Goan diaries – I

Goa isn’t exactly known for its diaries but may be after I write, it will..

For those who do not know, I visited Goa between June 7 and 10. Since friends were busy and none of them was unlucky enough to be forced to join me, I made the trip alone.

Saturday June 7

It was Tom Petty number I hadn’t heard before but it was a recommended one nonetheless. So it found a place in my cell phone as I prepared for my Goan odyssey. Little did I know that the song would come to define the trip I had undertaken. Dodging the activated shuffle system, it played out as my journey from Mumbai began at 10pm. Its lyrics rang into me as I looked out of window in the bus:

Into the great wide open

Under the sky so blue..

Out in the great wide open

A rebel without a clue

From being an unfamiliar number to a ‘member of the core group’, it made the transition quickly. Felt as if it was being sung by someone seeing me. It always feels nice to have found good company among many, doesn’t it? I slept a happy man…(in this, I must also acknowledge the assistance lent by bus walla who played Imraan Hasmi starrer Jannat

Plan, shall we?

Trouble is that animal which hunts in a pack. This, I was reminded of, when I saw our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh address the nation on fuel hike. If curbing inflation and reversing his party’s electoral fortunes was not a worry enough, the man has to now pray that his countrymen show restraint in using fuel but still vote for his party.

 

Looking at it from the point of view of a middle class Indian, the party has been spoilt. After years of suffering under license raj, where you could only buy Fiats and Ambassadors, he had only recently started to feel the ease of a Hyundai and the power of a Scorpio. But even before his next generation could savour these luxuries, attempts have been made to stall him. So delicate is the situation that after PM Singh announced a hike in prices, global crude oil prices dropped immediately to $124 a barrel because the world was relieved that India will find it difficult to buy and thus the demand would fall.

 

Whose fault it is that we stare at this ugly situation? Not the world’s and certainly not that of the middle class Indian. I would raise my finger to a habit that has long besieged us Indians, as a habit – utter disregard and implementation of planning.

 

Let’s take the case of Mumbai. The city has always been the country’s commercial capital. This tradition continued even after liberalisation of our economy. As the size and contents in the wallet of Mumbaikars grew, the roads shrunk with the increasing amount of cars. Even while this went on and on, our policy makers only woke up recently and announced a Metro rail and a monorail and air conditioned corridor for railways and air conditioned water transport and what not, as cheaper alternatives to car users! Since these things don’t come easy and our policy makers aren’t exactly the most efficient ones, we can conveniently wait for next five years for any of these things to materialise. So, would you blame the middle-class Mumbaikar if he can afford a car and wants a decent ride to work place in an air conditioned vehicle? I won’t. In the commercial capital of a country that aspires to a superpower, it certainly isn’t asking for too much.

 

Thus I don’t see a substantial dip in the fuel consumption even though it has become costly. Net result being that the lack of planning on part of our policy makers has driven us to where we stand today. I am surprised that many bureaucrats I have spoken to have agreed with me on this.

 

Moving ahead, some of these bureaucrats told me that past is past and that we need to look ahead. Fine, as you say, Sir.

 

A few days back, I was on my way home in train from the hill station of Matheran. The railway line there was a two-track one which caters to up and down train traffic. On seeing that, I wondered if these bureaucrats will start constructing additional railway tracks even though the area is, for now, out of Mumbai’s mad land grab. I wondered if these bureaucrats will wait till the traffic rises there and commuters are forced to perform ‘rail rokos’ or will they plan and implement earlier? What will take place on that track near Matheran, I somehow believe, will be the future of how the emerging India deals with its issues.

 

Mother Night

It had never really occurred to me until a few moments back. As I was feeling the night and consuming with immense greed, the solitude it provided, it struck me with as little a surprise as perhaps your left hand hitting the right. Felt as if it was always there in the dump yard of the larger dumping ground my mind (mmm…actually even my body) resembles these days. It is the answer to why I like the night more than the day? What is it that the night gives me which a day, with all its big bang apparatus and crowd, can’t? And why am I, once again, choosing to write a heart-felt essay in the dead of the night rather than in the day,  without losing out on sleep and disturbing my already-slow metabolism?

