Sunday, December 20, 2009
what if, for a moment so brief.
My face had a fresh smile,
And heart beat not echo grief.
I wanted to hold your face
and see if your eyes
are still shy to meet mine.
I wanted to hear you say,
that you too remember me
and your heart also aches for me,sometimes.
I wanted to make you mine, again.
Be with you, Smoothen your hair,
Hear what you have to say,
All in that moment, brief.
Monday, November 16, 2009
You give me mind, I think
You give me will, I sin.
But I pray,
Let not my mind, under the burden of sins
believe its not worthy of thy love- dear Lord
Let not my humble soul have a will
stronger than thine- dear Lord
Tell everyone, for in you -they still believe,
that I am your son, and all my sins,
were acts of thou- dear Lord
Show me a way, dear Lord.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Into whom I had breathed life
with every gentle kiss.
You told, you would take me along,
into ashes-grey and white;
And we will get blown away with the wind,
into open skies.
But you also left me, my last puff.
In this season of chill,
you were the last smolder in my dying fire,
to keep me warm
and my senses alive;
But you went ahead alone
And it just might be;
that I stared at you for too long
But you didn't wait, my last puff.
Now what should I do,
but start anew and hope
that my next last puff,
will stay loyal to me;
And burn with me long enough,
to take me into ashes-
grey and white
Monday, October 05, 2009
into the jungle
full of wild flowers,
thick trees and unknown beasts.
She ran in the wild,
plucked ripe berries,
smelt vibrant flowers and
drank from cool streams.
She chased a lovely butterfly,
fearless and free
into the jungle deep;
And fell in a bottomless mire
where she struggled; then resigned
and was never again seen.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
deep string of pearls appearing
like moonlight floating on supple waves
Needless makeup, vagabond hair,
reaching for soft lips where,
Smile, dew drop on rose buds, stays.
Inquiring eyes, raised eyebrows,
Eddies of pink on face that glows
like...like I will tell, but please
to glean all my thoughts unsaid
let me just kiss you instead
tenderly, like the cool morning breeze.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Disproportionate losses in a zero sum game
Beguiling fruits of Karma
Caught in the strife
Connect the dots
scattered and sprinkled
forming a perfect picture
With certainity of existence
and miracle of probable
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Epimenidus- All Cretans are liars.
Mother- What are you talking about?
Epimenidus- Even I love stuff, and I am not lying this time.
Mother- For me, Oh please, I already have so much to heal and cure. I think it will keep me occupied for a long time.
Mother(to Shiva)- You stand between me and world peace.
Mother:Shiva- Can we separate now, I can't stand your body odour, quite frankly.S
Mother- I feel so much better.
Shiva- I would like to grant both of you a boon. You see, I am real easy to please. It's one of my weaknesses.
Mother- I want the Nobel Peace Prize
Shiva- So long, off I go to my dance class.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
1. Forget two square meals a day when you can snack varities (albiet fart inducing) like, Fafda with green chillies and Jalebi, Gathiyas, Dabeli, Ghoogras, Bhajiyas et al.
2. Strictly no business from 1 pm to 4 pm. Shutters down , Mobile switched off, go home and doze off after a lunch consisting of Sev- Tamatar sabzi and Chaas (buttermilk)
3. After 11 pm , get on your scooter, bike, car, auto, legs, anything; along with your wife, girlfriend, friend, neighbour, aunty, or alone to spend a quality time and of course,have a before bed snack.
4. Stop anywhere and land up at a paan stop. Eat a "phaanki" (a mix of supari, tabbaco, choona) after proper churning with hands. Caution- Don't try to speak, as the red peek overflows from your mouth, so spit it instead, anywhere, obviously.
5. Try 'Sosya' -a chemical beverage with an intriguing name- Sosya
6. Visit the Shamshan- Its the only tourist attraction, scary but true.
7. Drive ignoring all else on the road. And if you happen to bump into someone, smile and say 'Kaim Chho'. Many a great friendships, begin this way.
8.Visit the Swami Narayan temple at evening.
9. Don't visit the race-course or the cricket ground , if you are single. Gujju couples in intimate positions is an extremely disturbing sight.
10. Try the ice cream shakes at Patel ice cream. Avoid the special cabins made for couples on the second floor.
11. Try the cool - Rabdi Chuski, a delicious mixture of crushed ice, black current as artificial flavour, dry fruits and generous rabri topping.
12. Drink the Kathiawadi Chai. 3 Rs for half a cup of ecstacy.
13. Find a "Boss Cold Drink" shop. Decide what to drink when you find it.
14. Drink packaged mineral water branded as Pyaas, only for Rs. 1
15. Learn Gujarati, its sweet.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Deep conversations, Frivolous gossips
Moving moments, Wasted times
Pulling leg, True friends of mine
Pending assignments, Low scoring sheets
Spilling wine, Talking cheap
Empty cans ,pretty bottles
Matchsticks scanty, Cigarettes plenty
Unusual hours, Wide open eyes
Raving apetite, Cookies to eat
Midnight snacks, Early morning tea
Burning happiness, Peaceful sleep
Ecstasic yawns, Concentration faulty
Indiscrete clicks, Trip to Dhanaulti
No words exchanged, Listening to Floyd
Miniscule tension, Magninficient joy
Robbing me of today and its susepnse
The past lurks around the fence
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
“We should not wait for Manish to find a job anymore. We should go ahead with the Gauna ceremony. The new bride will bring her good fortune with her, and her good stars will surely help Manish to find a decent job.” Kamla proposed to her husband, Sukhiram.
