Thursday, July 28, 2005

The spirit of my beloved bombay

At 7.30pm on Tuesday, when we first realized there wasn't anyway we could make it home in neck deep water flowing in waves, rain lashing furiously, we headed back to office. Totally drenched but safe.

A colleague had a 14 month baby in a day crèche. The wife too was stuck in her office at Churchgate. They couldn?t get through to the crèche or the owner. But we understood baby would be safe with someone.

Another colleague, a single mother, was glad her 2 kids get back from school by 4pm. Till her old maid left a message at 10pm that they weren?t home that day. She went hysterical. We got to know the kids were dropped on the road by an irresponsible school bus driver. Padmini Kolhapuri, a former actress, saw six lost kids on the road, piled them into her car (before the water swept them away) and took them home. After putting the kids to bed, both the actress and her sis spent the whole night trying to get in touch with the parents. Bless her.

There are hills near my place from where water was rushing down in torrents and hitting a boundary wall of an open workplace. Workers' little children often play on the private road next to the wall. In the rain, a little boy's foot got stuck on a little wedge by the wall. People rushed to help him. And that's when the wall gave way and the water crashed onto cars, people, sweeping them away. Plenty were hurt and three brave young men lost their lives. It was a tragic day in the building.

My sis has finally reached home after two days. Yesterday, she and her colleague waded in neck deep water and reached the colleague's house. The area was cut off, no electricity, no phones, no water. So. No news. Today she ventured out to make it home, found a lone rick on the deserted road and cajoled the guy to drop her. After some time, her faithful driver too drove in with her car. She had given him 800 bucks to take care of himself when she waded to colleague's house. Driver stayed with the car till he could drive it home safely!

These incidents bring tears to my eyes. Even as I see people stranded everywhere, the kindness of others around is overwhelming. I am so goddamn proud of my city! I can never live anywhere else. Sniff! Sniff!

The day after...

The net was down so couldn't post.

After a night of roaming around the huge office, I got home in the morning. Every different team corner had their own stories to narrate about how bad it was outside. I flitted looking for neighbourly faces. Someone I could talk about going home with.

Some desperate-to-go-home types went out in the night and thankfully came back when they saw how futile it was, though even more worried and drenched. Some tried getting in touch with the kids not knowing whether they got home from school. Some tried husbands and wives stuck in offices elsewhere.

I hopped into a colleague's car at 6am and we surprisingly made it faster than on other days. He dropped me on the highway. I walked for 10 minutes till hubby picked me up, relieved. The highway wasn't flooded but there were signs that it was bad not long back. Cars abandoned all along the roads. Some on their sides. Plenty of debris lying around. Steel and iron lampposts bent and broken.

Tired people were climbing into milk vans. Women holding their high heels and walking with sore feet. Red eyed people dressed for office just standing on the road, dressed clearly the day before.

I consider myself very lucky to have made it home. Suddenly I felt drained out and nauseated, and switching on the AC, slept for a couple of hours. Then we went out to pick up groceries and more importantly, try to get in touch with family and friends. My parents had not heard from any of us and were worried sick. Down in my building, it is grim, two boys have died.

The phones are jammed, there's no internet. But I am not complaining. We have water, we have electricity, we have enough food. But we are worried about my sis. No one's heard from her since yesterday. Both her cell phones are dead. Her office is flooded.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Rains uninterrupted

Rain is lashing hard and tearing the city apart. In the afternoon, we went for that lovely walk in the enchanting garden. Dripping wet, we got back to office and proceeded to watch the downpour and flood taking over. Some people living further off sensibly rushed home early, but unfortunately are still stuck on the road somewhere even 8 hours later.

Phones have been jammed since 2.30pm. We hear the local trains have stopped. We see the flood water flowing almost like tsunami waves and hear every road is choc-o-bloc. Our office bus drivers absconded, some with the buses. So dripping wet once again, we resigned to spending the night in office. A safer bet than being out in the torrential rain on our own. No elevater, so trudged up 5 storeys of slippery staircases. The cafetaria is running out of food. The smart ones among us order chinese delivery.

The staid office with chromo walls and black ceiling has suddenly changed character. Loud, otherwise unheard of, laughter ringing in abundance. Projectors used for presentations are being used to play movies, on the chromo walls. Bunty aur Bubli, Sarkar... on the 5th floor, english movies on the 6th floor. Bean bags have been dragged out of coffee rooms to make comfortable seating for the movie.

Colleagues who are part time couples in office are settling down to this blessing of a night together...

Some losers are actually using their time to work some more...

I managed to finally get through a distressed hubby who had called the rest of the family in panic and managed to get everyone worried. Sis, who after being stuck for one and a half hours at the same signal, turned to go back to office again, for fear of fuel dying. Bro who took 5 hours to cover an otherwise 15 mins drive. But all are safe. Thank God.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Not just cappuchino n hazelnut coffee

I am just back from meeting Sanguine. Finally.

