Peeing and Slapping People In Train Compartments

Metro Railway systems are totally not a typical Indian thing. Our trains have always been big, giant, diesel guzzling, steel and iron behemoths. Our railway tracks – part time pooping grounds and our platforms – aways full of shit, spit and grit. Its dirty because there’s so many of us. We don’t have enough time or money or resources for the aesthetics of public systems. When we can pee in the tracks without an issue… we pee in the tracks. Because public toilets when not absolutely non-existent are either paid or live UTI cultures but oft times both.

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So, the Delhi Metro is not the typical Indian thing I understand, but its still something we can love, right? I love it. The system is easily the best thing about Delhi! The fares are down right cheap and the services reasonably awesome. From a (lucky) upper middle class individual’s point of view the system offers a multitude of sociological exposures that could otherwise, definitely not have happened. But I sometimes wonder if thats really a great thing…

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I recall, it was a sunday afternoon. There wasn’t a lot of people in the train. I sat in a corner fiddling with a pair of earphones that had got all tangled into a lump. A middle aged woman clad in a green and red sari sat with her three children on the other side. Her tiny body looked drained and over worked. She was obviously poor. Her heels had deep black furrows that curved on into the soles of her feet in disturbingly long lines. And she smelled of sweat; even from a distance. The little girl with her had fresh, greasy snot on parts of her face. She was probably sick with the flu, I thought and then cringed. The younger of the two boys with her was being very uneasy. He was obviously struggling with a strong urge to pee. When he could no longer hold it in no matter how hard he tried, he told her – it was an emergency and something had to be done. So what do these wonderful people decide? – It was time to pee – right in the seat. The lady stood up, holding the kid by the arm pits, to give support, and allowed his bladder some much needed relief. As the yellow puddle grew in size it reached the edges of the seat and slowly began to overflow, down onto the floor. The urine ran in thin lines all about that forsaken compartment, meandering right around unsuspecting passenger’s feet. I was so shocked, I deboarded at the next stop.

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Then this other day, I hadn’t had much sleep the night before so I was trying to sleep in the train. There was a crowd but that wasn’t deterring me. I haven’t always been good at sleeping in a seated position, but it was that part of my life when I was getting good at it. In fact I was doing considerably well that day before the women sitting on the seats facing mine began quarrelling pretty seriously. The smug faced, seemingly dull lady in her 60s and her strict and dissed-looking, middle-aged, dictator companion were failing to keep there volumes and well… crazy, angry rage under check. It was all under control… sort of but then the older woman started to stand up, shaking her head in disagreement. The other woman however was definitely not have any of it. She pulled her right down by the wrist and before you knew it she had SLAPPED the poor aunty, smack across the face! Thats when everything (except for the train of course) stopped short of everything else. On the other side of the compartment, people started peering at them, like meerkats! One head popping up behind the other. Then someone spoke.

Calm Down Bro

It was a simple-looking, young college girl but she looked really displeased.  She told the woman who had just delivered the blow about how she had no right to hit the poor lady like that. The old lady sat hunched, her head sunken to the level of her shoulders while this young girl reminded the “dictator” about respecting elder people. But it only got so far. The dictator snubbed her right there and told her to mind her own business, if she didn’t want a piece of that same slap herself. She told her to shut up because she didn’t know anything about how difficult it was to deal with this old lady who had gone all crazy in the head. So she told her to shut up once again. Again there was silence. The poor old girl was shaken, she had obviously been attacked and duelled to the ground. In trying to deal with the shock she rolled her eyes as she murmured something about her higher moral ground, to salvage some dignity.

 That Just Happened

Metro Rails – I Tell You!

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Short Story – The Sparrow That Refused To Fly Away (Part 1)

It had been a stormy night. The wind had wrecked havoc outside. Dead, wet leaves covered the the tiny landscape of that house with drab sadness. The dampness of it all, the wetness of the mud and the muddiness of all that water, it made all of it smell of Earth and New Life, life – a lot different from how we are used to finding it. The life that we forget sometimes is there, alive! in the mud, in the trees and that wetness in between that surrounds us. At every few yards HE could spot the humble silhouette of a weak tree torn apart, its green, leafy branches, lying face down pushed into the mud and dirt, wilting and dying their slow tiny deaths. Lines of ants tracing contours on their trunk. The ants had work. They always had work.