“No Kamla, you can’t take irrational decisions like that. Manish is just 21 and he doesn’t even have a job yet. How will he shoulder the responsibility of a married life? Besides in our limited earnings of 4000 from my job, and 3000 from your younger son, Bhagwana, we cannot afford to add another mouth to feed.
“I don’t want to know the mathematics behind it. New bride is like Laxmi for the house. She will most certainly change our destiny for better. And any ways, now I am getting older, I also need someone who can take the household burden off my shoulders.” Kamla was a persistent old lady and her arguments were hard to challenge.
“Bhagwana is there for you. Look at how much he works, he wakes up at 5 in the morning to fill up the water tank and sweep the floor. Then he goes out to clean the cars of all big seths in the colony, earning precious 3000 Rs in a month. He brings by 9 am all vegetables and groceries for the lunch and dinner. He even cooks sometimes for you. After that he goes to school where he does well. He is also thinking of doing an evening job after school but I have forbidden him to exert himself too much. His 12th class boards are approaching. He should devote more time to studies now.” Sukhiram explained with a certain pride for his younger son.
“He is the younger one but more mature and responsible towards the family. How could you give birth to brothers as different as Manish and Bhagwana? One is a 5th class pass donkey and other like Shravan Kumar. He will surely be the support of our old age.” Sukhiram’s expectations from an older son were not met, which kept him in a constant state of worry.
“I am not worried about Bhagwana. He will find his way in the world. But for now we have to find something for Manish. Sometimes a wife is needed to boost the confidence of a man. Our Manish will find responsibility and sense after marriage. “Kamla wanted to leave no stone unturned for convincing her husband.
“I doubt that” said Sukhiram practically.
“I don’t want to hear a No. Please agree with me once. Women have more sense of the world than you men. I have a strong intuition for our new Bahu, Seema. You will see how our family will prosper after her arrival. Kamla was already dreaming sweet dreams of a being a strict Saas.
“Ok. If you so insist. Next time when I go to our village, I will visit Manish’s in laws. There we would select a suitable date for the Gauna.” Sukhiram surrendered.
Kamla was exceptionally happy to receive such beautiful, milk-like-fair girl for her Manish. All the women from the neighbourhood had showered congratulations. She was so proud today.
“Bhagwana, you will have to sleep in the veranda. Seema will share the room with Mansih from now on. Take out all your clothes out of the cupboard and arrange Bhabhi’s stuff over there.” Kamla arranged for the arrival of her Laxmi incarnate.
Seema, 19 years of age, covered in red saree and a long ghoonghat, stepped inside the room as Bhagwana cleared the space for his Bhabhi.
Bhagwana welcomed Seema with proper respects, even though he knew he would have to start an evening job, to accommodate for the new member. But he was hopeful Manish Bhaiya will get a job sooner or later. He had talked to one of his friends for a job opening at a STD booth. It would be perfect job for Manish Bhaiya, not much physical exertion and nothing much to calculate.
But he was afraid of hurting his elder brother’s ego if he approached him directly. He planned to arrange a meeting between the STD owner and Manish Bhaiya after the evening Arti at the temple. In this way Manish Bhaiya will consider the job not as a favour by a younger brother but as his own good fate.
Although Bhagwana had never tried to show his superiority in terms of the financial support he provided to the family, there was an unsaid mental tension between both of them, mostly arising out of inferiority complex of the elder Manish.
One week passes by.
Manish entered the house with a spring in his step. His smile was making good show of all his teeth. “Maa, Babuji, Seema, Bhagwana, listen everyone. I got a job. I met Ramesh unlce of “Ramesh STD and photocopiers”. He said he needed a young man like me to take care of his shop. “Manish chirped.
“I said I will take no less than 4000 Rs for this job and I will join from next week. He agreed to my reasonable demands. You know how difficult it is to find honest, responsible workers these days. I think I should have demanded 5000 Rs.” Manish thought on hindsight.
“4000 is not bad son. It is equal to how much I earn.”Sukhiram reasoned.
“Oh Babuji, you are lucky that an old man like you earns 4000 Rs, but a young man like me should not go for less than 5000, in any case.” Manish’s voice had quickly found arrogance.
“Ok. Leave it, you two. What’s important is that my Manish got a job. I told you, our Seema will bring prosperity to our house. Bhagwana, go fetch some Prasad to offer to our ancestors.” Kamla could not stop congratulating herself for bringing Seema to save their ill fate.
“Maa, I am really happy. If it had not been for the good fortune Seema brought with her, I would have never found a job. I will always take care of her.” Manish was a devoted husband in making.
Seema smiled taking away her veil from her head in presence of her in laws and said- “Today I can hold my chin high in neighbourhood. I am so proud of my husband.”
Kamla was offended by this act of disrespect showing her hair in front of elders, by the new bride. But excusing it for the great news of the job, she decided to let it pass. After all, her good fortune has rubbed on Manish and got him a job within a week of the marriage.
Bhgawana rushed to get the Prasad, feeling happy for his brother, but Seema’s act of removing veil was not received well by his sentiments. He felt veil was a way of showing respect towards elders, and was surprised Maa and Babuji tolerated such impudence.
“Devarji, months have passed by, I feel that you don’t give me the respect I deserve.” Seema caught Bhagwana studying in the evening.
“No, there is no such thing.” Bhagwana replied without taking his eyes off the book.
“Tell me, honestly, is something about me that bothers you, or you are just jealous of your elder brother earning more than you.” Seema fuelled a conversation.
“No, there is no such thing. I am happy for Manish Bhaiya, for doing so well. In fact it was I who had arranged... Bhagwana cut his sentence short fearing to hurt Manish Bhaiya’s new gained confidence.
