A bus journey to remember.

Getting out of the KSRTC, I started walking towards Shaktan Stand. I passed by some street vendors who were selling mangoes.

3 Kilo, 100 rupees! Varoo Varoo*” (*Come!)

I looked at them and continued walking.

“Mole, molkkum venemengil medikkam! 3 Kilo verum 100 rupees.” (You can also buy it! 3 kilos for just 100 rupees.)

I smiled thinking how they looked at everyone as a prospective customer.

Walking over to the usual place where I find the buses that take me home, I dodged so many school children crowding over different buses. Little did I know that this was foreshadowing.

The bus wasn’t in it’s usual place and I asked a bus conductor standing beside me , “Chetta, Peechi Dam bus evide?” (Where is the bus to Peechi Dam?)

“Aa anjamathe bus. Neela bus . Kandille?” (That fifth bus. The blue one. Saw it?)

I got on it and the seats had been taken already. I stood by the door, kept my bag by the feet of an old lady, hoping she wouldn’t scream at me.

A couple more ladies got on the bus. And finally, so did the bus driver.

This began a 20 minute journey that’s hard to forget.

As soon as the conductor stepped foot in the bus, there was a swarm of school kids starting to file into the bus. It was probably around 20 or so , but felt like a 100 kids minimum , in that already packed bus. I clung on the metal bar in front of me for dear life, literally. They started dumping their bags on the laps of the people sitting. One by one by one the pile grew until someone said “Mathi mathi! Oru paruthi ille makkale!” (Enough! There’s a limit to how many I can hold kids.)

The bus slowly started it’s way out of the bus stand. Between all this commotion a lady tapped on my shoulder:

“Mission Hospital ariyumo?” (Do you know where Mission Hospital is?)

“Aa ariyam.” (Yes.)

“Ethiyal onnu parayane.” (Please let me know when we reach there.)

The bus had moved for , maybe, 50 ft when it reached it’s first stop. A few more school kids got in.

The Conductor : “ullil po pillare. Malayathil alle parayunne! Aa bag okke evideyenkilum vachittu ullilekk po ellarum.” (Push inside! Keep those bags somewhere and move in.)

A small shuffle from everyone trying to move in. The Conductor seemed to think we were inside Hermione’s bag from Deathly Hallow, unlimited space inside. Honestly, How far can you go in a small private bus?

The second stop, again was filled with school children looking expectantly at the bus. It stopped and the conductor said only 2-3 students, out of the almost 20 waiting there, shall be allowed in.

Of course that was a lie and he let in as many kids as he could.

As of now, people were going in, nobody was moving out. Fun.

Then, Mission Hospital loomed in front. I tried to turn around and let the lady know that this was her stop. When I turned around it was just school children. ALL SCHOOL CHILDREN. I couldn’t find anybody else.

The bus stopped at the Hospital Bus stop, around 2 people got out and 7-8 more kids climbed on.

The bus started moving again.

Thankfully, the lady figured out that the big red building with Hospital written over it was, in fact, her stop and I heard her yell from the back,

“Ivide iranganam! Aal iranganund.” (I need to get off here.)

She started making her way through the sea of school children, still yelling that she needs to get out, reaching nowhere because they were all fully grown solid human beings and it’s difficult to push yourself through them. Somehow she made it to the front, stepping on numerous feet in the meanwhile. But her greatest obstacle was still yet to come. Getting down.

“Kutti onnu maroo please” (Kid,please move).

Which kid? Move where?

She danced around in that small space between people’s feet, their bags, tugged on their shawls and somehow reached the stairs of the bus. Everyone was waiting for her to get down to return back to their normal stance.

The Conductor was opening the door to let her out.

Everyone waited in anticipation. If she gets down, people can breathe properly.

He pulls on the handle. It’s stuck.

Everyone who sees it, groans.

He tried again. And again. And again.

The lady looked nervous. Everyone looked nervous . The same thoughts went through everyone’s minds, I’m sure.

What if the door doesn’t open and she will have to go through the back door?

I shuddered at that thought. Voices everywhere telling the man, who operates the door daily, as to how to operate it.

