Society

Bringing up children..

We were at the Grand Canyon. It was almost end of day. Tired and exhausted. The muscles cried for some rest after hours of battling the sun, the heat and the height. Perhaps for the first time, the camera was whining too, with the batteries draining.

Attempting to take one last shot of the ‘depth’ of the Canyon, I ventured as far as daring would get me to and the missus would allow. It was a sheer drop beyond the point I was attempting to walk upto.

Earlier in the day, the bus driver had joked, ‘If you want to get to the bottom of the canyon faster than the bus, I recommend that you keep walking off that ledge. Beyond a point, it would take you all of 6 minutes”. And then he indulged himself into a shoulder-jerking-in-fits–of-laughter !

His words ringing in my ear, I took each step of the descent to the ledge, with great care. When I was about 5 feet away from what seemed like the end of the world, two important occurrences took place. One gradually receding and another getting more and more pronounced.

One, courage was steadily evaporating. Slowly but steadily. Leaving behind traces of the big sized occupant that it once was. For, from where I was, I could see the end of the stretch of land I was standing on, and the beginning of a sheer drop.

Two, from a distance, the missus was howling me to stop right there. Howling to the point of embarrassment. Anyone could have mistaken me for one of those greedy bigamists who was just running away with her jewels! There perhaps were two elements that powered her thought : One, she had heard the driver. Two, she knew me well !

Anyway, the combination of those two factors got me to stop moving, at the speed of light. Perhaps faster. I stopped. Waved back to her. Indicating that I am not moving an inch further, and she stood right there, in a distance, crossing arms.

In that moment, there was transformation. Of the howling scare on her face, transforming into a solid stare, perhaps indicating what would happen if I did. These of course are moments of silence and depth in our marital life!

As a consolation, I pulled out my camera, and started clicking.

Which is when this young mother walked past me with her kid in one hand and the camera in the other. I was aghast. She walked right past me, straight to the ledge. Got her kid to sit down, she sat down http://www.eta-i.org/provigil.html too. Two steps to her back or one step to the left would mean she would go down thousands of feet ! A concealed squeal escaped my lips.



She pulled out her camera and started taking pictures ! I stared in awe. I turned to gesture to the missus to see whats happening only to see that she her face was buried in her palms, not wanting to see what was going on.

That is end of the story. Obviously the lady, after clicking few pictures, stood up, looked around and walked away. Impervious to all the hyper pumping that she caused in at least two hearts.

What we didn’t know was that this scene was to take several avatars and play itself out many times over during our trip. The settings were different but the theme was the same. Parents that seemed inclined to expose kids to what could be called, a certain ‘spirit of adventure’.

Which took me back to how kids are brought up in the households of neighbours / friends / relatives and colleagues back home here. For instance, would anybody let their kids go that close to a ledge? Am not so sure. ( You would notice that I am conveniently side stepping the angle of ‘Would anyone go close to a ledge’).

Which is when the mind darted to a comment that an auto rickshaw driver made some time back, while discussing seat belts. The sum and substance of what he said was this : Daily life in itself was such a challenge, adventurous and risk-prone.

He spoke of his kids who were about in their pre-teens years old, who carry the satchels, cross the highway, take a public bus, at peak hour just to reach school. Everyday. For the past several years.

Now, quite obviously, crossing a highway will not be at a zebra crossing but just looking at and dodging traffic and rushing through. The public bus perhaps has all of four inches of feet space available. Of potholes, the less said the better.

With an arid tongue and matter of fact tone, he said, ‘This safety & risk business is for soft people like you who live in high rises. Beyond a point, nothing matters’. The rest of the journey was populated with such conversation laced with moments of silence.

Quite often, I wonder how kids are brought up here. Forget risk. Do kids in modern day metro go out and catch fresh air, throw themselves at nature, run with gay abandon…? Like we used to ? I am not sure.

Ofcourse, I wonder what you think..


Back from the Bay Area !


So there ! Am back. Armed with a little more than the usual courage to wallow in prose hoping that jet lag and such else, will tug at the sympathetic sides of your brain and aid you in giving me some more allowance.

The Bay Area is a beautiful place. Clean air, copious food, cool breeze, warm people and an eclectic mix of experiences have left me pouting the good life in the the US of A to any who would care to ask me ‘how have you been’! With a preponderance that can only be matched by the now pronounced pot belly that is making its presence felt, best supplemented by the dark circles under the eye!

