Show Knock's Den

Thursday, March 02, 2006

But it Rained ...

It’s a song by Parikrama that I’ve been listening to for a really long time now. It’s about a child who has lost his father in the bitter militancy of Kashmir. But somehow, today, I could gather a new meaning from some of those same lines viewed from a much different angle.

Wrapped in a polythene tucked away safe in my mind
A little goodbye maybe or just a passing smile

Memories haunt us, all the time. Specially, those which have been thought and nurtured over eons. Emotions when suppressed sometimes can be dangerous, but when detached from the rest of your thought process and kept in some forgotten corner, they fail to gather moss and fizz out in an arcane manner. A fleeting smile, a little love, disgust, apathy, separation … they are means to trigger them, but time, the best healer, keeps them away and lets you settle in a comfort zone, cocooned in a world of self-imposed bliss and solitude.

The birds fly away to the southern sky searching a home
A bunch of paper flowers or a little boy left all alone

The sun scorched hard on the parched earth. It cracked, baked … a mere whimper of its former lush self. The air was hot and arid. Greenery lost its interest in her. The earth cried but her tears dried up to the mere trickle of a saline creek, devoid of a tinge of humidity. Gradually, she accepted her fate, lost all her beauty, hope and faith, resembling the back of the palm of a corpse, wrinkled and stripped of life.

Can somebody hear me I'm screaming from so far away
Morning who will calm you now, the evening is eclipsed again

From a land far far away, the rains heard her cry. Initially, they took pity and came in patches. The first drops vaporized even before they could reach out to her. Then they came in torrents, showering life, faith and deliverance. The thirsty earth looked up and sucked them in with lust. Not a care for what the sun thought. Greenery looked back again. The birds flew back to their abandoned home. The weeping willows bowed to the torrents in affirmation. Peace returned; her face radiant and beautiful. The earth smiled and went off into a trance under the sweet moist breath. Much later, she woke up in a daze; the whole sequence must have been a dream. She looked around, the birds were chirping merrily, the new sprung grass nodding in harmony, bumblebees drooling over the sweetest nectar. And just above her the rains smiled at her, an unearthly glow enchanting the place. The morning greeted her with a soft warm light of emancipation.

How I thought the sun would shine tomorrow
But it rained …

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Farewell my Friend

Sandy is leaving Mumbai by end of this month. And it means the closure of another chapter of my life. Somehow at this juncture all I can remember is titbits of a small poem I had written on the walls of D-201, R P Hall of Residence on 17th May, 2004, under heavy influence of substance, the day I left kgp to embark upon my new life.

We come
And we go
We drift
With the tides
In light
As in darkness
We laugh
And we cry
A brief meeting
A light touch
Then comes parting
And the tears

Going forward ever
With new hopes
Leaving behind
Those unfulfilled
With little strength
But soaring desires
Striving hard
For little rewards
We think so much
But cannot speak

What little can we do for each other?
What little can we say to each other?
All remain unfinished
With hesitation
With fear
With apprehension
But with a little trust
We give each other
A little love

Monday, February 27, 2006

Durga Puja

It’s customary for educated middle-class Bongs to write about Durga Puja, just like they contribute or at least religiously read the annals of the editorial columns of The Statesman (some like my late grandfather even preserved the clippings with self-assumed pride). But every incident can be viewed under different lights, and under different shades of the same light. So I guess there’s nothing wrong or at least, boring about my writing about the great festival, the one time of the year, when even lazy Bongs wake up to merriment and gusto.

Undoubtedly it is the biggest festival of the country, in terms of involvement, time and finance. The only one that comes close is Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra and adjoining areas. It is a festival of colors, gaiety, smell of new clothes, good-wins-over-evil-handsomely and loads of protagonists – Durga, her kids in the form of Lakshmi on her owl, Swaraswati on her duck, Ganesh on the mouse (something that has intrigued me from childhood, I mean how can such a small thing sustain the weight of the elephant-man!?), Kartik (forgive me for being too Bong with my enunciation) and his resplendent peacock, with the Mahishasur lying bleeding at the Goddess’s feet, making some defiant protest and Lord Shiva winking from the top. In short, all of them have conveniently been placed under the same roof so that the worshipper can wish for anything from power to wisdom to enlightenment, a liberal free-economy with the leverage to choose from plenty.

