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Mumbai Monsoon & Cutting chai: A splash of red


A fascination for everything red symbolizing love and passion, picking the shirt spreadeagled among variegated hues outside Santacruz Railway station, splattered with the crowd in the drove of city life and making a beeline for the best deal. The expression of pride and the wonder of shopping therapy sending the mind into a tizzying spirit.

In those days, I was shuttling between Mumbai and Pune every week, staying either in a cheap lodge at Colaba or at a friend’s place in Mumbai Central, with one foot firmly entrenched in Maximum City. The Pune University final year results were delayed forever and gotta be in Mumbai at Kalina Campus to secure my seat.

To cut the story short, one gentle Saturday morning the sun glittered in Pune and wearing the prized red shirt, I booked second class ticket in the favorite train Deccan Queen to reach Mumbai. Monsoon is pretty much like a girlfriend with mood swings and the drizzle splayed over the blue sky wearing greyish shade. The mighty train dawdled on the track and ambled slowly with the rush of water running like steam. It grew furious and thundered at every passing second to vent itself and there was no way, the sky would miraculously keep calm.  The train finally reached Dadar and it was quite a task to get out of the train with the violent water tapered on the station’s roof at ruffling burst.

Image sourced for representational purpose. Google/https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news

 

A final call had to be made, hopping from Central Railway to Western Railway, catching the train heading to Santacruz with a backpack filled with clothes and documents. I still remained unscathed and dry. Mission was not yet accomplished. Finally, stormed out of the muddy station with feet splayed in a water patch and thrust in the BEST bus since there was no way to avert the water.  Do or Die, I choose the storm like a valiant warrior. The Best Bus stumbled inside the University Campus at Kalina Campus with the rain showing no sign of slowing and made a water splash imagining it to be the sea. A feeling of being fettered by a devilish force and walking frantically towards the Department of Economic and driving inside the overenthusiastic water, fettered by the devilish force to land at the Department of Economics which was quite an achievement since the short distance to reach there felt like a lifetime. I walked past the long corridor and incapacitated by jeans stuck like glue, freaked out with droplet of blood making a plodding sound on the surface.

Few seconds were barely enough to recover my wit and realize that I’ve been fleeced with the red shirt what with the dyeing being washed by the rain. The lecturers acquainted with me were as shocked as I was with my blood-colored and stained appearance smeared all over my skin wondering whether someone roughened me. I was flitting past Swati Ma’am office and she gave me a threatening look. She is known to berate students who flocks to her cubicle at the corridor and once chided me with, ‘Don’t come inside.’ There was a sympathetic look on her face what with everyone thinking I’ve suffered bruises in the city. I sheepishly grinned and awkwardly spoke in a soft but gentle tone, “No! Sir! It’s this red shirt.”

It was past 2 p.m and already dying of hunger. The administration team was very helpful and friendly ensuring that I got a room at the ICSSR Guest House. By that time, the rain has stopped and respite for me after settling payment, hurtled past the door to remove the towel from my bag to wipe my hair resembling like the sheath of a knife and changing into warm clothes. The feeling of relief and getting a decent room after the turmoil of roiling in the rain is pure bliss.

The Kalina’s Gate campus belches out of the busy road and the unique Mumbai honking, the jamboree of vehicles, the wafting of unique city food flavor in array, from Chinese to Indian concocting a unique delicacy ensconced with pages flipping, the countless xerox shop lined up on the elongated road. The Chinese dish whipped in a huge pot we call dekchi in India and on the road pierces the nostril that makes for an exhilarating experience. I stuffed the food after minutes of hesitation. The evening was spent traveling in the local from Santacruz to Churchgate, wading past the road book stalls, grabbed  Chetan Bhagat’s One Night at the Call Centre for 40 bucks, and sieved through two shirts which I got for 20 bucks in the dark. The hawker was in a tearing hurry to sell the shirts. Believe it or not, got an Allen Solly a perfect winter wear for 20 bucks and still wear it today.

