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The rainbow waits for freedom

The last time the rainbow appeared next, I was working at office. It had rained just minutes before sunset and the skies had cleared up a bit, allowing the sun to shine through – somewhat ideal conditions for a rainbow to transpire; and it did. Our office balcony faces west (which makes it a good vantage point for catching sun sets) but since the rainbow materialized during sunset (in east), it could not be seen from there. The door that leads to our office building’s terrace was locked. The time window I had for catching the rainbow was small, so I did not pursue the keys. (In retrospect, I am not even sure if anyone would have understood the rationale for my being on the terrace, the catechisms alone would have killed the evening). It suddenly occurred to me that a colleague’s cabin, flanked by transparent glass on two sides, might provide a glimpse of the rainbow. I wasn’t disappointed – the rainbow, the droplets of rain sticking to the glass pane, the verdant background all added up to a stunning, dreamy view, slices of which I could capture:

p.s. I was terribly excited -- excitement that went unshared, unacknowledged by fellow colleagues chugging away fervently at their routine work, so that they could be home in time. A colleague whose attention I did manage to seek, stunned me with his eloquent expression; the words picked by him for venting mirth at the sight of the rainbow were - “F***ing Sh**”.

posted: 30.5.04 | permalink | 8 comments

An Incomplete Memoir

Kawaljit has recently moved to Mumbai. Kawaljit now also has a digital camera. These two events were bound to lead him to a blog; and they have! He is a keen observer. He is also a whiz with Photoshop. The culmination of these two factors, quite naturally, makes for an interesting photoblog.

His last post was about local trains in Mumbai. Mumbai, thanks to the dimension of the city, has had trains as means of intra-city commute for a long time; even before the Metro in Delhi came up on drawing board. They might be stretched beyond their original intended capacity but that doesn’t make them any less valuable to thousands of commuters who use them as practical, economical means of transport each day. Kawaljit recently had his first stint with the local trains, and was curious if I had ever traveled in one. This innocuous question of his set my mind off to reconnoiter by-lanes it had crossed years ago.

I had just moved to Eighth grade (or perhaps it was Seventh, these little details which were of considerable significance years ago, now seem frivolous in grand scheme of things). The month of May brought with it the two-month-long summer vacation. By a stroke of sheer coincidence, Dad was traveling to Mumbai (then Bombay) on work around same time. So we did what is logical for a family of four with two kids on their school vacation – we planned a trip to Bombay with him. Incidentally (and quite logically), months of May and June are busiest months for Indian Railways. Most families with kids embark on their holiday tours around these two months. The seething, scorching summers of North make sojourn far away from the capital a welcome idea. Most other families, it seems in hindsight, stumbled upon the same bright idea pretty much around the same time, because the trains to Mumbai were running full. In those days, air travel was something you would consider only if foreign shores beckoned. (I have faint recollections of it having something to do with it being ludicrously expensive for a middle class family of four but I digress). All this added up to the fact that when we locked our house and reached the New Delhi station on the designated day of our journey, we were still not certain if we had managed those four elusive seats in Rajdhani Express. Indian Railways back then were a terribly entangled bureaucratic setup, as a side effect of which they had practices like keeping quotas of seats for employees, politicians and for anyone who was well connected to the right people in right places. Dad, if I remember correctly, knew someone, who knew someone, who knew how to tap into this pool of reserved seats. The end result of Dad’s acquaintance with this bonhomie Samaritan was that when the train was readied for departure on platform (no. 3 I think), we could find our names in the printed passenger list stuck outside one of the coaches (how we got to the right coach was a profound mystery to my adolescent mind; it still is).

The journey to Bombay and our stay there comes to my mind as a set of disjointed, incoherent flashes - like a dream of weeks ago. Time not only heals, it also scrubs your memory clean of the insignificant, of the inconsequential. The only recollection I have of the 17 hour train ride is that of discomfort from sitting in the AC chair-car bogey and that of bad train food. We reached Bombay VT in the morning. The world outside station was abuzz with frenzied activity. I vaguely remember waiting in the lobby of our 3 star hotel (Kohinoor, Shalimaar - thanks Sis) for 30-40 minutes before our room became available. I remember enjoying that ride in the elevator to our 6th floor room – 603. I remember looking at the world below and marveling at how small the cars looked from up there. From the right hand corner of our room’s window, far far away in the horizon, you could see the sea water shimmer, we were in Bombay indeed. This was my first stint with luxury. Air conditioned room, plush bathroom, room-service were all sources of constant amazement. Dad had to report at work, so Mom took us for lunch in the restaurant at the hotel itself. It was just three of us, Mom, Sis and Me. I remember the bill (for our chicken curry and nans) being way beyond anything we had ever spent on food before, which forced us into a tacit resolve of never eating in the hotel’s restaurant again.

I feel overwhelmed at having recalled just a few hours from that 10 day long stay. Memories from childhood do this to you sometimes.. I hate to abandon this blog entry abruptly; but I hope that I will get down to wreathing beads of my recollections soon again...
posted: 25.5.04 | permalink | 4 comments

Monsoons are here!

