Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering Rod

There was an eccentric head movement which undoubtedly identifies the finest pop/soft rock star to me....Rod Stewart..First time I heard him was quite a sometime back. I was in school and tirelessly pursuing my dream to be successful nobody. Then I suddenly heard him on my old Santosh radio (a local hybrid transistor between a Chinese toy and Indian innovation). The mellifluous voice singing, "I don't want to talk about it, how you broke my heart", the sudden sensation of broken heart visited me....

My fascination with Roderick David Stewart (aka Rod Stewart) started that winter night, thanks to the fabled Voice of America show. I never heard it again until precisely 15 years later in his hometown Glasgow.
It was wintry night just before the Christmas, shops close early, deserted roads lined up nicely trimmed bushes and soft lights sprinkling across Buchanan Street.
The shop was playing, "Have I told you lately that I love you", a famous composition of Van Morrison, equally brilliantly rendered by Rod.

I stood there. Motion-less. There was strange pathos in voice, a strange voice indeed, a cross between Scottish teenager and a mellowed superstar...the song and its words floated across the streets, suddenly little snowflakes started coming down.

I sat down at the nearest chair close to left over beer bottle and closed my eyes. I wanted to stop that moment. It seemed that all the love that I wanted to proclaim and put into words for such a long time, is being done by him.

I wish time could take me back.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Our Tree still grows in Almora [part two]

Traveling in Indian railways can be fun and intimidating too, especially when you are traveling with lot of aunts and uncles...all they want is to eat their homemade food...that could range from ultra tangy mango pickle to a over oily Luchi (pronounced as loo-chi equivalent to Chapathi). I was subjected to tremendous care once I woke up next morning. Being the youngest and most shy, everyone seems to care about me and subjected to over feeding.

Around 6.30 am IST morning, train halted into a unknown station in UP, I opened up the glass window with all my force to see a Sikh Nihang going for a bath in nearby hand pump. What struck my eyes were his gentle eyes and deep blue cloth against grey color foggy morning. He undressed lazily in front of the train and started using hand pump (common place in northern India). As the hot water (coming from underground few hundred feet) touched ground, a mild vapor started engulfing the place.

After another few hours of pretty uninteresting journey, we entered into Lucknow...erstwhile capital of Awadh....the smallish station crowded with scores of people, porters with huge suitcases, chaiwalah, beggar, cross legged sadhu in mediation and other nonchalantly looking people, all in one place.

I slumbered through the motion while carrying my suitcase into a crowded auto stand and from there we took an auto to local hotel, aptly named as Taj. We had a connecting train from Lucknow junction at night.

We arrived at evening and started looking for the train, the now fabled Naini Express. It runs on meter gauge line with no side berths...We jumped onto the train and as soon as it arrived from nearest train shade…I was the first to person to enter showing over-enthusiasm…As more people started boarding the train, I hoped to find a pretty girl fellow traveler! So, I was pleasantly surprised to find a bevy of pretty girls group all travelling to Nainital....My mind started racing towards a possible romantic encounter with one of these girls.

Unfortunately nothing romantic happened that night or any of the subsequent nights in my life.

The train started at correct it lumbered into Uttrakhand crossing UP, I remember feeling chilly. The concrete jungle of the cityscape slowly receding behind.

As the train picked up pace, I wondered about my class mates in Calcutta...It was Saptami, 7th day of Durga Puja...perhaps the most popular amongst the 5 days...

What they might be doing? What a striking difference while they are enjoying their sumptuous egg roll filled up chicken balls and careful dose of tomato sauce, here I am! Staring at nothingness....dark tall trees and specs of street light fast going behind...a light fog surrounds the villages as we cross by....Sometimes the sudden honking sound of the train as it moved ahead with furious speed started floating my imagination.

I long to reach the destination...Its’ been a long journey.

[To be continued]

Our trees still grows in Almora [part one]

In a life span of 30 years (I will be within a next few weeks), there are very few days I remember..very few faces and memories I have....most of the people I have met or places I have been was like a Tequila shot....scintillating at first but the sensation slowly fades into your tongue...the sweet salted aftertaste lasts for about an hour and then goes off...Amongst scores of stuff I have been thinking over, there are something I would like to share for the sake of posterity as my ancestors genes are pretty infamous for Alzheimer.

 It was 2001, sufficiently long back to be considered as a decade. I was studying a small Tech college in downtown Calcutta. I did not had any friends in college, and being extremely shy with a speech and hearing problem, I seldom mingled in groups...which people of my age did it with utter panache.

That year, we decided to spend our Durga Puja vacation in a small Himalayan town called Haldwani. I had never heard its name before. It looked like a small dot on the giant map of Kumaon Himalayas I had borrowed from a fellow classmate.

I was quite dissatisfied with the choice of vacation though. Being in my college freshman years, and where my friends would date and roam around the city with pretty girls hand in hand during Durga Puja and eat egg roll, I found this idea of visiting a relative in remote Himalayan village amidst all the hustle bustle in Calcutta, quite revolting.

After a decent amount of fiery discussion, I decided to follow my father, who promised that it would be life changing experience for me...I reluctantly sat on the crowded Akal Takht Express.
It was Sosthi, 6th Day of Durga Puja...Like a prelude to Christmas, the festivities had just began..I could sense a joyous mood all around me except me, who like people of my age was unsure and perturbed by the choice that elders made without consultation.

It was an overnight journey though the hearts of Bengal, Bihar and UP, crisscrossing three states, countless paddy fields, semi deserted and deserted stations, thinly built railways guardsman waving green moth eaten flags. My favorite however was a certain species, called Chanachur-walah, the man folks who sell mouth watering mixture of various delectable chanachur across various Indian long and short distance trains.

As we traveled through the gentle green plains of Bengal into rustic UP, the landscape changes. It had a kind of masculine, rugged, unapologetic country side features. As dark night trickled in, I decided to retreat into my upper berth.

Thinking about what awaits me tomorrow, I went to sleep after sufficiently satisfied with my choice of dinner which comprised of aluminum foil wrapped extra oily Chapathi (Indian bread) with thick Dal (Indian lentil soup) followed by several sweets which my father bought from local sweet seller.

I closed my eyes and started visualizing what my classmates might be doing now! Some might be in fabled Maddox square, may be in Simla part or Ballygunge Sarbojonin! I was sure they are having more romantic/adult fun than I was having on sluggishly moving ancient locomotive where people tend to be snoring a lot.

[To be continued]