31.12.14

The Annual Re-cap.

Made it just in time. 


1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?

- Created a stable, settled life for myself - for the first time since I left home.
- Saw work on bill-boards and in newspapers. (Very cool feeling.) 
- Acid. (Have to write about this sometime, it was hilarious. May I hastily add, not cool. Not cool at all.)
- Bike ride across Goa 
- Learnt to ride a scooter, and if anyone snorts in disbelief right now, I rode it over hilly areas for 10 KM without crashing. 
- Adopted two cats
- Found two grey hairs. (Yes, TWO.)
- Opened Christmas presents 25th night, not the morning. 
- Some stuff in London that would take too long to talk about.
- Got a home with more than one room and real furniture. 
- This doesn't count as something I've 'done' - but this is the first time I haven't looked forward to my birthday. I'm 23, that's fine, I don't want to be 24 particularly and after that, comes 25 and honestly, what is the point of life after that?

- Oh my god - there has to be more. What sort of faffing is this? WHAT HAVE I ACHIEVED IN WHAT HAS BEEN ONE OF THE MOST MOMENTOUS YEARS OF MY LIFE? Apart from minor work-stuff, not much. 

But as always:

- Loads of stuff I can't make public. Ha. 



2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Severely limit drinking. (I'll elaborate the Code another time.)
Start studying again. Yes, studying. On my own. 


3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No.



4. Did anyone close to you die?

My Bhutto and Kebli. 


5. What countries did you visit?

England. And the UAE if you count Dubai airport which I do. 

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

Money. As usual. 
Travel - although 2014 wasn't as bad as 2013 travel-wise.
Something else I can't explain here. (Due to inability to articulate, no mystery.)
Seeing more of non-Bangalore family and friends. Especially Mawii, I really miss Mawii. 


7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory and why?

February. I found out something that changed my life (when I am being dramatic). 
And something that's just a pain in the ass (when I am not being dramatic). 



8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Related to the above.



9. What was your biggest failure?

Related to the above.
And something to do with someone I love. 


10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Yup. But I'll refrain from boring you with the details. 



11. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Mama. She had a tougher year than I did and didn't complain once. 
And my sister Pria - because she is a hero, although this has been the case since birth. 




12. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Mine again. Mostly. But oh well, you grow, you learn. 



13. Where did most of your money go?

Cigarettes. Alcohol. Autos. 
This has been the same for the past six years.



14. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

This holiday - one glorious month off.
Seeing my family and friends - especially Pria and Nain and Nicky (who visited me from Bombay to throw up in my bathroom - I'll share that story another time.) 



15. What song will always remind you of 2014?

Sunday Morning - Lou Reed.
Pale Blue Eyes - Velvet Underground (this reminds me of a person actually, not the year itself)



16. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

I'm not sure. I'm definitely not sadder, but the happiness I have right now is a different sort so it can't be compared.



17. What do you wish you'd done more of?

All the things I keep telling myself I ought to do. 




18. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Nothing comes to mind really. 



19. How will you be spending Christmas?

Christmas is over. And I spent it in London after years, surrounded by my family, eating the turkey and drinking the wine and playing the traditional games, and meeting the friends, and seeing the art and the plays and Christmas carnivals and - my god, it was so special. 

And Pria gave me the most touching present I've ever received - so I spent at least an hour crying. 




20. Did you fall in love in 2014?

I fell down a rabbit hole.




21. How many one night stands?

None. 




22. What was your favourite TV programme?

Kept changing - phases, y'know. 



23. What was the best book you read?

I think I can count the books I read (for the first time, not re-reads obviously) on my fingers - so I won't list anything here. Nothing was life-changing. 




24. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Nada. 




25. What did you want and get?

Many things. 




26. What did you want and not get?

One thing - but I didn't want it for very long.
And a flat I fell in love with. But I don't care about that anymore, my own is Home. 

And seeing many friends. 



27. What was your favourite film of this year?

Nothing. 




28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 23. Had the usual party - did not wake up with a hangover the next day. 


29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Not dreading the future would have probably helped. 




30. What kept you sane?

S.