Born in an archaic communist and atheist household, the festival meant more about traditions and fun than the actual worshipping, right from the time I can remember. Year after year, I had seen her tumid October face and had involuntarily heard the chants in her praise on the radio at pre-dawn and from devout lips,”Give me beauty, Give me victory, Give me fame, You conqueror of evil”. She had a thousand facets, blood-lips and a third eye below a clay crown of gold, but none had moved me to anything which could have the dignity of faith. Instead, it was more about counting crackers with my cousin, eating from the forbidden roadside stalls smelling of egg parathas and icecream (every Puja invariably had a Russian bookstore - wonder how Leo Tolstoy, Karl Marx, Maxim Gorky and impossible Physics problems from MIR Publications ever connected with Hindu mythology), sleeping fitfully at night wondering which set of new clothes to wear the next day and waking up on Astami mornings to the customary smell of luchi and begun bhaja. Family get-togethers, minor squabbles (bound to happen if twenty Bongs are hoarded together for five long days), food feast, releasing balloons into the night sky, initially thrilling but later unwilling night-outs visiting all the famous Puja’s of Calcutta still remain in my memoirs of early Puja days.

Adolescence brought about newer flavors. Puja’s meant love, unbound. Eyeing the mini-skirted chicks in Maddox Square to the clad-in-blinding-silk newly weds (assertions of their ethinicity) indiscriminately was the essence of the day. It also meant standing beside my first love in front of the idol, hands folded in fake devotion loaded with petals and leaves, trying desperately to exchange a few furtive shy glances in the presence of the elders and savoring the moment endlessly. Later, meeting up, trying to impress her with a motorbike borrowed from an unwilling friend in exchange of trumpcards. Plans, thought of well before execution, invariably failed miserably and the pain was drowned in bottles of cheap rum. Astami was the day to drink, partially because it is generally a dry day and the challenge was simply too exciting. It ranged from stealing Scotch from dad’s stock, replacing it expertly with water and getting caught in the process, to hunting for illicit liquor in the red-light areas of North Calcutta, getting rounded by the police, spending a couple of hours behind the bars and paying 50 bucks per head for the release.

Later in college, when Pujo was replaced by DP’s, it meant homecoming more than anything else. Groups of friends, sometimes 20-30 in numbers, deciding on a rendezvous (preferrably a metro station ticket counter) and meeting up, beer and beef-steak in Olypub (a shady bar on Park Street where old office babu’s drink and fantasize kinky sex with their secretaries) from morning to night, getting appropriately stoned with people I used to play hide and seek with in childhood. And when with aunts and my mom, I used to join palms in the perfunctory gesture of worshipping, the dust of marijuana used to mingle with the moistness of sweat brought on by a Calcutta evening and the smell of dhuno – “I bow to you, you immanent goddess, you exist in everything, in fame, in sleep, in shame, in all” – surely some devotees believed in miracles, but none seemed to importune her for peace, I used to half-smile at the idol, eyes lustrous in vengeance. Please Ma Durga, what about happiness, please.

Much later, when the flame of restlessness and contempt had died, to be specific, last year, I resolved to be in Calcutta during the festival. Spent most of the time in the quiet, meeting up with cousins, old friends (Olypub had been replaced by Someplace Else) and a feeling of completion had overwhelmed us. The mindless rancor and grunge had been cleaned and Durga paved way to a contented nostalgia for me. No, not the pandals, not the smoking drummers or the glittering lights, not even the bevy of Bong beauties, but something much closer to the heart. And on Dashami, when the Goddess left for her abode in the heavens, the typical sense of emptiness in the guts was replaced by a feeling of hope and deliverance. She smiled at me in my dreams, Life is Beautiful.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


A car ride on the legendary Pune Highway is incomplete without the radio making some customary background noise. Last Friday, when I was coming from Pune to Mumbai, I chanced to hear this excerpt from a certain FM station where the RJ was taking calls from people with song requests.

RJ: Hello this is your RJ Anil here.
Girl: Hi this is Neha here.
RJ: Yes Neha, hi, tell me something about yourself. The bastard gets paid for talking shit to horny females.
Girl: (in a jubilant voice) Hi Ani, mind if I call you Ani?
RJ: No not at all. Please go ahead. What song would you like to request?
Girl: Ani, I think I like you.
RJ: (acting a bit taken aback) Yeah sure I like you too Neha.
Girl: (coyness personified) I have been listening to you on FM for such a long time. You sound sooooo wonderful, I’m sure you must be an interesting person.
RJ: Guess I am.
Girl: I think we should meet up sometime.
RJ: Sure I’ll call you after the show
Girl: (giggling with grotesque mirth) Yes, please call me Ani. I like you soooo much.
RJ: (promise of titillation at the back of his mind) Can you please repeat that last statement? Yes sonofabitch, you’ll die of an orgasm now!
Girl: I like you Ani. I neeeeeeeeed you (more giggles)

Just then the car entered a tunnel and thankfully I did not have to listen to the RJ’s comments. Later discovered that the song she requested for was some new jazzy number whose lyric was oozing with sexual innuendo. My friend in the car spoke my mind, so sick!!

