Thursday, August 26, 2010

To A Sister!

Two years elder, two times better, and two times worthier. That's my sister-Mukta.

A voracious reader, a confident lady, a learned and intelligent person, yet open, brave, strong-minded with a ready-to-take-on-the-world attitude. That's her! There are only few girls that I know who have been brave enough to lead life as they want, and without support. She's from that elite group.

Her never-say-die and no-nonsense attitude are something that I always wonder at. In spite of the hectic schedule she has every day, I see her full of energy even at the end of the day when she is with her son, playing with him, entertaining him, making him have his dinner, and putting him to bed. It's amazing.

You should see her face when someone gives her gift, or when things happen as per her wishes. It's that one look that assures you that the world is a good place, indeed.

Her support and well-wishes are some things that I treasure a lot. I know she will always be there for me. And I'll be there for her, supporting her and relying on her.

It's her birthday today and I wish her immense joy, happiness, and serenity. I wish that she gets all she wants out of life. I wish her a healthy, glorious life. I wish that may all her dreams and wishes come true.

Here's a big hug from me! Happy Birthday!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Crossing Bridges

Stand on the Balgandharva Bridge and on both sides you'll see a couple more bridges.

Early in the morning face east on the Balgandharva bridge and you will see two bridges, one below the other. On a cloudy day, from the Balgandharva Bridge, it's pretty picturesque to see those two bridges over the river. Their reflection in the (dirty) water below, sparse vehicles running on the bridges, a few people too all looks nice. Stay there on the bridge a few minutes and just soak into the morning atmosphere. If you are lucky, you'll be able to see two vehicles on the two bridges one below the other at the same speed running simultaneously in the same direction. It's fun to see those two vehicles running one below the other as if competing with each other.

But if you face the west on a morning from the Balgandharva bridge, you'll see a different scene. You'll see three bridges, Bhide Pul, Z Bridge, and Lakdi Pul. Each has a different story to tell. Bhide Pul, closest to the water dips down from the main road to cross the river. This is the bridge that has to be emersed in water at least once every rainy season. It's a pretty good shortcut to reach the Deccan Bus Stop. Early in the morning, you'll see a few commuters, and if you are lucky, even a doodhwala on bike. The Z Bridge is peculiar with its winding structure. This bridge is meant only for two-wheelers. Early morning, you'll see only few bikers and cyclists. Lakdi Pul even that early is thriving with buses, rickshaws, early morning car commuters. It's one of those bridges that is never empty.

Mhatre Pul is another such one that's always crowded. Believe me, there can be a major traffic jam on Mhatre Pul even at eight in the morning. It's one of the connecting lines to Kothrud, Karve Road, Karve Nagar, and that side of the town. Traffic signals at both ends of Mhatre Pul add to the traffic jam and you'll hardly ever find it deserted.
One such bridge that I remember used to be pretty deserted and lonely, but now has gained prominence is the Koregaon Park bridge that joins the North Main Road to Kalyani Nagar. Some 7-8 years back, it really was not much known. But as the IT industry developed in Kalyani Nagar, this bridge gained importance as a route to avoid the Nagar Road traffic, in turn making it one of the busiest routes. But if you take into consideration the bridges in the eastern side of the city, all of them are crucial and as much crowded, be it the Bund Garden bridge, the St. Mira's College Bridge, or even the Sangam bridge.

Each bridge has its own personality, and its own kind of commuters. Some will have heavy traffic, while others will mostly be used by pedestrians. Some have a kind of leisure around them, like the Z Bridge. Perhaps it's the structure of the bridge that goes winding from one end to the other. But if you walk on the Z Bridge, you almost always believe that you have come for a leisurely walk round the city and are in danger of forgetting the work at hand. In the evening especially, you'll see couples sitting at every nook and corner, college groups having fun, elderly folks enjoying their evening walk. Even dogs on this bridge will have the time of their life and you'll find them either sleeping or loitering around doing nothing of importance, just nosing around pretending to be busy.

But Mhatre Pul or Koregaon Park bridge are quite the opposite. Both are overflowing with office-going folks. Koregaon Park bridge will carry mostly upper, affluent class commuters, mostly working in IT companies, seemingly always busy to get to work (never in time to go back home), not bothering to even glance around and see the water flowing under the bridge, or the dhobis at work at the dhobi ghaat. But Mhatre Pul connects mostly middle class office-goers, a lot of them also workers in small companies, making ends meet. They too might not have the time to look at the bridge at work or the water below the bridge. But their minds are perhaps full of day-to-day problems of buying new dresses for their daughters or getting new toys for their sons.

Balgandharva Bridge has its own story to tell. Early mornings it will usually see the morning "walkers" eager to stay fit. Around ten in the morning, you'll see rickshaws carrying school kids. While some kids go by rickshaw, some others prefer their cyles, while some others are dropped by their parents. As the day progresses, it might have got a deserted look, had it not connected the peth and old city area to the new JM Road, Shivaji Nagar area. Evenings you will find a lot of people sitting on the pavement blocks, enjoying the sunset and the calm and cool breeze. I have always noticed that the west side of the bridge is always more crowded in the evening than the east side. And I really haven't understood why.
 