I sat at Marine Drive and lit a cigarette enamored by the sea water that sets a unique mood after the stormy rain has passed and gazed at the wet payment or road scattered with branches and leaves.  Back to the room post 8 p.m and dozed on the bed only to wake up past 2 a.m. The rain was a lullaby putting me to sleep making and skipping dinner. It occurred that there was no cigarette left for which I craved. I took a shower in the cold weather and experiencing fleeting body pain so much for getting drenched.  There was no way that I would sleep after crashing until the wee hours and finished entirely One Night at the Call Centre. What a thrilling Mumbai Monsoon night.

Love

V

 

 

 

 

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Rainbow reflection and speckled night


Image credit: Google.

 

Curled smoke,

ensconced in color hues,

rainbow’s reflection.

stars flitting in the sky,

bedazzled nightfall,

an aerial view,

cars ambling in an arrow-shaped destination,

spangle of lights,

hiding grief, sorrow and bitterness,

a world of extremes,

colors offering solace and dint of hope,

brush stroke and canvas,

painting distinct identities,

contrasting lives under the stars,

shielding humans,

multitude of expression,

glittering sun

drenched tears,

we call it rain,

to wash sorrow from the shore.

Love

V

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Day 3


What’s in a day?!  Happy birthday to Mom. Wreathe of sun blistering in the smoky and billowing cloud to ring cheers after three days of dullness and mood afflicted by anhedonia. Blame it on the cyclone wrecking havoc for three days and splinter of rain squawking on the window. The worse is to sit by the window like a prisoner locked behind bars and hesitant to venture far with the fear to be assailed by gun water shots.

The cyclone ban lifted. I sidled on the deserted road splayed by tree branches crushed in mound and treading to besieged by electric wires splattered all over the surface.  A sense of snatched freedom and liberation to see the deserted road and streets. I miss the Indian monsoon. Every grain of rain harkens me to the years of bliss in Mumbai and Pune, the joy of wading in the rain and drenched completely, sticky jean and tee fitting me like glue. I cannot sit at home glowering with pain and constantly whine about the weather. The laptop for company and work occupy the mind’s space.

I started to read the Sequel to Shantaram, The Mountain Shadow in the start of January which took me two weeks plus to wrap the book which is a big let down and tedious writing with the expansive length not helping it at all. It’s nothing like the epic and heart-pounding Shantaram and in this one, David Gregory Roberts attempted to inject the same old scenario of underworld marrying spirituality. The book is good only in its description of places like Colaba, Worli and Haji Ali in Mumbai.

Speaking about Mumbai. The place that I love to death and someone wrote in the comment in the earlier post on how I am staying far away despite my writing is influenced by both Mumbai and Pune. Time is skittering away from me. Truth is that I am weighing on India’s option but one dampener is the exorbitant rent in the city. How I wish to be back! There are so many things constantly raging in my head and one would be to be back in the city for three months on an observant mode of where I stand, networking-wise, connecting and reconnecting with people and sorting out opportunities to see how things pan out.  The best friend is back in the city from Australia to be with his wife and feeling a sliver of jealousy on how he is in the city while I am not.

Carpe diem! It just surfaced inside my mind and amazed how our brain pushes things with force for a good reason to challenge the self. How I have changed over time! There was a point where I would follow my heart unwary of consequences. Circumstances make you a bit too wise after events to live in sense of comfort which is a big human flaw.  The moment fear cripples us, we stop evolving or experiment with life. The usual old self-lingering on the borderline is what makes us real and one needs to put a break on being dead chuffed with our plate and better go hungry than stare at the morsels.

I cannot do without my agenda diary and tried to shop at some places but options didn’t sate the appetite. The finicky and obsessive person in me needs a big diary beyond the normal size to fill in the huge space. I visited a bookshop yesterday and gleamed at an executive diary. I flipped it open to see the daily agenda pages printed in a single column. Bad luck!  There are so many things that will happen on the work front, one after the other and the diary is my only solace to sit, plan and to sieve through. Those agenda applications on i-phone or smart phone don’t really work for me.

