What do you think is every south indian’s comfort food? i think it is a Dosa. A crepe. Wait, who does not like Dosa? You can easily fill an 80 pages notebook if you start listing out the names of Dosa varieties. But, Masala Dosa is one beautiful creation of man. A timeless classic.
The Silicon City’s traffic is stressing, I agree. But a warm Masala Dosa from Woody’s is worth it, I swear. If you have been to Commercials, Bengaluru and have not tried Masala Dosa in Woody’s Hotel, I would say that you have not enjoyed life to the fullest. Spicy red chilly chutney spread on the crepe which is crispy and has a tinge of sweetness, filled with a generous spoon of potato curry served with a spicy chilli-tomato chutney, fresh mint chutney for a balance and Karnataka’s signature sambhar (kannadigas LOVE sweet. There is jaggery literally in almost every dish of theirs) which has a distinct taste will make you want to come to Commercials everyday, despite the crowd, rain, distance, time and every possible interruption.
Under the untamed, curly locks of his hair, lies his brain which is his storehouse of memories. We shall come back to that later, because Arun Neelakantan thinks from his heart. The heart can be a very dangerous place to think from, and we see the repercussions of these impulses shift the course of Arun’s life not just once, but a number of times. Arun does not hold his heart in his palm. He lets it fly and chases it down the narrow streets of a Chennai housing board, up the hills and in the jungle. He effortlessly explains the fluidity of life by aspiring to do music, pursuing engineer’s and going on to become a wedding photographer. Thinking from your heart also makes things difficult for yourself. The brain is the liar. The heart cannot let you lie to yourself, let alone others. But what the heart can do is, let you take a chance. From (impulsively and quite physically) following his heart that circled around a woman and winning her love, to telling another girl that he did not have a girlfriend because he saw the possibility of having a moment, Arun’s heart navigated him. Was it in the right or wrong direction? It was uncertain. But it kept him moving forward at lightning speed. Calling his first love in the middle of the night, while on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, to share that he had become a father is what Arun would do, listening to his heart. Apart from curving into the most genuine smile in the world, Arun’s lips which are tethered to his heart, say things in the exact way it is written in his heart. Arun cannot stay in a space where his heart cannot be. Figuratively and in reality. In a way, he is fragile. Unusually, behind the shield of his heart, he walks forward throwing bombs of words or silence with one hand. Every morning, before he went out, he remembered to stuff some honesty under the collar of his shirt, in his pant pockets or in the pouch of his shoulder bag. Without that, Arun would not be himself. His youth sometimes forced him to leave this honesty locked in his hostel room, and did make mistakes like all of us, but deep down, he knew that these mistakes were unacceptable. That acknowledgement was all that mattered. Further, there was nothing that stopped him from attempting to redeem himself. His rebound relationship ended when he accepted that he was not in love, and the most he could do was being a good friend. His heart-shield was held up once again. There was something about Arun’s eyes. They glitter when he sees a beautiful girl whom he eventually falls in love with and gets his heart broken. And a spark in his eyes dwindles and dies as we watch, when this girl expresses that she might still be in love, while sending him off. The blankness in his eyes makes it clear that he does not want to tell us what he feels. His eyes age with him. When he opens his eyes sitting on a rock, in a jungle, a thin, film-like haze of mischief clears out. But do not be deceived, because it does not completely vanish. Traces of this mischief in his eyes can be seen when he falls in love again a couple of years after a heartbreak. Once again he falls in love impulsively but he does not love this woman fiercely. The savage lover in him died slowly and comfortably. He is adventurous enough to get married in the pouring rain, but not incautious enough to lie to his wife while meeting his ex-lover. There was a sort of tranquility in the way he loved, as he grew up. This does not mean that he stopped following his heart. It’s just that his heart slowed down a bit, making it easier for him to chase it. This was Arun Neelakantan’s journey of finding himself while thinking from his heart.
As you are all apologizing to Beyonce, I want to remind you about this one beautiful song that went viral in 2012. Two guys from a town in Tamilnadu, had no film background, could have been the victims of #nepotism, made it to the state’s cinema capital and released this classic on a radio show. The song became a huge hit in no time and now has about 1 crore views on YouTube. How inspiring!