These bridges make a great skyline for Pune. Apart from connecting the different parts of the cities, they are an integral part of our day-to-day lives. It's on these bridges that you'll find bhel and ice cream stalls, chane-dane gadis, bhutta-walas, kulfi-walas, even fishmongers. It's on these different bridges we might have loitered around in the evenings with our college groups. It's from these bridges that we see the swelling waters of Mula-Mutha in rains and curse the dirty waters the rest of the year. It's from these bridges that we witness the yearly Ganpati emersion procession. It's from these bridges that we enjoy the Diwali fireworks. It's from these bridges that we have connected to the world.

The next time you cross them, don't forget to stop for a moment, and look down to see how much water has passed under the bridges.

Walls

Have you ever been to a jewellery shop at its closing time? The usually-adorned walls are stripped off their shine and lusture, literally. All jewellery on-show is removed from the showcases and put away for the night. It's actually a sad sight. The glitter and shine of the whole day, the gold, silver, pearls all on display vanish in the cupboard for the night. If you are used to those shiny walls and gleaming showcases, it's kind of a shock to see those bare walls. That's when you realise that at night, those jewellery shops are so different. Not to mention the work the salesmen and saleswomen have to do to store the jewellery in safes and then displaying them again the next day.

Still these shops get back their sparkle every day in the morning. But that isn't the case with a house that you have just moved away from. When you book a new house, you are in anticipation of getting the new house and moving into your new surroundings. As the day approaches, you move your furniture, bags, clothes, utensils. Brick by brick you strip off the house of its things and amenities and the house starts becoming empty. On the final day when you are leaving, if you glance back, you see the desolate walls, the empty space in the rooms, all witness of the time you spent in that house, the things you kept there, the cupboard in the corner, the table near the window, the spot on the wall where you had hit yourself when you were young. All those memories of those wonderful times come back. And then comes back that feeling of emptiness, the feeling you get when you leave back a person after a long association. It's like you are leaving a part of you behind as you move. It's the place that has sheltered you, the place where you were at home with friends and families, and shared many a laughs and tears. The shine is all gone. What is left are bleak, lack-lusture walls!

What all stories those jewellery shop walls and our old house walls would tell!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tribute To Babuji

29th July 2002 was when we lost this great man: Sudhir Phadke. His heavenly voice, his music, his compositions are incomparable. I am too small a midget to describe or comment on his music. Here's my tribute to Babuji: listing some of my favourite songs by Babuji.

अशी पाखरे येती
तुझे गीत गाण्यासाठी
स्वयंवर झाले सीतेचे
तोच चंद्रमा नभात
का रे दुरावा
मज सांग लक्ष्मणा जाऊ कुठे
राजहंस सांगतो प्रीतीच्या तुझ्या खुणा
आज कुणीतरी यावे
एकाच या जन्मी जणू
बोलले इतुके मज श्रीराम
चंद्र आहे साक्षीला
फिटे अंधाराचे जाळे
जीवलगा कधी रे येशील तू
पराधीन आहे जगती
स्वये श्री रामप्रभू ऐकती
लाडकी शकुंतला
एक वार पंखावरूनी
स्वर आले दुरुनी
सखी मंद झाल्या तारका
शेवटचा करी विचार फिरून एकदा

The list is endless!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Scampering Around

Day: Saturday
Time: 7.30 a.m.
Place: Parvati top

After steeling ourselves to climb Parvati, my sister and I finally made it to the top. This was after at least 7 years of total absence of Parvati-climbing practise. It was so tiring. We did not climb at one go. We stopped every few steps to catch our breath. But eventually me made it. It felt glorious. It felt awesome to feel our red faces, hot with the exercise. As we sat down to rest, we saw the regular Parvati-climbing members sitting and enjoying their morning chat. We saw enthusiasts climbing Parvati multiple times. We were in awe of those who had climbed several times and left to scorn at ourselves for being so tired even after a single climb.

In spite of the lack of exercise and practise, it was a fun. It was fun to be there at that moment, feeling the fresh morning air. It was great to be on our own, without my little nephew firing away his "How-What-Who-Which-When-Why" questions. It was good to be together just as two sisters and enjoy the time with each other.

Then we went to sit behind the main temple. It was wonderful there. A calm, cool breeze was blowing. A few drops of rain here and there, and it really felt like being in Alice in Wonderland. The regulars on Parvati were on their way to the Parvati mandir and we were just sitting there in the cool breeze.

A little girl with her father were on their way back. Their camaraderie was a wonderful thing to see. Both were happy with each other. And suddenly, in a light moment, the father scampered with his little daughter just as she did, as if they were coming out of their last day at school before summer vacations. It was such a cute sight. Not only did the little girl enjoy, but I suspect that the father enjoyed this childishness more than anything else.

It's so much fun to be kids once more.

Replaying the kid and her dad in our mind, we remembered that there was another kid-Anay, waiting for us at my sister's place. We scampered down Parvati and went home with a mental promise of returning the next weekend again.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Disadvantages Of A House In Town

...are many. The worst is, you'll have enough guests to last for a lifetime.

If your house is located in the heart of a city, I empathise with you. I know the pain. In spite of finding every other place in the city close to your place, you would still wish that your place was in the middle of a nice lake full of sharks or crocodiles who wouldn't allow anyone else to pass through the lake.

Why can't people just stay put at their own place? Why do they have to visit us every month, with every spell being of fifteen days. Why can't they mind their own business and not bother us?

With guests almost every weekend, I really wish I was staying away from where I stay right now. And I wish people would stop considering our place as a come-and-go-whenever-you-want abode.

We need peace. We need privacy. We want to be left alone! Wishful thinking, I know!