A cup of strong chai can do wonder for me and the best gift for someone to give is a bundle of teabags. A friend from UK sent a box of Typhoo tea bag for me which is filling my body like serum since the start of the week. I also got two packs of Masala Chai which someone brought from India. Bout of tiredness got the better of me yesterday and gulped a cup of tea before crashing on bed. Dinner went for a toss. Mom kept knocking on the door to jostle me out of my dreams for food. It never happened. I slept like a baby after aeon to squint the eyes open and harrumph with physical and spiritual triumph. Yoga and late lunch followed. Thanks to the universe for wine and whisky stored at home.  Swill of alcohol  will be hot company at night and cuddle myself with a book, lazy around in peace. I did a guest post last week on Balaka’s blog. You can check it here.

Have a lovely weekend

V

 

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Day Two


I love the rains. Plopping sound of water tapering like music to the ear. Divine. Soothing. The rattling of water drops on the window sill ignites the creative mind to write and help to calm a rusted brain. Don’t get me wrong. It’s been raining like hell and it feels so fucking gloomy confined to the room and lying on the bed reading or the worst, feeling lame. Continuous showering can sap one’s energy emotionally and psychologically. It sucks.

Ok! Little bit of cheating here. I went out in the morning for the team’s lunch and some fun bantering where a new member joined. Man! The hotel who calls itself a four-star business hotel sucks and making dining a forgettable experience seems to be their new mantra. Just imagine, two of us ordered cappuccino and the waiter came back after making us wait endlessly and wrecked havoc on earth. It could have triggered the third world war. Milk! There is no milk and our stock is over.  Forget the coffee. The best was yet to come. Food ordered. A second apology. The ketchup stock was over. To say, we were stunned and our lid blown is quite an overbearing statement.

I choose to give a skip going to the coffee shop and headed back home. Tiredness got the better of me. It was the unusual weakening of the knee and legs that I face from time-to-time, an energy or vibe thing. I came back and lazed on the bed, reading The Mountain Shadow. The book which is good in parts sent me back to the hazily glorious Mumbai days, Colaba, Leopold and the silent roads in the wee hours, wading like a vagabond. I sorely miss the city and it feels like yesterday only. Mumbai! It wrestles one’s life and can take away so much from the soul, the carefree days and an amorous relationship that went into tatter. The best thing about the book is that Shantaram got an incredibly rich vocabulary and feels going back to school days with pen and paper, jotting the new words to swiftly find its way into my writing.

Mind is fickle. I am facing bout of depression from time-to-time and silly thoughts that overpowers the mind. I hate the unwanted thoughts that jostles me and spinning sensation of a football in the hand of devils having a gala time. But, ain’t letting them win over me. The tiredness that shakes you off the ground and not being in control can claim one’s sanity.  I discovered and downloaded by chance an application on my brand new iPhone, Calm which has soulful instrumental music that helps beat anxiety. Listening to the beat of When the Sun Sets by Michael Denny right now and it soothes the mind which keeps roiling like the dangerous storm. I hit on gold and blessed to grab this app that gently strokes the mind. You should check Calm app and listen to the free music while relaxing and doing meditation for it rejuvenate the battered mind and physic.

Things are in a slow mode at the start of the year and I am not pushing myself to do things like crazy. I can be quite obsessive that way and the OCD level keeps shifting gear. A reminder to take things slow, reading, working and not decking the head in hundred different things.  I am yet to make fresh entries in my diary for the year. The need for expression and release of pent-up energy or emotions for it’s been two days that I am plagued by negative thoughts which doesn’t spare me even during the yoga practice which by the way is going smoothly.

I want to be more regular on the blog and overcoming the mind’s hurdles or blockage in penning my forever delayed novel. I must have told you in last year’s countless entries. It’s about Mumbai and love. There are so many things plaguing my mind, a desire to push myself in doing so many things and the drive to shift back to India is somehow lost. Need to work harder on this front.

Chalo! I shall see you in another post.