Now, let me slide the curtain and show you what is inside this song, Club Le Mabbu Le that made it so popular. The song was written and composed by these two guys who had given up on the women in the society. We are not sorry. If they had a penny for every problematic line in this song, they can gift ‘Kanchi Pattu’ (listen to the song) face masks and eye patches to everyone in this world, so that we can ignore this masterpiece of toxicity. These boys were just so disturbed by the way women live. They needed help, but what they really got, was the support of an FM radio. Almost every tea-kadai anna, every cab driver, every music channel enjoyed playing this song. Throughout the song, these young self-acclaimed composers tell women what to wear, what to do, how to live and what language we should speak in. It’s so sad how they still think women dress up, wear make up and show up to impress men. We do not know how long it took for the duo, to put on a scale, how dignified a woman is. We hope it did not take long, because, we do not want them to waste their precious-precious time by coming up with an opinion that does not even matter.
Objectification and sexist remarks are two of the very few characteristics of ‘comedy’ in Tamil cinema. In a film industry where women are called ‘Gilma’, ‘Figure’, ‘Item’, this song is an addition to the migraines. The interesting thing is, this song is not even funny. The composers outrightly say that women who smoke, drink and go to clubs are uncultured. Not like we care about their opinion, but honestly, from where did you get the audacity to say this? Who are you to define what our culture is? Did I borrow your cigarette, take a drag and blow on your face, to be so irritated about it? We can go on asking a thousand questions like this, about this song. But, what kind of answers can we expect from the composers who look up to Bharathiyar (who wrote about women empower and freedom), but have no clue what that man was talking about? So, chill.
Also, don’t even get me started about Club le Mabbu le thiryara aambala who makes it an unsafe space for women. What is so problematic about women going to clubs? You cannot resist groping? Then stay at home. The composers avoid talking about the intolerable men in clubs who pass their numbers, stalk women and make us feel uncomfortable. Getting myself a drink and chatting with the bartender is more disturbing than unconsensual touch and grabs, yeah thanks. The composers literally say that women will spoil all the men in the society. What? Did you think this through, bro? Club Le Mabbu Le brought back and popularized rap culture in Tamil, but it is so disgusting that this song, which is dipped and soaked in misogyny was the first ever rap a lot of us learnt to sing. In this world, artists influence people everyday. It would not hurt being a little sensitive about what they say, the reaction of their audience, and the effects of it.
We grooved to Naatu Sarakku, Club Le Mabbu Le, Soppana Sundari. A variety of objectification and sexist comments. Basically songs that didn’t even have to exist. What else do you have in store?
Adding the song video, lyrics and translation link. Enjoy.
It was one of those days when I had forgotten how pieces began, or how they ended. I was listening to Bujji on loop because, what is taste? Not wanting to get stuck in the hamster wheel of productivity, I was taking a break from Instagram. Professor S had posted something and my phone had to let me know about it because, what is respect for space? She had written on Breaking Away. As usual, I heard her speak as I read through the piece. There is an uncanny resemblance between her voice and her writing and I felt like a creep for reading it in her tone. She tells stories like she was born to do nothing apart from that. She had posted an album of five pictures. I was reading the fourth page and I thought it was lovely. I did not want to swipe and read what was on the fifth page because I was contented and anything more would ruin that feeling. But, I also badly wanted to. She had written the piece encouraging everyone to take part in the competition. After reading the piece, a normal person would feel like their brains were illuminated, a strong desire to write, a surge of words like the tireless April rains in Bangalore. But, it accidentally strummed the wrong string in my brain. I badly wanted to write again. I wanted to complete the Breaking Away piece that I shelved a few weeks ago because I thought I could not write anymore. But, I still do think I cannot write. Then, I was mad at Instagram for showing me Professor S’s post. I was mad at Professor S for writing, that, for a second I thought it should be made illegal to write something so beautifully.