31. Who was the worst new person you met?

Didn't meet anyone (very) horrible. 


32. Who was the best new person you met?

The 8B boys.


33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learnt in 2014.

It's not a lesson per se - but I learnt how loved I am. Many special people went out of their way to make sure I knew that.  
And that taught me how important it is to show people you love them. You can go a lifetime without knowing how important it is, but luckily, I didn't have to.


34. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

No. 



I apologise about the damn spaces - they're driving me crazy but I have to go shower and decide what to wear so I don't have time to spend forty minutes making them even.

Happy New Year, by the way. As they say, it's another chance to get it right.

Even though you won't, you obviously you won't, you'll get it wrong, horribly wrong. But it doesn't hurt to be optimistic now and then.


Note

After typing that, I went to get ready - I was drying my hair after my shower, and brushing it out in the attempt to achieve a wave, and it got stuck in the brush and couldn't be untangled and I had to chop a chunk off. You can't make out because of my parting (thank goodness).

Also I have a really really bad hangover.

1.12.14

December Ramblings

I woke up this morning because the sun was in my eyes, and because it was cold, just a little. And the first thought that occurred to me was, it's December. For three minutes, I felt a familiar rush of excitement, a feeling I've gotten every year, on the first day of December. Then sleep took over, and didn't release me until half an hour after I was supposed to leave for work.

It's always reassuring, the feeling of excitement. I felt it at seven, at ten, at fourteen, at eighteen, now, at twenty-three. December's still my favourite month of the year.

When I was in school, it meant bringing out the blazer (after I turned twelve). Man, I loved my school blazer. It made me feel so grown up. I'd look at the brats who hadn't graduated from sweaters yet and I'd be all, ha-ha, snot nosed children with lice, I was one of you once (minus the lice), but now I am more validated than ever before, because I have my blazer.

I regret to say that this was a recurring monologue. It didn't stop after the first year or two, it went on firmly until I graduated.

And December also meant Christmas which meant PRESENTS. I've always had my list prepared since August. Post August, new things are added, old ones are removed. Finally, I decide on one big present, or maybe a few little presents. That hasn't changed. What's on my bucket list this year that I am hugely excited about?

A cycle.

That's right. I am going to re-embrace one of the facets of my old Delhi life and use a cycle to commute between home and work. But because I am grown up and evolved, it will be a mountain bike. In further evidence of my maturity, I've actually researched different cycles in order to short-list the one that's best suited for my requirements and personality. I will go to the shop and actually try it once before buying it (i.e. before my mother buys it). See, I am now sensible and careful and level-headed enough to care about these things. It doesn't detract from the joy. Nor the incongruity of being excited about a cycle at twenty-three. Twenty-four.

Which reminds me. In exactly a month and a day, I'll be twenty-four. That first grey hair I found is a poignant reminder that my youth is slipping away. But then again, I've been saying the same thing since I was about thirteen (minus the grey hair).On the bright side, as I was telling my father the other day, the hair was most definitely silver. This is extremely reassuring - my father's side of the family, whose colouring I've inherited, get silver hair as they age. Not grey. It's a very nice silver actually, quite attractive, so I will just let my hair go about its natural course and laugh at all the poor souls who have to hide their common, plebeian grey-hair with dye.

Although I devoutly hope nothing will show until I'm forty.

I have completely lost track of what I meant to write about - something to do with December and childhood and nostalgia, blah blah blah. I don't need to feel nostalgic, come to think of it. Last Christmas, I woke up alone in the room flat I shared with no one. For the first time in my life there were no presents, there was no tree, there was no Mum with smiles and hugs.

But the day was still beautiful and I felt grown up and I celebrated with rum in my coffee before going to my brother's to be with people I loved. So really, you could say I've made Christmas my own.

All the same, this year, I will be back in the Christmas of my childhood. Back in London. Waking up in Pria's room on Christmas morning, jumping on her bed, then going to jump on Rajeet, and then insisting on opening presents before breakfast, not after; and eating traditional Christmas lunch with about five hundred members of the family (just kidding, one of the regulars is arriving on Boxing Day so it'll only be 499 of us) and rounding off the evening with mulled mead and Monopoly (which I hate).