HE stood there a few seconds, scanning the horizon one final time before he stepped outside. How long had it been since he’d last stepped out he couldn’t recall. That book had consumed his complete and undivided attention but last night had been the end of it and he has slept like a log thereafter, even as the crazy wind had laid waste to whatever excuse of a garden he had owned.

The soil was soaked and his battered flip flops sank into the mud with a queer squelch. It sounded like a loud kiss, as if the plastic too had craved to embrace the freshness of that morn. So intensely did the ground hug those flip flops to itself, he felt it better to leave them there awhile. To let them embrace like brothers that had to live apart but loved each other dearly.

These moments, gave him immense pleasure. The serendipity of their happening, their nonchalant, raw existence, the power and magic that rested in their silence was what he loved, it resonated with his soul. The sky and the wind and everything around him, danced in the rhythm of those quite moments and everything seemed to come alive. The streaks of orange in the sky, the air gradually warming up to the sun, the sounds of myriad birds calling out as a slow breeze ran through his hair, it all lifted his being into a magical dance of nascent experience.

HE had been living alone since last year. All he did ever since was read and walk. He thought a lot too. A lot about everything, but he spoke very little. A few steps away from a tree that hadn’t been able to withstand the wind, a nest has fallen down. The birds had flown away but a single sparrow remained. Stuck under the canopy of branches that has fallen over it during the night. It flapped its wings nervously, almost in an effort to call of help. The sound of its wings brushing against the twigs and leaves made an unpleasant sound that brought his silent revelry to a sudden halt. He moved quickly and leaned in to assess the situation. The sparrow had got itself entangled in a piece of kite string. One half of its wing had lost all its feather and the sharp string had gnawed into its tiny arm. It looked into HIS eyes pleadingly. It needed help.

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The string was not difficult to untie, but the sparrow had bitten him on the wrist none the less. The tiny thing shivered incessantly. It needed water and food, the nights struggle had left it tired and spent and the added anxiety of HIS foreign touch was exciting him into a collapse. He understood the sparrow’s pain. But it needed water more than anything else….

To be continued….. 

 

Five Murders That Day (Part 2) – Dream Inspired Story la 1st

I ran for my life. The gates of the building where closed. There was only a whitewashed flight of stairs to go to. “I know this place”, I thought. “I’ll climb up without a sound and wait on the roof for help.” The sound of approaching footsteps startled me and my throat went stiff. Even as, my heart pounded wildly against my chest, I began moving up as quietly as I could. Those few moments inside the stairwell, whilst I struggled to gain control of my shaking limbs and my numbed sense of balance, death stood a tiny mistake away and it seemed like an eternity before I could see the exit door. As I inched closer I identified a scared, native couple, rugged clothed, ducking behind a black water tank, shushing me away with impatient gestures.

I stopped short. “Don’t trust them, you have to move out, someone is coming up the stairs” I thought. As tears slid down my face I took a leap of faith and jump across to where they stood hiding. They gave me a disgusted look and immediately ran for another shelter. Then there were gun shots – one, two – and silence. “Oh my God! Are they dead?” I surmised. I was alone again but not long enough.  That man running up the staircase had finally reached the exit of the stairwell. He immediately saw me. “I am going to die” I said to myself and then in an impulse something took over me.

I clenched my teeth and I mustering all the courage I could, ran straight into him, pushing him as hard as could down the steps. He fell on his back. I picked his gun and snapped the trigger with both fingers. The bullet must have hit him in the chest, but I couldn’t tell against the black of his clothes. I ran. The next man appeared from behind the south face of the exit. He wore the exact same black clothes. I shot him directly. He fell with the dull thud behind the water tank, a flame bladed knife still in one hand. I began weeping and wailing. My hands shook as I looked around. I counted four dead bodies, four pools of blood, one gun I was having difficulty using and one flame bladed knife. I had discovered a new ability to kill without thought and had no idea what was happening. I was in a daze.