And what a babe! She rocks!

I began reading her blog when she stopped writing. And kept hoping she would start again. Yes, I am that much into people's lives and want to know more even about people I have never met. Stalker types?

Well, Sanguine got back to blogging and I was thrilled to get back to trespassing into her life. After some commenting, sport that she is, she kindly sent me an elaborate recipe for mutton biryani. Something I had no plans of making as soon as I read the procedure. But it got us talking and the next thing we realised, we were next door neighbours! Divine intervention, I concluded. Not to be ignored, I also concluded.

Two months passed with planning. And planning to meet.

And today, we painted our nails and made it.

We saw each other and knew who was who.
We are both left handed.
We both wear our watches on the right paw (though I forgot mine in the rushrush)
We both washed our hair before leaving.
We both have hubbies in similar professions.
We both had them legally for the last 4 years, the husbands, that is.
We both thought the same about certain people (that was fun!)
And yes, we both had freshly painted nails and later confessed to have painted them earlier in the day, prompting suspicious husbands to wonder who we were meeting.
And of course, the best part, we both live next to each other.

As the rick sped towards home, I clutched the flowers she got me, and smiled to myself thinking of the nice people I have been meeting of late. As Kahini mentioned in her post sometime back, the thought of a party with all my favourite people, began slowing playing in my mind. Sometime soon...

Thanks, Sanguine. Here's to serious pavement pounding in the mornings and delightful partying in the evenings!

Friday, July 22, 2005


Mom was unwell. I got to know when she was recovering. When I called she was sleeping so didn't want to disturb. Next day, she called me and I knew she was feeling better. A little breathlessness due to weakness, but otherwise cheerful enough.

During this time mom's little helper was in charge. He cooked (with some help from dad) and cleaned and ordered mom to eat. "You are not going to recover otherwise", he made it clear to her. Mom, stifling her grin, nodded in all seriousness.

Aamoi then landed up and cooked some tasty and strength regaining food for mom and she felt really good, she said. I was surprised. Aamoi wasn't well herself. The last I heard both her kidneys were damaged and she herself didn't think she would live very long. Not too long back, she had come over, in her weak state, to eat her favourite but advised-against dish. Mom made it and she quickly licked her plate clean before her husband came to pick her up.

Aamoi is mom's friend. It's not her name. We just call her that. I don't know why we didn't call her "aunty" like mom's other friends. They were together in college and in the hostel. In fact, they share the same name too. Except for a couple of years when my parents moved to some strange place after marriage, mom and Aamoi have even been living in the same town. When they were in different states, I guess they kept in touch somehow.

Aamoi's husband managed a tea estate and I remember countless parties we had. Mostly at their bungalow. They changed a couple of houses but each time it would be a sprawling wooden bungalow on stilts. Below, the cars would be parked and there were rooms called 'servant quarters' in those days. The wide wooden stairs lead to grand living quarters. There was an open patio followed by cozy carpeted rooms with fireplaces. Lot of plants around. There was also a glass walled patio where parties in winter were enjoyed without the biting cold. And in summer, you could get lost in the huge gardens. Only laughter and music were heard.

Aamoi was an excellent host. She looked like an actress, so beautiful with her short hair that turned outwards. She had 3 cooks whipping up the most delectable dishes, but for us kids she often cooked herself. Delicious treats that children so love. Her elder son was a special child, disabled. He's still one of my favourite people. Such innocence on a 30 year old face! The daughter and my bro fought like cats and dogs but still played together. And there was a youngest son too.

Some years back, Aamoi's daughter was murdered. By the son-in-law. It caused a lot of sensation and, instead of a husband-murdering-wife case, blew out of proportion and got ugly. Aamoi and her husband never recovered. After that, they lost their balance. Not mentally, but somehow they aged and looked like they had given up on life.

"Why is she not picking up the pieces and getting on?" I asked mom, unable to bear seeing her like that. And one day, mom trusted me enough to tell me, "It's not easy. Aamoi has never found much happiness in life. Her husband had an affair with her own sister."

I was dumb founded. Her handsome husband, Taawoi, (yes, we call him that, maybe to match Aamoi!!) wasn't what he seemed to be? All my childhood memories got distorted. I remembered him dancing with Aamoi, pulling mom to dance too. He looked and behaved like an actor and always smelt good. We kids loved him so much. Then why? I guess I will never know any more.

I have asked Aamoi to come to Bombay, promising to take her to the best doctor who will cure her of everything. She laughed and I saw her eyes light up for an instant as she looked at me fondly. "Did you hear what she said? Go to Bombay with her! I will. I will."

