Sunday, August 26, 2007

During the party

She stands in the balcony, looking out at a black sea defined by the white of waves silently rushing to the shore. The wind blows the hair back from her face, and a single resisting lock attempts an almost fatal tangle with the burning tip of her cigarette.
As she stares in the distance, her eyes lock on a lone light bobbing in the distance. Well, she imagines it is bobbing, it's too far really, to say. But the harder she looks, the surer she is that it is the single light shining in the cabin of a boat out in the sea. It's a couple of years old, and just big enough for two. She imagines herself lying flat on the deck of this boat, looking at the sky change colours above her. She imagines hearing the waves hit the side of the boat as it is tossed to and fro. And all that she can hear is the sound of the water and the wind rushing past her ears.
Stubbing the cigarette out, she turns around and heads back to the party. A tiny little thought tucked safely in the back of her mind: 'I don't care what they say, I just know I wouldn't be sea sick.'

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

the perfect solution

Apparently, Delhi men can’t hold their drinks very well. [1] So the Delhi government’s solution is to stop women from working in bars as bartenders. They’re protecting them that way, keeping them safe. Perfect isn’t it? We’re to chicken to solve the problem, or too lazy, so we punish the victims instead.
It’s just like what happens at the promenade in Mumbai at night. At Marine Drive or Worli seaface or even Carter Road, the cops send everyone packing at midnight. The place has a history of muggings and knife attacks, you see. And since sending innocent, law-abiding citizens away is far, far easier than actually having to patrol the place and keep away the rowdies (work? The sheer horror of it), that’s what they do.
And don’t tell me that there aren’t enough cops and they’re not well equipped enough to deal with the problem. I’m so sick of lame-ass excuses like that. Would you expect to get away with an excuse like that at work?

[1] If anyone is contemplating cracking one of those Delhi versus Bombay jokes at this point, don’t even dream of it. Delhi is like my first love. I see what’s wrong with it, but it’s still inviolable and perfect.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Can I have your password, honey?

Recently, a friend of mine told me to mind what I say in my emails to him, even in jest. The injunction was not so much an admonishment for something I had said, as a warning against something I may say in the future. The reason: he had shared his email password with his girlfriend.
For some reason that freaks me out. I would never expect anyone I was in a relationship with to share their email password or bank pin with me unless it was a shared account or an emergency, in which case I would ask them to change it immediately after the emergency was over.
Of course, there are different ways of looking at everything, but everybody has some private spaces and should be allowed them. Having a personal space does not necessarily mean it is being misused. If I don’t want someone reading my messages, even a boyfriend, it does not mean I’m up to no good.
If my friend is fine with sharing his password, that’s his decision. But I don’t think by doing so the two are bringing any more openness into the relationship. Because he is going to watch what he says and he’s warned his friends too. So all that has been added is a layer of subterfuge.
I no longer feel comfortable mailing my friend. You may argue that since I’m not flirting with him or bitching about his girl or something like that in the mail, I have nothing to hide and the fact that she reads the mails shouldn’t bother me. But it does.

What would you do if your partner asked for your password?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Reader's guide

This is a p.s. that is going to be a sticky post for a while.

At some point, I realised that while everything I write makes perfect sense in my head, it may not to everyone else.

So here’s the explanation. The following are my posts from the Rickshaw Run, a rally for charity that I participated in with Shez and Akshay and about which we started posting at teesra.

Though the plan was to post during the trip, that turned out to be pretty impossible, and after returning I wrote as and when I liked about whatever took my fancy. So you’ll encounter posts that talk about the way I felt after I returned, almost simultaneously with a journal entry about the third day of the trip. Hopefully the context will now help you to make sense of the posts.

All photos used so far are, of course, courtesy Akshay.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

This is it, this is why I am here

RR Journal - June 26

590km-650ish km

We’re enormously glad we didn’t attempt this journey in the night cause somebody imported all the craters from the moon and put them on this road. It is a rather bumpy ride and at one point we even get stuck in some mud (nothing a good shove can’t fix); doing this at night would be suicidal, we feel immense pity for those who did.
It would have been a shame to miss the tea estates as well. Knee-high shrubs of the most beautiful shades of green cover entire hillsides. We stop at an isolated tea stall in the middle of a tea estate and have some tea and instant noodles (or chow-chow as they’re called in these parts) for breakfast. We wander through the gardens and breathe in deeply of the mountain air. This is it, this is why I am here, on this trip. For moments like this.

Tea Planations, Siliguri, West Bengal

It rained in the night, but luckily, there’s nothing more than a drizzle right now. Lucky, cause we realised that the ‘rain coat’ that the mechanics fixed to protect the inside of the autorickshaw from the rain is a compete farce.
We’d run into some heavy rain on our way out of Kolkata on the first day itself. The green tarpaulin sheets were immediately pulled down and we were safely cocooned inside the semi-darkness they created. But that was when the rickshaw was still. Once it started moving, all hell broke loose. The tarpaulin waving around crazily and actually letting more water in, since every 2 minutes it would unload the water that collected on top on us. It didn’t take us long to decide that we preferred being at the mercy of the elements than this bit of homicidal plastic. Thereafter, all the should-never-be-near-water things in our luggage (of which there were many: two laptops, three camera, one voice recorder, money, three passports and sundry paperwork) were piled towards the middle and protected by a wish (mine) and a prayer (Shez’s). So far we’ve done pretty well.
By 8:30am, we roll into Siliguri. The traffic in the city is pretty crazy and Shez has a harrowing time negotiating through trucks and cars and autos and cyclists. We make our way to the Bajaj showroom; a lot of the teams made straight for the border in the morning, but we want our rickshaws checked before we enter Nepal.
The expressions at the service centre, when we drive in, are priceless. They can’t fathom why sensible-looking people like us want rickshaws checked at nine in the morning. Once we explain what we’re up to, they are much enthused and even though it’s a service centre for two-wheelers they assure us they’ll give our three-wheeled rides a good once over. Rickshaws handed over, we head for breakfast. On our way out, we run into Barnaby and Jamie again. They’ve had a harrowing 48 hours with multiple breakdowns and no money and an all night drive to get to Siliguri. Shez gets a chance to do some more mothering, and between us we try to get the boys shipshape for the journey on. We rescue our autorickshaws from the service centre (where the workmen were spending more time taking joyrides than doing any actual fixing) and head for the border. On the way, we find another team in distress – their clutch stopped working, much like ours – and another rescue is in the offing. We find them a mechanic, explain to him what needs to be done and get them going again. Finally, we make our way to the border, our solo ride expanded to a four-auto convoy.
Shez and Akshay generously let me drive us across the border and I’m thrilled. This is my first border crossing by road and I’m driving a bright red rickshaw, whoo hooo!

cross posted on teesra