 

In a pattern similar to Gautam Buddha attaining enlightenment under the aegis of the grand Banyan tree, I chanced upon an answer to these questions over the aegis of my modest domestic swing with a little support from my newly-acquired Philips headphones.

 

Night is like a mother, I feel. This one line lent an immediate explanation and helped me resolve and rationalise all my feelings towards the ‘Night’. Beginning at the dawn, a Day does all it can to take you away from yourself, your comforts, your likings and makes you do things you don’t like, don’t want to do, tires you, makes you feel hungry and thirsty and reminds you how blissful your Mother Night is. Day grinds you till there is not much left. And even as you are about to drop in despair, She, Mother Night, takes over. Makes you come back, unwind, forget your worries and relax. She takes you closer to what you like, what you want and, at the crux of it, takes you closer to yourself, much against the distraction you’ve been through. She has no conditions, no demands but simply loves you and wants you to live well. Like an understanding parent, she will not force herself upon you, rather she will let you be alone and grow. She will provide you room to explore, think for yourself, and form your opinions even as she struggles to keep the raging world outside at bay. That, to me is why I love the Night and feel it is like a mother.  

Even ones response to ‘Night’ is akin to what most sons do in real life. Like most, you behave like an insensitive child and show little concern for what she has given you and gradually start craving for the Day to come by. Anyway.

As I had stated earlier, this thought came to me and got ‘downloaded’ within just the way a new file does but this file my system seemed totally well versed with. Lastly, I also got a reason behind some of the not-so-important things I have come to know about people in the world. Like why AR Rehman composes music at night, like why most people like to read at night, why so many people like to write at night and even why I could never study at night and would always sleep. Just as Rehman’s heart and mind blooms in the soft light of the moon, my heart and mind felt tortured when I held my textbooks with me. Good I gave it up the day the government made education non-compulsory!  

Hope the last line was a decent end to this piece of writing. If not, then may be the last line now is. Whatever, I can’t stay up and keep searching for the best end. It is ‘Night’ and she is awaiting to take me to do another thing I love immensely, sleep.

Good Day! (Because Night is better as well as Best)

Down to the waterline

Stumbled upon something as I was chilling out on Saturday evening. An English song, when sung with the lyrics in front of your eyes is akin to getting to know someone you like, more deeply. 

For example, this song by Dire Straits – Down to the waterline; I heard it for the first time as I was checking my mails and finishing some chores. It turned out a catchy number featuring the God-like guitar and Knopfler’s voicebox. Perfect recipe for my ears and heart. Thus I immediately took a liking to it. As for the words, I understood a few while not all and it really did not matter much.

But on that evening, I just checked out the lyrics and went through them before letting the music on. It came to me that behind the great sounding, kickass number was a lover’s stylish yet sensitive recollection of the time he spent hanging around the airport with his mate. Talking of the pilot lights and running for cover from the cops in the same breath as describing the moneyless jackets, cold hands but warm lips zoomed one back to the thrills of early youth romance. A masterpiece indeed!

Had I not taken the effort I wouldn’t have ever known how much deeper I could know and sink myself into the composition. I do enjoy the ‘company’ of the song a lot more now.      

Me, the who

I began as someone. On the way, I met people, I observed them. I saw their good points and bad points. Tried to take the good and move ahead. Met some more people, saw some more good and bad. Again, took the good and tried to avoid the bad and moved on. Saw a few more people. It was interesting now, because some good that I knew of seemed wrong. And somethings which were initially wrong, began making sense. I did my bit – picked up the best and moved on. Today, perhaps not through with even half of my share of stay on the planet, I have seen this mix and match. Though undeniably, there is something of me that still remains as it was from day one, I would be an idiot to say very little has changed. Wonder how I would be when I shut shop. Will I be more like how I began as or will more change within? Will I move closer to myself or drift away? Will I be I or someone I don’t know? I don’t know. Meet me, the who.     