“Then for what reasons you disapprove of me.” Seema persisted.
“Since you have raised the topic, I will let you know some of the things that bother me.” Bhagwana decided to release his thoughts.
“First, you don’t observe ghoonghat even in presence of Babuji. It is not befitting for a young bride to be so independent. People might mistake it for lack of etiquettes. Second, you take so much time purchasing the vegetables, making small talk and even joking with the vegetable vendors. People might mistake you for a loose woman.”
“Also the other day, when you were doing laundry you used double the amount of soap required and washed only your own clothes, leaving the rest in dirty piles. Also, you are the last to wake up in the family, after Maa has already cooked for all of us.” Bhagwana had opened Pandora’s box.
“These are really small things but if you add them up, they don’t portray an image of a responsible Bahu of a respected family. Maa doesn’t say anything as she thinks you are young and yet to learn the ways of a skilful homemaker. No matter how much I ask her to discipline you, she ignores me, thinking you are lucky for us, but that is no excuse for not helping in the household chores.” Bhagwana’s voice hinted of anger.
“So, you think I am a burden on your family. Do you know I sweep the floor twice a day?” Seema was offended.
“But that is all you do in the entire day. What I mean to say that you should respect the society we live in. Brides are supposed to follow some protocols, perform certain household duties, which you should do with pleasure not burden.” Bhagwana tried to contain his anger.
“Who are you to teach me about duties? I know what I am doing. You are not the sole bread winner of the house. My husband brings more to the house. It is natural that I have more leisure than others. I am young and yet to learn and adjust in the family.” Seema defended.
“And you think you are very mature, you are a devil in disguise. I have seen you lusting for my breasts when I bend down to sweep the floor.”
Bhagwana was red with embarrassment. She had indeed caught his raging hormones twice, glancing at her short choli.
“Please, don’t talk like that. Bhabhi is like a mother to the Devar.” Bhagwana flushed.
Seema smiled a sly smile.
“If you don’t want this thing to be told to Babuji, better stop complaining about me to your mother.” Seema patrolled the line between manipulation and black mailing.
“Not to Babuji please, he believes in me so much, I will lose all my respect in his eyes.” Bhagwana begged.
“Well, I know how much you care for Babuji. So, if you agree to wash my clothes every day then I can keep this a secret. And who knows, maybe I don’t mind if you stare at them.” Seema defied her innocent looks.
The unexpected flirtation and embarrassment made Bhagwana leave the room immediately.
“You know, Babuji has received a house and huge piece of land from his father. Do you know anything about that, on whose name it is, who will Babuji give it to?” Seema enquired from Manish.
“Yes, that was our ancestral land in the village. It will be distributed between me and Bhagwana equally. That is what normally happens in families.” Manish did not share the excitement about this piece of news.
“Ohhho, you are so innocent. You are the elder son with a wife, soon we will start our own family; our requirements are more than Bhagwana. So, naturally, you should get more than Bhagwana, who anyways is planning to study more, so he will not need that much land and certainly not the home.” Seema spoke with a certain clarity.
“You should immediately start getting in the good books of Babuji, maybe you can impress upon him our requirements when de decides to distribute his wealth” Seema planned.
“Humm, you are correct, tomorrow I will bring Jalebi for Babuji, he likes them so much.” Manish could see the sense behind it all.
“Thats like my smart husband.” Seema said encouragingly.
“Maa, I will not cook food today.” Seema said definitively.
“But you never help me in any household work. I have been too lenient for too long. Now you have to assume some responsibility.” The Saas in Kamla surfaced.
“But Ma, I don’t enter the kitchen during these 4 days. That is why I ask you to excuse me. I feel hurt that you think I am a burden to you.”
“No Bahu. I didn’t know you were undergoing the women’s curse. You must take complete rest during these 4 days. I will bring your food to you.” The mother in Kamla resurfaced.
“But there is one thing. You cannot sleep with Manish in the room during this time. You will have to sleep in the veranda” Kamla wanted strict observance of all traditions.
“But Ma, there is no fan in the veranda; I can’t rest properly in all the heat. Could you ask Bhagwana to sleep in the room with me and Manish to sleep in the veranda?” Seema proposed.
“Devarji is like my son, there should be no problem with him.” Seema added.
“I guess so. Bhagwana will obey me.” Kamla was confident.
“And Manish will obey me. “ Seema was confident.
Kamla, was already feeling her elder son’s loyalty shifting towards his wife. A wife can drastically affect the mother son relation.
“Devarji, you can sleep in the room. I can’t sleep in the same room with Manish as I am having my periods.” Seema spoke as a matter of fact.
“Bhabhi, I understand. Such things are never said explicitly, and you should not call your husband with his first name.” Bhagwana reproached.
“Oh my dear Devarji, are we not friends yet.” Seema smiled cunningly.
“Anyways, I will sleep now, but don’t get any funny ideas seeing your beautiful Bhabhi sleeping near you.” Seema was deliberate.
“It’s too hot in here. Can’t we afford a cooler.” Seema took off her Odhna from her chest deliberately making the temperature a convenient excuse.
She moved closer to Bhagwana with every manufactured natural movement of sleep.
Bhagwana was trying hard to sleep, but the thought of her Bhabhi sleeping with her chest exposed but for her skimpy Choli, disgusted and aroused him at the same time.
As the night progressed, Seema put Bhagwana to more tests, and the moment she bared her breasts, Bhagwana woke up and left the room. He preferred to sleep with blood sucking mosquitoes on roof rather than sleeping with that shameless woman he called Bhabhi.
The next night was no different. Seema was quick to remove her Choli and expose her breasts. But before Bhagwana could leave the room, Seema held his hands and put them on her breasts.
