Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Goodbye doesn't always mean we will meet again

You became a stranger over the past few decades. I remember I was only 15, raging hormones and all; and we stopped communicating… I never forgave you for all that you made us go through, you were one of the reasons I closed up to the world and became an introvert, always afraid to open up to others in fear of them going away in the end.

Then I met you again a few months ago; wrinkled, tired and living on borrowed time. The people who you had listened to and distanced yourself from us were the ones who were now tired of your existence and regularly hoped and prayed for you to pass on. What a shame! We loved you so much! And yet you had to take sides, instead of showing your authority, you chose to go away.

Later, looking at you lying on the bed, hardly breathing… people around waiting for you to stop. End the struggle and move on! And I wondered, do I really know you anymore? You were a stranger who didn’t talk, didn’t even open his eyes, you were just there… breathing, because you didn’t have anything else to do. Nothing to say, nothing to convey, you looked tired.

When I got the call that night, everyone around you and me were calm, composed and collected; they had waited for this moment for a long time, and when it came… it came a bit too late.
We came to see you in the morning, to bid our farewells one last time… there you were, an object instead of a being, on the floor tied up and weighed down by the flowers. Your eyes half open or half closed, the mouth that I remember was gasping for air had been left open, toothless, and expressionless, a piece of cotton rudely shoved in as if to gag and choke you of all that sounds that never came out throughout your lifetime.

When I carried you on my shoulder, I realized that you had reduced down to nothing! The only weight we felt was of the heaps of the flowers. Putting you on the pile of wood, smearing ghee on your face, hands, feet and torso… that cold flesh that meant nothing now. I still remember almost blurting out to the guys to be careful not to hurt you while they were piling up the wooden logs on top of you.  And the fire was lit.

The wood caught fire pretty quickly! And so did you… the skull popped like a fire cracker, leaving a trail of fireworks around. Then popped the kneecaps and your titanium joints that costed hundreds of thousands just plonked off like scrap metal… they couldn’t help you stand on your feet or walk away from the fire… I will not easily forget the sick fervor with which the dom was going at your remains to hasten the process of burning… it was more than 2 hours that you took to turn into a pile of ash and a few scattered bone bits.

The bits were gathered and washed in milk and water, then you were placed in a small little earthen pot with a parchment containing your details and a small prayer to the gods to take you where you belong… these will be floated in a river someday.

Now, you are gone… your memory lingers and the people who wished and prayed for your departure are sitting there tired of crying and feeling guilty about everything they said and did to hurt you, cribbing about how they could have told you this and asked for that before you left.

Goodbye! May you find whatever you are looking for in the eternal time and space…. We might meet someday, then we will sit and talk. Till then, find your peace. 

Wild Weekend @ KolliMalai

After getting inspired by Doc. Raval's pics of his Kolli Hills ride, I had already decided that I'm gonna ride out to this destination...Last weekend's BN G2G brought up this topic... Ashish Chamoli jumped to the idea of going for a ride, any ride! As long as it is a long ride :)

Made a few calls and sent out emails asking friends who would be interested; and only Arijit Ghosh reverted, saying that he is interested, he roped in another of his friend Dilip who has done extensive riding across India, specially the northeast part...

So the planning was done, date and time decided, all that was needed was to turn up for the ride! We met up at 5am on Hosur Road, and started for our destination by around 6ish (it took some time for everyone to assemble) the roads were butter smooth and the climate was perfect!

First stop was at around 7 near Krishnagiri for some awesome idlis and omelets. After getting a fill of food we started again, next stop was Salem, asked for directions and hit the right road towards Rasipuram, here funny thing happened! A kid comes up and asks in Tamil if this is a college trip, I just shook my head and didn't say anything; he then asks if we are the Police! I shook head again, so his mum tells him, they are the army... :D

From here, the great NH7 turns into a modest State Highway… but kudos to TN govt for making such great roads, not too many potholes on the way and perfectly picturesque scenery to give us company all the way!

After Rasipuram we had to start climbing the ghat section… the dreaded 70 hairpin turns! But to my surprise, the road condition was so smooth that the dread turned into sheer joy after every turn! And by the time we reached the top, the adrenaline and the joy both were on a full high!