Those are the sort of things December brings me every year, though the forms they take on change. A pause from my incessant complaining and pessimism to just be thankful for my life, which is a pretty lucky one; and the comforting knowledge that it's absolutely okay to eat pudding three times a day because Father Christmas, no matter how old you grow, will always bring presents: a magical calorie deficit being one of them.




19.11.14

Goa, in two parts: Almost and Fuck It

So there's really no point writing about the first trip anymore; it's been more than a month since I got back from the second one. I would have deleted the post below, but someone actually left a comment, so that's definitely not going anywhere. Anyway, I'll attempt to tie things up during this one - some stuff overlaps.

Man, I'm sick of Goa, writing about it, that is, but this has turned into some sort of inane personal battle.

HR's friend Aalok entered a FB contest and won four flight tickets to Goa. And back. And two free nights in a fancy hotel. What do I mean by fancy? Well, a nimboo-pani cost 120 bucks. That's what I mean by fancy.

Anyway, he and his wife Varsha (I can't believe I hang out with married people now, so strange, even stranger that it doesn't feel strange) invited HR and I to tag along. Because they are kind and we are delightful.


***
                                                         
It's taken me about three weeks to write the above . Obviously I am no match for myself and have lost the inane personal battle. It's become a habit anyway.

So you will never know what happened in Goa. Poor you.

On to other infinitely less interesting things.

I moved out of my first apartment (ok, room) on Saturday. That's my first Bangalore chapter closed. When it comes to domestic issues, I can only valiantly hope that it goes up from here.

It wasn't that bad really. I lived alone and I had no internet. How many of you can do that without going crazy, huh? Also, I meant to make a copy of my key to leave with my brother or a friend, but I never did; and guess what? IT DIDN'T MATTER BECAUSE I NEVER LOST MY KEY. That's right. I went 11 months without losing a key that I had to carry around everywhere. When I do my Annual Recap, that is going on my list of the year's greatest achievements.

Another thing this year has taught me: meet expectations by lowering them.

I am listing the significant(ish) things that I learnt during my first stint living alone.

(i) How to plunge scissors into someone's neck at the exact spot that would kill them. This is because they were my weapon of choice to keep by my bed at night; I obviously did research because I am efficient that way. I started out with knives, but chances are I would have found a way to stab myself somehow. Scissors seemed a less fatal option (for me).

(ii) How to improvise. For instance, I used sarongs in place of curtains. Because after two months, I did not have a curtain rod. It fell down. I also learnt to make a delicious dessert out of a 25 rupee tub of yogurt. And I learnt how to make my own drinking water. (Boil and refrigerate; the taste is an acquired one).
There are more things, I know, but so many more that I can't even begin to remember them. That's how good I am. Ha.

(iii) How to deal with pests and insects. These have included slugs in my closet, tiny dead insect things in my fridge, centipedes in my bathroom, and red ants everywhere. How did I combat these terrible creatures? By crashing at the Undoable One's; he always has spare mattresses. I have also learnt that I must never keep spare mattresses in my new home, otherwise I will be inundated with helpless (and hopeless) people like myself.

(iv) How to gracefully deal (okay, not gracefully, but why quibble?) with domestic problems that included a faucet exploding and flooding the bathroom (and everything else) with water. As well as accidentally flushing it down the toilet. And trying to explain how it went down the toilet to a plumber who only spoke Tamil. (Not Kannada, Tamil.)

(v) How to keep a house clean. This includes: sweeping floors; mopping floors; beating carpets against walls and learning that I must beat them on the wall outside my room flat; cleaning toilets; cleaning DRAINS; buying bathroom gloves to clean drains; and dusting before cleaning the floor, not after. I have also learnt that I must make as much money as I can as soon as possible so I can hire daily help to ensure I never have to do any of those things again. I have also learnt to appreciate daily help as well as the fall of communism.