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Last night, when I was trying hard to fathom the depths of Root Locus Techniques and Nyquist Plots, the doorbell rang ominously. It could either have been dinner or my roommate, Sandy. Putting an end to the suspense, I opened the door, to discover that the later was true. He looked harried; hair messed up, insane look in his eyes, as if a ghost had gone up his arse. But that was natural, his boss is of the relentless kind, the ones who call you up in the middle of the night to ask about frivolous stuff. We have a job at hand tonight, the ghost lovingly patted Sandy’s balls. What, I asked vaguely. The landlady is coming on her annual check-up of the apartment tomorrow, he explained, looking at me suspiciously, we should restore some order in our place. But there is nothing to arrange yaar, I mumbled lazily, trying to look busy, concentrating on Benjamin Kuo as if there was no tomorrow.

Sandy stood there, hands on hips. Lit up a cigarette, with the look of a man-on-a-mission and then placed the orders, you clean up your room; I’ll take care of mine. So much for Division of Labor, I refused to budge from my chair and thought, who’ll look into the kitchen? In five minutes, he lost the mind game and with great pomp and élan, returned with a broomstick and scrubber.

First the wardrobe, he declared war. In no time, he had created a mess out of it, when I found it necessary to intervene. It opened up like Pandora’s Box, revealing lost treasures in the form of shirts, trousers and what not! They seemed to rejoice in their new found freedom. We tried them on, got confused about their ownership and then stacked them into two neat piles of useful and useless. The chaos took me back to my years in hostel, reminded me of hall days. During the first two years, they were annual rituals to clean up your room, in hope that someone from the fairer sex would pay a visit, get impressed and then who knows, you might get lucky. Gradually in the next couple of years, they turned out to be just annual days to clean up your room so that you don’t have to booze in the filth for at least a month and maybe drive away some spiders and cockroaches, who had started to take you for granted.

Then came the mountain of books – novels, poetry, dramatics, biographies, books on cocktails, alternative science, philosophy, J2EE, management, music and books about nothing in particular. Shifting them to appropriate places was equivalent to two sessions in the gym. Put English, August on the top, that’s for quick reference, Sandy requested. I could surmise the pains we would undergo when we would shift to some other place. More dust in the air, more sneezing followed. The loose papers ranged from bank and credit card statements to electricity bills to the harmless pamphlets that come with the newspapers. We cursed, toiled and sweated in sync. In about an hour the place looked decent.

Now for the other room … our “living” room … it has a mind of its own. Things can get in disarray all by themselves; we don’t even put in any effort to dislodge anything. The TV, barely visible under the layers of dust, the chairs, perpetually under the burden of clothes, and the all-purpose table, OMG it gave me shudders. But someone was seriously on a mission. Sandy neatly collected the zillion CD’s, arranged them in categories, stacked them on a shelf and beamed in benign pride at his handiwork. Some people seriously never cease to surprise you, specially having known the bugger for five years now. But wait a second, bastard, that’s my T-shirt you are using as a scrubber. I snatched it from him, the dirt and grease had made a curious pattern on it, a winking face, scoffing at me cynically.

Finally after an hour of polishing, arranging, messing up and then undoing the mess, cursing each other and dumping all trash into the carton placed conveniently at the foot of my bed, we basked in sweat and glory. This looks like Paradise, Sandy proclaimed, reminding me fleetingly of Milton, the blind poet. Let’s leave the rest for the bai, I suggested, which for once he considered thankfully, after all we pay her for doing the stuff. We deserve a drink after this, my roommate was speaking my mind. Poured a large drink for himself, while I found some suspicious looking Coke. Darn the forthcoming interviews, my stomach craved for Bacardi, and I thought of all the excuses to break my promise. But good sense prevailed and I put Knopfler on. Both of us sat quietly for sometime, I ruminated over my efforts, a feeling of tired contention, like after an orgasm. My practiced eyes caught a tiny twig on the table, part of the weed Sandy used to roll joints from. With fond remembrance of our dopey times, I placed it neatly in the Kuo in my hand and receded into the world of Control Systems.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Homeward Bound

“Travel is the most private of pleasures. There is no greater bore than travel bore.” – Vita Sackville-West, country traveler, poet and novelist.

