Thursday, December 27, 2007




Thursday, December 20, 2007

I saw stars

My life has the perfect plot, the cast is missing. I have all these stories in my scattered head, the dreams that never came true, the side of the moon I never saw, the faith I couldn't instill, the leap I couldn't take, the life I never made. It's the slip into the beeline of butterfly existence that forever keeps me going. But it's those smiles I'm wary of faking that pull me down. I wait for epiphany to strike and it never comes to me. I seek the company that I can't stand beside to.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Kaali Peeli

This post was quite overdue and owes all allegiance to an assignment meant to discover Mumbai. The un-cut story Meter Down...

" Three months after shifting to Mumbai, I wanted to know more about the city of dreams. I found the perfect guide in Ballu Jadav, a tobacco-chewing taxi driver from Byculla. We start our journey from Lalbaug’s Chiwda Gali, driving towards Pherbunder in Byculla. “This is where I live,” he flaunts, pointing towards a patli gali.

The skinny streets lead into one of Mumbai’s many chawls. Remains from the previous day’s dahi-handi clutter the lanes. The open square laced within vertical pigeon holes houses disparity. Vegetable vendors sit in a corner, barbers in another, children chase hens and a butcher sits proudly at an end overlooking a mandir. Ballu’s voice brings me back from my stupor, “Have you seen Black Friday? The chase was shot here,” he informs, hoping to impress with his vast trivia on Bollywood.

We head back to his beloved taxi and drive over J J Flyover, zipping past Rani Bagh, Victoria Church, Palace Talkies and Motibai Reading Room. I absorb the altering landscape with alerts from the garrulous Ballu. “I slept here for 20 days when I was new in Mumbai, 12 years ago,” he reminisces about the Rajabai Clock Tower. Renting in the suburbs, this was my first intimate acquaintance with South Mumbai, in all its colonial splendour.

Ballu slows down at Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus and introduces me to his friend Rahim who runs the crowded Canon Bhaji Pav stall outside. Licking off the greasy plates, we speed off to the next pit stop. My cabbie’s affinity for storytelling shifts from Bollywood to the macabre. “This is Ajanta Talkies. An encounter took place at the exact spot we’re standing,” he says ominously, hoping to elicit a shudder.

While South Mumbai sprawls, Ballu’s meter hastens and we move to Khushrobaag, a famous Parsi temple. “I get my wife here a lot. She forgets we are Hindu sometimes,” he laughs. Since cinema-hall- hopping is his idea of getting to know Mumbai, he takes me to Minerva next. Driving past Mumbai’s biggest red light district, Kamathipura, Ballu accelerates with concern, “Don’t come here alone”.

He then declares the South Mumbai session complete and we head to the suburbs with little time to spare. Dadar throws up Maratha Mandir, and at Mahim, Ballu points to all the memorable kebab stalls, which feed teeming people who visit the mosque. A ‘townie’ at heart, Ballu has little to sermonise about the suburbs. Skipping Bandra, we halt at Juhu Garden, with a life-size airplane replica mid centre. “You must sit inside and dream that you’re flying,” he philosophises.

Halting at the final destination, also a theatre, Bombay Talkies in Malad, Ballu good naturedly presents a tab of Rs 1,000. He drives of with good tidings, singing Musafir hoon yaroon, na ghar hai na thikana. I ring home and announce, “Mom, I dared.”

Now five days a week, a shared cab takes me down to town each day. Strangers fill the inch space between each other and the touch doesn't feel alien anymore, but alike: Human. The small concave window overlooks the sea and there is that much distance between cramped and vast space. The sudden realisation then dawns as you sit next to new skins each day. There is openess here after all.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Leaky Cauldron

It's been a week of acitvity, fragments of insipid events stictched into a strectehd fabric of sequences. Some of it I wish I had dreamt. You know what they say about reality being stranger than fiction...I seem to be endorsing the metaphor lately.