It was then that I finally saw him. The man responsible for whatever this was about – his long, curly, black hair flying loose against the wind. His lean, flaccid torso was exposed and had fresh, bloody slashes on the chest. His face was twisted in an angry grimace. He was coming to get me. I pointed the gun at him,  but the trigger wont move. So, with the most terribly shaking hands I threw it towards his head. It missed him my kilometers. He screamed at me like an angry ape and pulled out one arm to strike his first blow. I had picked up the knife, as he inched closer, I looked directly into his eyes and let out a loud, roar-like scream. It rendered the tiniest shock and kicked him in the balls. “Now what?” I thought. “Are you going to STAB HIM!!??” He was already standing up.

I held on to the knife. I had to do it. I had to. I stuck it into the side of his body. He let out a deafening cry, blood welled up from the wound. It felt like putting a knife in butter. I did it again. He tried to stop me. So, this time I aimed it right beneath his sternum, where his last pair of ribs joined each other. The knife widened the cut and it got bigger and bigger until the lower part of his abdomen had finally flopped out like a pouch. I thought I could see food in that mix of blood and innards but it had become all too much for me suddenly. I shook myself back to reality. Five people lay dead on the roof and I was standing in the middle of it all with a blood soaked knife in my hand.

Then I heard someone behind the opening of the stairwell. I was no more game for this. I was prepared to give up. I was scared of myself. I looked for the presence to reveal itself. A gay pair of young boys came out, arm in arm. They looked at me with telling eyes, said something funny about it to each other and ran into the building chasing one another. What was happening??!!

To Be Continued

Five Murders That Day – Dream Inspired Stories la 1st

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Gianrico Agresta’s Aquarium Inspires The Idea of Observing Life.

It was my first time at the Sodin Aquarium – an old building in the locality. It had stood the test of time, for years enough for our people to not remember its age.

Everything about it reminded me of how old and dilapidated it was. The men working at the ticket office carried withered looks on their faces and the old, fat fishes and snakes stuck in those transparent cages looked back at me, from behind the hazy glass, with bored and listless eyes. In the dark, inaccessibly high corners of the hallway that hosted this morose array of fish, old dusty cobwebs hung down like some sad variety of air borne algae, drifting in the stale air of the gallery in utter display of boredom and indifference. The glass tanks too, like the rest of the place, carried forth their solemn and infinite vigil with a death like silence and Dirt At Their Corners. Everybody in that place was doing just enough to call it a business, as if they knew it was not the upkeep that was important or even necessary. As if they knew that, the crowds had been drawing in for something else. That knowledge was true.  

The old aquarium had been revamped lately and a new security system had been installed in the main hallway. The fuss was about, the new fish – a fat little, black Rohu that, those who knew Arabic claimed, had the word “Divine” in Arabic; what could be called; printed on one of its sides, in white scales. The local newspaper had run a story the previous week about how very old the fish was and how it had been secretly brought to the aquarium because the unnamed owner could no longer keep it. Aamna had told me that the owner had left the fish to die because it’s death was destined to be evil. I was not sure about what Aamna had said and thought. Aamna was not the kind of person I really took seriously or even listened to, but her talks often gave me the creeps and in my lonely existence in that tiny hill town that I lived in, it was one of my few sources of a morbid sort of entertainment, I sometimes enjoyed.

It was impossible for me to know that afternoon, how this little adventure into Aamna’s land of magic and superstition was going to land me into a palace of nightmares. That I would end up murdering that day three different men and a dog to satisfy someone’s idea of a sinister joke.