The threshold had been crossed and Bhagwana was no longer the society fearing, cultured, idealist. He was in another world where shame, respect, virtues, vices, society, relations had no meaning. He did not how long he stayed in this world but it was almost dawn, when he came to his senses.
On the third night, Bhagwana was burning in guilt; he had lost his self respect. He was shocked at his weakness and could not face Bhabhi, Manish Bhaiya or his parents. He rolled his mattress immediately and decided to sleep on the roof, even if it meant, a whole night wrestling match with mosquitoes.
“Devarji, are you going on the roof.” Her voice was serious; it seemed she had been crying.
“Yes, that will be best for all.” Bhagwana had made up his mind.
“But Devarji, at least give me a chance to explain myself. I am sorry for causing all this trouble to you. But you see, I am a young woman and your brother Manish does not keep me well.
She was sobbing furiously.
Bhagwana was at loss for words or action.
“You can sleep in the room. If you don’t trust your Bhabhi, I will sleep on the roof.” Seema gathered herself back.
“No Bhabhi, you don’t need to do that, I am sorry as well. I should not have fallen for temptation. We can sleep in the room, its your last night, anyways.”
Bhagwana sensed no uncalled for movements from Seema, but he could not sleep. His mind was wandering no matter how hard he tried to control.
“Are you asleep?” Seema asked in a low tone as soon as Bhagwana closed his eyes hard enough to call sleep.
This is the last thing Bhagwana remembered before he was lured in the world of pleasure, guilt and timelessness.
When he came to senses he heard Seema crying furiously. Sobbing and taking deep noisy breaths.
“Calm down Bhabhi, it’s not your fault this time.” Bhagwana consoled.
“It is always the males fault. They think women have no feelings.” Seema was making considerable noise while crying.
“Stop creating so much noise. You will wake everyone up.” Bhagwana was getting scared now.
“Everyone should know what a devil you are. You tried to rape your Bhabhi.” Seema yelled.
Soon the whole family woke up and Seema vehemently sobbed and accused Bhagwana.
“You are a pervert. How could you have such feelings for your brother’s wife? Get out of the house before I kill you.” Manish was fuming with rage.
“You are a curse on our family and humanity. I am ashamed to give birth to a son like you.” Kamla moved to tears.
“Babuji, please you should believe me, I can explain.” Bhagwana turned to his father for consolation.
“I have been quiet for a long time. But now you have lost all rights as a son. I break all relations with you. I forbid you to come near my funeral pyre when I am dead.” Sukhiram vanished in his room, without any further word.
It came as a huge blow. He had dedicated his life to his parents and now his held his head in shame.
He left the house immediately without meeting any eye.
“Three years have passed. You have not given me any gifts as yet. But I will give you a gift today. You are going to be a father.” Seema said.
Manish was exhilarated and jumping with joy. He had given up all hopes of a progeny.
“Seema I am so happy ask me, any gift you want.” Manish was indeed happy.
“Ok If you want to know what I want. Listen, I want 2 gifts.” Seema had it all planned in her mind.
“First, I want you to buy me a mobile. I want to talk to my mother in the village. I miss her so much.” A mother in law can never take the place of mother.
“The handset is expensive not to talk about the additional recharge required.” Manish reasoned.
“I have found out, nowadays mobile are available on cheap instalments.” Seema had done considerable research.
“But it will add to the monthly expenditures.” Manish pondered over the overheads.
“You work for Ramesh STD. You have expanded their business from photocopying and STD calls, to selling mobile recharge coupons and computer printing. If it were not for your vision they would have closed long back. It’s nothing unfair if you take a coupon or two for your personal usage.” Seema spoke as a matter of fact.
“May be I could. Ramesh ji trusts me like his son. We won’t even notice if a few coupons are reported lost. I can think about it.” Manish acquiesced.
“Second, I want you to talk to Vakeel sahib for registering your father’s property on our name.” Seema pushed further.
“Well that’s not possible. It is not for me to decide. Babuji will decide when the time will come. He is not going anywhere and I am sure my brother Bhagwana will return someday to his parents? I am sure Babuji will forgive him.”
“My dear, you have to take the initiative. Babuji is not keeping well these days. Heavens forbid, if something happens, we can’t risk losing our only family asset. Also, I think if Bhagwana has an iota of pride in him, he will never return. Babuji might go back on his words, but surely we must honour Babuji’s word. Bhagwana should not be even close to his funeral pyre.” Seema spun her web.
“Also, I was thinking that the property registration should be on my name. It will save any future doling out of property to Bhagwana. I know, you can get emotional and weak sometimes. Who knows, evil Bhagwana might try to use you emotionally for some property gain.”
“Moreover, it is you who has been taking care of Maa and paying for Babuji’s medicines. By what right can Bhagwana claim anything?”
“It would not have been possible without you. These are very simple gifts you ask for I would have brought you the moon, if only you had asked.” Manish, proud to be a father, said comforting Seema.
“My dear husband, you don’t have to worry, it is my duty as your wife to make life easier for you. Husband is the only God of a devoted wife”
“2 years have passed, since Babuji expired. Had we not sold some of our land, Babuji would not have been cremated with all the proper rituals. See timely decisions always help us.”
“I agree”. Manish said.
“Maa has practically stopped living with us. She spends most of her time in the nearby temple. She doesn’t even talk to me. She has taken Babuji’s death a bit hard. I have a suspicion that her mental balance has left with Babuji’s atma.” Seema continued.
“How can you say something like that about my mother?” Manish was offended.