Now bearing in mind from Doc's instructions we knew that there are not too many accommodation options here, and hence Ashish had carried his 4person tent (just in case!) there are 2 famous resorts and a couple of measly lodges that provide accommodation… to our luck, everything was full! Finally the owner of a resort allowed us to pitch our tent in his coffee plantation (of course after charging 1K for it) but it was exactly what we wanted! We pitched our tent in the middle of nowhere, with coffee plants all around us and the noise of all the birds and insects around :)

After pitching up and resting for a while, we set out on our bikes to do a look-see of the place. We were surprised to find that the place doesn't have much to offer from a `touristy' option… just 2 `points' for witnessing the sunsets and loads of liquor stores to buy cheap beer and brandy… we did our `shopping' and went to one of the points to see the sunset, saw hoards of people come, pose for pics, and go while were sat there unmoved.

After sunset and some basic `appetizers' we headed for dinner, ate dinner and crashed in the tent amongst total darkness and sounds of all the insects… the sky was totally clear so saw a lot of stars…

Woke up early in the morning, packed our stuff and rode out before the local traffic increases… after some photo-ops on the ghats, we descended to Rasipuram for some breakfast of dosas and parathas… ate our fill and rode out… next stop dharampuri for tender coconuts then again rode till Electronic city, stopped looking for lunch options and realized that we are too close to home to eat out now… so, said good byes and ripped all the way home…

Total ride distance, door to door: 650kms


Ashish Chamoli – LB500

Arijit Ghosh – TB350

Dilip – STD350

LJ – RedEye

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

KADAK BADSHAHI - When Ahmedabad Happens

Here is my take on the on the recent performance of Kadak Badshahi that I witnessed in Ahmedabad...

For someone who grew up in this glorious city of Ahmedabad and moved out at the prime of the youth, without knowing what this city is all about or the so intriguing history of how the city came into existence the play Kadak Badshahi was a perfect eye-opener and an echo to most of my questions and qualms about the present situation of the city.

The experience of the play starts the moment you step into the gates of the venue and walk towards the amphitheater. There are small floats and stalls that are a live experience of the joys we Amdavadis enjoy on a regular basis and have started taking for granted… be it the food, the garba, the colors and the explosions of experiences. I for once was completely speechless and mesmerized with the experience here and the play hadn’t even started.
I will try not to share the spoilers as the play is an experience in totality and I don’t want to spoil it for you by telling you everything about it, yet I will give you enough enticement of why you don’t want to miss it for anything.

The play starts with the history of Ahmedabad, the famous story of the rabbits getting together and winning over the wild dogs… there are multiple audio-visual treats all over the venue going on and you as a spectator will not want to blink your eyes worrying that you might miss out on some of the grandeur of the performances on the stage and the “screens”

The cast of the play was almost 50 if not more, and I shouldn’t be calling it a play, it is more of a performance or a treat to your audio visual senses. The performance very easily and convincingly blends the history of some of the very famous monuments of the city, and how they got their names or why some of the things that happen there that are happening and you forgot to notice.
There are also very subtle yet strong digs taken on the government and the administration from the Amdavadis’ perspective that the performers have portrayed very candidly yet with perfect conviction. Most of the audience will remember the stories of the famous foods and drinks that we are so used to in Ahmedabad, but the performance also pointedly asks and probes you as an Amdavadi to think what is happening to your city.

The multiple times of the cast asking us the audience, “what the city was and what did you do to it?” was an echo to my feelings and frustration that I have experienced as a ‘returning’ Amdavadi. For the past decade, I have visited this city as a ‘guest’ live here for a week and fly back to my base… this time, I was here for over 3 months, and at every step on the way I asked myself why? What the F@#& happened to the city I left a decade ago? This time I roamed on the roads and experienced this city as a part of the population.

There are many parts in the performance that will completely move you and bring you to tears when they talk about the goings on of the city and the historical significance of it all… be it the story of the Kankaria lake, or the Ellis bridge, or the story of a flower vendor selling her wares on a carpet on the roads outside the Bhadrakali temple.

The performers keep reminding us how the gardens, and forests gave way to the concrete jungle over these years and how the normal Amdavadi has become apathetic, money minded and worried about only one thing “what is in it for me?” there is also a very emphatic statement that lingers in your head well after you walk out, the rough translation of it is “Lakshmi doesn’t mean money, it means prosperity”

The finale of the performance is one of the best I have seen in my life, a glorious celebration of the foods, drinks and everything of Ahmedabad, the audience are so involved in this that they are thrilled when someone hands out gotas and vadas during the performance… guess I have told too much about it already.

Bottom line is that if you are an Amdavadi, or curious about Ahmedabad or someone who has lived here even for a few months… you MUST watch this play and relive your experience of the great city of Ahmedabad. My kudos to the never ageing and every graceful Mallika Sarabhai who not only is part of the performance but also directed the play with Yadavan Chandran and Nisarg Trivedi. You all have created history, let me rephrase, you have recreated history.