Among the numerous times I’ve ventured into the luxury of going home, there’s one etched permanently in my memory. In today’s talk of boom in the aviation industry, I had voluntarily decided to go against the bandwagon and booked my tickets with the never-ever-dependable Indian Railways almost a year back now. Rail travel has its own set of idiosyncrasies – one can take time off, relax, contemplate life, meet interesting people, in short, spend quality time with oneself.

Anyway, back to where I started. On the fateful day, I woke up very early with sheer excitement. Being in a magnanimous mood, hired a cab to VT. Bombay in its wee hours seemed strange, no rush, no maddening traffic jam; as I was silently humming Simon and Garfunkel, the lights around seemed to smile at me. Moods uplifted, I even went to the extent of tipping the cab driver, which shocked him nonetheless. Geetanjali Express (one of the almost-extinct reminders of Tagore, the maestro), in all its might, was huffing and puffing on its usual Platform 14. Finding the AC-II coach at the end of its length was an easy task and I settled into the comfort of my lower berth.

Unlike my friend Ronny, I never meet horny females on trains, at least within my range. His train exploits were brilliant, almost mythic. Whether it was the dreaded Howrah-Kharagpur passenger trains or long distance, he always used to proudly proclaim the phone number of someone or the other from the fairer sex. Initially, we used to think he was plain bullshitting, but later grew weary of his bragging and let him live with it in peace. But hold on, I was about to get lucky. A certain petite female, sat opposite to me and smilingly asked me to help with her luggage. I obliged graciously and struck a conversation about the weather – one of those innocent starters. Not bad, Saunak Basu, I congratulated myself. Just when I was about to get over-the-board with introductions, another cute female, with exceptionally pouted lips came and started talking to her, setting my imagination ablaze. They are related, I gathered, same cheekbones, eyes, complexion, doesn’t need a Sherlock Holmes. I should call Ronny NOW, I thought happily. But right then the bombshell dropped, our mom is sitting all by herself some two berths away, can you please exchange seats with her? My first reaction was being mean … but chivalry got the better of me and I tugged my backpack to the other place.

A Chinky couple was getting cozy there. The male looked like a heroin-addict failing rock star (they always play the guitar well, I cursed) and his partner was one of those don’t-believe-in-pulling-my-tank-tops-down types. After preliminary chit-chat, I asked if they were a couple. Her look made me feel like a child-molester, no, he is my younger brother. OMG, why me, I turned away. Patted my pockets to ensure my tickets were in place and instead found a pack of neat joints rolled artistically by my expert roommate. God bless him, I smiled and ran to the loo with lip-smacking obsession to smoke the first; things would now fall into perspective.

A jolt reassured me that the train had started. Completely stoned, I engrossed myself in watching the antics of the people who had just arrived. Bong – that’s what struck me first, newly-wed (refer to my earlier post, A and B – a Bong affair to get a more complete picture), last to board the train. They took a painfully long time to arrange things in proper place. Then started the melodrama, the wife started weeping for some unknown reason, the husband busy figuring out what to have for breakfast and then both of them bitched about the AC for a while. With dope-induced sense of detachment, I got bored in sometime and closed my eyes.

The coach attendant woke me up, veg or non-veg? Both, I replied, dope was working wonders on the pangs in my stomach, leaving him nonplussed. Casually I slipped in a 20-buck note which read, leave me in peace for the time being. He understood the tacit message perfectly. The rest of the day was spent in dozing, hogging at lunch (chicken-masala was unusually oily, but tasted nice), smoking more and reading Fritjof Capra. By evening, Nagpur loomed large and I was feeling exceptionally fresh and chatty. A Goanese priest had joined us by then and I had a lengthy dissertation with him on the then talk of the town, Dan Brown. The Bong couple stayed quiet for sometime, but joined with glee when they found I was their breed. Strange, how only Bongs have this kind of sentimental attachment. In fact, in a brief meeting of two hours, I ended up revealing details about the river that used to flow by our ancestral home in East Bengal (now Bangladesh), surely not classified stuff, but I hardly recall anyone being interested in it other than my late grandfather.

