Haven’t written on QTOL in a while, long enough for QTOL to be technically non-existent. But as I was telling Lakshmi QTOL is a space I write only when something comes to me. Not something for which I can make a timetable.
So just as life would have it, as I returned home on my first day of freedom (I just quit a full time job) life presented me with a QTOL moment!
I live at a chaotic street junction. The evenings on that road are usually jammed with traffic. As I stepped out of my taxi waiting to cross the street, in the middle of all the Bombay traffic flanked with taxis, the Hynudai Santro’s, the City Honda’s the Ford Icons, the Maruti Getz and the many more of those flashy and modern age cars out of nowhere a ‘bottle green’ antique car makes its way. (Since I am horrid with cars, don’t know what particular car this was) I only know it was bottle green with a long bonnet and a small square sitting arrangement.
As the car passed me I couldn’t but give a hearty laugh!
Right inside were 5 neatly packed ‘bawa’ men (Parsee). Dressed in their traditional white ‘Dugli’s’ and ‘Pagris’ (the traditional white shirt and cap dress). The car was being driven by the oldest of the lot may be over 75-80 years with a long flowing white beard. His front seat companion was a 30 odd gentleman clean-shaven. The back seat which would have otherwise fitted two was packed with three skinny gentleman, two 75 odd years and one again in his 30’s!
As I stood there with this car slowly passing me by in traffic it almost felt as though these guys had just zoomed down from Hogrwartz! Out of their school class in their uniform being dropped back home by their headmaster. The guy on the wheel looked like an exact replica of Dumbledore! And their Dugli’s though missing the flowy feeling of the magical robes definitely had a charm of their own! In that crazy moving traffic and the chaotic street corner these 5 gentlemen in their car definitely seemed to have landed from a wonderland setting a pace of their own to the world around them!
And suddenly in the midst of my surprised laughter I found one of the back seater’s looking straight at me. In that odd moment, for the fear of not offending them I turned away to continue my hearty laugh to myself! The laugh was definitely not a mocking one but that of sheer pleasure of seeing life at full swing!
A big cheers to those 5 men in the car. Hoping they have a great ride!
P.S: As I walked back home it struck me .Why is it that if you catch a random person laughing at you the first thought that would cross our minds is ‘they might be laughing at me mockingly’ and not that ‘they might be laughing at something that made them happy looking at me?’ and also may be that guy who caught me did not think that. But why would it cross my mind that he might feel offended?
Here’s hoping that more laughter gets interpreted as happy than offensive! hehe
And for all those have yet not met a Parsee (the Zorastrian community in India) please go out there in the search of one right away! They are by far one of the most amazingly entertaining set of people I have met so far! I am sure they are the only bunch of oldies I can find packed in an antique car in Dugli’s floating along Bombay traffic!
Fairy Tales! You grew up on them as kids. Most kids love them, and if one had to take a guess on who’s got better choices on things, kids or adults there wouldn’t even be a debate on this issue…hehe
But then I just got thinking… as one grows up why do most people grow out of fairy tales? or why do adults start believing that fairy tales are unreal and its time to get realistic? I have never got why realism gets almost equated to accepting that life’s not so nice!
If one actually takes a look at the notion of fairy tales aren’t they the most real things in the world? They have the absolute mix of the good, bad and the ugly…the struggles and the triumphs, the king and the popper.. all of this with the ‘one big happy ending’! Isn’t that what life’s all about?
For people who may question this I would want to tell them that dude you haven’t reached your end as yet so how can you write it off? And who on this earth living any life will ever be able to deny the mixed bag that the present always is…
So except for the bit that all characters in most fairy tales are always ‘beautiful’ and ‘handsome’ and the perfect life is when the ugly becomes beautiful and the poor becomes rich…the base of most of them is about happiness isn’t it? And whether it’s the story of Cinderella or Pinocchio the point is about life may be a struggle but its got happy endings! That’s of course if you choose to ‘believe’ so. That reminds me of another thing. Most characters in fairy tales who do make it brilliantly in the end are somewhere people who believed through their story, and isn’t that an alternative to just optimistic thought? Who would debate that optimism can carry you better than pessimism in a real rut?
So yeah I tell u adults! Don’t know why they get us off track in life! lol
Three images which stay in my mind over last one week, in the order that I saw them.