I am suddenly glad Aamoi has mom close to her. And mom has her. I am glad of a friendship that has lived with them. I am glad they have each other to pour out their hearts to. In times, good and bad, I think they have proved the friendship adage true.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Just another afternoon... yet...

Cow was in town over the weekend. The whole of last week, innumerable e-mails coordinated the meeting with the lot that have survived in the city.

Rat's pad was it. And lunch the darling bitches were going to meet for. Cow complained about jetlag and how she would not be able to defend her honour without enough rest. Nobody was moved enough to move to dinner. I, of course, declared my inability to find time other than lunch in my socially active weekend.

One by one, excited women rang Rat's doorbell and stumbled in with an appealing package in hand, mostly containing food. I walked in with the biggest package and made the Rat squeal in delight "Let me take that!" Only to be disappointed when she found fleece jacket and curtain inside. Rat's off to Moscow next and the common jacket had to be handed over. (Jacket's traveled the world with whoever goes anywhere cold. It was with me since my skiing trip).

The curtain was the very light, white, airy type which you hang next to the heavy variety. This was to keep out prying eyes and allow Rat to prance around as she liked, with enough light and no lusting neighbour dying of a heart attack.

Anyway, there weren't any more hands left to carry anything else with. And once the arms were free, Cow jumped into them. She was looking great. The Irish husband and daily gym and yoga are doing her good. And the farting had almost stopped. (Remeber she was known more for her farts than any crap she could muster?) Church PR, usual sweet self, accompanied Rat the host and bought enough cans of beer to last an entire month's session.

Stream Engine, after the martyr talk of not coming to meet people who are insensitive and never bothers to keep in touch, was seen attacking a huge chicken roll. Then, before she was told to move her ass and make herself useful, she plucked out a piece of cross stitch and went on to make flowery patterns with the needle, in slow motion.

Cow asked "would you like something in your juice? Vodka perhaps?"

"I don't drink. I never drink, you know!" she growled.

"Oh sorry, sorry!" Cow promptly apologized.

SE then picked up my juice (spiked liberally with vodka!) mistaking it for hers, and finished it to the last drop. We remained quiet. Poor girl doesn't know she's very seasoned with all the spiked drinks we have been feeding her over the years! And she still believes she's a teetotaler!

D walked in with an XL bag and multi hued glares that blinded us all. When we screamed, she laughed hard and flung them aside. That woman would do anything for a CT! Then she got to work. Where earlier we were nibbling on out-of-the-box salami, mini pepperoni from Germany, tuna, and baked puffs, D whipped out of her bag, hot minced cutlets, peppers stuffed with spicy meat, roast yam and potatoes. Then she coated chicken with some magic portions and cover fried them. In no time, she also had another pot shimmering with coconut milk sauce and diced chicken.

After lunch, we lay around. On the sofas with legs raised on the wall, on the floor with legs raised on the sofas. We passed around our favourite bars of chocolate, licking the melted bit off our fingers. Nothing seems to have changed. We listened to Irish folklores and Celtic wiccan traditions that are a part of Cow's present life. We discussed work, relationships, adoption, sex and looked at sleazy controversial mms clips. Yet, so much has changed. In 10 years. (Personally, I felt we all looked better). Our perspectives, our lives, our needs, our dreams. Cow even ironed a bit of Steam Engine's hair which is of the dog's tail variety. She was thrilled and forgot cross-stitching.

The day got over too quickly and hugging each other, we rushed back to reality. To our different lives. I hastened to make it in time for a dinner party with my man, a man, it struck me, I got to know much later than my girls. My thoughts strayed to the others in the group, who aren't in the city, as I switched to part-of-a-couple mode. I kicked off my comfortable girlie garb and slipped into 5 inch heels and strode elegantly alongside my nice smelling man.

I smiled at the valet as he held my door waiting for me to glide out. Barely-covering-back blouse and gold pallu following. I smiled at 30 other similarly dressed couples and wondered if any of them had an afternoon as lovely as mine. We sat on snow white tables with chairs dressed in white and a huge organdy bow at the back. I smiled as I bit into designer delicacies, wondering if any one around had the pleasure of lying on their backs with old friends and licking chocolate off their fingers!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Some ties you are born with, some ties you bind on your own.

We, the children generation, always liked to tell the parent generation that ties we bound were enough. We didn't really need the born-with ties if they weren't holding out well. We could let them be.

How many of us swear to be closer to friends than relatives in the background? How many of us have defied family and home to be with or marry the one we choose? There has been times when the choosing was between family and the 'love interest'.

We, the children generation have walked backwards to prove wrong the thickness of blood and water theory. But once in a rare while we are placed on the other side of the fence. And we get a good view of the painful thinning of blood, and the flow of it faster than water... we cringe at the sight.

A good knot sometimes does keep the tie in place.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

a hop, a skip, a jump

Finally the mind has found some peace. It's a good feeling.