It started with the dawn break of true-blue monday morning. (disclaimer: this might not read in one sequence, considering my fish-like memory often troubleshoots when too much happens). An enoying drip-drop woke me from my deep slumber in an alien bed. Too many bedrooms in too many days, I realised I hadnt let my back rest on my coir for over a week now. I missed the pokes of the familiar mattress. Tonight, must sleep at home. Right?Hustle out to work. Today's a date with Will Smith in town. Must reach on time. Fell out onto the street straight to colleague's loft. No deo, no hairbrush, luckily managed to find tooth counterpart, no milk (hope I make it through the day sans lactose and coffee. Sigh!). Run to the train station with a sudden realisation. No laptop. Too late to run home. (which with its overload of women, seemed unfamiliar) Borrowed Su's and caught the legend on screen, not before an escape run into rail authorities (no ticket. Right, must get renewed). Lets chant. Havent done for a month now. Works. Reach the legend in the hall. Coffee follows in barista and then off to work. On one of those bad-look days, I with Su make my TV debut. What follows is a half hour of posing as an offline addict on the Marine Drive. Overlooking the Arabian Sea, the brown mucked and oily haired me sat on my very fat day onto the promenade, gazing into the expanse with my laptop. I was the official wannabe. Right? just when I needed the realistaion that I have no LIFE!

Braving through the day, tuesday came and went in a flurry of action. Books, music, movies, phone calls, actors, impending realisation of non-existant love life, visiting a friends exhitbition, dinner. The usual. Met up with fave industry person. I call him the player and we exchanged a dinner. Some more dirty secrets shared and some glasses of lassi later, we were out of Papa Pancho. That night, I slept at home to the sounds of a leaky tap, spurting water.

Wednesday morning, there was a riot in the bathroom. The rusted geyser had broken into a fountain and for the next three nights, sleep eluded us. I woke between nightmares and pleasant dreams of a walk through Johnny Depp's blood spurting From Hell or the foaming stream of Niagra Falls. Scenes from Thr Ring and Dark Water filled me listlessly and I had offiicially been converted to a morning, daylight zombie. Finally I was getting better at the Zombie fights on Facebook. Bite chump! bite! bite! bite!

Finally met up with Vicky Mama and Mutki Bhaiya for dinner. Two sides of the family caught up and we shared nostalgia over dal, keema and phulkas. In those few hours, faith reaffirmed. Blood is thicker than water and beneath it all we all are lonely megalomaniacs. But the best compliment was yet to come. And the same was in the form of a gesture from a TV production house. The big ass films (I'll stick to the name. No need to hurt the sentiments of the real people involved). In those pancakes of face grease paint, vermillion, over decked garb...I read out the part of a vamp finishing with the summation, "I can't take no for an answer."

Sleepy sunday has me tucked in. Maybe a round of Sex and the City. The geyser has been fixed and all taps replaced by the efficient local plumber, Jaya Ram, whose Mumbaiya held me in wonder (still acquainting self to the spilling lingo). Except for when I sit here, I peek into the kitchen, where a drip-drop threatens to erupt from the water canister. Another week?

Sunday, December 09, 2007


What does one really do in a state of surreptious drukeness. Fight battles endearing to Ego vs Soul (somehwat like Alien vs Predator. No winner). But composed on a yo-ho-ho Bottle of Rum (old monk please!) over candlelight and Beatles...ergo!

Saturday Night?
No someday right.
Losing Heat?
No losing feat.
Mirror crackling smile?
No scary look, senile.
Washboard abs and together bosom?
No a scene from Floppy, the Sodden Mom.
Roaring Sex life - love, romance, wine, candles
No aphrodesiac nights over plunered waddles.
No a Fish called Wanda?.
No Lonely
Yes Freud.
Ha! I win. We agree to the master
The grandmaster of frustrated potency...we do?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Free Fallin'

It's finally time to rant. The gifts of an overactive life have slipped in the demon I went to sleep at nights with, laziness. But free wheelin ghosts seldom rest and there is finally steam flowing from the backburner. The cheer is back and so is the Holiday season. After the lights and crackers burnt out the candles through my first moonless night away from mama's nest. The frost-less winter of Mumbai will give me my first jingles through the grapevine of red, green and mistletoes. It's good to be back and scribbling again!