(vi) How to cook, baby! Sort of. I can boil pasta (eggs are still touch and go), I can cook minced meat without poisoning anyone, I can cook chicken meat but unfortunately not without poisoning someone, and I can chop vegetables. Oh yeah, and I know that you can disguise a lot of errors by putting as much butter and cheese as possible into everything you can.

(vii) How to get away without paying electricity bills for ten months. Ok, this is not something that was learnt, it is something that happened. I was too lazy to pay my bill but the electricity never got cut and it went on and on and on until my landlord found out because he delivered my bill instead of security; but he thought it was three months' worth, and warned me that it would get cut. I still didn't pay, then he called me claiming it had been cut, but that was a lie because he is a chuth. And then I had to pay.

(But the total amount came to 1K something. HA!)

(viii) Finally, I learnt of the existence of a wonderful service - packers and movers. Especially the packing part. I had to put up with a lot of snide comments about dirty carpets and numerous cigarette stuff, but it was worth it.


I am sure that I will learn many more things in my next house, because, I am "always learning" (lifted from my most hated client). Unfortunately, I have not found that house yet and am currently crashing with friends. If I don't find a house by the end of the month, I will have to move in with my brother.

Therefore, I request those of you who believe in a Higher Power to pray for me; those who believe in only Luck, to cross your fingers for me; those who believe in nothing at all but live in Bangalore and don't mind messy people, to offer me a (temporary) home; and those who believe in nothing at all and don't live in Bangalore, to bugger off.





25.10.14

Goa, Part Something

Okay, given the weeks that have passed since Goa, The Second Trip, I feel it's useless to document, in detail, the day-by-day occurrence of Goa, The First Trip. So before I start writing about GTST (or should it be GST?), I'll share some excerpts from (GTST/GST/I really need to look this up).

Goa, First Trip (easier, no?) - Extracts 

The drunk night. We went out, had dinner somewhere, oh, come to think of it, we didn't have dinner.

Let me start again.

We went out. Found a restaurant that had the following offers:

1. 1 beer, 1  beer free.
2. 1 cocktail, 2 cocktails free.

Or something similar. I don't recall - on account of the fact that, because of that offer, I drank too many beers and sipped  gulped too many cocktails.

Anyway, we, or rather HR, who has the unique and admirable talent of making friends wherever he goes, befriended a Bengali waiter who totally gave us 65-70 ml instead of 60 ml, which just goes to show -  IT'S IMPORTANT TO MAKE FRIENDS, PEOPLE.

It was his last night though, he was leaving for Darjeeling the next day.
,
Typical.

Then we drove up and down for the same road for twenty minutes and landed up at the only pub that looked open, and the manager was drunk, and he sat with us and we rolled a joint. There were a few white people at the next table. And HR asked them whether they wanted to share the wondrous beauty, the explosion of stars, the beauty of a wall and soiled carpet, with us.

"Because," as someone once told me, "that is the amazing-ness of a joint."

Anyway, the white people did not want to smoke, which, trust me, is an extremely abnormal experience in Goa.

"Where are you from?" Said HR.

An innocent question, but for some reason he got death glares.

"Amsterdam."

See, see, do you see, the beauty of an ironic world?

Oh right, and then we went back to Silver Star, and drank too much, and HR hustled a waiter at pool and won, and I heard, with patience, another waiter's love story, and I kept getting up at intervals - when I felt energetic - to chase puppies because I love puppies, come on, they're adorable, but HR chased after me, and spent much time advising me about the dangers about taking Puppy on a bus to Bangalore and keeping Puppy in a small, damp, gets-worse-with-time room, which incidentally is where I live.

So I gave Puppy up because true love is selfless that way.

And then we went into the Silver Star room - thankfully the only night we would spend there - and we were completely smashed and then we passed out.

The rest of the trip, which I'll talk about later (on account of how I do not know how to keep things short) is more interesting.

Or not. I don't know.

I'm quite stoned. Haha. 

9.10.14

Just a quick 23.30 office rant to publicly record there are few things in life more bloody tedious than a new, bubbly, over-enthusiastic co-worker.

Plus, he's making me look bad. I can't even play Triviador in peace. 

29.9.14

Interval.