I spent the next two hours of cancelled lab sessions crying under the blanket in my dark room. After drowning myself in a shallow plate of Rasam Saadham and Potato Poriyal, I told A that I was going to deactivate my Instagram blog, delete posts from my WordPress and go into hiding. I told him I was going to give up on writing because I was not good at it. To him, I’ve said more “I want to run away” than “I appreciate your existence”. The idea of running away is so intriguing and seemed simple that it became my first option whenever something intimidated me. I look up Zostel Alleppey and listen to Santhosh Narayanan’s music every time there is a minor inconvenience in life, because if the sea and some clumsily melodious songs cannot make my life better, what can? I want to run away from home because I want to know what being out of one’s comfort zone feels like. I want to run away from people because I was scared I would hurt them. This time my inability to write made me want to escape from writing itself. A said that I must be in a good head space to write. The rational part of my brain agreed without hesitation. But the other side whispered constantly that I must stop writing, delete everything and forget that I want to become a writer. After I finished crying throughout the next two hours of scheduled lab sessions too, A called me. He asked me why I wanted to write so badly. My lips trembled and I looked at the yellow walls of my room blankly. What should I say? It was not even a relevant question to ask people like me at this point of time. Words reject us every day and that is our biggest heartbreak. A question like this is dripping iodine on the broken heart. It burns and I want to scream, but eventually heals. But, it still burns.
Every person who tries to write goes through this phase without fail, and I try to console myself. Amma thinks I am snapping at her because I have problems. Problems in air quotes. When I yelled with tears brimming and shivering, that I am not able to write and my head felt heavy, Amma’s nose scrunched, and her lips and eyes bounced on all the corners of her face. Yes, what is the big deal if you are not able to write? If you can’t write, then don’t. It’s not like the world will come crashing down on you. But, what if it does? I am unable to do the only thing I know, and believed that I am sort of good at. Professor S once asked us to write about words. I wrote about how words play hide-and-seek with me. In the feedback, she said, “You have such a close relationship with words and I admire this in you”. I really want to believe it. I have been secretly fangirling over Professor S and her writing in college, as well as on Instagram. I have never talked to her outside the classroom. Very rarely even inside. I have always wanted to grab a chair in the department, sit on the other side of her table and talk to her as Hedwig stares at me. But, what would I talk about, to her? I already knew her through her smiles and her writing. Do I know Shadow through Professor S or do I know her through Shadow? It is always confusing. Good writers make me feel like a creep and I don’t exactly like it. Appa once said that I can only write when something ploughs the contents of my heart like the pieces of raw mango spiced and stirred with a ladle in a pickle jar every day. He did not mention pickle jars or mangoes, but I like to remember it that way.
Professor S’s piece was a ladle, but it stirred the contents of the pickle jar in the counter clockwise direction. I didn’t want to wite anymore because I can never write like Professor S. I backspaced the Breaking Away piece I was writing because I can never tell stories like Professor S. I archived all posts on my Instagram blog as my sanity did not let me delete them. It was over. What should have been a sigh of relief, slowly choked me. Professor S’s piece was not flashy. It was simple, real and shameless. She tells me secrets from her life and trusts me with them. When I attempt to tell stories of who I want to be, she poetically writes who she is. It is a sin to write truthfully like her. I can never do that, so I have to run away. Far from writing, ladles, spiced mangoes and pickle jars. A said that there is no running away from this. Maybe for him. These people who effortlessly tell stories are the best and the worst people in my life. The best because they make me want to write. The worst because they make me want to write. A once wrote a story about his coconut head and I am not a nice person who denies it comfortingly. I suppose he has a coconut head because normal heads cannot fit that stupendous story-spinning loom inside them. He would not believe me. He would even laugh it off because storytelling comes to him instinctually. People like this, I tell you.