I come armed with stories and pictures. Of a land that’s far away yet seems so close. So different yet so alike. So familiar yet so distinct. Ofcourse, these stories will find a way to get to the blog. Or so I hope.

My Grandmother used to tell me many stories. Amongst them, one darts to the forefront is about an ass who starved to death. Oh, no. He wasn’t practicing yoga or whatever. He starved to death because of the two bales of hay that were kept on his either side . Yet, the ass that he was, died in braying glory, unable to choose which side of the hay he start his food with.

Places seen. People spoken to. History that’s not so long ago. Natural beauty that seems to have been around forever. Contexts. Conversations. Reflections. The pictures that abound the hard drive and the stories that jump around in my head has lead me to the same problem the other ass had : The problem of plenty! Which leaves me reeling about what and where to begin !

I flew Korean air. But time flew some other jet, that flew far faster ! The only time in the entire trip when time seemed to go on frame-by-frame slow motion mode was on the 24 hour return journey. For a variety of obvious reasons !

But am back. Back from order to chaos. From dollar to rupees. ( My multiplication skills have jumped manifold, especially if something is to multiplied by 47). From silence to noise. From left hand drives to right hand drives. From tissue paper to the good old mug in the bathroom.

Am back home and feeling good that am back home !


PS: Please scroll down for earlier posts on this trip, or read them here and here.

From The west of the west !

The cobwebs are getting dusted and its all just settling. I pick the pieces and start writing. Again ! Many reasons can fill in the silence in this space as a cogent explanation that range from ‘plain laziness’ to ‘bloggers block’. However, none gives it the exalted status of an exotic excuse in my mental map like ‘travelling’ !


Yes. I write this from the west of the western world. The ‘Bay Area’ as they call it. Our time here has been one of travel, catching up with the family. Resulting in several things, the chief amongst them being a mind that is calming down and sorting out priorities in life that REALLY matter. Quite obviously, this blog is back in action !

🙂

There are countless stories to tell of this land. A land that I have heard of ever so often. A landscape that we have attempted to explore by road, by sea and by air. Criss crossing a few states, experiencing snow, rain and Sun. A landscape thats ever so familiar yet ever so distant. A people that are polite, courteous and let you be.

I have been warned enough that I could well seen to be singing paeans to the American way of life, in a rather blind sort of a way. Other well meaning friends have cautioned me against looking at this ONLY through an India centric lens. A few others have encouraged me to just stand, stare and absorb for the ‘the truth is somewhere inbetween’.

Over a few next posts I am going to tell it like I have seen it and experienced. I just read that statement again, and it sounds like this blog is going to give some serious competition to wikileaks or something of that ilk ! Bah ! Regular readers know how farther away from that truth that statement is !

Ok here are some immediates. The tongue has been smitten by Starbucks coffee. However, the mouth refuses to close from the awe triggered ‘open’ position it took, looking at the sizes. ‘Tall’. ‘Grande’. ‘Venti’. ‘Trenta’ are how the sizes are named ! ‘Trenta’ is about a year and two months of my consumption. Well, almost.

More posts are coming. Will try and keep this space as updated as possible, snatching time between travel and such else.

Oh yes, there is something else that I have enjoyed quite a bit here.

Pushing the button to stop the traffic is cool just to let us cross the road. Back in Mumbai, an outstretched arm to stop is all that is needed to stop a humungous truck. ( Well, you are reduced to a small newspaper snippet, If the truck doesnt stop).

So people, I have been pushing this button, with glee that perhaps adorns the face of a rogue dictator when he pushes missile button !

Schwarzeneger is fading here. But then, I’ll be back !

Moped memories



‘That’s the morning round’, says the milkman when you chat him up. He is quite happy. And sports a perdurable smile that is instantaneously strikingly envy provoking! You notice that it’s a can load of milk. Another can on one side. Yet another in the front.

Zipping in and out of narrow streets. Every household’s door knocked and delivered. An important vehicle in the distribution chain.

That causes you to wonder. How much can you accomplish in two wheels ? Especially when the two wheels are not big fat wheels that would take you long distances or are powered by engines that would equal an entire top notch stable.

There was a time, when going to school in a ‘moped’ was the thing! When classmates used to haul themselves and those heavy satchels into the school bus, you would dream of ‘zipping by’. It is completely another matter though, that the needle on the speedometer moving up by another centimeter would mean the engine having to quiver like a frail patient in an air-conditioned room with 106 degree fever and ratchet up a noise that could wake up someone in Hawaii.

