Thursday, February 21, 2008

On The High Seas of Mumbai

Last Saturday, me and a few friends went to check out the cultural festival held in Elephanta caves, hoping to catch a ferry ride, see elephant caves lit, get a bit of culture in our lives and of course strike out a few Mumbai-must-do's. While the festival and the caves itself are going to turn up in a different post, I couldn't stop myself from writing about the ferry ride from Gateway to Elephanta.

The timing was perfect. We left Gateway at around 6, right in time to catch the sun setting behind the Mumbai skyline. After being in this city for 8 months, you don't believe its possible to find space anywhere. Terms such as "fresh" "unpolluted" just don't exist. One gets so seeped into the crowds of the city, that one almost forgets the openness of the sea. So it was not until we pulled away that it hit me - the sound of lapping waves, clean unpolluted air, and just being on the sea. The twilight seascape was quite fantastic too. The sea was lined with yatchs, then barges, and what looked like oil rig kind of ships - all balzing with lights - giving the sea a true "night-life".

The second highlight of course is that I truly like some of the photos I clicked. And I hope you like them too. Most are unedited, couple are sharpened!

Ferries Sidling Away On the Coast

Away from the madding crowd

Mumbai SkyLine

A barge on the Mumbai Coast

Sailing High Seas

All eyes on the Deck

Friday, February 15, 2008

This and That

Long time no see. I am kind of brimming with things to say, of things which are of importance in the context of enriching your day and at the same time not so important from a larger than life perspective.

Before I start my ramble – no, these are not really travel things, ‘cos though some don’t seem to realize it, I have a job to do and unfortunately, a job that doesn’t have too much linked to travel, unless of course it’s the incidental kind, and like a lesser mortal, need a lot of my weekends for boring activities like sleep, sleep some more, hopefully read and of course watch desperate housewives. I know I started a travel blog and all, and did a glorious and seemingly adventurous trip, but starting of a conversation with “hey – so where are u these days”, as if I may be in Timbuktu (not that I don’t wish I were, though Macchu Picchu is more on my list these days) or “so, how come no trips anymore?”, as if ‘travel’ were my sole reason for existence, would definitely be taking my interest in this pass time too far ( though, I am ofcourse flattered witout doubt!). :)). And realistically speaking, I lack company to make even the easiest of trips – like to Goa – I know, sounds unbelievable, the gal that conquered Sikkim has yet to set eyes on Goa (at least at an age that counts which renders my trip in class 4 with mom, dad and sis uncountable), but that’s life or so some say.

So, yes, my travel "visibility" for the year does indeed look bleak, except for escapes to Chennai.

Incidentally, talking about travel, my lead analyst was in Barcelona last week for a conference. Sounds exotic huh? Or so I thought a year back when I was getting interviewed and my collegue mnetioned that my boss was in Barcelona. Anyway, it appears that it may take years before I get to go. Plus, not sure if I want to after talking to my boss. He's been there for 5-6 times now, and he pretty much hasnt seen anything beyond the hotel where he stays and the conference center. And the airport. And same applies for Shangai, Seoul and Taipei. So much for work travel!

Anyway, now for some aforementioned common place topics.

I have opened my eyes to a Bombay I didn’t know. A late night drive in search of ‘rock bottom’ (into which we were denied entry as we lacked socks which would have seemingly covered otherwise uncovered feet, and would have been deemed as better character assessment over our weighty visiting cards) – and I lay my eyes on almost the entire stretch of linking road. Furhter exploration of Khar/linking road leads me to decide that this is the place to live in. And yea, shop in as well if you have a loaded purse.

Few weekends before, I landed up in Matunga – the “Southie Mumbai” not to be mistaken with ‘South Mumbai’. Never has the sight of Nalli Silk Sarees made me feel more at home than it did then. And, yea, I ended up buying a sari over there as well (possibly, making me the only south Indian who sought to look for a Kancheepuram silk sari in Mumbai when I was leaving for Chennai in a couple of weeks). Well, the shop was small, with lesser options than the original (incidentally, this Nalli is not the same as orginal Nalli in Chennai, too many sari shops going by the name Nalli, have they run out of names or what?), but the few saris they had were quite nice, and I managed to like 3 of ‘em! And of course the hot pongal vadai, and masal dosai meal all for less than 25/- that we had on the road side- definitely unmatchable.