HR's friend won 4 free flight tickets to Goa. Tomorrow.

So I have to finish writing about the last trip and then tomorrow's (if it's memorable enough, I hope it will be). 

So much writing to do. About being a bum on the beach. And moving to another beach to continue being a bum there. And then I have to talk about all the beer, and attempt not to black out so I can write something more interesting than "I blacked out". And I'll have to talk about long motorcycle rides through the twisted roads, golden fried calamari and authentic pork vindaloo, the calm hand of time holding back the mad rush of minutes to replace it with something slower, something infinitely - blah, blah, blah. You get the picture. 

And now I have to write about two trips, not just one. 

So dull, so boring, so effort-full.



BAHAHAHAHA. 




16.9.14

Goa, two years later - Part 2.

As I've mentioned before, Palolem curves on either end. A mile of white sand and fishing boats - there were no shacks or deckchairs this time - framed against a backdrop of disordered, disorganised, dark green trees.

After our swim and our beer, we decided to go to the other end of the beach to see if we could find any shacks that were open. HR remembered a shack set-up on Butterfly Island. (I discovered that day that what I thought was Butterfly Island wasn't Butterfly Island but I'm too old to change my ways). We went via the sea - sometimes walking, sometimes swimming. HR had boasted about his swimming abilities before and, unfortunately, I was able to witness them firsthand. 

I'm not sure how to describe it accurately - let's just say that the only swimmers I've seen who are worse than HR, are the ones who can't swim at all. He looks like a dying fish when he swims. I was horrified and offered to teach him how to be more elegant, more graceful, less embarrassing to his companions...

"Stop suppressing my individuality," HR said, thrashing around. "I am unique, I am the master, I am -" 

I ducked him. 

Anyway to get back to what I was talking about, we reached Palolem's end. That section of the beach has a fresh-water thingamajig that you can walk across when the tide's low. When it isn't, you need to swim. 

The tide was in at this time. Sort of in, anyway. HR had our phones and all our money so I was instructed to go in first. 

"If you don't sink," HR said to me, "I'll follow you."

I tread the water cautiously. I didn't mind sinking, but I'm the sort of person who would easily step on a sharp rock and start bleeding to death - a circumstance I wanted to avoid. The water, at its highest point, only came up to my chest. I turned and waved at HR who began to cross, holding both phones and money aloft. 

Because HR is a genius, he couldn't remember the path to the island. After a bit of scrambling around and searching, we found one, but it was blocked. So we had to go back down to the sea and walk along the edge. I carefully avoided the rocks again, this time because I saw a lot of dead fish washed up on them. Man, I would rather battle a shark than step on a dead fish. I'd rather battle three sharks. Battling sharks is one of the few things in life I'm confident about. 

We climbed through a stone archway and I couldn't believe I hadn't been there before. The hill we were on was obviously a shack set-up, but closed now. So isolated from the rest of Palolem, so very beautiful, perched on a cliff, with uneven grass and low trees, overlooking the sea. I peered over the edge and saw many boulders that formed a path to it - a little like the rocks around Anjuna's lagoon, but what they led to - stray rocks right in water, with the waves lapping around them, and nothing ahead except an infinite sea - was even more appealing than that had been. 

"I'm going to climb down to the rocks." I said to HR. "And I'm going to climb across them until I reach the edge."

"Alright," said HR agreeably. "Don't fall, don't hit your head, don't drown, don't -" 

"I won't." I said, offended. "I've crossed tree-trunks over raging rivers, I've battled quick sand, I've survived drowning in the oceans of Indonesia, I've-"

"Of course you have." said HR obligingly. I scowled at him and made my way down as gracefully as possible which, between you and me, wasn't graceful at all. 

The rocks were slippery. Also, because of reasons I won't go into, my balance is even worse than usual - I get dizzy more easily than I used to. So I had to climb over them like a spider, all arms and legs. First a leg here, then an arm there, then the realisation that I should have used a different limb, and a muttered curse, and then repeating the process all over again. I was nearly there when HR passed me, stepping from rock to rock with ease, for all the world as if he was on an evening stroll.