First- On an extremely hot afternoon I made my way out of the Kanjur Marg station (a central suburban station in Mumbai). The journey from VT to Kanjur Marg took me 35 min in the train and I found myself complaining of the extreme heat and how over crowded and stuffy the train journey had been (I did surprise myself by feeling that way!). As I stepped down the over bridge on my route to the auto, the tiny lane was also quite hot and dusty. In the middle of that lane a large steel drainage gutter lid had gone defunct. The gutter had obviously stopped functioning and the lid lay there slanting one foot inside the gutter making a slant.
A crowd of kids (ranging from 3-8 yrs) from the near by huts were surrounding this defunct gutter, taking turn to use the sliding lid as their own private little garden slide! The circle around the gutter went in circles, one kid taking the turn after the another and each having an absolute blast as they slid themselves down that 3 feet by 2 feet slide! Each kid had that expression of absolute joy and amazement as they made their way down. Only if I was not to rush to the meeting I would have stuck around there a bit longer and may be tried joining them in their game!
Second- As I sat on Marine Drive on a breezy evening, gazing at the sea and the sky, evening walkers, kids out for their evening play time and friends on a stroll gathered on the side promenade. One kid took my attention away from the sky and the sea for quite some time.
He was with the person who would be taking care of him as his mother sat catching up on her phone. The kid, about 4-5 yrs old was riding his just newly acquired bicycle (the bicycle still had fresh plastic covers which were not taken off). He rode for a bit, and then for a longer time than he had ridden his new possession he was more enthralled at pushing the cycle, beating it up, and kicking it. Lifting it again, pushing it till it went a bit far, waiting till it dropped and kicking it again.
After sometime the kicking and the hitting got the better of me and I got back to my sea and the clouds
Third- On my way back home tonight, around 7 p.m as I walked down towards my house I was passing one of those famous bookstores which lots of people keep hopping in and out of. This store has definitely added a lot more traffic and crowd to my earlier relatively quite street corner.
Just outside the store the mother carried her 5-6 yr old daughter who had just been taken to the bookstore, presumably waiting for their driver to come and pick them up. The same bookstore had an under bridge area right opposite where a lot of street families live as well.
As I walked passed the mother daughter duo, they were being daunted by one of the street kid girls begging from them. As I walked, my ears overheard the daughter telling the mother “please give her something na!”, and my eyes caught the mother quickly giving her daughter a stern look of ‘no’, and her hands trying to send the beggar kid away
Don’t want to say anything more… just wanted to share these images as they linger on in my mind… the subtleties of life as they keep popping up all around us… reiterating life the way it is!
For all the mechanical boringness of machines, there is something inherently beautiful about how cycles of ‘a day’ keep churning themselves over and over again! I am someone who would find routines absurd and boring and yet there is a simple beauty in certain kinds of synchronicity!
Yesterday when the rains kept pouring down, the sky felt like an excessively HUGE water bag which had just burst open and kept emptying itself. I was standing by my window spacing out on the rain and noticed something. In that chaotic rain day when perhaps a lot of us would have stayed home I saw the Milk Man coming on his cycle, completely geared in his rain wear, stopped in front of building next doors and was off for the deliveries in the building. (A lot us on a heavy rain day might wonder how we may reach work by bus/car/cab but how many of us doubt that whether the milkman who comes on his cycle may not be able to make it?)
Then on my way to work, I noticed a garbage truck. The men in the middle of fighting the heavy downpour were busy emptying the bags dolled out to them from the entire line of restaurants on the streets, dumping them and moving on.
For all the milkmen, the garbage men, the vegetable sellers, things that we are so used to just ‘being there’, do we even realize how awesome these guys are? Most of the middle level management in this country might suffer from not turning up on time and having the lazy (Indian standard time) attitude but have we noticed how punctual, on time and perfect most of our milkmen and dhobis (Laundry men) are! If they had to be the ‘standard’ for ‘Indian Standard time” we definitely would have a different definition doing the rounds!
I use to always wonder as to how my dhobi manages to collect clothes from some 50 odd flats in my bundling, remember each and every one of them and return them in exactly the same way without misplacing or mixing up a single one! I have the same fascination for my Milkman who comes every evening to all the houses, takes orders (which may vary on a day to day basis about the amount of milk to be delivered the next day) and delivers the exact number of bags the next day! I have still not figured out how they manage this! (And we tend to assume, mundane regular jobs don’t require skills!)
Sometimes I think these jobs are the ones that need the most skill and discipline and enormous amount of creativity to not get bored with the same thing day in and day out!