Love

V

 

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Day One


Day One, January 4:

Hype, hangover and old calendars discarded in the bin. Some of us are still drunk and munching on fatty snacks. Resolutions are made and broken in no time as we are still high on alcohol to painfully getting back to the grind, albeit being stuck in a rut. The entire saga from waking up to a new dawn and watching the sun rising to indulge in crackers, or for that matter, getting drunk is so overrated. A cliché of sort with the same question, ‘What are you doing on December 31?’

Chill! It’s a change in the calendar which is already three-days-old. For sure, I am enjoying my Scotch like I always do and yesterday, was at someone place having Old Monk Rum after years. I was never a rum enthusiast but do love the Indian version once in a blue moon. The only hitch is that I haven’t made too much progress on the smoke front and failing to keep it to four but have reached six to seven fags in a fortnight.  Time to pull the socks.

The crystal clear sky has been beaten to death by the dark since two days with the rain putting me into a leaden silence during the nights. I am enjoying the weather but the only hitch is being confined to the room. A pall of gloom sets in. The windy breeze roaring and stuttering its might like a wail but its soft murmur percolates. An inchoate year sets in. The weather bears a moody streak, gentleness, trace of anger and riveting to the mind at the same time.

We cannot discard the new season to bring cheerz. There is a silver lining in tediousness in this stream of human perception. I trust my intuition for it can never go wrong. I started Day One of the year on a pretty high note. Got George Orwell’s 1984 as a gift from family friends traveling to India and the young kids won over the heart A surprise gift and bang on. A right choice that sent me into a groove of happiness. I reconnected with a friend, Ajitabh Bhaiya and we spoke on the phone on Jan 1 after nine years. Would you believe it? It felt like yesterday only. He was my senior in college and it was one Jan 1 we were boozing together discussing life on where it would take us years later. It couldn’t get better than that. A perfect start.

There are so many things that happened, right from his serious accident and how he survived battling the upsets. I shouldn’t be surprised since he is a strong-willed person and lover of existence but got a jolt when he told me one of our Pune friends passed away three years back. Life can be so uncertain. There is a close family who is facing health issues and fighting death. But, in hope, we believe.

It’s this uncertainty that led me to bag this Iphone8 after dilly-dallying for one whole year and a conversation with Meghna in the morning. The choice was made. There are very few friends whose opinions I value when in doubt. It’s a cool and slick gadget. I am practically hooked to my iPhone.  Last year. my writing took a dip in reviving the old novel draft and restarting it but was somehow stuck. But, then, let last year be buried and I shall not reel on success or disappointment. There are so many things brewing in the head to push myself to the edge. But, at the same time going berserk over competition is one of the worst things we can ever do. We need to chill out and take things slowly but at the same time indulge in stuff to make me happy.

I am reading David Gregory Roberts after years. I started with the sequel to Shantaram, ‘The Mountain Shadow’ and it’s about the same life with characters like Vikram, Carla, and Johnny in what was once called, ‘Bombay’. The fascination with Maximum City and living life on the edge in a narration laden with rich expression, description, and vocabulary. I somehow feel that the title lacks appeal. Some 200 pages have already been done in the book and love how ‘Shantaram’ made it an edgy and pacy read taking you into the world of Mumbai and the scintillating places in SoBo. Been there and done that. I miss the city.

Resolutions are so passe in my life that I have stopped doing it for a couple of years nor did I pen something on the year that was. I don’t see its importance. The sound of the rain plopping on the ground is music to the ear. This January, I shall be sharing snippets of life and it starts today with Day 1. Like they say writing is therapeutic and helps to release energy, good or bad that we absorb within.

Ciao

V

 

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Thousand heart beat and steamy glass of tea


Droplet of water,

plopped inside the cutting chai,

hiding under the tiny tent,

water sprinkled and drenched the long hair,

snipers barricading the steamy tea,

saving it from the water,

no human nor liquid can save its skin from the splash,

a sensual gaze flitted past the manly gaze,

emotion ran deep inside his body,

water flew through her perfect sculpt,

carved with finesse,

eyelid popped open at her gaze,

she flew like the brittle wind,

thousands heartbeat,

a fresh gulp,

tongue burnt,

she disappeared in the flick of seconds,

rain,

mesmerizing beauty.