Anyway, inspired, I managed to track down a ‘dosa atta vendor’ who will deliver fresh atta with six hours lead time. Got my maid to make thakali vengaya chutney as well as urulakezhangu masala. The ease with which a crisp dosa rolls of your non stick pan with a dash of oil – I may even consider taking up cooking again. Anyways, getting my maid to do some south indian dishes, and i feel like i have accomplished something!

I unfortunately missed the Kala Ghoda festival, which is quite talked about. But am headed for the elephanta festival today. Food stalls, night lights and pictures!!!So, yeay!

Anyway, I am tired of rambling - but rest assured, I have begun to accept life as is in BBy!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

When life was a one long summer

The description on a photo exhibit in the NY library

It’s interesting what thoughts take you, when you lie back on your oversized beanbag and have nothing better to do but let your mind wander. Today, actually for some days now, my thoughts have been running away to summers. Summers, despite all the heat and humidity, bring out the best in me. And the welcome of summer, a lightness to my life. Anyways, for some reason - the summers at this house kept coming back.

We had just moved into this new house a few months back. It was one of those regular rectangular houses, with a portico and a small garden in the front and bigger one in the back. Looking back, my father with his intention to fancy the house up, may have inadvertently removed some of the old-day charm in it. Next to our house, was another old bungalow with its colonial style intact? I loved this house. With the old red cement flooring, slightly high roofs, and two dominating columns in the veranda - it was a house I looked on from the outside and dreamt off. The walls were bordered with bougainvillea and there were lots of trees, but nothing organised. The whole house had a 'rambling' feel about it. Its occupant was an old lady, 'Shantha aunty'. She had never married and for a long time had stayed alone. The stray cats in her house were company until another friend came along.

It was summer holidays. A warm afternoon. I can’t remember how old I was, but it was my birthday. I was in this white frock with pink flowers - I loved this dress. Sadly, I don’t believe I have any photos of this one at all. I remember standing on the bench in our portico, and looking over the wall and talking to Shantha aunty -I was telling her how I had been ill the previous day. Sometimes, I’d balance myself on the Neem tree, which broke the compound wall, to talk to her - or to climb over to her house.

She would invite me and my sister to "pick" nellikai (small sized gooseberries), and we of course would end up eating more than picking. We'd spend afternoons making custard, jelly and pudding - dishes only read off till then. Once, when one of her cats had kittens, me and my sis (in one of the rare moments we were united against my parents) picked up one of the kittens, and tried to make a pet of it. I can’t remember how that one ended - but my parents most likely asked us to give it back.

I liked my house too, despite its lack of style. I loved climbing the compound walls. My room on the first floor was like my own private quarters. It made me feel all grownup to have a room. I used to keep lifting furniture from the rest of the house to 'do up' my room. The large kitchen - warm and well, large. There used to be an outhouse- cold and damp. During summer vacations, when I was steeped in famous fives and five findouters, I’d pretend it was the "secret headquarters". I in fact had a password when my cousins were around and we'd play detective. Since we had our own private terrace, we started the habit of making vadams. I also liked the balcony, partly covered by the Neem tree. On many a hot nights, we had dinners here.

We went through a whole life full here, but most of all, I remember the summers. Rather, life itself seemed like one long summer. Picking mangoes. Gardening or at least trying to (nobody in my family seems to have been gifted with green fingers). Running around the house. My grand mom and sis spending hours playing the daya kattai (ludo) or pallanguzhi (a game with shells). Me, either pouring over some book, or getting burnt in the sun cycling with my friends. Standing outside the house, and having long talks with friends. And fights with my sister. Once she was so wild, she actually got the aruval and threatened to hit me. And of course, spending time at Shantha aunty's house.

We lived there for almost 8-9 years. Even after we moved out, everytime I went by the lane, I’d look at the house or both houses and think it seemed like a dream that we had lived here. Today neither house is around. Instead, there's a huge apartment in their place. Right in your face and unreal.