I comforted myself with the thought that while he had balance, I had hair. It wasn't comforting. 

But I finally reached the rock I'd wanted to; there was one a little ahead with a patch of sea in between that I wanted to go to, but HR wouldn't let me. I stood on my rock and I looked out to the sea and I swear, there was absolutely nothing there, no boats, no birds (thank god). Just an endless shimmer of silver and blue and the setting sun. 

I took in a deep breath of fresh sea-air and started coughing. I waited for the coughing fit to pass and took another deep breath. This time it lived up to the moment. 

"I'm queen of the sea." I said, turning my head to look at HR. 

"You are." 

I was. 

And then we shared a cigarette in companionable silence and it was like we were the only two people on earth. But time was passing and evening was drawing near and we had to get back to Palolem before the tide came in even further. So then we made our way back and I wasn't Queen of the Sea anymore, I was the Fool on the Rocks. 

As we crossed a stretch of sand, I noticed a dead eel lying near the shore. I don't think I've ever seen an eel before - dead or alive - so I got quite excited. They actually look quite ferocious but unfortunately this one, with its mouth open, looked a little retarded. No surprise that it was dead.

"Can I take the eel back with me?" I said to HR. Sometimes I get a little childish, okay, retarded, when I'm around HR, probably because he's six years older. 

"No, you can't." He said firmly. 

"But if I did, I could throw it at the client-servicing people in office."

"You are not taking a dead eel back to Bangalore."

"Can I throw it at the white people on the beach and make them scream?"

"NO."

"What about the creepy Indian men who film the white people?"

"NO."

As we were walking back to Silver Star, HR noticed some stone steps on the beach, leading to a garden with trees and two wooden shacks.

We went to see if they were open. The path was made of beer bottles planted firmly in the ground. I fell deeper in love with each step I took. 

There was a man beating a broom energetically in the verandah of one of the shacks. I thought he was one of those foreigners who'd settled down to make a life in Goa, but once he started talking, I realised he was Goan Catholic. They usually look and sound extremely angry. 

The Man (we learnt his name later) said that we could stay there, although he warned us that since the cafe/bar was shut, we'd have to get food and drink elsewhere. He showed us around. I'm putting up photos below this post because I can't describe how pretty the place was. And the detail - a painted cupboard here, a gorgeous big bed there, a desk I fell in love with - man, if I had a desk like that (and a personality change that would give me more focus), I'm sure I could churn out a novel. 

He was charging us 1000 rupees and HR and I regretfully said we couldn't afford that. So he brought it down to 700 on account of how he "liked us". Hah. As if there were loads of people in Palolem clamouring for rooms. 

"We have to stay at Silver Star tonight," HR told him. "But we'd love to come tomorrow."

"Ya. Come. Here's Dilip" - a dark man with a pony-tail and a shy smile had sauntered up to us  - "He'll be around." 

We went back to Silver Star in a very good mood. Our room looked particularly dingy after the gorgeous one we'd just seen but, as HR pointed out, it was just for a night. We rolled a joint and took a walk through the mini-forest that stretched behind Silver Star. And then we came back to our room and took a nap in preparation for the night of drinking that stretched before us.

And what a night that turned out to be.

To be documented in my next post - an unedited version, since my mother doesn't read this blog. 

And here are the photos. They are quite pointless because they rotate wrong when I upload them here and Blogger won't let me rotate them, er, right. So if you want to actually see what they're like, you'll have to attempt to rotate your head. 

I'll tell you about the cat later. 

























27.8.14

Goa, two years later - Part 1.

People who've been reading this blog for a few years (my father basically) might recall a trip to Goa I wrote about a couple of years ago. If not, here you go, lucky you.

Anyway, last week, I decided to take a couple of days of work and go there again for four days. For my cousin's engagement obviously, since I wouldn't have been given permission otherwise. On account of how I'm the only copywriter left on my team, but let's not even go there. What a happy coincidence though - thank goodness my cousin decided to get engaged to a boy from Goa, and thank goodness that it was a completely informal ceremony that took up no time at all, leaving me to explore Goa with my friend. So I won't write about my cousin's engagement - it was no different from any other ceremony. In fact, for your sake, I'm going to pretend it didn't exist and write about the other, infinitely more interesting things I did.

