Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chase the Monsoon - Season 6

Contd from.. Season 5

All the excitement and adrenalin that we had accumulated until then, vanished off our faces. I could see that the other guys also were anxious and prepared to face the music.

Some stuff remain in your memory when things turn messy dramatically. One moment you were cruising and howling at the top of your voices, drenched in cold rain, and the other, you wait for some random cop to hold you for no reason. I have had many such encounters. And I can picture even now the image of the police jeep rolling on in slow motion, with our eyes following those of the inspector in the front seat, wondering when his eyes would settle on us.

It occurred to us only after a moment that the jeep had crossed us and went on its way, the inspector probably deciding that we were not even worth his glance. Smiles reappeared on the riders' faces, and jumping on our rides, we decided to not further test our luck.

Soon we found our way out of the expressway and were gunning all ahead towards our destination - Aamchi Mumbai. The drenching was constant on the way and I guess we sort of became impervious to it. Fuelled by more tea and vada pav, we were soon rushing into the suburbs of Mumbai. The landscape changed from light green mountains to evenly shaped dirty apartments and muddy truck yards.

After a while of riding through this mess, we were close to our intended destination. We were gonna stay at a friend's place.

Well, nothing much of interest happened after that until got to his home. We got out of our really wet situation and dried our shoes while the friend's Ma came and chatted with us, scolding us for our adventures while appreciating our achievements.  Along with the hot tea, the warmth was truely felt not only on body, but also in mind. So far away from home, we felt at home. We laughed sheepishly at our follies and beamed when they spoke of our guts and maturity ;)

Soon, it was time to head out to explore Aamchi Mumbai. Mother didn't allow us to take our bikes, and for a moment we thought if we would get stuck in bus traffic. But so tired and weary of riding in the wetness we were that we couldn't disobey mother. So we headed out with our friend there. I didn't even hear where we were headed.

Soon we were on our way to the railway station. Now I started getting interested again, after the brief lull. Mumbai's local trains! The ultimate travel experience. What fools were we not to even think of it while planning our trip.

It was getting late. I was damn tired. New city, new lights, new stories. We kept chatting about so many random things, guffawing loudly, hanging out the signature style from the local train, and imagining the infinite movie bollywood scenes shot in the famous local trains. Oh, did I mention the tasty hot vada pavs we picked up from the station? :)

Got down at Victoria terminal and surveyed the scene of the terrorist attack and caught a cab to Nariman point. I remember only that my father keeps coming here for official purposes and was indeed here when the terrorist strike happened. I remember those tensed nights. After writing the blog post when the attack happened, I badly wanted to see the places. And there I was, in a completely unplanned fashion. While most of Mumbai was closed by the time we were there, Nariman point was quite crowded, thankfully.

We had nice dinner from a local restaurant there and I ordered according to some tips from Foursquare, which turned out to be perfectly accurate.

Next stop: Leopold Cafe. All the emptiness in the streets was compensated by the tightly packed crowd there. I spent some time observing the bullet holes at the entrance before catching a table. We spent quite a lot of time there eating, drinking and chatting as a another friend of the friend joined us with lots of stories and jokes. The ambience was simply awesome.

We hung around for a while afterwards clicking pictures of the places and the crowd, and then headed out via the now emptying street to the Gateway of India.

No words. Simply amazing. Picked up memories of me sitting there with my brother when I was in my 6th Std, and savoured the beauty of the lights along with the Taj and Trident in the vicinity. The Taj entrance was beautifully lit up with luxury cars moving in and out while the Arabian sea shone in the combined light of the white moon high up in the sky and the man made yellow lights all around. Sadly the sea stank and we could only accept it with shame that it was one of the beautiful spots to relax at.

Next stop: Marine Drive. It was a sensory overload by that time, as sleep started seeping into my limbs and I could feel someone switch off each section of the body. I fought it and tried to absorb the images and sounds. We sat there for a while, or rather lay there staring at the beauty of night, clicking some crazy pictures.

It took a full shower of midnight rain to wake us up from the half slumber and clamber into the next cab and we directed to Band stand or Bandra and maybe something more. I just hung on, watching the empty streets pass by as the rain hit the windshield heavily.

I guess we did a very late attempt at covering most of Mumbai and ended up being at places at very very odd times. Shah Rukh khan's Mannat looked awesome at 1 AM, and so did some more other's which I don't recall now. I just stood there absorbing it all as my final lights started going out. Next I remember is sleeping until we got back home in zombie mode.

Early next morning, we continued our wonderful love story with our bikes and the green roads, this time returning to Pune to end the lovely days and the memories we generated were just too much and we used the long ride to absorb it :)

Oh did I not mention the freak fall and the damaged bike and fleeing from the bike owner, and sleepily browsing through beautiful book shelves in Pune? :-) Those are memories for me and my comrades alone..adios reader..

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lord of War

Opening up the news websites, or on switching on the TV, I regularly see images of soldiers carrying weapons, or protesters demonstrating in front of policemen armed to the teeth. Add to this the image and news of regular shoot-outs in various neighbourhoods.

On one such occasion I couldn't help wonder what I would think on seeing the same images, if I were to own a significant number of arms and ammunition factories. Supposedly, I had connections in the shady east Europe, or North Africa or South East Asia, to name a few, this would have been fairly easy too..

What would be my thoughts? Would I be noticing the weapons, the nature of usage, the country, and going over my deals and plan my charts? Will I call up my execs and ask for ground report? I would maybe run calculations in my head on which gang leaders I would want to meet, which lobby gangs should I fund, which political party to add my weight behind and so on.

I would be a very busy man for sure, as competition is heavy in this business.
The low cost Chinese models make it hard to negotiate with the rich yet stupid clients that we arms tycoons have to regularly deal with. And the rascals who run for shit like peace and charity missions continuously make me lose markets. But then the damage they make hardly makes a dent in my profits.

Dealing with politicos is the hardest part everywhere. The shady goons in their employ bring good deals, but going ahead with their cuts has to be a very discrete, else I would be the one who has to face the music. Its easier to deal with anarchies and rebels, and hence our organization has been dedicated to creating more and more such markets.

Well, last but not the least the domestic markets are booming everywhere. Ranging from people who keep guns to defend their property from neighbours to those who want to keep their illegal empires intact, I have a big list of customers.

Its tough going these days, but we are good at this, so don't be surprised if you find your closest friend or relative in my customer list :) sooner or later..

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

this is fashion

when Pretty Preeti came to school,
wearing a pretty short dress,
and she looked awesome
they said this is fashion

All my friends bought the same
and I was told
"you should try it too,
because this is fashion"

When I showed it to mom
she said
"Sweetie, its too short,
but then its the fashion"

Next day when I wore it to school,
I could feel the eyes of boys on me
but then I told myself
"its the fashion"

When the news broke that
some school girls were eve-teased
I heard someone say
"its the fashion"

The poem has been written from the perspective of teenage girl who grapples through the conundrum of fashion in a society that glorifies and condemns with equal villainy.

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