I was smiling at the beauty of how regularly these cycles keep turning themselves…not a single error and no single delay. I burst out laughing at imagining what would happen the day….the milkman would turn up late .. followed by no garbage being collected… to the dhobi coming late… and the dabba wala never turning up! 🙂
So cheers to these guys out there! And the cycles which keep rolling out, hoping that one day I shall come close to that level of efficiency.
I am sure all of us if we looked at our days had many more of these people and things that decorate our lives and make sure our days stay under control.
Which are your favorites?
You see a line of cabs parked at the end of a lane, the regular black and yellow ‘Premier Padminies’ (Fiats). (For all the non-bombayites, all cabs are the same fiat model). At the end of the row you see a black and yellow colored car, it’s a cab! But it’s not a Fiat. It’s a Hyundai Santro!
What would you do? Which one would you pick for your ride?
Over the last year, there have been a few of these Santro cabs that have been around Bombay. Whenever I see one, I get really excited and always run to get into one! It just seems like a fun thing to do. It’s a regular cab, same rate, just a Santro rather than a Fiat!
The fun is more with the kind of looks you get as you take your ride. Most people on the streets with expressions of… “Oh that looks different!” to “Do you think that might be costing her more!” to “Oh what’s that thing?” to “Oh what fun!”
When I was in one of these rides today I got thinking of how these simple things are somewhere connected to whether we see the different things that ‘pop up’ out of our otherwise routine canvas as “quaint” and “fun” or just “absurd” and “weird” ! Would you like random changes and take detours or just prefer routines?
Just in case any of you are thinking I am cooking up a baseless theory of ‘sameness’ and ‘difference’ based on a simple ‘cab ride choice’ I have evidence to back this! 🙂
To quote one of my friend with whom I did have this conversation, she told me she had left a Santro cab just last week cause she thought it looked ‘different’. So that at least makes the two of us, one on each side!
So what would you do? Big theories are always made of small gestures! I hope there were more random out of pattern cabs, buses, or thing we use everyday to choose from! Wouldn’t they add that random variety to life!
P.S: That reminds me of another random conversation I had with a group of friends a while ago, when the topic of discussion was, “Why does a refrigerator always have the freezer on top?” Given that actually we use the lower section more and keep bending down to get things. Wouldn’t it be more convenient to have the regular section on top, so things you use everyday will be at your regular height! None of us could really conclude whether this design was for any scientific logical reason or just a pattern we got habituated to. Not only as ‘users’ but as ‘designers’ would you defy a set pattern?
In some of those pondering moments, when one wonders whether there is a heaven and if there are magical alternative realms, I realize that there is one parallel reality that I drift away into almost on a daily basis – I drift into the reality of things beyond the earth!! Something you can see everyday and yet it’s an endless fascinating world of its own, which you realize only if you looked at it as often as you noticed the road you walk on.
I am talking about the world on top of the horizon! The sky!
Today morning as I was on my cab ride to work with the sky dotted with a few rain clouds, my mind wandered away. Like a flash of having a dejà vu, I was thinking of all the awesome things that the sky keeps treating me to. I don’t know if any of you guys love staring at the sky but I do, and these are the kind of things that I love staring at on random afternoons, evenings and nights.
Do you follow any of these? Or do you have any more to add on to my list?
Have you ever followed clouds and tried to see everything in them? From animals, to people, to chariots to the big elephant breaking away into smaller bears. As they drift and move, disintegrate and merge into one another, they seem to tell so many stories! And have you ever tried looking out of the aircraft? It’s when I just want to go hopping and jumping on all the clouds hanging in the middle of nowhere .They seem like little rocks in a pond which you could jump on. The sight of absolutely nothing hanging in the middle of air is perhaps the most beautiful sight ever.
And have you chased the Birds around? All the mad groups and the lonely ones, the ones fluttering in circles and the ones taking such long flights that they disappear out of your sight. The pairs of birds that seem to follow one another, its almost as though you are flying around with them.
And then my personal favorite – have you felt like creating your own box of colours to capture all the shades that come up at the sunset and the sunrise? The purples, the oranges, the blues, the yellows. Wow! I really can’t ever stop marveling at them. I know for sure, every day it’s a new colour, although it may seem the same shade its always different. I am forever fascinated by the million shades that exist in the sky. It feels as though the sky is a massive multicolored screen which keeps throwing these different shades at you. I am sure there is a very ‘scientific’ explanation to this, but my imagination thrives at seeing the sky as a canvas with colours being splashed on it rather that seeing it as a set of molecules and atoms and because of light refraction creating an illusion of colour! Lol.