“She is my mother as well. It is me who takes care of her while you go way for your work and you think I am calling her mad. You know, she doesn’t sleep in peace at home. I feel so sorry for her. Old age is great curse.” Seema controlled the discussion.
“You are right? I worry for her also.”
“I heard from our neighbours about a temple outside the city. It is a brand new temple of all Hindu Gods. Some rich man constructed it in the memory of his mother. It has an ashram with all basic facilities for old, homeless, disabled people. I am sure for a little monthly donation they can accommodate Maa as well.”
“My mother will not leave her own house.” Manish found the whole affair incredible
“But it is for her good. She will be peaceful devoting her whole time to the service of God. You have seen how she has almost renounced family life. And she will have company of other women of her own age. She must be so alone after Babuji left us.”
“Moreover your own daughter is growing up; soon she will demand her own room. I want to give everything to my girl that I could not get. You don’t know how much I have sacrificed for her.”
Seema’s eyes were wet with genuineness.
“Don’t cry Seema, have I ever denied your wishes. I trust your decisions. You wish the best for our family. I will talk to Maa about it, tomorrow.” Manish said apologetically.
“Oh Manish, I will fast for 14 Mondays, praying for your long life.”
“You, me and our daughter, we will be one happy family.” Seema said triumphantly.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
“I want to own a farmhouse”. I replied thoughtfully, when my father asked me, “What is it, that you want to do with your life?”
In retrospect, I think this question must have cropped up in his mind when he must have seen me, his 25 year old, intelligent son with big eyes, doing nothing, staring blankly towards the roof, wasting his potential and dawdling away time.
But my big eyes were lost in a parallel universe, consisting of my imaginations, fantasies, music and food. And it seemed only natural to give the most honest answer. Also, I have always had this strong admiration and fascination for the life of a farmer, working in unison with yourself and nature.
“Do you even know what a farm is?” My father brought me down to the harsh world of complexities.
“What is the most important thing to run a farm in an arid region like Rajasthan?” You answer me this question, and I promise, we will go to a real estate agent to show us some agricultural land.
It was my chance to converge my parallel universe with the harsh world of complexities. I could actually live my dream life.
“Manpower...” I replied hesitantly.
My father gave me a disgruntled look and just left my room without pursuing the matter further.
I have this amazing collection of dictionaries in my room. I picked up Oxford dictionary of difficult words and looked up “arid”. To my surprise, it was absent in the dictionary. The concept of difficult is relative, of course.
I looked up the word in another dictionary, Oxford’s 5000 words you must know, and there it was, defined neatly as an adjective for dry, parched, barren land. I carefully stacked the dictionary and all the words inside it, back at its rightful place, on my bookshelf.
All tragedy arises out of your defects, mine being a miniscule vocabulary. I thought.
I have never been so grossly incorrect.
The question my father had asked was a sitting duck; it contained the answer in itself, for all practical purposes. Water should have been my obvious answer. Rains in Rajasthan are as rare as raining cats, dogs or fishes.
I better start reading all these books I have, I promised to myself, looking at the plethora of books I had in my room. The latest one being Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. I had borrowed this book from my friend and promised to return after reading. I have this awful habit of making hollow promises with no timelines and objectivity.
“I am leaving for Pali, to go check on my convalescing friend.” My father said. “So you better get ready for some driving lessons.” His voice was still reverberating reproach for having given such a dumb answer.
I wanted to tell him that I had figured out the correct answer but I guess he meant me to move my lazy ass to the shower and putting on clean attire.
Also, I prepared myself mentally for the driving lessons.
Pali Marwar, a small town 70 kms south of Jodhpur, is famous for its Gulab Halva, a sweet which has a rich taste of mawa, rose essence and pure ghee. It also has, the not so famous, Government Hospital where I was born. Nonetheless, I am proud to be born at a town which offers such delectable delicacy.
We left for Pali, half an hour later.
“What is wrong with you today?” My father asked.
I clenched the car steering harder and sieved the road for an approaching truck, a cow, a pothole or traffic lights. But all that lay ahead was the straight, grey highway.
“You are driving fine now”. My father completed and smiled.
My father has a sense of humour.
Assuming it as a compliment, I felt relieved. Also it would have been yet another, tough question to answer for the day.
Villages with strange names like Kakani passed us by on the high way.
“Do you know what this village “Kakani” is famous for?” My father asked me in a friendly manner so as to start a conversation.
“Handmade Durries”. I answered confidently.
My father was seemingly impressed. The answer came as a deluge after my arid answer in the morning.
“How do you know?” He inquired.
“I read it somewhere”. I replied nonchalantly.
It was true. I had read it on a highway sign board, a while back, while my father was juggling with CDs to put on his favourite Shammi Kapoor music.
About 40 kms southwards, a small village called Rohet came.
“Is this village famous for something as well?” I asked with new gained confidence.
“Oh, then you will have to take the next right.”My father pointed in the direction of a divergence ahead.
I carefully guided the car onto the kachha road going into the village Rohet. After seeking directions from an effusive Paan waala, we managed to park our car in front of the majestic RohetGarh Haveli. At the same time, I would be correct in saying that the very intricately painted, artistic facade, fails to do justice to what lies inside the Haveli.
“Wow!” Is all I managed to speak.
Owning a Haveli would be so much better than owning a farmhouse. Who needs to work in unison with yourself and nature if you can have your own Haveli replete with all modern facilities and servants abound. Also, manpower would be more important to run this huge Haveli than water.
I kept on looking at the beautiful architecture of the Haveli. At the centre of the Haveli, was a big open space boasting an exquisitely maintained garden. The garden had well trimmed green grass, flowers and trees, big and small. In a corner here, shade of tree there, lay benches and desks, placed deliberately but beautifully camouflaged with nature.