It all started while I was standing in the far corner of the gallery looking at a final pair of uninspiring piranhas before I left. The security system, suddenly went down. Before I could blink, some sort of solid iron cage fell with a loud clack around me, enclosing me in pitched darkness. Outside, there was the blaring sound of sirens, piercing the heavy air. Red shafts of light dashed across my feet escaping in and out through the tiny vents near the legs. I could hear the sound of shuffling feet and whisperers, everybody was escaping, I thought. Then there was silence. I started getting anxious. The contraption was too heavy for me to move, I was trapped. It is hard for me to remember how long it was before I could move out but it appeared to have happened very quickly. While I was still figuring out what to do in my mind, the contraption broke itself open and I stood there in that empty, deserted hallway staring at a still closed iron contraption at the other end of the room. It was beeping. The siren above it silently flashed a dull red light. The celebrity fish like everyone else was gone, shards of glass from its tank lay glistening in a now red, now black pool of water.

To be continued…   

Being Different OR Not Being Able To Belong

Guernica - On Tragedies and Suffering

Picasso’s Guernica. Find out more about this painting at: http://www.pablopicasso.org/guernica.jsp

It is a difficult task for me to explain. Because this is about perspectives and their transformation. Because your truth even though different from mine, is just as true and because you cannot know because you don’t know.

You are happy. You are like a child visiting the circus for the first time. You are so damn involved, so busy being enraptured, you don’t see and know anything else, least of all the many tiny and diverse abnormalities that lie in the background hidden enough for you to ignore. But I am on the other side of the road. I am watching the circus too but I am the unsure, scared orphan sitting at the back. I don’t mean to imply that in a literal sense. Its just that you have something given to you by virtue of your birth and I don’t. It’s a truth that took me some time to realize but may be something that you’ll never have the need to know.

You see, in the beginning, I didn’t know our general differences and our separate realities. I did not know that the world had been designed for you – the general lines of your feelings, ambitions and compulsions were to be addressed. I was just a black dot floating about in the milieu of your and others’ white. I was not critical. I was not important. You probably saw me and thought, I was a white-black dot or if you were kind and considerate enough, a black-white one. I had to be either like you or like you. There was no other option. But, of course no one said that in my face. So, I thought, I was like you and I yearned to be like you. I could see that you were happy and you really DO have the power to experience all the magical feelings that make life worth living. You ARE capable of believing and being mesmerized; capable of feeling that fresh, warm glow of hope in your heart that helps you trust yourself and you probably don’t even know what that happening to you means. I wanted that. I wanted to like the circus too.

But, how could I have had? I was the “something-less” orphan that just couldn’t because I was different. I had in my mind the memory of darker, more terrible places. The dirty alleyways of filth and vermin that you would never have business knowing – I lived there sometime ago. And that is why, while we both watched in those temporary moment of togetherness this circus that life is, I had the knowledge and memory of a sinister past. While you laughed gaily and lauded the artists’ work I was sometimes reminded that just like everyday, SHE’D be waiting when the circus ends and I go back. That cadaverous, old, graying woman cloaked and hooded in black, a stick in her knotty hands would be there to welcome me to my alley with her empty whispers and relentless mumblings that gave you this unsure feeling of not belonging, her scents and smells of emptiness, of being different and not knowing how to understand it. As you went back to you warm room and snug bed on those nights, I too crept into mine and beside me, just like every other day, lay SHE – her cold, wet, syrupy blackness seeping into me, leaking into my mind.

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Therefore you might not know what THIS is, you might not recognize that there is a divide between us today. We are similar but we are not at all the same and even if you try you WILL NOT know, where I come from. I was born with a curse, a millstone around my neck and I live, sleep, play, dance, laugh and cry with its weight. Hence my joy is different from yours and my love is not your love and our pasts and futures are different. I could call this reality a curse but THAT would be weak of me. I HAVE to wake up every morning and TELL myself that I am normal, I am right and you, the smiling, laughing, understanding and important one out there, you are crazy, you are abnormal. I do not respect your life and your tastes, because if I do I won’t survive. I won’t have the belief and hope to live. I have chosen to fight – to live this life with God’s special gift. I have promised myself – I will be honest and I will commit to nothing but myself and my potential to grow and change.

I will not stop,

I will not cry.

And if I loose

Or if, vanquished I die,

I will know at least,

That I did not fail.