But if anyone cared, it wasn’t you. For, you had a moped! You had mobility. You had freedom. You were a teenager looking into the future filled with possibilities and the two thin wheels of the moped had ‘arrived’ you.

Like all things, this status changed. In a blink of an eye, the big bad bikes replaced mopeds as the aspirational status symbol for boys. As life progressed and as the boy morphed into a man the moped was a relic, alive only in his memory.

But then, the moped continues to live on. Like with the milkman. In a very different avatar though. The moped had now dons the mantle of a partner for businesses.

Quite often, slipping to don the role of a load carrier.


These are small retailers. Hoarding their mopeds with merchandise, that any lay person would think that one more gram could appear to break the chassis. That’s when the man will haul himself atop all of his merchandise and drive off with a palpable disaffection for any sentiments and focused solely on getting ahead with business.

Safe travel is fortuitous and living is more than just merely ‘getting by’! The milkman and the shopkeeper represent a world that not many peep into. Taking for granted all that’s delivered at home when the only bones that are to be moved are those in the fingers, to dial a number.

But there is world out there. Still on the moped. Underpowered and over-delivering ! Spare a thought. Say hello. Sprinkle a smile. Pass an encouraging word. Give way..

If not for anything else, atleast for those moped memories from those teenage years!

Means, meaning and change !

A twitter friend informs that a Singapore friend a store carries a bowl with an announcement “if you fear change, leave it here” ! Ah, change ! That universal constant.

Finding change is difficult. All the time. In the organization. Or in the wallet.



There was a time when a handful of such coins would get you a fair distance. But those were times when inflation was something that you did to a balloon or a cycle tyre !

The modern day frenzy of glitz, glamour and big ticket acquisitions, these coins don’t curry any favour. You run the risk of being politely told to keep the change that you left behind for the waiter, if the change was nothing more than a grand jingle of a fistful of coins !

There are those that rue “For 10 ps you could get an ice cream. For 25 the town bus would traverse the distance that would do the milestone proud”. Ofcourse, people from a generation ahead would talk about ‘annas’ that used to have far more bang for the coin.

In a process of evolution, these are becoming relics of the past. A couple of years ago, while exploring the Daulatabad fort a young boy tugged at the camera bag. “Psst..want to buy old coins ?” It was much later that I learnt that the ‘cloak of secrecy’ was a class act. A ploy to work on the ‘genuine’ quotient of all what was sold.



There was no way of identifying if the coins were fake or otherwise. They all looked faded, oddly shaped and interesting. The missus was appalled that I was even pondering exchanging coins that had ‘no value’ with hard currency that would set her back by an arm and a leg.

Someday, these coins will be a collectors item. Out of circulation. Called antique pieces. But that’s the story of life, isn’t it !?! These coins, if they had vocal chords, what stories would they tell. Of endless toil to acquire.

Inevitably wrapped in those instances, stories of how ‘means’ superseded ‘meaning’ !

I write this pondering about life. The setting sun is taking the Sunday with him. Tomorrow is Monday. A busy week ahead.

Theres loads to do. But that’s not going to stop me from wishing you a meaningful week ahead. By all means !


Wisdom in a truck..

The colour and pageantry of India is a subject of a deep discussion for anyone who lands from a foreign soil. It has always been a comment with sincere and perpetual wonder, often causing ceaseless head shaking and a breathless ‘its so colourful ..’

What was so colourful here didn’t dawn on me for a long while. But, enlightenment can dawn at odd places and often arrives unannounced. The Bodhi tree for instance would have been another tree until Buddha sat underneath it ! Or take the case of the like the just-another-apple that brought appledom great fame by falling on Newton’s head!

Well, read on !

A sultry evening of fiddling with the camera had an interesting picture in the view finder. A moving truck. In all red splendour. As a cleaner hung on to in what appeared to be a rather precarious position. To me, that is. For him, he didn’t seem to have a care in the world as he sashayed like an emperor in his bathtub, with confidence only fit of a trapeze artist in a Russian circus !

Sruprise surprise, I soon lost the plot of staying clued on to the chap that was hanging by the door, but was hooked onto pageantry of the rather pedestrian form of transportation for goods!

As the finger clicked away, beaming red truck carrying what looked like gravel suddenly became an object of wonder. Go on, play close attention to the picture. Play with me, ok ? Go on an spot these for yourself.



The trishul on the bonnet

The yellow eagle on the bonnet

The multi coloured fenderThe chains that hang

The picture of ‘kumb’ on the sides

The invocation for profit (above the headlamps !)