Love

V

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Fiction: Cheat Kiss and the frog


‘What did you do just now?’, Mehr’s face turned shy and red, shifted her gaze away from him in the crowded coffee shop to watch the rain splattering on the glass window. He nonchalantly said, “Oh! I was trying to count and feel the butterfly. She wore a feigned smile to express surprise in an ironical way, “WoW! Genius! Where was the butterfly roaming? On my lip. I am flattered.”

Kamal tapped the wooden table with his hand and fingers humming, “I stole a kiss. I peck her on the cheek. She turned her face away. A coy princess. The butterfly lips didn’t kiss and melt.”

“Aha! Mr Shayar. You are in total mood today and better don’t buy moods condom at the shop. Keep the smartness inside your pant,” Mehr deliberately stitched his lip with her words. Mehr has a natural flair for words and this is one thing that made her Kamal’s hot pursuit until she relented.

https://i0.wp.com/images.8tracks.com/cover/i/002/601/177/46761-Coffee-And-Rain-6403.jpg
Image credit: Google.

The rain lashed uninterruptedly for hours. Mehr stuck her cheek like glue to the glass pane, watching the branches clattering outside and water pouring as black umbrellas resurfaced in the city, people flocking for shelter and safety under the thin roofs on the street, housing a line up of old colonial buildings in a row. The face tingling with icy cold sensation was a favorite pastime and she loved this feeling to death. Kamal inched forward to stroke her cheek but he suddenly felt a spurt of numbness on his palm and fingers. A dripping cold sensation ran down his spine and made him shudder. He jerked backward with the cold feeling that almost made his palm and fingers numb.  Mehr broke into a cackle of laughter. “Now, you know why I am a cool oven. Caress me at your own risk. I am electrical and piping red-hot.” He mocked her laughter, “I thought you were cold like the icy water.”

“Hey, Mister,” she lightly chided him. Perhaps, you don’t know how hot and desirable I am.” He was not going to let go of the moment and jumped on the occasion, “You gotta prove your hotness quotient right now here in the crowded cafe after this tall claim. Show some guts, babe. It’s a perfect time. The rain will make it something to remember. The romantic moment, rain and breeze will soon elapse. Enjoy before it melts.” She knew what he was hinting at.

Mehr would play hard to get. At least, he should do some hard work and not empty talk to kiss her most prized possession, the moist lip, She is not going to give in so easily this time. She smiled with naughtiness brimmed to her lip. “Nice try, dude. Better be more creative. After all, it’s a question of lips which I don’t barter for free.” Kamal was losing patience but faked a smile, “You wanna me move the mountains or sing Karaoke in this place full of couples busy making out to win over you. It’s just a kiss yaar.” She put her seductive smile, “Try better. Buck up your act and words. Take your time…I am a hot pursuit, after all.” She winked at him.

Kamal tapped his finger on the table and fling a rupee coin in Mehr’s direction which amused her. She looked at how he expertly tossed the coin with his index and asked, “What are you doing?” He casually distracted her, “Look at this dude wearing fancy trousers. He looks like Ranveer Singh in this funky Pyjama.” She turned her face towards the random guy. He calculated his move as she turned her face and held her waist, swiftly planting a kiss on her quivering lip.

Kamal felt the dripping sensation of moist lips that made him smile. His heart warmed as their mouths cupped. Mehr was taken by surprise and blushed, almost hiding her face under the paper napkin. She moved her face closer and kissed him back. Their hearts melted. She couldn’t stop herself from cajoling him with a tender touch on his face, “You are a cheat kisser. Look outside and see your reflection. Just do it na.” He relented and saw a frog soiling in the muddy patch.

He was taken aback and muttered, “What! You think I am a frog.” She was elated after pulling this one on him, “Of course, you will turn into a cute frog after kissing me. I am a true princess who needs no kingdom.”

Love

V