Because I was brave enough to try.

 

Smelly Feet or A What?

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My project partner has smelly feet. The odor, oscillates between a sweet, mossy, dirty-wet-doggy stink and down right toxic farts.

It all started last year. I discovered that a lot of times when I was around her, things smelled of farts. So, I innocently assumed that since she ate so much spicy food, was a lover of curries and loved samosas, her gastronomical indulgences were playing havoc on her digestive ecology. Now, dear reader I think you will quickly agree that it is not a particularly pleasant thing – to smell farts. But telling her about the issue appeared to me a devious predicament (is that the correct usage of the word?). I didn’t know what to say to her. I mean, obviously she could smell The Smell too and she apparently had little problem with it and kind of seemed like wanting others to accept it too.

I thought-

If I just say

“Oh you know what I am going to ask a super awkward question now, just because I can, so is that weird smell your fart?”

or something more tactful like

“I smell something weird, was that you? He he…”

She will probably feel bad, because may be in her psyche she has accepted The Smell as part of her and I’ll only threaten it by intruding on her settled system. She will probably think I am judging her and trying to tutor her on personal hygiene.

But, since I was on the receiving end of this… I did say, “I smell something weird”, on two different occasions (yeeeeah… I counted…) but in response she just tightened her face and said things like, “Okay, so what are we going to do about the GUI” or something. Essentially, she just simply ignored all the (few) sentences about smells and odors, I made.

So, yes… those times that I was with her, I smelt different versions of putrid, nauseating and suffocating for substantial periods of time, I admit to it. 😦 The smell, it used to rise up into my nose and drift into the nasal passage. I could imagine it entering my mouth and settling with droplets of moisture onto the top of my palette, going inside my lungs, settling on my tongue. Eek… I started avoiding sitting in closed spaces with her and we often sat in the cafeteria during off-hours because the tables were wide and kept smells that were under the table, under the table. This continued for two-ish months?

Then one quite evening, we had just completed a reading session together and were sitting in the football field having samosas, again (I don’t like samosas). The sky was beginning to acquire orange hues. There were a lot of birds hopping here and there, chasing each other, tree to tree, fighting for an insignificant piece of space on an air conditioner that hung out from a classroom window, to the near end of the field. A subtle breeze was running in random, crazy directions; as if on a whim. Sometimes it would pick up the dense malicious odor from around ProjectPartner’s feet to our faces, then after a while, it would blow it away and douse my acute agony from the poised, non-existent, not-to-be-talked-about torture with gusts of fresh air and oxygen. I was suffering.

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Samosas – Deep Fried and Stuffed With Spiced Mashed Potatoes

ProjectPartner on the other hand was enjoying (she liked samosas). She started telling me about how she was planning to buy new shoes because the ones she was using were getting old and tattered. She told me that her mother wanted her to buy more feminine footwear; stuff like flats or sandals but she had always felt more comfortable using running shoes. I personally swear by sports shoes. There was a time in my life when my mother had bought me, what I perceived to be EPIC jogging shoes and for six months straight I hadn’t worn anything else on my feet, even to a major family wedding ( don’t tell me you haven’t had embarrassing childhood obsessions). I advised that she could try buying pink or purple shoes (and all the other types that are categorized as feminine), but it surfaced that she was actually adamant on buying a particular set of dirty green-mud brown shoes that were “FOR MALES” – the salesman had made amply clear. Then, we talked about other nonsense and within half an hour we were on our separate ways.

That night, while staring at a stubbornly incomprehensible, unyielding code it clicked and I realized, that it was the feet!

Like Eureka! or what?  The smells, the breeze, her wanting to share details about shoes and her mother’s peculiar hankerings? It was forming connections. It had to be the feet and I had been thinking it was the farts! I was excited to confirm this theoretical result, but by the next meeting the new pair had already arrived. It was not a good looking pair, but okay, if she wanted it, it is a free world, she had the right to buy it. Whoever was making that shoe was making it for someone. My testing process took time but I got positive results. I can now, positively say that IT WAS THE FEET. The girl had smelly feet.