Dinner was another spicy mishap and I wondered about the catering service of Indian Railways. They can even feed you their shit, I told myself, so no point in ruminating over it. People all over the place were picking up minor fights on whether the lights should be dimmed or not. I went to the door beside the coach attendant’s bed and let the gusts of wind blow at my face. He was humming a tune from the arid plains of North Bihar and lovingly patted his gutkha. This is bliss, I thought and decided to stay awake for a while, letting my thoughts flow, rearranging randomly all by themselves, laying plans for an uncertain future.

I don’t remember when I went to bed, but Tatanagar woke me up. The people around were busy completing morning ablutions, a mile-long queue outside the loo. I ordered tea, my mouth tasted like mucus and dung, so decided to brush my teeth first. The whole coach was alive, laughing and chatting and cracking jokes. The women, looking tired but immensely sexy, cooed at the impatient kids and the men, with increasing comfort-levels, started playing bridge, whose post-mortems went on and on. Funny, how a day spent in confinement with strangers, makes you feel a part of a family. Amidst this ruckus, the train neared Kharagpur. Perhaps of all the people on board, I felt the twang the most. The insti tower showed up from a distance and then the halls, the perimeter road and finally my own RP Hall of Residence, resplendent in its chocolate color. At the station, I alighted for a few precious minutes, in which I breathed four years of my existence in the small and innocuous town. A shot of hot and spicy dum-aloo from my favorite vendor made my day.

From then it was known territory and I felt like the wolf with its tail upright. Stood at the door and recalled the names of each and every station that whizzed past. The familiar smell from paddy fields, the familiar faces of toilers hard at work, then the suburbs with the red and yellow mini-buses and the customary three halts between Tikiapara and Howrah (someday I will dedicate a whole post on the 120 km stretch), invigorated me. Nothing much had changed.

The coolies spectacularly jumped into the train, still in motion and started haggling for luggage. My solitary backpack turned them off. As I was guessing which platform it would go in, more from practice than anything else, the train came to a final stop. You are home, I told myself, and smiled at the sweaty smell, rolling gunny bags, the ever so familiar bokachoda being hurled at no one in particular and the Wheeler book store. A cursory glance at the big clock, the rendezvous of our group when we used to go to Kharagpur, told me that the train had traveled from one end of the country to the other on time. Tense with happiness, I headed for the cab-queue.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Strange Deja-Vu

Strange how a late night phone-call can trigger synaptic level electro-chemical reactions that can result in a post. Needless to say, most of it is mindless.

Let’s start from the Mehrauli bus-stop where I was waiting with my friend Bhutia to board a bus for Gurgaon. Though his name suggests something different, Bhutia’s roots lie in the alleys and dal-bhaat-machher-jhol of North Calcutta. The nomenclature hails from a half-witty comment made some 5 years back on his uncanny resemblance with a Chinese porn star, the type who tries to seduce an apparently-knows-nothing-of-the-world Chinky nymphet with horrendous coyness. As does stigma, the name stuck with minimal objections from his side.

Anyway, back to the bus-stop. I asked someone if he had any idea about the timing of the bus. In sometime, he replied, which might vary to anything between 5 minutes to the time Darth Vader meets Jesus Christ, Bhutia insisted. To surprise us, it rolled in and the conductor, with spectacular urge, beckoned us to board it. I tugged my backpack and boarded without much ado. After the customary waiting time, during which the driver had his tea, reveled with his comrades and scratched his (own) balls, the bus started rolling.

Bhutia, beside me was unusually quiet, perhaps contemplating life as always. I looked around; the suave madness of Delhi was fast getting replaced by the rustic beauty of the Northern plains. “Welcome to Jaatland”, Bhutia shouted in my ear, to get himself heard above the din and roar of the Tata engine. My co-passengers were a mixed lot – a lady suspiciously tried hard to cling on to her pack, as if it contained the Holy Grail, an elderly tao dozed in harmony with the rocking of the bus and an unashamed kid tried desperately to break free from the shackles of his shorts. At one stop, someone boarded with a toy baby elephant, some of his comrades, joined in glee and started stomping the poor stuffed thing, until its spongy interiors began to show. Lucky bastards, I muttered, they take pleasures out of such simple things in life. The erstwhile 1 M G Road whizzed past and I was gently contemplating a nap, when someone spat out of the door. The gusty winds blew tiny droplets of his mucus and sprayed them on my face. Relax, said Bhutia, no use fighting them. I controlled my urge to hear some of the typical jaat abuses; here a simple exchange of words might give rise to a gun-battle, and after all, we hail from the land of gentle rice-eaters.