My friend HR (Holy Roller - don't ask) accompanied me. It was the first trip I'd been on since my four day break in Calcutta over New Year. Left straight from work - practically ran out of office at 6.30 - met up with HR and went to the bus-stand near Majestic. It was a sleeper bus. I've never been on a sleeper bus, I didn't even know they existed. They're brilliant. Train set-up but in a bus. Conducive to sleeping, as the name suggests. We'd booked a Non A/C so we could smoke on the way, but it turned out to be an AC bus. Wasn't a brilliant start to the trip. We were both sulking. But after the first hour, we fell asleep, so it didn't really matter. I woke up occasionally, over the night, my face turned towards the window (which was the length of my body). It was pouring with rain, so dark you couldn't see anything, except bursts of silver whenever lightning decided to make its presence felt, which was often.

And then suddenly, I opened my eyes, and this time it was morning, and the rain had stopped. The sun wasn't out yet, the sky was a soft grey, and, outside the window, all I saw was a canopy of green. I remembered the time Mawii and I had driven from the airport, and it was just like that, except more. And then I began to recognise the road, and the bus stopped, and there we were.

We took an auto to Palolem's main road ("main road" - haha) and it was as if nothing had changed. I even passed that goddamn CCD, I don't know why it's there, I've never seen anyone inside it except a defeated looking behind-the-counter-man. We got off at the entrance to the beach and there it was - the sea.

What is it about the sea? Most people I know prefer the mountains - the calm, the winding roads, forests on either side, that sense of being above the world, and away from it. The sea doesn't give you that feeling, it gives you something else. A sense of vastness, like the mountains, but a different sort of vastness. There's a lingering danger to it, you can never know the sea the way you might know a mountain trail. It's always a stranger, it doesn't want you to get to close to it. But it's also reassuringly familiar. Unlike mountains, where towns get bigger and people more numerous, and even unlike the beach, where the same thing occurs, the sea itself can't ever really be conquered. It can't be built on - though Hong Kong's made a valiant attempt. And it holds life and it holds death, and no matter how much technology advances, at the end of the day, people just can't fuck with it. You can explore it, and swim in it, and play in it, and exploit it to a certain extent, but you will always be at its mercy. Not the other way around.

Because it was off-season, all the shacks were closed, or had been taken down. Which is one of South Goa's saving graces, I think. It protects it from what's happening in the North. But there is a place called Silver Star - also known as Cocktails and Dreams (I know, I know) - and that's open 365 days a year with a 24/7 bar. The shacks were shut, and the cheapest room was absolutely terrible, not worth 500 bucks a day, but we decided to put up with the ugliness and the dinginess for just one night.

"We'll get so drunk tonight," HR said to me, "That we won't even notice the room. We'll just come back to crash and look for a nicer place tomorrow."

That was okay with me.

Changed into our swimsuits, put on some shorts, and went to the Silver Star bar. Like all the places right on the beach, it overlooks the sea. We got a table right in front - it was relatively empty, just an overweight white man, who had the redness of someone who drinks too much beer and eats too much steak, at the next table.

"We've got to have Kings beer," HR said to me, "I can't believe you haven't had Kings beer."

So we ordered a Kings each - and this was at 10 in the morning, what a perfect way to start the day - and sat there quietly, talking sometimes, reading sometimes, and drinking, well, constantly. But slowly. No hurry. It was only Thursday morning and I smugly thought of people at work, sitting in front of their scenes, shouting at each other over deadlines and briefs. Terrible, I know, but it added greatly to my contentment.

HR rolled a joint and we smoked that, but the thing about joints by the sea is that they don't get you stoned, not really. There's no dizziness, no heightened sense of humour, no 'faaaak, I'm so stoned' feeling. It just marginally adds to the peace. And I was feeling peaceful, a kind of peaceful I realised I hadn't felt in a long time, not even in quiet nights outside my flat when the rest of the world is asleep. The sea was a greeny-grey, lapping at the shore, the waves tipped with white, slightly more energetic than I remembered, but still fundamentally lazy.

