Friday, April 24, 2015

What thrives within

Living in different places even for a couple of years, is enough for someone to learn what makes that place thrive, what the heart beat of each region is. 
I have lived in Mangalore, Bangalore and now living in Delhi.  I have been at different phases of my life when I lived in each city which helped me form myriad perceptions of these colourfully different places..

While in Mangalore Tulu, Kannada and consciously-spoken Konkani were distant and seemingly alien to me. I would speak them but not connect with them.
For me it was a town, not that I had lived in a city. but I knew that a city would have a dustier air to it.

Whenever people asked me where I belonged I would tell them I was from UP, to some others I would say I was born in Delhi, hence I am from Delhi.

When I came to Delhi, a little more than five years ago, was when I became a bit confused of my origin. Strangers asked me where I was from, coworkers sometimes joked about me being 'Madrasi'. I knew nothing of the northern Hinduism and till now had only some glimpses of the Islam I knew. I didn't understand the obsession with butter chicken or the hullablaoo over a masala dosa it vegetarionism on particular days.

The minute I heard someone talking in any of the south-Indian languages in a metro or bus, I would inadvertently align my ears to listen to them. I did miss 'home'.

Now, after I have spent a considerable amount of time as an adult in Delhi, I feel strange. The other day I forgot how to write a letter from the Kannada alphabet. I do still think a 100-rupee dosa is highly overpriced. My conversational Hindi has more traces of Delhi than of the Lucknowi Urdu I was thought as a kid. I continue to light up reading Kannada sign boards when I travel southwards but unconsicously always consider Urdu/Hindi more easy to speak in.

The idea of belonging to Mangalore, to Bangalore, to UP and to Delhi still thrives within. I will belong to places that have shaped me; their aromas emanating within me. 


It is now navy
But still murky
Pure cotton clouds
Hide behind charcoal ones

Moisture-laden dark shapes
lead the pack
Chrome sun and red earth
Shine in opposition

A game commencing
One loses another winning
A molten, magenta core
each second changing

Blue, grey and red
soon greening
And life spinning

Raining Friends

Monsoon seems to bring cherished memories for most. It also brings the prospect of prosperity for some others. It can also bring chaos.
For Delhi the idiom, when it rains, it pours, comes true in the literal sense. And it poured last week on a Saturday, and with it all movement, human and mechanical came to a standstill. The satellite towns near Delhi had a tougher time.
People whose jobs demand working on a weekend were finding it hard to get home from work. It hadnt stopped raining in the evening; there was still pitter patter on the road.
Of the four years that I have lived in Delhi, the rains havent stopped me from going anywhere. But I had to get to my gym, near my house otherwise I would miss my martial arts class, which I loved.
When me and colleague got out of our Noida office, the road outside was waterlogged, so much so that we couldnt walk through it. An office boy helped us find an auto for the Metro station. Being Noida he charged us double, only because it was raining. We paid; we had no choice, but to be extorted by the auto-rickshaw driver.
To get home I need to change trains at an intersection. That intersection looked like the crowd at Mecca, but circling around stairways and lifts. I fought my way to another platform and got into the over-crowded second one. I was relieved when my station arrived. But, I was in for a surprise, the train did not stop there, the station was drenched, the fault of a leaking shaft.
I got off at the next station. Half the people there were confused about where to go next. A girl walking next to me asked how she could get to a shopping centre. I told her I have to go there too, and we decided to share an auto.
As we got out, there was no auto in sight. We walked towards the main road, heading out from a by-lane. Then we saw why there was no traffic going towards the station; a huge tree had decided to take this day to come crashing down. There was more chaos. There was little space for pedestrians to walk, and none for vehicles to pass through.
As my new friend and made our way through the chaos, and were trying to hail an auto, passersby on a cycle passed a lewd comment and sped past, in day light. The day was just showing that it was Delhi.  Welcome to the rude, always angry city.
We asked an auto driver to take us to the shopping centre, and looking at his customers, the two abla naris, he quoted an exorbitant amount. I haggled with him for a good 5 minutes before he turned his vehicle around saying no, but in a last minute change of heart decided to drop us anyway.
On a normal day, even with some traffic, it should have taken us about 7-10 minutes on the journey. Alas, the drainage system, water-logged roads, delayed the journey to about half an hour. All I could see was people in a hurry.  Patience was scarce and anger was the pulse of the traffic.
The only solace I found was in making small talk with the girl.