The same invocation (written colourfully in the head )

The Triad of Red-Green-Yellow ( three ) near the windscreen

The Three night lamps kind of bulbs on the header

The psychedelic designs on the header

Ofcourse, all in the name of God !

The intricate curls in the brain could be filled with hyperactivity to articulate a cogent utilitarian reason. Those three bulbs you see ? or for that matter, those chains that hang ? Or the psychedelic design of the header? And so on. Except ofcourse, well, the cultural leaning towards colour !

The truck was oblivious to the zoom lens in action. A rash swerve announcing a turn and bearing the blue design on its behind ! What a combination you would imagine ! A bright red on the bonnet and a bright blue to compliment that would seem an eerie combination as a shirt-trouser combination but somehow this truck seemed to pull it off with elan !

Ofcourse, the tale doesn’t end there, if only you care to look. Yellow and red design layering on the rear may seem out of place for the rather dull gravel in the back but, don’t they make a pretty picture. The ubiquitous ‘Horn Please’, some flowers, and two seemingly replica landscape paintings! Landscape paintings!


If there were any questions in my mind about how colourful a land we are, well, those were dispelled with disdain by another swerve of the truck. Considering the plain monstrous trucks that ply the highways of foreign lands, and where only one man precariously hangs by the door : Arnold Schwarzenegger !

When the eye starts looking, the colour and art that thrives in our everyday lives isn’t funny. Sample this designer danglers that adorn another truck’s door.



And ofcourse, intricate artwork to back it up. If so much of colour can go into porting gravel and such else, we sure were worthy of the tag of a ‘colourful’ country !

Well, that’s the wisdom that came in a truck !


Broom time !



This is the broom. Well, for those that think that it is an antiquated instrument that is used only to sweep off the remnant of cow dung or the recalcitrant dead leaf or empty dust, well, you are sadly mistaken. The broom is a mainstream household article. Of considerable eminence.

An article of significance that people cant, don’t and wont do without. Having been used to seeing it used with a casual bend of the body at the hip and an arc of the hand, the ground getting brushed clean in sweeping motions, is part of life !The swish swash sounds back home, herald a new morning. That is if the neighbourhood rooster’s silence leaves you wondering if he is having a throat ache, headache. Or perhaps a hangover !

The broom has more social standing than what its put to use for. An item of reverence. An item to be feared. From ghosts to Gods. If you didn’t already know, brooms form part of the offering paraphernalia for a variety of Gods down in the deep south !

Brooms being the Jaguar equivalent for the nether world is often quoted and kept alive by the likes of Harry Potter. Made famous enough to be left at that !

What perhaps is a must mention is the broom’s standing in language! Case in point : An oft quoted usage in Tamil is a two word combination which when roughly translated reads ‘the broom will tear’ ! Which is short form for ‘i-will-lynch-you-with-the-broom-till-the-blood-that-courses-in-your-dirty-veins-oozes-out-or-till-the-broom-tears-apart’. Or something to that effect.

Used with such swirl of the tongue and pitch of the voice, that any gent with an ounce of self respect and quarter of an ounce of pride, will quiver in his boots.

In modern times, urban homes are dotted with the sophisticated ‘vaccum cleaner’. Electricity powered sucking up or blowing away of dust and dirt is a fancy that many households can ill afford to miss, if a certain standing amongst the neighbours has to be maintained. That sure is a far cry from the broom.



At a sophisticated premises, there is a new instrument in use. Seemingly simple yet efficient. The user just had to hold firm and walk about. No swish. No swash. The gloves are spotless.

Indeed we have moved on in life and the broom is steadily getting confined to a certain class of homes in certain parts of the country ! Perhaps good for everybody, for all you know !

But, come contest me on this. Methinks, that the broom will stay put in peoples memories, if not in their homes. A vaccum cleaner as an offering for a God will am sure be promptly rejected by the Gods themselves, and on old lady flying off on a twin tailed contraption like the one above, sure is not going to be endearing on the eye !

If not for anything else, the swirl of the tongue and the pitch of the voice that will spout ‘the broom will tear’ will remain. Whatsay ?

On tracks !



A number (that could sound improbable) of Mumbaikars travel on these tracks every day. Life revolves around these tracks as they go up and down carrying energy, conversation, laptops, books and such else ! Not to miss the countless hopes of a better life and the unmistakably prodigious body odour.

Bodies pressed against each other, so much so that your nostrils could swirl with smells of hair oil or deodorant depending on your height !