A has an incredible taste when it comes to food and that is partly why I hang out with him. When he is not ranting to me about my unhealthy habits, we go out looking for the best beef fry in town. His Mi makes the best beef pickle and that is another reason why I tolerate him. I was frying Pappadams for the first time because A wanted to introduce me to a terrific combination that I am forever grateful to him for. Meen curry, rice and Pappadam. I had to think twice or even thrice because my mind’s taste buds refused to blend fish and Pappadam. But, when it’s food, I trust A more than I trust myself. I burnt the first two Pappadams dark brown like faces of angry old men before I fished the third one in edible condition. A and I also ended up munching on the old men faces one each because fish curry rice tasted multiple times better inside a Pappadam blanket. I now realize how a good piece of writing is like the third Pappadam. The act of writing itself is like frying Pappadams for the first time every time. But, I want to delete everything, run away and go into hiding after my first Pappadam. A would be proud if I told him I finally understand what he had been telling me all these years. But if tell him it was a pack of Pappadams that did the job, I will have to forget about my share of chicken cutlets that his Mi sends.
This is your memory of a song. It’s midnight. You are on a highway that never seems to end. The feathers on the dreamcatcher car pendant fly lightly but turbulently. The grey clouds on the pitch black, starless sky curl together when you duck a little and look up. The blinking yellow-orange lights play hide-and-seek at every curve of the road. A drop of rain makes a surprise visit. You turn on the radio and amidst the static, the acoustic guitar plinks. Rhythmically, the raindrops fall on the car window. A song like a blanket. This song is a warm embrace that radiates love and compassion. It lets you bask by the bonfire of retied bond.
Un nenjile baaram, unakaagave naanum sumai thaangiyaai thaanguven (Your heart is heavy with burdens, I am here to carry those burdens for you)
The song plays. The droplets on the car window pregnate into bulbs and dribble down making thin, vanishing yellow-orange streaks like they are tired of enduring for a long time. They were all trust-falls. You breathe heavily into the glass window and the glass fogs. Before it vanishes, with your fingertip bent a little on the back and squeaking against the glass, you write our initials with a heart in the middle. You smile at it despite its impermanence. You are on your way home after an exhausting trip and I am so sure that you are going home because sleep caresses your eyelashes and dances on your eyelids. The road will end at your doorstep and the rain will subside. The thought of crawling under your musty quilt curves your lips upward.
Ini ellaam sugame (From now on, it’s only happiness)
You see a bottle green tube light pitched on the side of the road and you know what exactly it is. You stop for a glass of chai. Raindrops trickle through the tiny gaps in the thatched roof. The steam from the glass tumbler rises, swirls along with the song and disappears into the dim light which tethers buzzing winged termites with an invisible thread. This song tastes like the first sip of chai on a pristine, rain-washed night. The smell of plain, normal, unextraordinary chai tickles your nostrils as you hold the tumbler on the rim, close to your lips. This song ends just how a glass of chai does – making you want more. Your heart wants to hear words of comfort till you completely believe them. That is exactly what this song does. It swabs your doubts away like the car wiper swooshing against the front windshield till the rain tires. The song fades into the sombre and the silence that follows is balmy and gives you a pleasant company for the rest of the road.
I write this with no aim. I never imagined I would google ‘Personal essay prompts’ ever in my life. I felt like a drug buyer in a black hoodie when I did that – a little guilty, very addicted to writing but also aggressive due to the inability to do it. Being rejected by words is the most depressing experience and is the highest level of insult. I am writing about not being able to write. I pity my pathetic self, that does not know to do anything else. I do not stare at the walls for hours anymore, looking for words. Even if I do, I believe I can now peer through the orange paint, cement and get to the bricks. But, words still will not come to me. V, in one of her letters reminded me about Renaissance artists who took years of gap while painting. Professor S asked me to paint or sketch and get inspired. She said it was okay to run out of words in the head. I really wanted to believe in what they said. Bongs put his fingers out, counted and told me six words. “Don’t be hard on yourself da”. I am trying.
