28 July, 2009

Deluge in Delhi

What do you do when you realize that the entire day’s work has been lost because you replaced (this is the operative word here replaced) the new file with an old one of the same name? And then, to add to your mortification, a perfect storm picks up outdoors. Swaying trees, torrential rains, special effect-like lightning, thunder, flooded roads, wet scurrying people. The works.

Half past nine on a monsoon night. People getting wet. Pee getting washed off the numerous pee soaked walls of Delhi. Birds were shivering. Traffic jams a-building. “Sonam” cab service sent us a car (whoever heard of a Sonam cab service?). Anyway, out we ventured into the dark stormy night. Neon lights flickered over soggy stalls of whatever. Lightning tore across the inky sky, illuminating washed out dogs, sodden motorcyclists and glistening trees alike. Thunder raged across the heavens, competing with the cacophony of the downpour. Water gushed from everywhere possible. Our car raced through puddles, sending sprays of water on everything that dared to cross its path. We exchanged suitably abusive language with the guy we drenched on his lookatme bike. There were enough broken down DTC buses and marooned cyclists to certify the monsoons had finally arrived in Delhi.

Delhi was under deluge. The journey was interesting – I got an education in the transport systems of Calcutta from Sujati (ha ha ha), which made me want to visit the city more than ever (it definitely goes on my list of places to travel to along with Pondicherry, Andaman & Nicobar, Sikkim and Gujarat), we nearly had a gazillion accidents, dodging potholes and second guessing similar surprises like speed breakers and open manholes was quickly developed into an art...in short it was an eventful drive on a backdrop of a movie-like scenario (really, superheroes were just waiting to appear).

Then I got stuck (ohsostuck) in a never ending ribbon of various modes of transportation, stretching over kilometers. Barely functional autos, spewing out copious quantities of fumes, big bad buses which hogged most of the road, tractors which moved slower than each other, two wheelers of various shapes and sizes filling into any lacuna they could perceive, cars – elegant so-not-fit-for-monsoon sedans and burly high end I-can-hog-large-chunks-of-the-road SUVs. A friendship sprung up between the taxi driver and I, where topics of conversation ranged from traffic woes in Delhi, to the construction of the Metro and its side effects, to the child wailing in the next car, the surprising weather conditions, his inability to understand Delhi roads and my ability to give last minute swerve-crazily-or-you-will-miss directions. He was as new to Delhi as the rains and appeared just as lost.

The radio station played a Floyd number and managed to surprise me. Then they followed it with Michael Jackson and won me over with their predictability. A man in the next car was reading a book, the name of which I didn’t manage to catch. A dog waded through the river and looked at me with forlorn eyes. A breeze started and shook a few bougainvillea flowers which stained the divider with their scarlet exuberance (bougainvillea flowers have so much character, it’s inspiring). It was post twelve and dreams beckoned with their characteristic naivety. I reached home at some ungodly hour and got another glare from the madamji-aap-itne-late-kyun-aate-ho guard. He laughed at my wet clothes and I pointed to his folded pants.

The deluge, it had done wonderful things to my state of mind. And I thanked you for this cruel summer. It made the rain that much funner. (Wow I am thinking in rhyme now!)

15 July, 2009

Of Animals and Aesop's

“As a rule, man is a fool
When it’s hot he wants it cool
When its cool he wants it hot
Always wanting what is not”

I remember this poem from a time frame so obscure, that it’s a miracle I remember it at all. The poem was from this thin little copy of Aesop’s fables I had. Yellow cover. Red lettering. Very poor quality paper. Bad printing. I learnt the poem thinking it meant something very important and adult like, not realizing how true it would turn out to be. [Adulthood fascinated us so much when we are kids, its such a let down I tell you. The only part I like about it is that you don’t get shooed into bed at an ungodly early hour.] So, coming back to Aesop’s, I realized how my treacherous memory was failing me and I couldn’t remember even one story [or fable whatever]. So I picked up the book [this version was a hardbound, tastefully illustrated version, nice yellow paper, beautiful slanting font and delectable printing] and began a very loud rendition of … wait I think I should read it out to you people as well (since it seems like I have nothing else to write anyway :P). Here goes:

The Wolf And The Sheep

A Wolf, sorely wounded and bitten by dogs, lay sick and maimed in his lair. Being in want of food, he called to a Sheep, who was passing, and asked to fetch him some water from a stream flowing close beside him. ‘For,’ he said, ‘if you will bring me a drink, I will find means to provide myself with meat.’ ‘Yes,’ said the Sheep,’ if I should bring you the drought, you would doubtless make me provide the meat also.’

Hypocritical speeches are easily seen through.


That, I realized was some moral. And yes its been tried and tested by so many, that it's not a hypothesis by any stretch of imagination. But then I also came across another one, which was sort of, let’s just say, a little drastic?



The Ass And The Grasshopper

An Ass, having heard some Grasshoppers chirping, was highly enchanted; and, desiring to possess the same charms of melody, demanded what sort of food they lived on, to give them beautiful voices. They replied, ‘The dew.’ The Ass resolved that he would only live upon dew, and in a short time died of hunger.

PS: The concept of a story with a moral seems so proper and naive.
PPS: Narrating stories with animals as characters lessens the blow. But that doesn’t make the moral any smaller or more frivolous.

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