On reaching the premises of Gurgaon, the driver suddenly decided to change the route, leaving me nonplussed. It happens all the time, assured Bhutia, I was amazed at his knowledge about the ways of the place. We boarded another bus, whose interiors were a bit more dilapidated than its predecessor’s. And after a Herculean effort, we managed to get down at some stop. We need to take a rick from here, Bhutia announced and smiled at a waiting rick-puller, who seemed to know him pretty well. Perhaps, they share the Manali sticks or maybe his wife, I wondered.

After another jerky ride, we arrived at our destination, his abode. There’s a ladies hostel just next to this place, my friend announced dramatically impressing me to quite an extent. His apartment resembled, a post-tsunami relief camp and I wondered whether Hurricane Katrina had changed its course without my knowing about it. Bhutia looked at me without apology, ”If some enemy of mine decides to send hired goondas to break down our house, they’ll be in for a shock and might leave without any damage out of sheer compassion”, he explained brilliantly. After some chit-chat which ranged from Chaos Theory to how he indiscriminately lusted after his bai to pining for Calcutta (a typical Bong syndrome - as English, August says, London to Bengalis is a washed Calcutta, and they like it being Anglophiles to their balls) and a few rounds of friendly smoke, he found a place for himself on the couch to nap. Some things do not change, I smiled.

Having nothing to do, I logged on to the net and played James Blunt. Tried to cancel a ticket on Air Deccan, but their site was screwed up. Then I called the Air India office in Delhi to find the whereabouts of my own flight scheduled later that night. Had a hard time explaining to the fellow at the other end what exactly I wanted. The flight is scheduled to depart at 8:00 pm, he retorted. But the time on my ticket says its 10:00 pm, I argued. He got shocked at this piece of information, explained to me how there must have been some mistake and that I should immediately leave for the airport. These are the bastards who should be sacked immediately, I muttered, making a mental note to inform Mr. Praful Patel if I ever get to meet him. I urged Bhutia to wake up (which in itself is not an easy task) and call for a cab. The cab-company did not have one at the moment but promised to send one as soon as possible. But why do you need it immediately, he queried. Balls to the fucker, I thought. Bhutia patiently explained to him the situation. It’s the language; he said later, you still have a faint Bong accent in your Hindi, quietly hurting my ego.

We sat on the terrace, muffled in our winter-gear (Gurgaon was getting notorious for its drop in the mercury) and waited for the cab. Bhutia kept on blabbering about the Punjaban he was seeing and how he was getting pestered by her and why sex is the only important thing in a relationship. I listened half heartedly, sharing my attention between the headlights on the road and the thin flake of ice that had accumulated on the floor of the terrace. Gingerly, I put my toe on it and it broke into symmetrical geometric forms. So much for ice-breakers, I smiled, as my cab honked in front of the gate.

On our way back to Delhi, I saw the lights of Gurgaon, developing at a mad pace, creating infrastructure, opportunities and money out of nowhere. Ten years back this place did not even exist. The face of an emerging India – with our generation leading its frontiers. I lit up one last smoke, Shit, I was getting a smoke-burn. I tried to visualize the contents of my lungs – black tar combined with mucus and red lining of the blood vessels and spots of green etched permanently by dope – still the fucker is functioning, I marveled at the human anatomy. Who had said that if the lungs were to be dislodged and spread out on a plain surface, it can cover acres of land? Yes, my Biology teacher at school, suddenly sweet memories of innocence rushed back to me. She was tremendously over-sexed, a case for Krafft-Ebing, and the point of contention in the whole school was whether she ever wore any bras. Why are you smiling, fucker, Bhutia’s words jolted me to reality. Nothing, I said, please go on. He was trying to explain vaguely how these low cost airlines operate and why they screw up, and how we should start a company. For the umpteenth time we have a business plan, I told him and a strange sense of belonging reminded both of us our formative years together.

“Domestic ya International?”, the jaat on the wheel asked. I got pissed off and howled back to him. We swung into driveway of the IGI Airport, cursed the driver for not agreeing to wait till I had gone in. The lights, the people, the smell, the sound brought me back to my world. In a few hours I would be in the garbage of Mumbai, which quite unexpectedly I had started to call my home. At the gate, I looked back at Bhutia, one of my best friends, and there he was, bald head, clean shaven cheeks and that cherubic smile on his face waving me off. We’ll meet soon Chandu, he shouted (someone had called me by that name after an eternity). I smiled back, nothing much can change, not 2 years of grill in the software industry, not even the fact that we stay in two culturally opposite poles of this great nation. I turned away and proceeded to check-in.