And of course how can we forget our stars, the moon and the sun. The moon is by far my favorite. The part that’s most fascinating is when the moon and the sun keep playing their hide and seek with the clouds. I feel like I am part of their team sometimes! The light emerging from behind when the clouds have completely covered them….and when this happens over the ocean with the reflection on the water…..I haven’t really found a more fairy tale magical moment than this! 🙂
So here’s a loud cheer to the parallel magical world that’s as real to me as my world on the ground! Who said you had to go to Hogwarts and Hogsmead to get into the magical world of the wizards? We muggles seem to have our very own magical land, if we only let our imaginations have some fun. So here’s a to all of us discovering our private magical lands! We can all give company to Alice for creating and discovering more of her wonderlands in our very own backyards.
There has always been something quaint about ‘games teachers’ in school. I’m sure everyone at some point in time has encountered a games teacher who believes in punishing kids more than really letting them enjoy their games! I wonder why ‘games’, perhaps one of the most fun things in life, are always equated to strictness and exercise. Perhaps this is just one more of those things that adults diligently make boring.
The temple that I go to also has a primary school in its compound. The compound is shared for the school’s games classes. As I sat there today morning, a neat set of four rows of ten each in red, blue, yellow and green lined themselves up, with a 40 something man with big spectacles and a big moustache! It was of course our Kindergarten boys out for their exercise regime. I wonder if this typical look of all games teachers is just a coincidence or is it a criterion they have to adhere to in places where they get trained?
The 1,2,1,2 begins……hands going up and down, hands going side and up, heads going up and down. The horribly monotonous things we get kids to do in the name of building fitness and discipline! !!!. lol. And so as this ‘extremely engaging and interesting’ session continues, the odd kid in every row can’t help but miss the ‘fun’ of it all. With all hands going up, these kids would have their heads going down, or with the hands going up these little smarties having their heads down! Mix ups are fun, aren’t they?
Just when this boring routine had reached its peak with the odd lost smarties becoming the norm rather than the exception and the majority of the class looking around the compound, which also shares the space with pigeons, we had a new visitor on the scene.
A toddler about the same age as the class , in her bright pink t-shirt and a blue denim skirt, with sport shoes and a high pony tale swinging from right to left marches across the space with her mommy dearest to feed the pigeons. The heads turn, our entire last row takes a complete 180 degree turn, away from their very interesting games teacher to our little princess who has definitely caught their attention! She was definitely distracting all the little princes from their ‘physical fitness’.
Once the pigeons were fed, she walked away and leaving most of our distracted souls to return to their monotony. But one boy, the last kid in the red row was not going to return just as yet. His eyes followed her till she disappeared from his sight.
The result? The 180 degree turn had lasted far too long to have been missed by our teacher. A nice pat on his head followed with a demand to get back to class, to which our little prince had to just nod his approval.
I had a hearty laugh. Are we really trying to teach kids that putting our hands and heads up and down is more fascinating and worth learning than seeing a little princess feed pigeons?! Or perhaps we are simply training to negate the fun things and substitute it with the boring, mundane, routine tasks. Perhaps training for the 9-5 job does begin very early in life! Or am I missing the “fun angle” in routine jobs?!!
But I felt happy there was at least one kid in that bunch of 40 who was going to wander away from the routine, at least for a bit if not forever! Cheers to all the wanderers and wandering moments!
Trains journeys are always fascinating, especially when you are stuck in a three tier a/c compartment on an evening 5 hour journey. You can neither kill time by sleeping nor can you really kill time eating your meals. That leaves you stuck with 5 other people in your coach with no sound to distract you either. It’s at such times when it’s almost acceptable, that someone choosing to have a phone conversation within such silent confined spaces is almost volunteering to share their conversation with others. It’s no longer over hearing and impolite! 🙂
So of course, all of this comes with me being stuck in one such compartment! I was trying to kill time and that’s when I usually bump into the most amusing moments. So as I was fiddling with my book, trying to read something, my ears lead me on to something.
My fellow passenger about 30-35 years of age, was on the phone, and this is what I heard him say, “Beta appne mummy ka chocolate kyun le liya!” (Sweety why did u take away mommy’s chocolate! ) – in a tone which adults use to explain children things without wanting to scold them.
And I just smiled to myself! Wow! Now there was some role reversal happening here…
And then the second line…
“Usne aapko chocolate wapus kiya ki nahin?’ (Did he/she return you your chocolate?) – In an extremely concerned, caring tone.
