Tag Archives: society

Your Sunday Morning Trip with Uber Pool

She bit her lip and fiddled with the ring on her finger, looking out the window at nothing in particular. It would have been wonderful if the city had given her an abyss to stare into, but it gave her concrete and windows and the occasional street vendor; really stealing the poetry from the moment.

She turned to me and mouthed something, so I unplugged my earphones and said “Yes?”

“Windows. Can we put the windows down?”

I gave her a nod and rolled down my window, as did she. The driver did too, almost too keenly, as the freshly generated fragrances of the suburbs started to pour into our cab. I could mostly just smell the rain, or whatever it smells like when it rains. I read somewhere that it’s the smell of some metabolic by-product of a kind of bacteria, emitted by wet soil. It’s the sort of trivia that hits you on an idle Wednesday afternoon when you’ve been scrolling down your phone for too long, your thumbs have gone to sleep, and then you realize you probably should get back to work.

Her phone suddenly began buzzing. She looked at it, sighed long and hard and then answered. The voice at the other end was shrill and loud, and started speaking almost immediately.

“Cut the gobi, clean the paalak and boil three eggs,” she responded dispassionately, once again fiddling with her ring. “I’ll be back in ten minutes.”

She had a melancholy look about her face when she caught my eye, and I couldn’t help but offer an understanding smile. Sometimes you just know when someone needs a smile. She sighed out a smile in return and said, “It’s just been a long day”

It was 8.37am, to be exact.

I looked out of the window on my side to see a vegetable vendor wrapping up his cart for the day. Behind him was his wife, who’d completed her cooking for the day in the three houses she worked in. His son would return from his night shift as an auto rickshaw driver soon, and they’d have their one meal of the day together. 8.37am could be a tiring time of day.

The cab took a swift turn off the main road and she reached inside her handbag and put on several red plastic bangles on both her hands. As she did, a piece of paper flew out of her bag and onto the seat. She looked at it, pursed her lips and crushed it and threw it out onto the road. Then she directed the cab to her destination, and almost braced herself a little before she stepped out of the cab.

Another pickup was scheduled just down the road, and a pleasant young boy in very crumpled clothing and worn out chappals got into the front seat of the cab. He leaned out the window to wave excitedly to someone on a higher floor of the building we were outside, then buckled up his seatbelt, turned around to look at me and wished me good morning. I nodded back with a half smile, the way one does to strangers. He whipped out his phone from the back pocket of his jeans and settled into the seat, visibly grinning as he read through an old conversation with the concentration millennials seem to reserve only for social media.

After a couple of minutes, he made a call. As he reclined his seat a little too far back, he said, “Yeah, no gym for me today. I’m exhausted.” He then plugged the hanging aux wire into his phone, put on a song I couldn’t recognize and settled back into the overly reclined seat with a smile on his face and a sigh of contentment.

And soon, I left the cab and walked back home, feeling not so alone in this new city, as half of Mumbai embarked upon their Sunday morning in yesterday’s clothes, without yesterday’s company.

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What I Learned from the Little Prince

Once I was done reading the book, I was left with a bittersweet feeling. It was beautiful, so beautiful that it made me wish I’d written it. They say our thoughts tend to sound better in books we didn’t write and songs we didn’t sing. Even then, sometimes there is no song, no work of art, and no piece of literature that can really explain how we feel. And there’s a mysterious comfort in knowing that nobody really knows.

Well, The Little Prince shook my walls a bit. He knew.

Grown-ups love figures… When you tell them you’ve made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?”
Instead they demand “How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?”
Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.

How true it is, in the world today. I judge you by your academic qualifications and your monthly income. I stereotype you by the shape of your eyes or the color of your skin. I rank you by your ability to add value to my social image.
What happened to the days I would befriend you because we liked the same music, or because your responses seemed to be in tandem with my thoughts. When I would love you because my crazy didn’t seem crazy around you, it felt like home.
Sometimes I feel I don’t belong to people. You know, all the leap days that didn’t happen? Those moments when you leave your physical self for what seems like a lifetime and only when you return do you realize you were away for just a minute or two. Those times when you walk in to a room and forget why. I feel like that’s where I belong. That’s my time and space. And there are others there too. So many others. Our hearts hum the same tune and our eyes crave the same color, and yet I’ll never meet them because of these socio-economic cages that bind me.
It’s been a while since I jumped into a puddle with someone. Or shared a cream filled biscuit after licking the cream off it first.  I wish I could.

All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.

“Act your age” they always say. Why? Why would something that brings a smile upon my face change with age? I’m twenty two years old and I’ve painted over twenty canvases that I’m crazy proud of, yet when I sit down with a coloring book and wax pastels and manage to color the entire picture in a homogeneous stroke within the lines, my glee knows no bounds.
Acting one’s age has somehow become synonymous with the behavior society would deem acceptable for that age. Sometimes one doesn’t change with age; people don’t always want to conform to society. Sometimes we want to express how we feel without wondering what the world has to say. Sometimes, when all you have is old words, all you can do is put them together and hope they say something new.

Words are the source of misunderstandings.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel so much for so many people, and sooner or later I realize that my limited vocabulary cannot convey things I have to say. So I look at them for a second longer, smile with my eyes; feel, really feel what I’m feeling, hoping I’ll reach out to them in some sort of positive energy, because words say so much yet say so little. When you count on cosmic vibes to pour love on someone, you have less of a chance of being misunderstood. People everywhere are so scared of that word these days.

Love.

‘ You’re in love with me? But I barely know you.’
‘I can’t love you when you love someone else.’
‘Do you believe in love?’

It’s just love, people. It’s a feeling you have no control over. It’s not Santa Claus and it’s not rocket science. And thanks to all this American sitcom propaganda, it’s on its way to becoming a word people don’t use.
But then there are us few, who belong to the leap days that didn’t happen, who crave to hear that word. What about us?

You’re beautiful, but you’re empty…One couldn’t die for you. Of course, an ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she’s the one I’ve watered. Since she’s the one I put under glass, since she’s the one I sheltered behind the screen. Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars. Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she’s my rose.

And yet, even with the billions of beautiful, fractal thoughts that crossed my mind as I read the simple yet powerfully illustrated pages of the Little Prince, this one particular idea just blew the wind out of me. I’ve lived my life trying to get the best deals for myself everywhere. At the grocery store, at the parlour, hell, even in relationships. It comes back to society, full circle, it really does. If I’m with a man who’s fun and gorgeous, I need stimulating conversation. If he’s smart and funny, I need him to be sophisticated. If he has a great personality I need him to have a wonderful career. For so long it was about finding the perfect guy, and not about finding the perfect guy for me. That’s where we fall short these days. That’s why happiness is getting tougher to come by.

I remember as a little girl I had a bunch of Barbie dolls. I was little in the 90’s, when a Barbie doll was an acceptable and appreciated gift for all little girls all over the world. As a result, I had quite the bevy of them on display in my room, in neat pink little boxes with their extra set of clothes or their Ken doll in the background. Some even came with a complementary tub or hair-do set. And I kept them in their neat pink little boxes, on display, for years and years. I never played with them, never. Not even when I had friends over. My grandmother had made a cloth doll when I was 6, with jute hair and stitched on dimples. There was way too much cotton in the stomach area, now that I think back. But she was cute, soft and over the years, I’d sat with grammy and stitched different pairs of clothes for her. I did find the other dolls lovely, with their long lean legs and fancy eyes, but I never cared for them. And yet, because of the time and effort I’d put into the cloth doll, I loved her with all my heart. The best deal didn’t matter.

Love is really as simple as that.