Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Crumbs of melting Time

Was it Jorge Luis Borges who said Art cannot be platonic? You know what? Nor can food. I swear by Nigella.
The soft, pulpy tomatoes slide off the prongs of the small, white, plastic fork as the instrumental in the background morphs from "Lady in Red" into "Take My Breath Away". Chicken Quiche is my way of telling myself that the sun will rise again. Not just tomorrow. Today, as well. Right now, if I want it to! Again and again.
I'm in Eatopia. Food Court and more.
Ah, bliss. I could read Alice in Wonderland, leather-bound and unabridged. I could swing and sway the musical totem pole at the entrance of the India Habitat Centre and hope the tinkling chimes resonate with my prayers. I could take my digicam and go on a tour of the city once again.
The crumbs of the quiche disappeared from my plate, one by one.
The lady in the orange and green patiala blew my concentration.. JUST then. An ID card hung from her neck. And suddenly, I got stuck in the Present. I don't like her nosepin. I don't like her floaters. I don't like her peeking into the veg. burger and I don't like her resting her elbows on the white marble table in the restaurant.
The little pouch of mustard is untouched on my tray. The Heinz sachet of ketchup squirted a slanting jet all over. My fingernails taste funny when I lick the red drops right off them. And just when I thought I had had enough of the molten chicken and the buttery mush inside it, I spilled my last swig of hot coffee all over my T shirt.
My body feels like the city of Harappa. But do I really want to boast of the sewage? Why isn't there a loo around when you really want one?
Things I want to think about at this point to distract myself:
  • The A.C. is nice and cool, good for my heat rashes.
  • How green is the golfer's turf on that LG Flatscreen! Is it a shade different from that of the FIFA grounds?
  • Stana Katic has started shooting for Castle - Season 3. :)
  • Am I boring?
  • Can I ever beat the sound barrier?
See how the lack of good food creates a bottomless pit, a vacuum that random thoughts rush in to occupy? Go slow, foodies, go slow.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bohemian Showers

A perfect depression. And then the rains. When was the last time I inhaled the intoxicating smell of a plastic raincoat and wore the yellow Duckback with the black piping and the funny seed-like buttons? When was the last time I huddled along with the rest of the travellers inside the Metro station, inches away from the dripping roof? A thousand feelings engulfed me in a deluge that I succumbed to. I didn't want to record what I felt, because to capture their dynamism would make me claustrophobic.
I never knew that there could be so many colours of mud. An ant crawling on my patchwork jhola. A peacock calling its mate contentedly. A man sitting in front of a computer, peeping out of a broken windowpane just below the Delhi University logo of "Nishtha, Dhritih, Satyam". The Central Reference Library.
A lonely dog tries to sleep beside an open door as people around me squabble and chime.
"Toone andar list dekhi hai?"
"Dehaat mein ek kahawat hai, kurkur aur murmur eksaath nahi hota. Samjhe bhaiya?"
Random, of course.
The wet wood of a van-rickshaw parked next to the bicycles drips into a puddle below. And as I sit there and wait for my fellow members of a Campus theatre workshop, I wonder whether we really can be original enough to stop imitating Nature. For the Sun is a symbol of all that glitters and dazzles, creator of mirages and master of puppets. But the rains wash away all that isn't pure, all the colours of the mask that we hide behind.
Are the rains silent? I'm not sure. Faded jeans don't speak to me. Nor do the ear-rings worn by wet, wannabe dudes. As I fetch myself a hot cup of tea from the Spic Macay canteen, I cannot be sure whether the water dripping into it is my sweat or a leaking roof. I walk carefully as dogpoop floats precariously close to my feet. It isn't all constant vigilance. I splashed about in gay abandon on the way to the campus, all the way from the Vishwavidyalaya Metro station, down Chhatra Marg. Relished every sudden eddy that a speeding car hurled at me. And this was a joy that lit me up and made me visible.
"Didi aapko bohot maza aa raha hai na?", a kid exclaimed.
Yes, it would have been a perfect grown-up day if I had let it go. But I believe I can't deny that my black trackpants are wet through, my feet are washed in dirt and slime and a seemingly subtle T shirt from Kamla Nagar is finally making sense. Tri Single. "Try" Single.

Taxi Shikara

17 year old M Namoos Bukhari doesn't immediately surface from amidst the crowd inside the India Habitat Centre's Experimental Art Gallery. As I walk in, a most unusual smell teases my senses and makes me frown. I walk down the corridor and past the State Bank of Hyderabad ATM, right into the familiar humming that always heralds the arrival of new talent. Kurtas and salt and pepper beards peek at me and I peek into the frames silently adorning the walls all around me. The Dal Lake. Many moods of marvel, indeed. Try as I might, stereotypes creep into and cloud my mind's eye, making me want to see the oft-repeated conversations between sunlight and the waters of the lake. A reflection here, a cauliflower cloud there and a hunched up Kashmiri inside a Shikara on a chilly morning.
But what greets me is so re-assuring that I smile indulgently. Shikaras in ones and twos, with advertising from "Rupa" frontline briefs, shikaras for the thoroughfare covered in yellow tarpaulin and named "Taxi Shikaras", shikaras that keep the promise of paradise alive with names such as "Janat House" and like the rest of our "filmy" nation, shikaras that promise to provide "music on demand".
"I've seen you around, do you write for a paper?", asks a gentleman in spectacles, "By the way, meet Namoos."
Namoos glides into the space in front of me, almost like a genie in a bottle, conjured by black smoke. A young lad, a trifle shy and seemingly hesitant in being on the other side of the camera. He stands with his arms crossed and whispers about the places he's been to. It's almost as if words, if not tenderly cast into the universe, might warp the calmness and the beauty of the Dal and his memories of it. And yet, he invites me to be a part of his world on the nearly done to death Facebook, a strange, virtual word that is too realistic right now and would have woken me up had this been a dream about Namoos.
"Your photographs have a sense of balance. There's the dawn and the dusk at the Dal, and yet, there's the commerce and the tourism."
He nods his head and thanks me politely. There's a fragile truth in him that I walk away from, a truth that exists in moments. He isn't lying but he isn't just a conduit either. He carries the Lake with him.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Please Stand In A Queue

Gayatri works at the McDonald's outlet in Kamla Nagar, the shopping paradise for students of Delhi University's North Campus. Three yellow badges: Master in Hygiene, Grill Station Master, Fried Products Master. Green stripes, black shoes and a nosepin. And concentration I wouldn't dare mess with.