As I type this, the ceaselessly blinking insertion point gives me more annoyance and anger than hope that I will be able to write. It keeps waiting for me, but is also exasperated by the time I take. It sighs and rolls its non-existent eyes at me. As graphic as it can get, the blinks of the insertion point are like a series of irritated foot tapping, with crossed arms and a grumpy look. I do not completely hate it, because it diligently sticks around even if I type paragraphs and then slowly backspace them like a sadist. I do not use notebooks and pens because they cannot erase some words prooflessly. It is at this point, when I am struggling to get words out on the screen, I realize I had taken the insertion point for granted. I think of the number of times I have worn it out by typing, re-typing, deleting. Now, can it hear my grind my teeth in stress? “Enough of the revenge”, I want to yell at this thin line at the end of the paragraph that keeps blinking and asking me to write more. What is it? A monster with unending hunger for words? A mesmeriser who lures me? Or a will-o-wisp that glides away as I get close to it?
On certain days, words are like a house cat. And on others, they are like the cat on the streets. Both never come to me at my convenience or hear me out, but I assumed I will be daubed with attention when I least expect it. They failed me this time. The cats have gotten comfortable with their siesta when the sun shines in all different shades of gold, and their deep slumber when the sky begins to darken. Now, they also entagle yarn as a hobby. They care least about the hours it takes me to detangle and wind them into balls. I have reached a point where I do not wind the yarn anymore. I let the cats play with them till they tire themselves, hoping for the day they come to me when I call them. But, this is more miraculous than tangled yarn winding themselves up into rolls and balls.
I revisited an old playlist of mine today and it was the best, tightest, warmest hug I could give myself. AJ was the first one to gift me a jar of songs. She made an effort to write a list of songs for every mood I would have when she flies to Mumbai. When we did not have 4G unlimited internet and could not send song links in seconds, this jar saved me. I downloaded these songs along with the ones I watch on 9XM everyday and had a little playlist for myself. All these songs were mine. Everything that happened in my world, was connected to one of these songs. Today, I exhausted my internet and Spotify didn’t work, thank Ambani. I did not have much to do and I had to listen to songs that I had downloaded on my phone a few years ago. I turned off the lights, plopped on my bed and scrolled through the songs. With the hype that I gave you in the first sentence of this, don’t think my playlist was a soft, slow, relaxing one. It has Main Tera Boyfriend, Yeh Jawani Teri, Hawa Hawa and Tune Mari Entryaan squeezed between Jag Ghoomeya, History, I Wanna Write You A Song and Issues. The mood that these songs come with, are very different. Some make me want to dance, when some make me whistle along. But, these are songs that make me feel like I’m home.
I string an incident with each song. Now, those memories come gushing out and take me back in time. I listened to Nallai Allai on repeat when I was in Kodaikanal. Listening to it now brings misty mountains in front of my eyes and the scent of dried eucalyptus leaves to my nostrils. That Vijaysethupathi song reminds me of the time AJ and I had the best sleep over, and how all of us danced on the terrace. I go back and listen to old songs because some things are too good to happen again. I can only relive memories through these songs. I listen to these songs because I can sing along effortlessly. It is like sitting on the floor of the dark attic or walking through dusty store room in my house, familiar and comforting. Sometimes, these songs are glued to memories I would rather forget. I stopped listening to some songs because they forced me to confront reality. Running away was an easier option. But, now coming back and listening to those songs, looking at that emotion in the eye and going past it, is much more relieving.
All of us have had different playlists growing up/ growing old. Sometimes, taking a pause and rewinding reminds us where we come from and what we are made of. V and I gift each other playlists too often. We have not met each other, but by sharing songs, we give pieces of ourselves to each other. I know her through her choice of songs. I know her through the lyrics she fell in love with. Making a playlist is an art, to her. And I could not agree more. Making a playlist for someone else is magic. Running out of songs to listen to, is a situation that I dread. I need to keep fuelling my playlist to run everyday. I gift songs to people when they feel like they are hitting rock bottom, hoping they would levitate, and I think, all of us need a bunch of songs and an old blanket with bobbles that we hold onto, to carry to our graves.
