Wednesday, November 24, 2010

three cities, two movies and one funeral later

In the last 20 days since my last blog post I have driven down to Pune twice, been to Hyderabad and generally moped around Bombay / Mumbai.

Driving down to Pune is like planning to go to war for me. One has to decide the exact time and the route to be able to make it to Pune or back in less than two and a half hours. I start at 6 am mostly and drive like my tail is on fire before the road hogs get onto the roads and cross into Pune by 8 30 in time for breakfast.

Lately however I have been tempted by the Misal Pav served at the Expressway pit stop. Its oily, spicy, acidity inducing and makes me swear that I will never eat it again. I give in to temptation each time. Compared to the MacD and the CCD stuff this is potent, earthy stuff.

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My daughter missed Diwali again this year. In her 4 and half years we have seen a death every year. So technically she had celebrated just once when she was a year old. I have promised her that the next year she will be allowed to do what she wants and she will get to do bang bang with fire even if someone else kicks the bucket in the family.

On the way to Pune this year, I was informed about the death of a close relative. Diwali day was spent at the home of the uncle in the company of people I do not really know. It seems I look too alien to be a Malayali and too snooty for people to strike up a conversation. So I sat or stood or leaned around the cars and the chairs and the walls calling people, informing them, arranging for the food for the family.

The food was a very simple gruel of rice accompanied by a vegetable without any spice. The only concession was the mango pickle served as an after thought. Our plan was to have Diwali lunch at home with my in laws. Almost grudgingly I spooned a mouthful and it was brilliant. Maybe it was the ambience, maybe it has to do with the somber atmosphere around the place - death has a way of stupefying people affected. The gruel humbled me, it was nourishing and  filling. It did not make me feel sleepy like the festive food would have. I almost never attend events in my family. I cannot bear the politicking and the need for social graces. But this year I have mellowed down to allow people to talk to me. And connect.

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26 years ago I used to live in an areas known as Dr Amberkar Colony in Pune. It was built for the followers of the original reformer of India. My neighbours we all Buddhists and most ceremonies started with Dhammam Sharanam Gacchami - the real meaning of which was understood by me much much later. This Diwali, the day after the funeral I travelled back in time. Drove along the roads that  were familiar - I used to walk to my school everyday - a distance of 5 Kms. Every little bit has changed - even though there are trees and walls and paths that have survived the concrete mishmash pune is becoming.

What did not change are Rajeev Dubey and Kavita Jain. They studied with me in the graduation years at Wadia College. My milestones of those years have these two along with Swati B and Poonam Ponde scattered in memories - of love and passion and jealousies and anger and despair. Of being blooded into being a Kishore fan, of Asha's voice and growing up. I met the families of Rajeev and Kavita for the first time. The feeling is strange. Of seeing the in between years in the faces of husbands and wives and children. Of not knowing whats protocol with people who have known your worst and best. The 17 years of not being in touch melted away. The years never existed when they sang Kishore - Asha duets.

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Hyderabad airport is like home now. No the toilets do not smell of ammonia, the people speak good Hindi and you do not find Biryani stalls at street corners. This is the third city thats becoming close to my heart now. I love the pace and the people in Hyderabad. Will explore the city soon and find the quirks that make it a human place as compared to Mumbai.

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Loved The Social Network and HP7. TSN for the director's ability to take a bad book and make a quote worthy cracker. Will be writing a piece in defense of Mark Z soon for the business blog I write for.

HP has grown up. No more silly brooms and wide eyed wonderment. I plan to start reading Harry Potter Series to Tamara when she is ten. She will be able to enjoy the series before she gets hijacked by something called Twilight or its equivalent when she is 15.
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