These little hidings seemed soaked with pleasant memories of an aimless chat, a moment with oneself, a gentle kiss, a good time reading, a small afternoon nap. I could also spot a few peacocks roaming in complete peace with their habitat.
We entered the reception area where a heavily built, tall man met us smilingly.
“How may I help you?” He sounded like the manager of the place.
“We were just passing by and my son wanted to see what Rohet is famous for?” My father said.
“You have brought him to the right place.” The towering manager, Rajput by the looks of his moustache, replied with well deserved pride.
He narrated the historic battles, Thakur Dalpat Singh had fought in Marwar and rewarding his bravery, the king of Jodhpur gifted this Haveli to him in 1622 AD. Rohet became one of the most important fiefdom of Marwar.
Now the Haveli has been converted to a heritage hotel. The hotel provides 30 rooms, all having a different interior decoration, a swimming pool, top class Rajputana service, confusing number of cuisines and probably the only time you can live like a king.
I was dumbstruck by the luxurious simplicity of the place.
“Well let’s go now.” My father declared the time to leave.
“No.” I replied.
“Is it possible that I stay here, while you can go to Pali and meet your friend? You can pick me up on your way back. I really like this place.” I begged.
I don’t know whether it was the desperation in my voice or the Handmade durry answer, that guided my father to acquiesce with my harmless request. But, I know that I was happy to get a good 2-3 hours to spend in this parallel universe of mine.
My father asked the manager’s permission, who willingly agreed. Also there were no customers in the Haveli at this time of the season, so I could peek around anywhere I wanted. My father left and told me to meet him at the gate of the Haveli, when he gives a missed call on his way back.
I went to the reception desk to thank the manager for his generosity.
All of a sudden, a big, burly dog appeared from behind the counter. He was this huge German Shepherd with a strong jaw. He stood with his front paws on the reception desk and his face directly in front of me. Contrasting to his majestic personality, his demeanour was very serene and placid. He was like the Haveli itself.
I was startled and took a few steps back.
“Don’t worry. Jimmy is a disciplined Rajput dog. He doesn’t get into small fights, he only wages a war.” The manager assured from behind.
“He is so big; for once I thought you had transformed into a Dog.” I said jokingly.
He received my smart mouth with good spirit and offered it a cup of tea. He introduced me to his dog- Jimmy.
“Jimmy happens to be my pet name as well.” I said meekly.
“But you won’t make as majestic a dog as him.” He replied smartly referring to my skinny looks.
“Do you want to see the Haveli?” He asked.
“Sure, if it’s no bother.” I tried to hide my eagerness.
“No problems, we even have a guide to give you a conducted tour.”
“That wouldn’t be necessary. I will find my way.” I longed to spend some time alone in the garden.
“But he is already here”. The manager handed me Jimmy’s leash.
“Jimmy, you see, is an intelligent dog. He is so intelligent that he will give you a tour of the Haveli all by himself and bring you back here. All you have to do is take his leash and follow him.” The manager said patting the dog roughly.
I looked at Jimmy, the dog, in amazement.
“What, you think only homo -sapiens are the intellectually evolved species” Jimmy said in a kingly voice.
I thought I heard the dog talk. I must get my ears examined.
“You know I am ashamed to share my name with a weakling like you, but since you happen to be the first human I am able to converse with, I will show you the best place in the Haveli.” Jimmy the dog spoke fluently.
“You are most kind.” I managed to say, coming out of my amazement.
I followed Jimmy to my parallel universe of imaginations, fantasies music and food.
“Is this best place, in the garden, behind one of the giant neem tree?”I expressed my desire to go to the garden.
“No, I will take you there later.” Jimmy said with authority.
I was dragged to a room on the first floor, neatly marked 115 in the Haveli.
“This is no ordinary room, this is room number 115”. Jimmy said, showing me around.
“You can read numbers as well.” I was astonished.
“I can even do arithmetic, though I prefer using calculator now. Doing additions is such a waste of one’s mental capacity.” Jimmy said using his paw to scratch his chin.
“So what’s so special about room number 115?” I asked
“It is the room where Wiliam Dalrymple, I assume you know modern literature, wrote his famous book, The city of Djinns.” Jimmy had a slight British accent.
“No way, you are kidding me.”
“I know William Dalrymple has been to the most obscure and interesting places in India. But this is way out of the question.” I countered.
“A rajput dogs never lies and if you want to cross, you can always search your collective human brain, google.”Jimmy replied with a bark in the end.
“You know computers as well”. Jimmy never ceased to amaze me with his eruditeness.
“But the reason I brought you here, is that I want you to sit here on Dalrymple’s desk.” Jimmy pointed his paw towards the desk.
“Ok.” I obeyed.
The desk was quite comfortable. Proper illumination and pleasant breeze filled the room. I f I had pen and paper, I would have written something myself. I checked his drawer; there were a few pencils, yellow with rubber at their ends, papers and some books still lying there.
I browsed the books to find some Japanese books lying there. Amongst them only one had an English title. I took it out, and read its name- Kafka on the shore.
“That’s a god one. You should read it.” A voice behind me said, in a thick Scottish accent.
I saw a silhouette of a balding man, in his mid forties, wearing a khaki trouser and a white shirt.
“I didn’t mean to scare you. Let me introduce myself.” The voice came from the apparition.
“I am William Dalrymple, author people say, but I prefer to call myself a historian. I am currently working on my book- The city of Djinns. It’s about these strange interesting places I saw in and around Delhi. Have you ever been to Delhi?” The ghost was making small talk.
I have been to Delhi. But somehow making conversation with a ghost of a living person seemed strange even in my parallel universe.
