28 November, 2007
~Richard Gere, Bee Season.
I tried not to look too hard for you, in case I found you.
There are some people in who's eyes you just want to be right.
"Why does everyone think conflict is always bad?"
~Julie Delpy, Before Sunrise.
22 November, 2007
18 November, 2007
14 November, 2007
Driving out of saadi dilli is a pain. If you do manage to see through the haze, the traffic stretches out many kilometers long. Everyone wants to get onto the Delhi-Agra highway? Unbelievable, even for a person saddled with an imagination of my proportions. So we are sandwiched between 1) boisterous Punjabi family where laughter is pouring out through every possible orifice and 2) Haryana roadways bus where sprays of vomit have painted the side of the white and blue bus. Its one of those sites, no matter how many times you see them, they disgust you.
Phew we are out on the highway. Another interesting breed of tranport catches my attention. Trucks of monstrous proportions have colonized the highway. Horns: pleading, vicious and wonderous begin a one-sided conversation. The mighty one does not relent, hogs the fast lane, spews out unimaginably black fumes and has "jaane bhi do yaaroon" painted on it rump. Desperation sets in, we swerve to the left and overtake from the wrong side. Aah the road stretches out tantalizingly in front of us. We settle into our seats feasting on the dusty landscapes that make up rural India at this time of the year: rows of potato fields as perfect as kitkat bars, a hint of yellow in the mustard khet, a few babool trees breaking the monotony of the horizontal horizon. Colourful dhabas line the roads, weirdly lettered signboards scream out their gastronomic delights in a jolly manner.
The journey falls into the rhythm of dodge the motorcycles, overtake from wrong side, drivers are deaf so don't blow horn, whoosh past the overloaded tractors and don't pay heed to people asking for a lift. And then we turn in for Mathura. Goodbye to the comfort of the smooth highway. Bumpity bump. Welcome to the potholed pockmarked pimpled road system that is integral to the soul of U.P. The luggage groans at the ridiculous way the car is swerving. Any attempts of sleeping/lolling/sitting in one position have been abadoned. Now one is jostling with rickety jeeps, tangas, phatphatiyas that make more noise than they cover distance, tractors and god knows what for space on the road. A fishy looking group of men have blocked the road demanding a road tax. We look at them with the practiced withering look of mathura-vaasis. They are adamant, so are we.
"Tax toh bhaiya dena hi padega".
They are miffed. We realise a sense of humour is not the right thing to flaunt at this particular moment in time. Reluctantly they remove the barricade. We zoom past so happy with are victory that we miss the monster speed breaker in front. Damn.
After the experience of Mathura (this city does not know what traffic lights are, cows and pigs have more space than vehicles on the roads and ofcourse every tout in the street tries to milk you for money playing up the holy place factor till you want to never hear of god again and just run away) we turned off to the Raya road, another hellish drive of bumps and holes. There are these long and I mean LONG patches of road metal lying about in this lackadaisical manner, forgotten by people, suspended in time, cornered by the greed of a line of corrupt somebodies. The tires groan in utter displeasure and we grin at our foolishness of hoping the roads would have improved by now at least.
We turn into the last bit of our journey. Cars and buses have given way to bullock carts, cycles and people walking on foot. There are two fellows running in their banyans, shorts and canvas shoes (its a common site here - many village youngsters train to become jawans in the army and physical toughness is the most important criteria). There is a rich silence talking to me. And then I was rewarded with the most interesting contraption any road has ever witnessed. It is called "jugaad" a beautifully crafty word which fits this little engineering genius perfectly. It is usually a motor from a pump set or tractor set up on a body made of wooden planks. The driver's seat can be anything that can provide a surface which can seat a bottom from a crate to an upturned bucket or an old can of paint. The jugaad lives upto its name: it is an assemble of useless things which are thrown together to make up something that is just about useful. Its rickety backside can accommodate a load of upto 12 people if fitted in gravity-defying positions that one usually sees in DTC buses. It is fascinating to see this noisy vehicle start up, load itself and push off. The way it moves, you'd be very brave to go within a mile of it. Its amusing and inspiring at the same time. Necessity is the mother of invention? Grandmother too if you'd ask me.
The lastest stretch is a kachha road. The dust off the roads mixes with the aroma of freshly laid out dung cakes. A chulah is lighting up somewhere, a puddle of patchy puppies, eyes still closed are seen lying in the mud, a girl in a pink salwar-kameez is chewing on a green guava, there's a cricket match going on in the maidaan. The ball is slightly torn at its seam. Its dusk, the temple bell rings, the pokhar (village pond) has a solitary duck tracing a pretty pattern on its surface.
We reach home. A volley of black and white fur hurls onto us. Through the excited barks and crazy tails we discern a shapeless flurry of happy dogs. Could I help but laugh?