SO, now we arrive at last week. Last week, the smell was awful, well… even by the regular standards. That day, our other teammate and I both had difficulty breathing. All of us ran off before completing our session, giving one silly reason or another, but believe me, that day, it was the shoes that caused the molecular exodus and those shoes they were smelling like farts, evil farts. I was feeling real pity for them shoes actually. Why were they destined for this subjugation to persistent olfactory torture and filth? Unfair! and very sad! *Sob*

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Next day, we had another session, in the library. We were busy doing something, OtherProjectPartner and me. In the background ProjectPartner had already removed both her shoes, her feet with the socks were now in the open. She called out to us.

“I can remove my shoes right? Is it okay? Do you smell anything?”

*Blink*

*Blink*

OtherProjectPartner smirked and lowered her head. She said “No.”, her voice carried the hint of a naughty laugh.

“Oh God” I thought, then I smiled, inside.

“No.” I said, sincerely. “But, if they were smelling, should we have said yes?” I asked.

ProjectPartner: *Ignore*

OtherProjectPartner: *Giggle*

Me: *Poker Face*

Smelly feet have since continued…because this is real life and here things have sombre, morose, indifferent or art film type endings.

Let us be parent-ish now,

There ARE foot powders and anti antiperspirants in the market you know! If you have sweaty feet and you are obsessed with shoes, there are a lot of things that can make your feet not-smell. The biology is simple. The feet sweat. Each person’s sweat is unique and fertile for a certain fauna of bacteria. Your special set of bacteria feed on your sweat and produce by-products. Essentially complex organic compounds like body oils and stuff like urea gets decomposed. The result can be foul smelling gases like hydrogen sulphide (smells of rotten eggs) and methane (smells like fart, I think). You have to find a powder that destroys your personal set of bacteria, zinc oxide works for some. A few months of experimentation and you can discover the foot powder or cleansing soap that works for you and in the process make this world a better place.

❤ ❤ Peace and Love ❤ ❤

 

Love

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Dear Crazy Person,

Fortunate are those that don’t ever get to know love. Because love is a sorry thing. It is beautiful and then… it turns brutal.

I thought I knew love, when I met you, but then you showed me, that love is something so deep, you can drown in it. Love is sometimes so heavy it can squash you under its weight and even if you are lucky, even if you survive love, love, true love will always hurt you, because love is bigger than all of us. Because love beckons us to change, to forgive, to bear anguish, to bear the pain of separation and change and also sometimes the numbing knowledge that we will never… ever… be together.

True love brings tears into the eyes of the fortunate, the others it just tears apart. But, that is good, that tearing-apart of you, that burning-at-the-stake-of-love, that is a true and honest thing. It changes you in the deepest way. When I was younger, I thought love is passion, love is… well… loving, I probably meant lovemaking. When I made love, when I knew passion and infatuation I thought, “Yes! this IS love. I am finally in love, like every other truly happy person”. Funny, that I now wish I had never found you and through you discovered this love that you demand. Now I cannot escape the pain, because that would be dishonest, because now you have shown me that love is working hard, love is waiting, it is sacrificing, understanding, love is being Honest, not to you, but to myself. Beauty, praise, companionship and even happiness, they will probably not always be there between us but our passion for the idea of love will bind us together, through life, forever.

I don’t know if it is a bad thing but I will probably love you, even when I am “loving” someone else, you know that. You know that you have crawled into my skin, you exist inside my mind. I have loved you so deeply, I can’t get rid of you, I can’t forget you. If you die, this part of you inside me, this will always remind me of you; but it will hurt me, it will make me weep. It will break more than one heart this love between us, that I know.

You gave me so much Crazy Person and now it is time for you to leave. Now we have to be not-together, so that I can be free from you, so that I can learn to exist without my heart, without a reason to live. But thank you Crazy Person. Thank you for you. Thank you for making me crazy enough to both love you and hate you at the same time. Sigh…

I will always remember that you said, “When and if you commit to US, you will not commit to me, you will commit me to yourself”

You are beautiful.

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