“How come you are here? Shouldn’t you be in London or wherever is it that you live.” I asked.
“Oh, yeah I miss the royal society of literature back home, but I like this place so much that some part of me always remained in this room.”
“Anyways you can leave now, as I am writing now and I don’t like any company except for Schubert’s sonata in D major.” William’s ghost said rather rudely.
My scientific, rational human mind had been wiped clean and I was enjoying my newly found parallel universe of talking dogs, ghosts and who knows what.
Jimmy led me to a clearing in the garden. This was the place I wanted to be, the moment I entered the Haveli. There was a white marble bench in shade of a big neem tree. I sat down facing the tree bark. Jimmy lay near me, with his head resting on his paws.
“You can sit here for some time, till I take a nap.” Jimmy said, struggling to keep flies away from his face.
The setting was immensely peaceful. A few birds chirped occasionally to keep me from hearing silence.
On the tree bark were etched a few lines. On close examination I was able to read them
“Kafka sits in a chair by the shore, Thinking of the pendulum that moves the world, it seems”
I don’t know how long I sat there, reading these lines over and over, but when I opened my eyes, Jimmy was gone.
A peacock was standing in his place, instead.
“Jimmy is gone after Mia, the cat. Today he will kill the stupid cat. He was too merciful for too long.” The peacock spoke in a female voice.
“I can understand that you too can speak, but how come you have a female voice. Peacocks are male, aren’t they?” I raised a genuine doubt.
“You see, biologically I am a female, and my sexual preference is also female. So I am like a female gay trapped in a male’s body. For the record, I do like the feathers, they are so colourful. You can call me Leonard.”
I was confused.
“Give my regards to your father. He is waiting for you on the Haveli’s gate.” Leonard Co-Hen reminded me. I checked my mobile but there was no battery.
I wanted to say thanks to Leonard, Jimmy and the manager, but decided against it. I didn’t want to keep my father waiting.
As I rushed to the Haveli’s gate, my father pulled up his car. I was exactly on time.
I sighed relief and took over the driving seat from my father.
He was looking disturbed.
“How is your friend? Is he going to be alright?” I expressed concern.
“He has two fractures and it will take 3 months for him to walk normally again. And just because he wanted to save a dog from getting hit, he rammed his car in a tractor.”
“People are drawn deeper into tragedy not by their defects but by their virtues”. My father concluded.
I drove in silence.
Friday, March 27, 2009
I was late to wake up, the hostel body clock had not yet unwound. The only thing that can wake me, other than the aroma of food, is
“Jimmy! Wake up now; it’s time to get up”. My father said. He has this particular way of saying it loudly but in a rhythm of some old hindi song. It is a command and a shock at the same time.
I wake up quickly and become presentable to meet Maya, a single, female, 32, from US who had come to our place, in Jodhpur, through a social networking web site.
“You are kidding me”
“How they come to your place?”
“Why do they come to your place?”
“What web site is this?”
“You get to stay with foreign chicks”
These are some of the common responses my friends give me every time I tell them about foreign travellers putting up at my place.
Well, that’s what you get a when you put together empowering IT technology and a man determined to be powerful, my father.
The magnitude of the age of our foreign guest bothered me, in comparison to other parts of her ASL, as I combed my non-existent silky hair locks, but the name Maya somehow breathed promise.
“Meet my Son, Jimmy.” My father introduced me to Maya.
She looked like a typical foreign traveller, with a pair of cotton, coarse grain, semi- transparent Pyjamas which look very comfortable and must be very cheap. A black open shoulder top with a ‘Hare Rama, Hare Krishna’ printed light cotton cloth covering her bare shoulders. She was carrying a sling bag with all the foreign tourist essentials of medicine, camera, bead necklaces and tissue papers.
She was five-four, with sun burnt skin and average built and appearance.
“Hi Maya, I am Jimmy. I did my BE in Computer Science and then worked for IBM for about 1 year. Then I did my MBA in Marketing, and now I will be working for Maruti.”
I said without pausing for breath.
She was expressionless.
I was stunned.
With an introduction like that I had killed all chances of any further conversation. I vowed to unlearn the answers I had learned for company placements and also whatever formal education remained in my brain.
“You know, the company that makes cheap Indian cars! “
I tried to make up, but the verdict was clear.
After a few cursory glances and words about how much time in India, where you going next, how much you like India, I gave up, and left to have a cup of tea with my mother.
My mom is the most adorable creature in the whole world. Like every spoilt child I can say this with the most conviction.
“The maid servant has not yet come?” My mother was concerned.
“This Maya girl is not that great looking.” I am on very friendly terms with my mother.
“I have to get clothes from upstairs.” She reminded herself.
“I want to eat Dal Baati today.” I love my mother for her culinary skills
“I missed my favourite daily soap yesterday.” She resolved to watch the repeat telecast.
“I think I will bath today.”
Even my mom was surprised at this.
We finished our tea.
We have this very special relation where we understand each other perfectly without having any real conversation. She resumed her chores. I flipped a few channels on our new big TV.
“Get ready every one. We are leaving in 10 minutes.” My father said.
His particular style of speaking makes it a command and a shock at the same time.
And indeed, we have locked our doors, squeezed in our Maruti, with me in the Driving seat, Dad beside me and Maya and Mom at the back seats; we embark on our journey in exactly ten minutes.
“Go Straight”. My father said.
I obeyed. I lifted the clutch pedal too quickly and the car jolted to a halt.
“What was that? You have forgotten to drive?” My father said.
“So where are we heading?” I said as I managed to put the wheels in motion.
