Monday, July 04, 2005

(Something I posted on Caferati)

City scapes


The rain came to Bombay as a bit of a shock. I was reeling. Everything was soaking and wet. From rickshaws that hadn’t yet put up the flimsy plastic doors to the waterproofing that was required on my house in Artist Village. I was unprepared. Getting up in the morning was a heavy task. I had to drag myself up to say a prayer. With the prayer I usually brace myself and throw a lot of guilty stuff behind me and begin my day.

But these days it is different.A waterfall in Artist Village becomes active. The dam beneath it is full of water. A canal that runs from the dam is full of gurgling water. I like the murmuring streams as they wend their way down to the sea. It soothes me like a lullaby. I think the shock will go away.

Nowadays I feel like sleeping a little longer, pulling the sheets over me a wee bit more, and snuggling into the warmth for a fraction of a nanosecond. But the nanosecond turns into a second and a second into several minutes and so on....The roads have sprung a thousand craters. Splatter, spash, whooooom, goes the rickshaws wheels. I curse at the dirty drain water that wets my formal trousers. God, when will they learn manners? I have to sit in the office with my feet and trousers all wet. Dreadful, isn’t it?

I buy an umbrella, a three-folding one it is called. I am still in shock. I open my three-folding umbrella and the wind immediately up-turns it and snaps two valuable rods that hold it up. One hundred and fifty rupees gone. I have to buy another umbrella and resort to using my imported rain-and-winter jacket bought when I was in Saudi Arabia.

A week later, I am still in shock. Everything has turned grayish. Even the colorful umbrellas look gray. Women, women become more attractive and haunting. Guess they adapt to change better than men do. Look at that thing there. She looks unconcerned as she adjusts her raincoat, balances her saree, touches her hair in place, and holds aloft her umbrella daintily, and there is a jaunt in her walk. But the men. They all look depressed, uncombed, and unwashed, and god alone knows what. Why do men have to take change so badly?

From the office window I can see a road splashed with the colors of the sky. A uniform gray. The glass is a dark bluish gray and therefore the scene looks divine with the manicured lawns and decorative plants and trees. I thank almighty I don’t have to be out there. The tall glass-fronted towers of the BPO units shine depressingly gray. Guess they won’t have to clean the glass-front every week as they do.


I used to love the rain. I used to wait for it to float my paper boats of innocence. I used to splash in every puddle, catch fish, and put it in bottles; stomp in a pool and with the other leg hit the splash with an explosive “splotch.”

We, Deb, Kavi, Ghanshyam, and my friends from college would play rain football. The field would resemble a battlefield with all the mud and slush. We would tumble, roll, and splatter gleefully in the mud. We would give each other walloping shots on our bodies with the football that had become as hard as stone. It was fun. Then we would wash in the college washroom to make ourselves presentable to the world. We would laugh our mysterious laughs as we sing obscene ditties in the changing room.

“Hey, your sweetheart, I saw her with her new crush.” “Hey, *#$%^&, she was never mine, man.” “That one in your building, she’s a real looker, friend. Why don’t you?” “Yeah, she is giving me line, yaar. You won’t imagine; I spoke to her one day. We stood like this, sala, so near.”

Like birds and bees we were looking for the perfect mate, love. Exams were like the clouds that were hovering over us angrily. But all we cared about were puppy love movies, romantic novels, latest hits, and football in the mud behind college.Perfect life, perfect love, perfect everything seemed a long way off then.

That might explain my shock now. That I haven’t made anything perfect as I had imagined. The house needs waterproofing. The great epochal annual event of my life has come suddenly and given me a rude shock. I hadn’t expected it and made little, little arrangements to welcome the rain into my life. But I must relent.

“Welcome rain,” I say to myself. And the shock lifts a little.

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