There was a need to be alone. A need to watch time like sand slipping between the fingers.

I saw a little girl skipping in glee. Little green polka dotted frock barely covering the little bums. She skips without a rope, only with happiness. On a bright sunny day, she goes with mom shaded under her colourful umbrella. Talking non stop. I was 6 years old.

In the afternoon, she's skipping again. Bro and red haired cousin P are trying to keep their balance on a bicycle on the front lawn. She's clapping her hands with joy and skipping higher, almost jumping. I was 8 years old.

She's watching the sun sink into the sea. The young man hands her a glass of wine, her first ever, and croons "Red red wine... stay close to mee.. eee..." This time it's her heart skipping wildly. I was 18.

She is watching the same sun slipping behind a mountain and blotting out the daylight. She watches as the stars wink and play, a neverending canopy of little jewels that are so within reach. Revering a soothing silence in the silver moonlight and familiar shadows. She skips ever so carefully, lest the spell is broken and the magic vanishes. I was 25.

I don't remember when the pain in the legs began. It spread to the mind. The skipping waned. Then it stopped. And nothing was the same anymore. As steps grew heavy, they lost their track at times.

Now I want to feel the joy of skipping again. The laughter, the banter, the music that surrounded it. I am going to attempt to skip again. I will use a rope if need be, but there's going to be some serious skipping. Swing my rope?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Happy happy post

I was told I write a lot of morose things. I write a lot about deaths. So I do. Maybe it's a personality disorder, OCD types. Normally I am not a depressed or depressing sort of person. But I do have a habit of reading too much into things. (Hubby blames it on the scorpio mentality.) And one thing leads to another. Like I start a post on a normal note and then I digress, logically of course, and before I know it I have linked up some other incidents and when I am done with the whole freaking post, I had no idea what I wanted to write about in the first place. And hoping it is not OCD but the scorpio bit that is responsible, I conclude that this disorder is here to stay since I cannot change the time or day I was born. (Of course, my parents never bargained for OCD types when they conceived a november baby.)

And to prove I can write happy things, I am narrating a happy Saturday evening. Happiness started Friday afternoon when Mukta took me to heaven. We walked out in the light drizzle and I trusted Mukta knew the way, as all I saw ahead was a hill and the straight tree lined road ending. Suddenly she turned to the side and led us into the most enchanting garden. Trees and trees, and shrubs, growing wildly and very wet. Narrow zig zag paths winded up and down and around. The path was covered with green and yellow fallen leaves, wet again. I skipped uphill and ran downhill screaming, "I love this! I love this!" The rains beat down faster. We sprinted out of heaven and entered the Java coffee joint, nearby.

Sipping on hot chocolate, I said, "Come home today. We'll go out in the night, meet friends and drive all over in the rain!"

"Are you sure?"

"Absolutely," I assured.

Back in office, the plan changed. J was game too and the plan moved to Mukta's area of residence and drinking was included. (Area is a very important decision making factor in this city, believe me! Also, drinking and driving never went together.)

And Saturday night, it was shifted to.

Since we were going to drink in Kahini's living room (goes by the name of Toto's too), I sent a frantic sms asking her to join us. When I asked if 9.30pm was too early, she laughed so hard I could hear it at my end of the sms! 8pm is the latest you could hope to find a table, I was informed.

Come Sat evening, I wrapped myself in hubby's windcheater from head to knee and headed towards my night of fun. At 8pm, Mukta and I find ourselves smiling at every waiter and begging for a table. Mukta, tall and regal, in her scarlet windcheater and me dwarfed and buried in the hideous wet thing which she refused to let me take off, in case the smiles didn't work and we had to leave. You see, Mukta didn't know our Kahini yet, I knew her better. So within 5 minutes of Kahini arriving, we had a table for 6 miraculously ready for us!

We ate. We drank. We laughed. Like I haven't done in some time. Women bonds, I tell you. Nothing can beat that. I know I talked a lot. I know I spilled out colourful past deeds, and screamed above the great music to make sure the others heard. And finally at 1.30am, the owner gave a list of places still open and led us out.

With the rest going their ways, Mukta and I refused a drop and preferred to walk. The short walk was the most soothing, most soul cleansing walk I had in ages. I HAD TO go up to Mukta's lovely apartment to meet her lizzy. I don't blame lizzy for setting up base there. Even I wanted to. Her place is too cozy. Hubby lands up and while Mukta and he had coffee and he narrated all the things only he could talk of and Mukta laughed at all the things only she could find funny, I caught a few candid shots of them on the phone camera. And if privacy wasn't an issue, I would have posted the pics there. They prove what happy moments are made of.

And today, a hoarse throat (I love my voice now), a maid who didn't turn up, an unmade bed and clothes in a heap cannot take away my happiness. So there!

Excuse me, I have to go wash my hands again.