The 8.33 AM local is so much part of the missus’ recollections of her youth. For her and several others like her, life here revolves around the ‘local’. (Are you catching the ‘fast’ was a dialect that I was very slow in catching!)



Perpetual awe descends on the mind at the very thought of the local trains. Legendary as they are, they cart a population that would be equal to the population of Australia in five working days ! To travel in one during ‘peak hours’ requires a certain pugnacious and a drive that escapes simple description.

One look at the beehive bulge of commuters that jut out of a doorway as the tall towers and standard slum whizz by, can considerably shake up a mind that’s foreign to Mumbai.

Occasionally, (which would translate to once-in-a-day), the newspapers carry a story of how a man fell off and died. A normal man, who was getting to work as he had got to in the past several years fell off. Or perhaps was run over . Or how some sedentary lamp post came in contact with one of those that hung out of the doorway, perhaps a tad too far. Many times it happens too often to get reported !



There are other stories that reach the ear. About buddies and support systems that get formed here. Imagine sharing the next http://pharmacy-no-rx.net/zovirax_generic.html seat with someone for 10 years and counting. It could be implausible for a Mumbai-alien mind !

But just play with the thought that for 10 years you travel with the same set of people whose only claim to an equation with you is that they travel with you, days on end. Everyday. In the same compartment ! Friends who will know exactly how you smell at 6.34 PM, amongst the many such things!

There are legendary stories of fellow commuters who have shown up at home, after a train buddy Didn’t travel alongside for 10 days ! That your not turning up at the train station getting someone who is not your boss or a recovery agent from a credit card company announcing a search for you, is SOME thought in itself !

It is fascinating. To say the least.



The other day, the missus and me took a local train. Not that it’s a first experience for me. Yet..! A combination of off-peak time and direction, gave some space to wield the camera a bit ! Of course, having me do what most other foreign minds would do. Shake their heads in disbelief and awe.

You can call it overcrowded. Unbelievable. Cruel. Energetic. Passionate. Lifeline. Whatever ! One thing you cant do, is miss the trains in any conversation with a Mumbaikar ! Put two Mumbaikars in a room, and the chances that the conversation will veer around to the ‘local train’ is as good as turning on the TV during this world cup season and seeing Kapil Dev still getting interviewed about the 1983 world cup win !

Yeah. For sure.. ! Perhaps rightly so, in the case of the Mumbai locals! About the 25 year old win, well, lets change track !


Whiplash

There we are. Us and our kind friends. Eating at this roadside joint in Matunga one Sunday morning. Idlis, Dosas and such else, elbowing for space with quite a diverse population. Gujaratis. Tamils. Malayalees. Sikhs. Marathis. A smattering of a mix of languages, heard amidst the universal food chomping. So very Mumbai.

Usually, there is a crowd. Today, is no different. Infact, far more pronounced. The pavement is blocked. Nobody cared. Everybody standing and chomping away at varieties of dosas and idlis. “Chilli Cheese Palak masala dosa”. ( That is one dosa). And such else.

Everybody standing in his or her bathroom tile space and chomping away, with the ferocity of a marine commando and focus of a nuclear scientist on the verge of something big. “It is better left to conjecture”, would be the truthful answer, if you , the ever intelligent reader posed a question like : “Are you sure that you ate only from your plate ?”

It gloriously reaffirms a curious hypotheses that’s been playing on the mind : national integration is best achieved through the alimentary canal. Yeah.

It is at that time, we hear a sound that pierces through the din of incessant order taking and chomp chomps.

“Phataaak”.


Whiplash. Theres this small kid. Barechested. With bones and a scatter of bones to show for an upper torso and a colourful flowing skirt kind of clothing beneath. Today, he has an accompanying well built lady, who works on a drum to beat up some music, as this chap beats himself up. After whipping himself up,walks up to the well rounded uncle, and asks for money.

Now, obviously, people who are midway through the delicious cheese palak dosa could have a consternation of sorts just as the dosa is nestled between the tongue and the right cheek.

For, here is a drumstick contoured body, whipping himself up, and asking for money from a pumpkin contoured body slurping on cheese palak dosa. That is sure to serve you a platter of guilt and even as the dosa descends.

The man standing next to me emits noises that go like “chomp chomp ‘standard’ chomp chomp ‘guilt’ chomp chomp chomp…” and other such incoherent sounds. It wont be far from the truth to assume that he didn’t think of this as anything beyond a standard ploy to cause guilt and therefore make some money.

