Monday, October 31, 2005

Of living in the whore-city

Delhi grows on you. It is an acquired taste. Like whiskey or like seafood. I used to hate the sprawling metropolis like anything when I had begun my professional life there. But now I am in Bangalore; and there are times when I miss the earthiness, the unpredictability of the whore-city.

The first sight itself in the morning as the train cut through the NCR suburbs was revolting. Banal station names that had no poetry. Like Shakur Basti or Buradi. Far from the tintinabulating Chinsurah or Dankuni. Walls splattered with the ubiquitous Dr Kothari peddling quack treatments for sexual dysfunctions. Or, just the brown scrubs that seemed to grow everywhere.

They were so depressing. And then the heat, the ungainly jaats (whom I later came to admire, another acquired taste!) and the marauding blue-lines.

But the city grew on me. The wide roads, the vast stretches of open land and the winters. Fog rolling down the Noida link road, over the Yamuna. The few days of rains were magical – roasted corncobs and warm chicken soup – stubbing out…

The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat…

Then there was Karim’s. Mutton stew and barra kebabs. Bumping into 500-year-old decrepit Mughal architechture on traffic islands. Janpath with its bargain-friendly hawkers selling NewYork runway stuff. And Dilli Haat and Sarojini Nagar Market. I loved all of them.

So, it pains when I hear of blasts in Delhi.

And I know that acquired tastes stay with you for your life.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Pujor dinguli…

The smell of new tailor-stitched jama; running around in the pandal with a gang of friends, bursting rollcaps. Spending pocket money on cheap lozenges.

Adolescence. Cracked voice. Wearing the first pair of jeans. And North Star sneakers. Egg rolls and Gold Spot. Furtive glances at girls…

Pandal-hopping (how I hate the word) with college crowd. Loud, risque jokes. Cigarettes. Yapping till the wee hours.

French leave. Pujas in philistine Delhi. Thakur dekha. Bhog khawa. Anjan at CR Park. Feel strangely youthful. A bottle of Old Monk and the close circle. Reminiscences.

Aashchey bochor abar hobe!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Every breath you take

Ever bought air? Hollywood hottie and Welsh beauty Catherine Zeta Jones does.
Read about it here.
How about some bottles of early morning air collected from a Himalayan village, laced with dung smoke and the smell of dew-soaked ground?

Monday, October 03, 2005

More on the ball game

It all started when the wily Harbhajan Singh hit a massive six that almost cleared the stadium. The ball could not be retrieved. The commentators – Mpumelelo Mbangwa and Arun Lal -- got some breather from Harbhajan’s adrenalin rush.
Here’s the gem of a conversation:

Arun Lal: Here comes the third umpire with his basket of old balls.

Mbangwa: It will be difficult to replace such an old ball. They are already in tatters and, anyway, 80-over-old balls do not extract any “juice” from the track.

Arun Lal: I wonder how they maintain 80-over-old balls. But these are red and I guess that’s okay. In a one-day scenario, it must be really difficult to replace a white ball.

[The umpires decide on a ball]

Mbangwa: This ball is in a really bad shape. [Has got quite a humping, is what he must have meant]

Arun Lal: The new old ball, you mean!

[Both laugh]

Arun Lal: Coming back to the one-day scenario, I wonder how they find 45-over old balls. [The ball fixation is getting worse. Needs a shrink]. Because all 45–over-old balls are inevitably brown!

Mbangwa (with a flourish): You mean a brown white ball?


That must be a mulatto ball, according to Sunny!*

*Refer to the last post.