hints, allegations and things left unsaid...
flickr | feed | latest | last 10 

A haircut in Bangalore and predictions of an impending doom - belied yet again

The experience of moving from one state to another, in India, can be (besides being a "moving" experience ;-)) similar to experience of migrating to an alien country. The difference between any two given states in India is so pronounced - more so if you are moving from a part in northern India to a part in south - that it could put variations between two different countries in Europe to shame. To start with, your dialect changes - and no the transformation in not always merely phonetic - its usually lexical calligraphic as well rendering you mostly illiterate (the saving grace here is English, which is spoken by most "educated" population to varying degree of fluency and tonal nuances, and hence was a natural choice for my blog :-)). Then its turn for your staple diet to transmogrify (if nothing else, the changes in cooking style and spices will be pronounced to a noticeable degree). Finally it's the cultural variations - your music, your movies, your regional dance form would all change (again the degree of change varies with the distance you've moved from your native place). The only thing that stays put is the currency you transact in (to revisit my European analogy - its mostly Euro in most European countries) and your core (if I may say "Indian") values. So with this backdrop, its easy to assume that moving to Bangalore (from Delhi) for me was synonymous with change, and it was omnipresent. However I sill did not anticipate that it would touch the mundane experience of getting a hair cut on a lazy Sunday morning. But different it was and for brevity of space (and time) I would focus on conspicuous aspects of it. The radio was not belting out latest hits on vivid bharti, heck there was no radio, we had a TV which was blurting out latest Tamil numbers (Bangalore has a diverse populations of Kannada, Tamil, Telegu, Malyalam and now increasingly Hindi speaking clans). The "tools" of the trade were a little different, let's skip that. And in general, the barber was lot less talkative (may be it was the language barrier, for I communicated the "cut" I wanted in a strange mixture of English and sign-language, but still there was a lot less banter floating around for a barber shop, whatever little there was, I had no means of understanding without aid of babelfish). Oh yes, the haircut here was 10 Rs. too expensive (than my friendly neighborhood barber back home).

While waiting for my hair cut, I stumbled upon one of the latest issues of India Today (digressing a bit here, but again this shop, despite being a small, cramped, neighborhood barber shop, had complete assortment of glossies - from daily newspaper in both Kannada and English (TOI) to Femina, Gladrags, India Today the works - quite a deviation from the shops back home where you'd find the latest Hindi daily and perhaps an English daily). The magazine covered the ongoing water shortage across India - depicted vividly by (what I found disturbing) photographs of people swarming to private water-tankers and backed by quotes like "we now travel 10 km to our sister's place thrice a week for a bath. Never before did a bath seem like such a luxury". The situation being grim across cities and villages alike (even in most urban locations its hard not to have been affected by the shortage in one way or the other). I was merely coming to terms with this one that I was hit by another rather sorry story - the common house sparrow, passer domesticus, has been put on a red list of fast vanishing species! Being an avid bird lover I couldn't believe it! I've grown-up with sparrows, have allowed them to roost in my very own room! Have fought over nests they built in my room with friends and parents alike and have come out victorious to watch the chicks hatch! And they were telling me that the very sparrows - the objects of my childhood curiosity and affection would cease to be very soon! (I couldn't question these facts though, which seemed to add up empirically - since the day I've moved to Bangalore I've rarely seen sparrows, have hardly heard their collective din during dusk).

The articles left little appetite for food which for once seemed like a wasteful formality for survival. Afternoon siesta followed (or rather I slept to escape what seemed a brutal reality - a reality over which I had little control) though with some effort (and that too after Beethoven's Piano Trio No. 2 (opus 1) rendered itself to be my lullaby). My escapist trans trance must've lasted two hours when I was woken by a pleasant smell - it was the unmistakable smell of moist soil after rains. I wasn't dreaming (for I don't remember having ever "smelt" in dreams - I've heard sounds, seen magnificent worlds, but have never smelled anything - ordinary or extravagant - in my dreams, which has led me to the conclusion that the sense of smell is obliterated when you are dreaming). What my sense of smell had just beckoned, my ears confirmed - it was the unambiguous commotion of heavy rain lashing out on tree leaves! I opened my eyes to downpour and a world vastly different from what I had left - entranced, enchanted, transformed by rains! The backdrop of afternoon's article made the rain appear even more sweeter - like a little personal conquest. There was more to follow. The rains called for a celebration - and what better way to celebrate than to savor a book over a cup of coffee. So I was out (to what was now reduced to a fickle drizzle), though still with an umbrella for the view that my wiper-less glasses afford with even few water droplets is a severe aberration of the world as normal humans see) for my dose of caffeine when I came across this tree - not very tall barely 7 feet - somewhat bushy - with hundreds of sparrows stirring the familiar chirpy roar!

Here they were, my two conquests over two predictions of impending doom (or perhaps I am being naive by labeling these fortuities "conquests", naivety I would purposefully welcome over vanity of pessimism which the articles inspired) not a bad climax for a day that I had started with Schubert's unfinished :-)
posted: 3.6.03

Post a Comment

Archives Blogroll

All material posted on this blog is copyrighted and may not be used in any form without the explicit permission of the author.