Before: The lamppost waits for rains alone

After: The rainbow waits for freedom

posted: 23.5.04 | permalink | 5 comments

Fraggle Rock and the toaster from stoneage

Bangalore is quagmired in perennial construction activity. It sometimes reminds me of the puppet show Fraggle Rock that our good old DD used to air when we were kids. The show was all about adventures of these little, soft, furry, colorful, adorable creatures who used to live and work underground. Besides these colorful puppets, the show would occasionally feature armies of tiny construction workers building glass towers; which our little protagonists would munch into (suddenly, for no obvious reasons).

If you walk past construction site of a new building, you are bound to notice these funny concrete bricks which look like scraggy electric toasters from stone age (that they remind be of the Flintstones is a different matter altogether)

posted: 20.5.04 | permalink | 8 comments

Canadian Rockies

I took this photograph from my plane’s window seat on way to Amsterdam from Seattle. These are probably the Canadian Rockies and you run into them within couple of hours of taking off from the Seattle Tacoma airport. I was pleasantly surprised at the clarity of this picture, which might even lead you into believing that I was there on a chartered chopper for a private little sortie (while in reality I was ensconced snugly in my spacious economy class seat).

posted: 16.5.04 | permalink | 7 comments

Urban Rain

The regular rain of past few days has lead to some pleasant changes here. Some of them are obvious, while some reveal themselves only to the keenly observant eyes. Little deposits of soil by the sides of the roads are teeming with flora. Tiny, green leaves dot the surface of land like a colony of ants, at times growing in begrimed cracks and crevices of rocks that seem most inhospitable to any form of life.

I’ll let this little verse capture what prose probably cannot.

Urban Rain
Raindrops parachute down the skies
The scherzo breeze, playfully nudges clouds,
starts a song
The glistening, dancing branches
of the tree lined through-fare, join the medley
sing along

Next morning beams of sun, bathe the washed leaves,
bathe the burnished through-fare
The hues of green with their shades of shadows,
invent a new kaleidoscope
I catch a glimpse of the concrete high-rise,
conspiring with the clouds;
in a puddle of water accumulated besides the road
Its glass façade, spic and span, shining brightly
cackles in its own reflection,
coronates itself a beacon of hope

posted: 14.5.04 | permalink | 2 comments

The great Indian Chicago Bull
The scarlet bull might remind you of the Chicago Bulls mascot, but the horizontal markings on its forehead are without doubt very ethnically Indian. And if my little knowledge of the Hindu mythology serves me right, they are reminiscent of the Indian deity Lord Shiva.

I am not reading too much into this bumper sticker, nor am I attempting to place our culture on some kind of a moral high ground but I love the way our culture imbibes and embraces external influences from other cultures. If you’ve ever eaten “Indian Chinese” food, you’ll know exactly what I mean!
posted: 11.5.04 | permalink | 1 comments

This blog turns one!

My blog turns one today, and so I’ll spend a moment or two indulging in the obligatory brood over past exercise:

I distinctly remember sitting at the St. Marks’s Road Barista over a cup of cappuccino and writing my first blog entry; distracted by Brownian motion of an irate housefly. I was apprehensive whether I would ever go past the initial few entries; in hindsight I can add, I did! The Barista is still there, but the section where I sat and conjured my first post has been converted into a congested book shop. Everything else is more or less where it was. There are questions I still seek answers for knowing well that the answers will always elude me or at least, the answers will keep changing even if the questions don’t. I still turn to Beethoven’s String Quartets when everything else is lost and they faithfully, reliably, resurrect me each time. I still think that all knowledge must one day ripen into wisdom; that I should be able to look at this post next year and smile at the naivety of it all…

My blog turns one today, and so I drape it in new colors: simple, uncluttered, minimalist, adjectives I still assay to acquire…

posted: 10.5.04 | permalink | 10 comments

That cold lonely feeling…

A trans-Atlantic flight form Seattle to Amsterdam can sometime be subject of surreal experiences. I took this picture from my plane window as we flew over the vast, icy expanse of Greenland.

Despite being with hundreds other passengers, a strange feeling of melancholic loneliness descends on me; as if the barren cold stretch was not outside, but somewhere deep within my heart. The emotions were heightened this time as I looked outside at the diminutiveness of the plane’s right engine; its imposing mechanics rendered inconsequentially insignificant by the endless, white consistence of land below. It’s a strange detached feeling of nothingness; the chaste monochromatic beauty of the landscape compounds it.

posted: 6.5.04 | permalink | 0 comments

It's my morning commute to office again!

I am sure not many people count their daily commute to office amongst simple pleasures of life. I still dread long, grueling commutes, though fortunately moving to Bangalore metamorphosed the treachery of an excruciating ride to office into an enjoyable saunter. The part I enjoy most during my morning walk to office is covering a roughly kilometer long stretch covered with dense canopies of trees on either side of the road. The stretch, being perpendicular to a busy crossing, is noisy on the periphery but walk a little and the noise diminishes almost entirely. Being bathed in docile morning rays of sun, filtering through the bushy boughs of grand old trees, is the perfect preparation for a busy day at work. The branches of many of those trees are laden with flowers these days and so the road, especially early in the morning (when it hasn’t been swept “clean”) is littered with them. The rough, steel grey concrete canvas of road covered with colorful, delicate flowers and petals, and the interplay of light and shade create plenty of opportunities for some interesting photographs. These elements and their alchemy came out nicely in one of this picture that I took this week:

Must see in high res, also happens to be my current wallpaper...

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