The driver is getting impatient.

After what seems like forever, he put his entire might and pulled on the handle . The stubborn door swung open. The lady out the door instantly. The Conductor’s face spelled out R E L I E V E D. The bus seemed to breathe properly again.

We continued the journey. And as if to increase the difficulty level in this weird game everyone was playing, it started raining. Great.

The bus halted again soon and the conductor tried to get off to go to the back of the bus. But as he rushed down the stairs , his trademark-black-money-bag got caught in the hero of the evening, handle of the bus and he slipped , and the bus started moving. Everyone screamed for him, the driver put on the sudden brakes and he fell back on the lowest step on the bus.

He was pulled back into the top of the stairs and he seemed shook. The schoolgirl beside him asked if he was okay

He replied : “Daivamme, brake ittath nannayi. Allenkil naalathe paperil kandenne enne” (Thank God he hit the brakes. Otherwise I’d be dead.)

As we approached my stop, I started digging into the heap of bags trying to find mine.

I pulled my heavy bag up from the bottom as the conductor screamed “Ollukara! Ollukara!”

I moved to the door, the bus stopped and I got out as soon as possible, making sure none of the straps were stuck anywhere on the bus as I didn’t want the Conductor’s incident to happen to me as well.

The fresh air after the rain hit my face . The door closed behind me and the ‘Neela’ bus took off leaving me with a strange set of memories about my own town.

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Her.

She laughed at my joke,

Loudly,

Her mouth wide open,

Crinkles formed by her eyes

And if someone could look away from that masterpiece

And look at my face instead,

They’d know what love looked like.

I smiled softly,

– her laughter

That sound made sense to me when nothing else did.

The first time I met her,

my eyes locked into hers

Her eyes held the sunset

She smiled and asked me my name

why was my heart beating so fast?

everything I thought I knew ,

I didn’t anymore.

I think my life was in the Stranger Things Universe

Because it was upside down.

And suddenly,

All my happiness seemed to radiate from her presence

all I wanted

Was to talk to her

Sing with her

Take stupid poloroids with her

I wanted her to hold my hand,

Stroke my hair

I craved the taste of her soft lips against mine

But I knew

Every part of me knew this was wrong

I should not feel this way

it’s not normal!

the world shouted.

And I tried to stop myself from feeling anything at all,

But God,

Everytime I heard her voice

Everytime I felt her skin brush against mine

That look she had when she got excited

The way she moved her hands through her long hair-

With every little thing she did

She made the ordinary , extra in my mind.

I’d never felt this way

It was new

this is wrong! it’s not love

Everybody seemed to say

Yet the butterflies in my belly told me something else.

if this wasn’t love,

well then I didn’t want love

I wanted her.

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From Churchgate to Esplanade

As the train slowly started coming to a halt, I got down, not waiting for it to completely stop. I checked the time. It was 10:05 am. I needed to get there only by 10:45am. I was early, as usual. I took out my oh-so-dear phone, opened up my GPS and put in “Mumbai Esplanade Court”. It was 1.7 kms away. I started my 23 minute morning walk.

The thing I noticed about Mumbai was, everyone walks as if they are in a walkathon and they need to win. Nobody has time for anyone else. Everyone has earphones in, or they’re talking on the phone, in their own world. I walk along with the crowd past the Cross Maidan where some exhibition was going on. I always wanted to check it out, but never had the time because of the aforementioned walkathon !

I,then, take a left towards the fashion street. The shops are just being opened; almost all of them are still under the blue tarp. There are a few Chai shops open, with men drinking tea and reading newspaper or looking at their phones. There is very little human conversation between them. As I walk past them, avoiding all the Paan spits and normal spits on the road, I reach the first signal on the road. I have to cross that to reach the Azad Maidan. 

Azad Maidan was a ground. What was its true purpose, I never found out. In the morning there were children playing cricket; their coaches yelling out for no apparent reason; some children sitting in the sidelines watching, eagerly awaiting their turn, others just least bothered. It is all fun and games to watch this scenario play out until you have to run for you life because some kid decided to hit the ball along your way.