I am sorry, you could not be in the front row for that dance in kindergarten. I am sorry, the back of your ear was examined to see if you would be fair or dark, when you were just born. I am sorry, you had extra coats of rouge to look fair enough on stage. I am sorry, “Vellai aa irukavan poi solla maataan” (he who has a fair complexion wouldn’t lie) was a light joke. I am sorry, you had to scrub green gram powder wildly onto your face only to develop a mild allergy. I am sorry, you always had to pick clothes in bright and pastel shades because you did not want to look darker. I am sorry, you had to watch advertisements that preached that the only way to success was fair complexion. I am sorry, you had to watch movies where dark skinned people were milkmen, rag pickers and goons when fair people were doctors and engineers. I am sorry, people persuaded you to eat fruits saying you would become fair. I am sorry, you almost stopped using bright pink lipstick. I am sorry, your weekends had to be with your gran who always tried homemade skin whitening packs on you. I am sorry, you were told that you would look good when you go to college only if you are fair. I am sorry, you had to listen to your grand aunt rant about not wanting to marry her son to someone with a dark complexion. I am sorry, the smell of Fair&Lovely makes you nauseous now. I am sorry, you added filters to every photo of yours, that you almost forgot what you really looked like. I am sorry, every Casting Call poster said that they wanted fair girls but boys, they did not really care.
I am sorry, everybody at home were disappointed with the tan that you came back with, after a long sports day bringing home medals and certificates. I am sorry, you always had to stand facing bright lights for every selfie. I am sorry, Pears soap had to make you squeaky clean and fair instantly, making your skin dry. I am sorry, Santoor moms were always annoyingly fair. I am so sorry, it took a Kajol , a Sushmita Sen and a Priyanka Chopra for everybody to accept that dusky skin is beautiful. I am sorry, you had to see Rajnikanth in Sivaji bathe in a tub of fairness cream just because Shriya did not appreciate the difference in their complexion. I am very sorry, you had to listen to and watch ‘Oru Koodai Sunlight’ (attached youtube link at the end of the post and I suggest that you watch it) which is still the most pointless song I have ever come across. I am sorry, you had doubts about yourself. I am sorry, you grew up thinking you were not enough. I am sorry, you had to go through this, in the first place. But now, you know that you were not alone. I am proud of you for falling in love with who you are. I am proud of you for embracing everything about you, or even trying to.
There is this song that makes me feel like I’m looking at a sunset. Especially the ochre and deep orange ones. This song is dusk. Sitting on the bank of a river and watching a thousand rippling suns is what Moh Moh Ke Dhaage is all about, to me. Have you seen how the sun dangles and drones a little when its about to disappear? Have you ever felt that this sloppy dance that the Sun does, will make it drop itself from the sky? That is exactly how this song is designed. Or rather, painted. The singer just plays with my heart strings. The transition from yellow to orange to black happens right in front of my eyes and we get to see a hundred different skies in a minute. That is exactly what happens with this song. The waves of feelings that it gives, are just enough to drown me, drench me and leave me in a whole new world. I have always wondered how the colours of the evening sky changes in lapse. Sometimes from blue to orange to pink and sometimes, from grey to pink to deep red. There is a tinge of pain and teeming love in this song. There is hope, nervousness and contentment. There is no instrument like the flute to express melancholy. In this song, the flute in the background has the power to stir the insides of my ribcage. I love sunsets because there is so much drama in them. It is almost as interesting as watching a play. Something about this song brings montages of dusk in front of my eyes even when it is midnight and I have my earphones plugged in. I feel my body lighten and float like paper just how it does when the sun goes completely invisible and I let out a sigh of relief. On days I don’t feel like stepping outside and looking at the sky or it is too late to catch the sunset, I nestle in the arms of this song.
What would it be like, when the doors finally open? Who would be your first hug? Would you save it for later, for the one who lives a flight away from you? What would it be like, when the lingering smell of alcohol fades from your palms? Would it be a relief to be finally inhaling without a hindering mask? Would it remind us how we had taken almost everything for granted? What would it be like, to her, to be on a local train again and carelessly let her hair fly in the wind? By this time, she would have grown it out, her wavy locks. What would it be like, to her, having her feet in the sea and regain the forgotten feeling of sand tickling her soles?