Liberate them, Mr Bush..

Some days before Mr Bush and company launched the Iraq invasion, I was watching the news on television. Mr Bush, as an answer to a reporter’s question said, “We need to liberate the Iraqi people from the rule of the despot that Saddam Hussein is.” The ‘need to liberate’ is something that has stayed with me ever since.

Last night, as I was watching the news on television and staring at the cyclone-afflicted misfortune that Myanmar’s people are undergoing, the ‘need to liberate’ them welcomed itself back to my mind. Wonder what the creator of the phrase is thinking.

Saddam gassed his own people, imposed himself upon them, lived a king’s life when his subjects killed each other for food and did all the a dictator does.  Oh yes, he also desired nuclear weapons but never got near doing that. Lets take Gen Than Shwe’s regime in Myanmar now. Denial of basic human rights, crushing rebellion using bloody means, hes done all that. So much so that even the usually apolitical monks came out on the streets in protest only to face shocking brutality. Today, as his country is facing what is perhaps Asia’s worst natural calamity in over a decade, after tsunami, his men are busy restricting planes carrying relief materials from reaching the affected.

And from 6:15am, this morning, his men have even begun awaiting people at polling stations. What for, one would ask. Well, they want people to go through and approve a military-drafted constitution. So what if 1.5 million people are displaced, number of registered voters is not known and perhaps, over 1,00,000 people have died only a week back.

And like Iraq, Myanmar too is home to one of world’s largest fuel deposits. Makes a case for ‘liberation’, Mr Bush?

Something to work towards

We all work. I do as a journalist, you do as a student and some other person does it as something else. And what are we working towards? Hmm..money, luxuries, fame and everything else that everyone else is working for….yawn. So much so for the unique path we chose for ourselves as individuals!

Yesterday, as I was conversing with my girlfriend, we stumbled upon something which I want to work towards. More competition I have, the better and having done this brings me the sweetness I miss in life. 

It goes like this – I meet, say, 10 people, everyday. Of which 8-9 or all 10 turn out to be those indifferent souls that the world is full of. These souls dont give a damn who you are and why you met them and in fact, flowing with the foul-mood that most in world do, for them everyone who meets them is a cause for a splitting headache. This can be your traffic constable, your liftman,a government servant you are wanting to get some work done from. In this situation, why not be considerate? Be that beacon which shines above all and bright. It is simple – I want to behave like an individual and not like a part of a system (which anyways sucks). Several times, I wish to do these ‘nice’ things but stop because ‘it doesnt look proper’ or may be ‘people don’t be so nice’. No denying, you got to get even with the promoters of rascalities all over but where there is no malice, I want to just, be good. 

Last evening, I met an ex-defence official. Since what we discussed on was so technical, I came out with a mental condition one identifies with those who just finish watching ‘Saawariya’. There, in front of me was an old Parsi uncle. Wearing a banyan and shorts and was struggling to walk with a pair of supporters. Out of nowhere, HE asked me, “So, how are you doing?” Being a man from the world (and am not being sexist), I was caught by surprise and it took me a few seconds to register this genuine inquiry. I answered, “Am well. How are you?” To which he gave a frank reply indicating his time has passed and he was just ‘hanging on’. Minutes passed and then the lift door opened, I wished him well and exited. For sometime I kept pondering whether it was the man’s absent-mindedness or friendly nature that made him converse with me. Decided that whatever it was, it made me feel nice for him because he could have that conversation since he wanted and for me too, for this chat was like a cool breeze in summer time. And that is because he did a ‘nice’ thing and did not stop because ‘it doesnt look proper’ or may be ‘people don’t be so nice’.

Anyway, time to rush. Circus of life is about to begin but am gonna keep in mind, things I discussed. Bye.

                  

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