But this Maidan was home not just for people who wanted to play, but also for street shopping. Everything ranging from earphones to second hand books to even clothes was sold there at different times throughout the day. This was the one thing that always fascinated me about Mumbai. Anybody can earn a living in this city as long as you’re down to do anything it is that will get you there. I got the feeling that even if you started selling cloth hangers, people will buy them as long as you market it well.

Azad Maidan connected the MG Road with the fashion street with the Hazarimal Somani Road (yes, i googled that). The road is a very small road, and always crowded. The footpath beside the road is even smaller and I assume there is a competition happening on this road on who can walk the fastest because people wiz past you, not stopping even when their shoulders use yours as a dandiya stick. At the end of that road, you see the Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Railway Station or as people still dearly call it, the VT. You can never get tired of looking at this magnificent piece of architecture. Whenever I used to walk in front of it, I spend a few minutes staring at it because it would be a shame to the building if no one paid attention to it.

As, it stood tall proudly in the morning light, I continued my walk. There was the usual crowd on my left, where there were so many small breakfast corners that had a normal mumbai wala breakfast, you know, like Vadapav, Pav Bhaji, Sev Puri and all. Coming from a land of Idlis and Dosas, this was a pleasant surprise. Another amusing thing was that every shop basically sold the same thing and they were right next to each other but there was no shortage of crowd in front of any shops. All of them were equally crowded.

Walking forward, I finally see the Court. It’s only around 10:40 and the sessions start only by 11:00, so I’m in absolutely no hurry, taking my own sweet time. There were some advocates standing there as usual asking if I wanted anything notarized. I ignored them and walked in the old court building and found Court room #3 and settled myself in there under the fan, took out my book and started reading till it was time for the court.

This was just one morning during my 23 days in Mumbai. One of the main reasons I loved walking while I was there was because I was able to see a lot more of the places and familiarize myself with the city and its people. I had heard a lot of stories and experiences of the people who’ve spent their share of time in this city. And being there, I found myself falling in love with Mumbai. There was a sort of magic to this place that can’t be explained in words.

As a friend of mine always said, and I finally was able to relate, “Mumbai is not a place, it’s an emotion.”

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For A Legend

Dear Chester,

Yesterday was the concert. A concert for you. A tribute to you, a legend.

A lot of your friends sang for you, a lot of your fans sang along with them from the Arena and watching it on their screens. Everybody was so strong. It was so nice to see. We missed you. A lot.

During the concert, Mike sang In the end, and before starting he asked “You guys know which part to sing right?. It broke me; because of course, we knew which part to sing. Your parts. The ones where you bellowed your heart out, or sang with so much emotion that literally saved so many of us. The ones which you’ll never sing from here on now.

You had to be there Chaz. So many people came out to honor you. You walked away from life feeling sad and lonely but if you were there last night you never would’ve felt that way.

When you passed, I cried. For days on end, I cried at various points. It felt silly to other people. He was just a singer from a band. He doesn’t even know you exist, why are you this upset? 

But little did they know how much you meant to me. Every song you sang was for me. So what if you didn’t know me? You were always there for me. Your music saved me. I started listening to you because of my brother and we’ve shared so many memories because of the songs. Whenever Linkin Park released new music, we couldn’t wait to listen to all of them and discuss which ones were our favorites. (Spoilers: I always loved the songs where you scream the most.)

And even now, whenever I feel lonely or sad I just listen to Numb or In the end or What I’ve done or even Heavy. They mean so much to me and I feel like, they meant so much to you.

I still miss you and I still cannot believe you are gone. You are gone without a chance for me to meet you, hug you and thank you for, well, being you.

You saved thousands of lives, but nobody could save you. We’re sorry. But we love you so much and hope you’ve finally found the peace you wanted.

The sun set for you Chester, but, God, I wish it hadn’t.

Love,

Someone who wishes you were here with your bubbly face and screaming voice to sooth this pain.

 

 

 

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To my girls,

To the OG.

The one who watched me grow and the one who helped me grow.