Would it be raining on the first day? Would everyone want to get drenched head to toe, or complain about having to stay indoors one more day? What if it was sunny? Would they go out, or play a few more rounds of Ludo King with the ones sitting right across the room? Would the carrom board go for a slumber in the storage, or have a siesta under the bed and continue to make visits during the weekends? What would it be like, when Swiggy starts delivering regularly? Would the in-house MasterChef get a break? Or, would they continue to experiment with cocoa and pani puri? Who would your first drive be with? The ones who put up with your moods and messed up sleep cycle all these days or the ones you had not met in what seemed like ages?
Would the YouTube channels, art pages, podcasts and blogs that mushroomed during the lockdown still be active? Hope so, because we turned to them in our most difficult times and we will when the storm settles. Will you buy more sketch books and journals, or was it your one-time thing? Would households still whip up Dalgona Coffee, or agree that it was nothing more than just instagrammable? What would it be like, when no one really cares about each others’ productivity? Would you still update twice on Daylio just to make yourself feel better?
What would it be like, when four of us can squeeze ourselves into an auto? Would we have to wait in front of the trial room with a mount of clothes, or would we click away on Myntra? Would we pick date dresses for the girls, or suggest a Netflix party date? What would it be like, when the cinemas open again? How much of the sour cream seasoning will be in your popcorn tub? Would you still choose your laptop with Netflix subscription over missing iconic dialogues muffled by loud whistles? Would you want to skip ads or sing along with Vicco Vajratanti? What would it be like, when we have to go attend classes? Would we miss scrolling through our phones on the side? What if the doors open when you are half way through a book? What if they open when there are fifteen days left for your first mango pickle to be fermented? What if the doors stand ajar when your masterpiece just needs one last touch?
When the doors finally open, where would we all be? What would we all be? I wonder.
Baskets and bags hanging from the balconies on either sides of the road waiting to be pulleyed up once they are filled with milk packets and sometimes they are waiting to get rid of the garbage covers, welcome you to B street, Shanti Nagar. Here, one can often get confused by the electricity wires that resemble clothes line. Vegetable and fruit vendors walking up and down the street, pushing their carts and advertising by yelling the names of their product, is my morning alarm. Parking vehicles in this street without being shouted at by the reckless drivers in this area, is almost as difficult as tightrope walking. Constant honking is a ritual, here. This busy street is not left alone by the kids who love to throw plastic balls right at the balconies. The street takes a break from the chaos in the afternoons. It is the time of the day when kids stagger back to their houses from school like their energy had been sucked out of their bodies.
One’s evenings commence with kannada hymns played at the chapel, next street. Taking a walk across the streets in Shanti Nagar could be one of the best things to do in the evening if one loves dogs and enjoys petting them. The smell of sizzling chicken in the roadside eatery fills the air. Post-sunset, the street remains brightly lit, with its aligned, amber shaded street lights. Bikes speed past the street throughout the evening. The balconies are usually left open in the evenings, inviting the chill air of the city. At this hour, one can hear endless cooker whistles. Meal preparation for the next day is done at this dead of night. The road is abandoned by the vehicles, but not the still active kids of the street.
I complain about the leaky taps all day. On Sundays, the balcony has no access as washed clothes take over the whole place and the whole house smells of liquid detergent. I hate how the heater warms water so quickly. This means I have to get out of the bed soon. Coming back home from college and plopping on the cozy corner in the tiny living room, is the best feeling ever. I sit on this single bed to finish my assignments, have dinner and watch Netflix. One, because it is extremely comfortable to almost drown in a corner of the house. Two, because that is the only place we get internet. Mobile chargers, power banks and laptop charger have all made their home here. I get easily annoyed by the kids who incessantly throw plastic balls at my balcony during my nap time. They sing Despacito in gibberish and that makes me smile a bit. Moisture seeps through one of the walls and turns into an abstract art, pigeons knock on the glass windows, taps squeak every time they are opened and shut, cooker whistles freak me out in the middle of the night. There were so many reasons to hate this place. Things were imperfect. But, it is home, after all. And I miss it more than anything else.