men who were virtually strangers .The taste of beer mingled with the new found freedom, as I was enjoying the company of two people who until a couple of months ago I had not even met. And yet, in that strange bond that we were building without our own knowledge, a 22 year old was born . I felt light, my head began to swim and the reflexes relaxed. It was probably amidst all the dizzying effect of the spirit, I experienced a momentary moment of loneliness being quelled by unknown love and yet , at that moment all that I was probably thinking of was Sister Rosa and the witching hour.

A's wicked grin at seeing me high and talking gibberish still remains with me as I write this piece today. They told me later they were amused at my panic for I was apparently very high . A kept recounting later that I tripped, but I dont believe him. S was always the nice guy . He kept reassuring me as he flagged a cab and helped me into it. A deliberately took his time, munching the sandwiches, enjoying the last sip while I was half mad at him, almost in the midst of throwing the cutlery at him .I felt giddy as the cab left and drifted off to sleep for some brief moments while cursing them for getting me high . But somewhere in that sleep, I found a sense of what one would describe as happiness.

I did return late to the hostel all flushed and high as the taxi raced from marine drive to breach candy . My friends later say that when sister Rosa opened the door, I looked at her and said "The bus crashed." A cake was cut later at midnight , but all I remembered were the cheers from the evening !

Many birthdays have come and gone and I have been high on life as always, but A & S - I wonder where they are ! Well, I did manage to trace S, but A ...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bombay ki hawa..5

Recently in a conversation with a friend on people, I found myself saying the following without comprehending the full meaning of it. I said there were two kinds of people in the world - those who are with you and those who are not. My friend didnt react and I found myself brooding over it for a while.

Very often we meet people at different points of our life . They don several roles like classmates,friends, lovers, mentors, colleagues, bosses,partners, acquaintances, neighbours..While some choose to stay with us, some drift away into the oblivion. I am not referring to the broken relationships or the failed marriages here . Im talking about those people who have held our hands and lifted our hearts , laughed and cried with us and yet,they become faceless memories and the emotions that we shared at one time become fossils nestled in our hearts .

I remember my classmate in my nursery who told me not to cry as she felt like crying. I dont know where she is now. In my 8th std, I befriended a srilankan tamil and we used to spend hours chatting. I have no clue if she is in india or in srilanka.

But this post however is dedicated to those two men who I met in Bombay and are today lost to obscurity . No amount of combing through facebook, orkut, linked in have brought them back to me. I wonder where A & S are .

A&S. I cant help smiling thinking about them. I met them first in a flight from Madras to Bombay in September 1995 when I was returning to college after a brief holiday. I was just 3 months old in Bombay and I was already feeling like a veteran . We made eye contact quite frequently during the flight, but something held us back. I was 21, single and footloose, trying to grapple with my independent spirit and they were probably trying to get over a boring flight . But the body language was unmistakable. We finally spoke and when we did, it was about directions. They had to get to Worli and my destination was Breach Candy and we impulsively decided to share a cab after a five minute conversation.

A, I learnt was from Bangalore. Dressed casually in jeans and T shirt, he seemed to be indifferent to the conversation that S and I were having. When he did speak, he spoke in a quiet tone and always asked pointed questions. A seemed impatient with S who was giving me his entire story. S was a Syrian Christian from Trichur and was very friendly. He rolled his sleeves as he spoke and his wavy hair kept falling on his face. He was slightly darker than A, but his big eyes were warm and his thick mustache stood out in that very soft face . Both of them were IT professionals who had just returned from US and were on their first trip to Bombay. As South Indians in a big cosmopolitan city, we connected instantly in the cab. S had by then told me all about his family in Kerala ,while A kept looking out of the windown.We reached Worli and S said a quick good bye and rushed out while A took his time . He stretched his tall frame and reached out and paid me Rs 500/- It was agreed that we all three shared the money, but A would have none of it. And for the first time, he smiled as I looked up into his eyes and at his weather beaten face. Take care, he smiled again and the cab left . We didnt share numbers .