Now how often do adults recognize that sometimes their fellow adults need that chocolate more than the kids! So what if children claim to have had the birth right over all the ‘fun’ things? Sometimes mothers need the chocolates as much or perhaps more than their kids!
Somehow that weirdly confined compartment did not let me put my thumbs up and my ‘Cheers!” to my fellow passenger but in my mind I smiled and was glad for what I overheard! And glad for him having given a boost to all the kids in us!
Which is the MOST elegant walk that you have ever seen?
A few days back while I was strolling along Marine Drive, I think I saw the most elegant walk I have ever seen in my life till now….So who’s walk was it? Who was gifted with such a wonderful stride that it made me want to stop and treasure the moment? Nope it wasn’t a model….Not a young lady.. Not a cutesy toddler…Not a couple on a romantic sojourn… 🙂
More clues? It was a trio – a trio with a man in the middle, a lady holding him from the right by his arm, and another (not a lady) :D…..a man walking with his arm around this guy’s shoulder. More guesses?And no it was not a group of friends either..…have you run out of ideas?
It was a son in his late thirties, with his mother walking hand in hand like his girlfriend and his father walking like his best buddy!
How rarely do we see people who may need help with walking being escorted so beautifully and elegantly! 🙂
If I had a camera that picture would have been one of those that could hang on a wall and say a million different things each time one glanced at it! Sometimes gestures say a lot more than words and promises! It’s true – love and respect is more about how you act than what you will ever be able to say!
So I happen to have this really old temple near where we live. Unlike one of those really small, crowded, noisy messy places, which most temples land up becoming (no offences to anyone, just some reality about today’s temples) this one is one of the most spacious places in our neighborhood. With a rather large compound and trees it manages to actually house multiple temples. The main temple is that of Lakshmi-Nrarayan and behind it there are three tinier temples, one of Vithhal-Rukmini, another one of Hanumanji and the third of Shankar Bahgwan. And then there is a Tulsi kyaara.
The usual ritual for most people visiting the temple (s) is first you visit the main one then hop over to the three smaller ones and then to the tulsi kyaara. Once that’s done everyone has their usual place to chill at, whether the staircases, the benches or the tree shades.
By now you would be wondering why are we reading so much about a temple in a story which is suppose to be about ‘the toffee’!
Well as a kid I visited this temple a lot, perhaps it was one of the most ideal places to go chill alone (and that time the temple was perhaps the farthest I would be allowed to go alone). Of course over the years partly because I found more places I could go alone and partly because I “moved on” the temple was kind of left behind. And then some months back I rediscovered it. One fine day I felt like going back and I’ve been going there quite often since then.
And now here’s where ‘the toffee’ finally enters our story! One of the evenings I was on my routine visit and in the little Vitthal-Rukmini temple at their feet, where the flowers, tulsi leaves and sometimes solitary coins are put, in the midst of the company of the orange, yellow flowers and the green tulsi leaves I saw a white colored lychee toffee (the one that comes packed in a square transparent packet)
I couldn’t stop smiling at the toffee, the gods and myself! This was definitely the first time that I had found a toffee in a temple! That day as I sat on one of the benches of the temple I couldn’t stop my imagination from playing my ‘guessing game’ of how did that toffee get there?
Somehow the first thing that came to mind, I could almost visualize – one of the many small kids who come to the temple in the evening to play, one of them having found his/her way after climbing the 5 little stairs and made it ‘face to face’ with the gods and decided to share his prized toffee with them! Probably as a special treat to the gods! Or perhaps as his punishment fee cause god might have helped him escape some tricky mess (one of those promises that as kids we always made, only if you get me out of this, this time, I shall do…..) or perhaps (s)he saw all the ‘big’ people put money to the temple when they came and since (s)he was taught money is important had learnt that I should also try n share something that’s ‘important’ with the god, and of course what could be more important for me than my toffees!
I don’t know, it could have been any of this or none of these reasons as to how the toffee landed up there. Probably it might just have been one really old person having put it there cause they did not want to eat it! Ha ha
Don’t know, I just know that it was one of those things, which I rarely thought I would bump into inside a temple. Definitely made me smile through the rest of the evening and let my imagination have a trip of its own! Perhaps the next time even I should think of sharing some of my favorite chocolate cake with god! J
P.S: and perhaps it could be fun if all of us began leaving behind some random things at random places, things people don’t expect to be found in those locations. Probably we could have more people smiling to themselves and imagining stories up!