I’m not sure how the three of us ended up being friends, but the earliest memories I have is Winnerz. I remember Shradha raving about Liya and how much fun they’re having and me, being in a separate batch, obviously grew jealous (Classic Anagha). So I instantly changed my batch to theirs. Damn, what a great decision.

From eating in between classes and giving bad relationship advices – we became the best of friends.

It’s impossible to imagine my 11th and 12th grade without my friendship with these two. Some of my happiest memories in Bahrain were with them.

I’ve watched them both grow from insecure to beautiful inside and out and confident af and immature to one of the most mature and wise young person I know.

To the both of you,

Who tolerate and love me even though I’m super needy almost always.

Who care for me better than some of my family

Without whom I’d be a constant mess

There’s not a day where I don’t miss you guys and our shenanigans.

To my support system.

Words will never be enough, but I’ll start somewhere by saying Thank you and I love you.

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Untitled #3

Standing there pouring sunscreen onto my face, 

I look at the oh-so-wonderful hanging gardens of babylon 

Working my way up the 7 wonders of the world, 

I should’ve felt happy;ecstatic. 

But I felt like I was in the Sahara Desert, 

Walking around for some water, 

To quench my thirst. 

But this thirst, 

This thirst didn’t go away so easily. 

It was difficult to explain- yet easy to feel

This thirst, that’s been there with me for so long, 

It had been my silent partner, 

Some partner, I didn’t even ask for. 

But partners were supposed to make you feel nice and warm and protected

I felt the opposite. 

This feeling, had kidnapped my conscience, 

I couldn’t  let go, 

I may have had the Stockholm syndrome  – to a feeling

A feeling of never being satisfied, 

You laugh, but it’s a serious one. 

Satisfaction is difficult to come by for me

I wandered  around the world, 

I went to the most amazing places 

And I felt nothing. 

The seven wonders of the world? 

Overrated. (Of course, I saw only the 6,until now) 

The wanderlust in me wanted to continue, 

But every other inch of me said,

 go back. 

This was my life, in a nutshell. 

I could be anywhere, in the world

Doing the most amazing things, 

but I would still wonder about the place I’m not at. 

What am I missing out? 

Ditching the plan, apologizing to the wanderlust, 

I was back home, as usual.  

Never satisfied could be a good thing, 

But not for me. 

I am never able to be satisfied, 

Whatever I did. 

And I convinced myself, I never would be-

Or so I thought. 

Then

one day, 

The day I met you

My brain stopped whirring

I didn’t think of being anywhere else. 

My mind didn’t want to be anywhere else

Instead, 

I was occupied by the brown in your eyes, 

The curls in your hair

The charm in your smile. 

Suddenly – 

Any place other than your arms seemed unnecessary to be in. 

And now, standing in front of the Great Pyramid, 

I look down at you and whisper 

‘ Yes. ‘

Because, 

Since the day I met you, 

I was never satisfied

Of Being anywhere

Without you. 

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‘Before-After’

This past week, I went to Chennai to visit my cousin. It was the first time I visited Chennai after almost 2 years. It was wonderful thinking about how much I’ve changed, evolved as a person, since the last time the city saw me. 

The first time I was here, I came with my mom, she took care of everything and then she left. All I had to do was go for classes till noon and come back and study. And that’s all I did. I was all alone in a city I didn’t know and all I heard everyday in the phone calls from my parents and relatives was to be careful. So that’s what I did. I was careful. I shut myself up in that apartment and only went out for the daily dosage of CLAT prep. 

To me, Chennai was an intimidating city. Everything was new and scary. For instance, I walked to classes. And I remember how terrified I was of crossing roads. I even took the long way round if it meant that I could avoid crossing busy roads. 

And when my classes ended after 25 days, I didn’t want to travel in a train all by myself, so my uncle came all the way from Kerala to drop me back to Kerala. 

It all seems so silly now. Now I travel every chance I get. And If I’m alone, its better.  The roads aren’t intimidating anymore, it’s just annoying(how drivers refuse to stop!). I take care of all my needs myself. I feel independent and free.

Chennai always holds a special place in my heart, for, it’s where the second phase of my life started. 

Thinking about all these instances gives my a small sort of pride; this is character development right? 

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