Thursday, May 28, 2009
He had lost the plot in its entirety, a whole semester stared back at him, with a gamut of unanswered questions. And yet here he was, his borrowed 350 cc two wheeled demon fired up under him, waiting for lady luck to emerge. There in the distance she appeared, a ruck sack hanging loose from her frail frame. He must have witnessed this sight a million times and yet he knew he must cherish this one.
A gruelling ride lay ahead of them, 200 kms of he most scenic yet arduous landscapes. The iPod came in tow, and she shared her music, just as he had shared his. Eddie vedder's smoky voice around these lyrics come to mind "All I ever taught her was, everything". A 100 km/hr is no time to let your thoughts meander, not in this terrain, and so he regained composure as they arrived at the half way point, a restaurant. Neither were too hungry, but meals have an interesting way of imposing themselves on you, a lunch for instance must be had around noon, so they did. Rice held together, or kept apart, depending on how you perceive it, with a generous lacing of curd, some fried okra by the side. She loved it, he loved her for it...
The ride continued and they entered the periphery of their destination. The traffic, meanwhile had furtively built up in force around them and at such a crowded crossroad, he pressed on the brakes too hard, lost grip on the road and fell over. It was the first time he had relinquished control by accident, how ironic he thought to himself, picking himself up before his pride.
Back home, his friend had done the most stupendous job of making himself scarce over the new year's eve, so this would be their time alone, a first in all their years of courtship. She was tired from the journey and demanded a warm bath, he was burnt much too deep in his desire for a warm embrace, one in which he could hold her to eternity, to himself, for himself. He didn't know if it was still alright to hold her, the tension was immense and almost audible. But she would give in ultimately, and he would be allowed the pleasure of holding her in his arms, perhaps one last time. There was an air of finality about everything this evening. How much could he hold on to?-----------TO BE CONTINUED
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
We belong to a generation who grew up on a staple diet of filmed patriotism, staring at fuzzy black & white images of Pandit Nehru embarking on a "tryst with destiny", the euphoric gathering cheering the slow but steady ascension of the fluttering tricolor. Staring, at the frail bespectacled figure that epitomizes the very essence of the much heard of freedom struggle. Each frame is etched into our collective conscience and yet come august 15 th we can't help but gaze into the oft- run but seldom drunk-in pictures of our independence, wondering how it would have been in the midst of the crowd, to breathe-in the air of expectancy of a nation impending birth, pondering over how it would have been to walk alongside the frail figure we so revere. The melodrama subsides in a while and we walk off with a heady mix of emotions to tend to the mundane that forms the centre of our lives now.
More than half a century later freedom is still a potent word and one which holds as much lure now as it did then. The dimensions have changed though, almost as though it went through a facelift with time. Today's youth are as potent as the word itself, with opportunities aplenty and means at hand to capitalize on them, but do they believe they possess freedom? More importantly how do they define it in today's context and how far are they willing to venture to achieve it. Some bore a puzzled expression when posed with these questions, others recovered quickly to wax eloquent about their private versions of the word and what it meant to them.
Alok phadnis a final year student of engineering at VIT, had this to say "I believe in the freedom to choose our own career paths." His words are echoed by Gowri Kulkarni an MBBS student albeit in different words "Freedom to me is the liberty of thought, action and expression of one's own aspirations and the right to work towards them." In a society where 17 year olds are believed to be unequipped to make a career decision for themselves, where parental pressure invariably influences one's career path, these views are far from surprising. Those who have been fortunate enough to have the freedom to choose their careers, find themselves oppressed in other ways. Most girl students inhabiting college hostels can be found questioning why their in-timings are always about 3-4 hours earlier than the guys. Another burning issue is the unwritten dress code every girl has to adhere to lest she run a risk of eve teasing or worse. Unnati Agarwal a student of symbiosis institute of design hits the nail on the head. "Freedom is free falling, unbound, limitless and unquestioning." Prageti verma , a student of SCMHRD seems to pervade the material plane when she says "Freedom to me is freedom from greed, lust, the want for acquiring and the sense of belonging."
Although most seem to have a clear view on freedom and what it translates as to them, the majority are unsure as to how they would go about achieving it. Also not all answers received were thoughtful, some were downright hilarious. While some argued for freedom from attendance and lectures, others yearned for the right to party all night. But who are we to question them. Can one freedom be smaller or insignificant than the other? Can it be measured and ranked? Can two freedoms lose harmony with each other? Can nations be free when people aren't? All questions beyond our realm. Yet freedom lives, breathes and yearns to find expression.
It is 4 AM on a chilly winter morning, but it’s warm in here. The fire’s been lit and a worn out copper vessel fills to the brim with the piping concoction. Sitting by the fire he adds the secret ingredients and looks on as the fragrance wafts into the early morning breeze leading early starters and joggers like zombies to its source. The sorcerer’s lair? Not exactly, its just another day at work for bapu. Pehalavan as he is affectionately referred to by his peers is no sorcerer, just one of the countless amruttulya owners in the city.
It is nigh impossible to find a soul in pune who’s been deprived of the amruttulya experience. The amruttulya finds place in everyone’s remembrances and each has a special one to suggest. However for the blissfully ignorant, amruttulya means equivalent to amrit (elixir), a term that over the years has come to be synonymous with tea and tea shops in pune. In a city of ever-changing trends and “here now gone then” fads, holding on to the fickle loyalties of the people to survive is a real challenge for any business. But somewhere between the clutter of gourmet coffee outlets and the clamour of specialty eateries, the low profile, run of the mill chai-ki-dukan has not only managed to survive but flourish too. It is a pity then that it has failed to find much of a mention in the media of late, partly because of the cultural myopia that ails most of the media these days and mostly because the amruttulya culture is so entwined with the social fabric of pune that it is difficult to tell it apart.
From being the favored hangout for white-collared executives on a cigarette break, to playing luncheon for the less fortunate rag picker. From being a refuge from the books for college students to an oasis of information for the lost tourist seeking direction. From brewing revolutions for the kurta-clad communist to ponder over to soothing the revolting appendages of the toiling artist. The Amruttulya is many things to many people.. Of the many things in its favor ,easy accessibility and the lack of any airs about the shops is what makes them a big hit with the “tea”totallers of the city. One doesn’t need to be a tea leaf reader to understand that the amruttulya is more than just a passing trend, the cultural Diaspora that converges upon it is indication enough. Religion, caste and creed seem to take a back seat as connoisseurs of good tea indulge themselves and resort to that harmless activity called gossiping.
In this age where even places of worship offer better views of the deity for money, the amruttulya is one of the very few places where men are still treated as they were born, as Equals. Fancy a cutting?