His wife makes similar noises amidst what seemed to be an effort to swallow one lump of a potato I Or whatever it was. And proceeds to let whoever who cared to listen know, that this happens EVERYDAY, letting go of a burp. Ofcourse, one isn’t sure, if the lady is speaking of the burp or the whiplash.

Another gent while plunging what appeared to be a truckload of ghee dripping Kesari down his throat, makes similar noises. The sum and substance of which translated to : “This is a standard ploy. The whip doesn’t touch their body. It’s the noise of the whip as it hits the road.” By now, the sheera had sunk in. Silence follows..

My friends, kind as they are, immediately buy the kid a plate of idli-vada. Much to the consternation of others there. There are hush hush whispers. However much the ears perk, nothing much can be clearly heard. Between the chomp chomp and the hissing whispering all that come to the ear were, “spoiling”. “No other work”. “Big time drama”. And such else.

General public sentiment is palpably evident.

The kid, on his part, picks the idli-vada plate and vanished.

In a short while, we hear the ‘Phataaak’ again. (That ‘short while’ is a large expression for a fleetingly transient moment).

The kid is with the whip lash vengeance. God knows where the idly vada plate went. Theories abound that such items are quickly stored in a vessel that is kept nearby, of which there is no corroboration. Yet.

Inbetween the dosas, there is now a glowing arc of evidence and vindication in the conversation.

“See see, Eating couldn’t come in the way of business. These jokers who feed them are the real idiots. Lets focus on the dosas. Aren’t they delicious ?” Now, they didn’t say all that. But surely, you get the drift of the arrow piercing comments, just as the dosas disappear from the plate and perhaps find a good homely place in the inner recesses of the fat on the hip.

Our friends, by now, a tad guilt free, concentrate on their dosas.

Amidst all this din, is an old man, who uses a cane and his wife to prop himself up on either side. He is a clearly old and retired uncle. (The normal practice here : every man or woman who sees you as older to him or her, has the prerogative to call you ‘UNCLE’).

This uncle, with a certain level of work to his ageing vocal chords spoke, like a Mark Antony presiding over Caesar’s body.

“This kid here whips himself up publicly”.

“I wonder how many people whip themselves up privately and work on a job that they don’t quite like, but do so to make a living and pay off the loans and EMI !?! “

Half a dozen throats that splutter and a cough. Dosas getting stuck in the esophagus like a traffic snarl due to a traffic signal malfunction.

Many metres away, as if on cue, the kid let go of another whiplash.

“Phataaak !”

Normally !

The ceiling fan has been going around far too many times than normal. And at greater speeds than normal.

‘The electricity bill will shoot through the roof’ says the missus, in a tone that has a higher decibel than normal.


Cans of juice disappear like discarded cricketers fading from the front page of the normal newspaper. Sweaty shirts and double handkerchiefs are more common than normal.

Public tolerance levels are above normal and yet it is quite normal to see normal folks losing their cool.


Normal festivals have normal water in colourful glasses. The business of selling packaged water is doing business that is above normal ! Water packets with exotic sounding brands like ‘Cancai‘.

Its the last stretch‘, said the normally quiet neighbour to his normally loud wife the other day in a normally dull lift. Received with a grunt of approval that brought back memories of a certain Monica Seles in a normal French Open.

Normally, these conversations are beyond my ears. Today, the sun has beaten me down solid and beads of sweat in every inch of visible and invisible skin was sample evidence. Today, there is my imagination runs riot. Which ‘last stretch’ could he be talking about ?

The half of the hindi movie that remains to be watched together ?

Perhaps its about some interesting yoga postures they are learning together.

Perhaps some therapy sessions. Perhaps some bet that they lost because of which they had to wear funny clothes for seven days or something !

Imagination brings about a wry smile ! At that precise moment, he looks at me and our eyes lock. He seems to read my mind. He rushes to state :

‘Its the last stretch Of summer you see’. 45 degrees in Nagpur. Phew”

Pausing before asking in a profound tone. “The rains arrive in June, don’t they ?!?”

Now, he is the bloke who has been living here for far too longer than i. I want to engage him in a conversation about his three air-conditioners that could be reported for noise pollution and he perhaps could get to be their brand ambassador for he never switched them off !

Let alone ask if has gone any centimeter in the direction of Nagpur. Even on a map ! I wonder if he thinks i have some secret hotline to the met department. [ The met department of the ‘it may rain or may not rain’ fame ].

I am still in my trance. And as his wife turns to give me a stare, with a ‘how dare you keep mum after my man has asked you a normal question’ i mumble..

“..well, normally !”