At maya, my new haunt, filled with amazing conversations bordering on the incredible, rib-tickling fun and someone who knows me more than I know myself :)
Ohhh...it's so good to be home!
Caution: Don't get fooled by the on-the-house cocktails on Ladies Nite! One drink called Barbie Doll (yeah!) had only watermellon (no not juice...but chunky pieces of it...!) and only a whiff of vodka. The other, is imaginatively called Tamarind Martini...for those who like their rasam with a hint of vodka. Strictly for the brave hearted south indian ladies!
P.S. It was a lovely evening....no smothering crowd, tasteful music, new age decor, polite service. One doesn't need conversations in a place like this. The place fills that need.
We won! Winning by the last thread of our collective underpants...but nevertheless we won. That's what matters...at the end. Unfortunate for the Pakistanis that their man-who-could-have-got-them-the-Cup got impatient and tried an absolutely ridiculous shot to get caught.
Winning the T20 World Cup doesn't excuse the Boys in Blue for not singing the National Anthem at the beginning of the final match. It was shameful that none of them even made an attempt. This is the World Cup and you are on national television representing your country in a match that's easily the 'clash of the subcontinent' and here you are not even trying to lip-sync with a song that represents your country's pride, honour and among other things, identity. One can't afford such gross indifference. Lets teach them the anthem, as it should be sung, before they go on the next tour.
Sitting in an airport security check-in lounge, I realize how comfortable I am in strange yet oddly familiar hotel rooms, waking up in comfortable but unfamiliar beds, among unknown surroundings and the security of being a nobody.
The gypsy in me feels appreciated...finally.
I have lived here 10 years back. I was familiar with Bandra and Bandra alone, never felt the need to explore the rest of the city except for some much dreaded trips to Navi Mumbai...and some social visits to Lower Parel. The city sure has changed and how.
I am stunned to see Sakinaka change into a 8 lane concrete road with modern structures housing tech companies everywhere.
The airport's newly inaugurated terminal is totally cool!
The rain and the ensuing traffic mess still remains the same. Some comfort that :)
1. people who chatter noisily inside an aircraft with complete disregard for the mental health of the co-passengers.
2. people who don't listen to the inflight announcement for seatbelts and expect the flight attendant to come and request them personally.
3. taxidriver who refuses to ferry passengers stating the distance is too close. You can walk, he says!
4. mumbai rain. incessant and thoughtless. It clings to you like a stubborn stain that doesn't go even after several washes.
I visited the Mahindra Pride School, Pune as a part of our new sourcing strategy. In other words, I was looking at a fresh source of talent pool to feed our ever-growing need for people, who would be loyal and help reduce my turnover cost. I went in to evaluate a possibility but I came out transformed and amazed. I met Pruthvi, who at 19 has the responsibility of running her household. Bright and dazzling with confidence, she told me in marathi laced hindi “Mujhe kuch banna hai”. I met many others like her, who had dropped out of school mostly to support their families financially. What was striking was the way they said ‘HSC fail’ while talking about their academic achievements. With confidence and pride. Most of their peers, in their communities haven’t even seen the interiors of a school. Veenitha told me that she joined the 3 months hospitality course in the school, to build a career in the hotel industry, which will help her to bring up her five year old daughter. Widowed at 25, today she depends on her parents for support but has pawned her only pair of gold ear ring to pay for the conveyance to and fro the school. She said she chose hospitality since it’s a very respectable industry which surprised me since I have met IHM (Institute of Hotel Management) students who refused to pick up ‘jhoota’ plates from restaurant tables saying it’s demeaning. She also told me this is far more respectable than working as a domestic help that she has been before joining this course. The pride that reflected on her face at the opportunity of a better life was unadulterated.
I have worked with NGOs before, but mostly with relocation of refugees and the work had involved counseling and helping them to rebuild their lives. So depravation wasn’t new to me. What was new was so much positivism and hope concentrated within the modest walls of the school.
I have decided to work with them and help the faculty in chalking customized English language skill program that would get them ‘job ready’ quicker, since most of them have excellent communication skills. I must mention that they have excellent faculty members. I met the former Head of Training, WNS, who decided to give up a very successful but high stressed job to work with MPS.
The other amazing experience was the drive down Pune-Mumbai Expressway on a rainy mist covered day. As the bus curled through the Ghat section, the drenched lush slopes hugged the grey clouds that hung like a veil, trying to keep the ethereal nature out of prying eyes. The tunnels added to the mystery of the journey. This has to be the prettiest highway in India at least.
Yes my posts are getting dark and depressing and I run the risk of being written off as a tragedy specialist…coming to think of it is not such a bad idea after all!
Anyway, reading this on a friend's mail forward, one cannot help but wonder. There is this famous bengali movie, the title slips me at this point, where Aparna Sen tells Shoumitra Chaterjee who was her screen brother-in-law about her juvenile attempts for suicide probably expecting empathy in return but the brother-in-law nonchalantly tells her, puffing a long necked ciggie (oh all bengali heroes smokes)“Ohh, everyone tries to commit suicide at least once in their lives...good that you tried”.
So here’s mine. I flunked in Hindi (yes yes!) in the midterm exam in std. 7. Couldn’t tell Ma. Dying was a preferred option. Tried jumping off the terrace of our 3rd floor apartment. This terrace opened towards the backyard of the building and therefore ensured privacy. I stood there for over 5 minutes leaning over the edge, trying to find courage. I didn’t.
I couldn’t decide whether to wear my glasses for this once in a life time jump. If I did, I knew the shattered glasses would hurt and ruin my eyes if I happen to survive with broken bones. (something told me being crippled and blind was infinitely worse than being failed-in-hindi) If I took my glasses off, I couldn’t see a damn thing from the top and I wanted at least to be able to see where I was jumping.
Then Ma called. The game was over. I confessed. She assumed I was trembling out of the fear, guilt and humiliation. Till date I haven’t told her how close I was to losing it.
After, being through life and growing wiser I thank myself for holding back and being gutless. There are many of us who can’t. I pray and I hope for those who are on that brink. If I can lead someone away from that brink I would consider my life post the failed attempt, worthy of living.
Yesterday I came back to a city I never could love. The memories of it are filled with anxiety, overwhelming bitterness, pathetic disillusionment and an all time low in self esteem. To say I was wary of stepping in this city again would be an understatement. Plain truth is, this journey back here has been uncomfortable and the first day was filled with a sense of persecution. The memories clawing at my heels like a desperate stalker. From touch-down, I couldn't shake the feeling of being followed, being watched, being judged...
A day after, it feels much better. Though the night was disturbed with interrupted, disjointed and twisted dreams, the morning has cleared the unhappiness.
Circumstances may have changed and therefore the unhappiness quotient, but it’s not as easy to rework the memories. They surface with odd clarity at times they are least desired.
But through all of this, finally, I am coming to terms with a reality that has long eluded me.
Happiness and a sense of freedom.