Now I am not a bad driver, in fact I am a decent driver, but somehow the occasional little mistakes that happen while you drive, start happening a lot more often when my Dad sits beside me.
“We are going to a nearby village; it would be good experience for Maya to visit rural India.” My father said.
“It would be a good experience for me as well.” I said
“The newspaper boy was asking for payment.” My mother continued from where she had left.
I knew my mom would enjoy the rural visit as soon as she gets her mind of her assumed daily duties. But Maya, she would evaporate in this harsh weather and extreme climate. And she wouldn’t understand anything about rural life. Still, she could take some pictures with village people, to show off to her friends, back at her country.
“I am really excited to go to a village.” She was speaking to my dad.
I hope the village sun won’t steal your excitement. I said in my mind.
Watching funny sit coms can give you a refresher course in seemingly smart, slapstick one-liners. Meanwhile, I managed to dodge a rapidly approaching city bus but crashed head on with my father’s dismissal of my fast depleting driving skills.
“My journey to India would be incomplete without this. I feel a cosmic chain of events taking me to this village.” Maya thanked my Dad for fulfilling her destiny.
I watched Maya in the rear view mirror, waving her hand to school going children. The children waved back enthusiastically.
“India is so full of energy. Everyone is so eager to share and help.” Maya complimented the entire Indian population.
Don’t these foreigners realise it. I pondered. Can’t they see that they are the monkeys in the zoo; and all Indians are just waiting with peanuts in their fists?
I humbled the Indian population.
I swiftly manoeuvred the car, as a cow directed the traffic control of the road.
“You must be extra careful when there are cows on the road.” My father said.
“Your son is driving alright.” Maya came to my rescue.
She is finally over my stunning introduction. I mentally high-fived myself. May be now she can see the cool side of me, I thought hopefully.
“You know the spirit of India lies in villages.” I pushed my case further.
But alas, I had pushed my case in fields where my Dad is an expert- Spiritualism and Villages.
What followed was a discourse on the bare essentials of Hinduism, Yoga, Mythology, Village life, Local deities. In fact my dad was speaking with such fluency and humour, I started enjoying his conversation.
Listening to some beautiful poems on village life, in my dad’s heavy voice, we reached our village. Modi Joshiyan.
We entered a house and were immediately welcomed by the entire family. They treated us like old time family friends and offered us tea and snacks. After customary introduction about our caste and our village, the males and females were taken in separate rooms.
The head of the house offered us opium, the traditional way of welcoming guests by Bishnoi clan. The entire way of consuming opium was quite elaborate and was more like a ritual.
My father summoned for Maya, after taking permission from the head of the family, of course.
The apparatus for preparing opium consisted of a silver stand with two jute filters attached. The big bishnoi in his white turban took out some dry opium from a plastic bag and meticulously grounded it in an ornate vessel. Then he mixed it with water and put it in the jute filters where it collected in another vessel.
He offered it to my dad, first and then to me.
Now this part was really tricky. The man poured some liquid opium in his hand and we had to slurp it from his hand.
Well, as long it is Opium, hygiene can wait.
He offered opium to Maya as well who willingly took gulps of freshly ground opium water. The process was repeated till we could not bear the bitter taste of opium.
We were offered Mango Bite to give our taste buds some respite.
Maya returned to the ladies room where many a village girls had come to see the fair skinned girl from far away land.
Poor Maya, I thought. She would be in a whirlpool of words she can’t comprehend.
“We will go now, to another village”, my father said, cutting short the details of the family dispute, our host had managed over a piece of land.
It was his time to experience my dad’s particular style of speaking that makes it a command and a shock at the same time.
I was told to convey our departure to mom and Maya. As I entered the ladies room I saw Maya deeply engrossed in conversation with a village girl, roughly her own size but definitely younger and arguably prettier. Maya was doing all the listening but her hand was on her shoulders and she has a smile on her face as if she understood everything the girl was saying.
I told that we were about to leave and rushed. It was the ladies room after all.
I and dad waited for the females to appear and bid our farewell to the Bishnoi’s at their huts gate. I listened to their Marwari accent and amazed how dad could understand such different dialects.
I was praising my dad.
The opium was taking effect. It is believed to make you see things clearly.
As the women delayed even more dad asked me to reverse the car and bring it front of the gate.
This was my chance, it was tricky to reverse the car in narrow village lane and if I could give this one flawless performance of precise control of accelerator, brake and clutch I would redeem my position as a driver, in front of dad. This was my chance to drive myself to glory.
I cautiously put the car in reverse and with surgical precision parked it right in front of the gate.
The opium had taken effect. It is believed to improve your driving.
The females had arrived and I geared myself up for the long drive ahead.
“I am not going with you guys.” Maya announced.
Maya was out of her senses. I thought.
“Thank you, Vipin (dad) for bringing me to this village. How can I ever repay you? You are my messiah. You have led me to my destiny.”
The opium had its effect on her, I presumed. It is believed to make you crazy.
My father looked at her face intently. His eyes were growing bigger.
She is out of her freaking minds, she wants to stay here? In a village called nowhere. I was unable to comprehend the depths of this stupid act.
Village people will probably rape her and kill her. I imagined the worst case and highly likely scenario.
“No Vipin, I am not out of my senses. I have found my soul mate here, in Kamla. She and I just connected. We talked and understood each other on a spiritual plane. We must have common past karma.”Maya spoke confidently.
My mom is emotional but she vouched that the two were inseparable in the ladies room
My dad stared at her some more, and started to clear his throat-
I prayed that the opium doesn’t have its effect on Dad. It is believed to make you violent.
“As you wish”. My father said.
Not in his particular way of speaking but it was a command for me and a shock.