And I was dying to get into the water, to taste its coldness and its saltiness, and to feel the spray sting my eyes, but I was also postponing the moment. Anticipation is sweet. But the sea began to recede, and the sun came out, and I couldn't wait any longer. I took off my sarong and I walked towards it, slowly at first and then faster and faster, and I felt the familiar weight of the water pushing against my legs, and then I was thigh-deep in it, and I dove under a gentle little wave, and opened my eyes to a murky, mysterious underworld, and then I broke through the surface, gasping for breath, salt-water up my nose, sun in my eyes.

It always feels like coming home. Always. As familiar as the sound of my feet pounding through Calcutta airport and the sight of my mother's face and outstretched arms behind the airport's metal railing.



7.8.14

About nothing. Or, how I convinced somebody I was a lesbian.

Whyyyy don't I have anything to write about these days. I definitely don't feel like ruminating on 'moments of quiet' and 'parcels of happiness' and 'unknown paths' and 'battles against life' and all the other pseudo-reflective crap I've been spouting recently - mostly because of the not-having-anything-to-write-thing. I'm trying to think of the last funny thing that happened to me, but I can't. I'm sure there are, something disastrous happens to me every week, but I don't remember right now, so obviously they couldn't have been particularly interesting or distinctive.

Every time I meet my Indiranagar friends - not as often as I used to - and they ask me what's up, all I say is, "work". Which is a lie. I mean, I'm busy with work, but not that busy. But it's become my standard response. I guess it has some uses after all. 

Oh here's something. I've told this story to practically everyone I know (and sometimes I've told it twice without realising - see how little I have to talk about these days?) but I might as well mention it here since I have nothing else to do except edit a crap video for a crap client. 

My friend and colleague Saikat told this other colleague, Hareesh, that I am a lesbian. By the way, a side note on Hareesh - he's the kind of fellow who has teddy bears hanging from his closet and he knows all the best beauty products and he knows that honey's good for dry skin but not oily skin. (Hareesh has oily skin, just in case you were wondering.) 

Anyway so that's what Saikat - who is a fucker (not literally but who knows) like Friend - told Hareesh. That I'm a lesbian - in case you got dazed because of the honey thing and forgot. 

You know what Hareesh's response was?

"I thought so."

Which I found a little insulting. I mean, I have nothing against lesbians, look at Ellen DeGeneres for example, but why would someone think I'm a lesbian? I don't dress like a man these days - not much anyway - and  I've even started wearing skirts and dresses and cardigans and shit. Seriously - I own a cardigan. An orange cardigan. Pill made me buy it because he said it depressed him to see me in black all the time. I explained I have a dark soul but it didn't work.

Um. Not that lesbians don't wear orange cardigans, I'm sure the two aren't mutually exclusive...ah, fuck it. I'm going back to the story. 

So one day Hareesh asked me about it and because I am blessed with a marvellous sense of humour - most of the time anyway - I played along. 

"Yeah, I am." I said. "But don't tell anyone. I'm not ashamed of it or anything, but I don't particularly want it broadcast to the world. I'm sort of private that way."

"No, no," said Hareesh earnestly. "I won't tell anyone. I have lots of lesbian friends. Want me to hook you up?"

I grew slightly alarmed. 

"No, no," I said equally earnestly. "I'm already in a relationship."

"With who?" said Hareesh sceptically.

"A girl called Mawii who lives in Delhi." 

"I don't believe you. I don't think you are a lesbian actually." 

So I sighed a heavy sigh and logged into Facebook. Out of sheer coincidence, my profile photo was one of Mawii and myself. And because life has its moments - her profile photo was the same as mine. And he bought it, oh, he totally bought it. 

And then he started asking me questions.

"Did you always know you were a lesbian?"

"No," I said. "I had boyfriends in school, but I didn't realise until I got to college." (Okay, so I had one boyfriend in school, but in this instance, as in most instances, boyfriends sounded better.) 

"How did you realise?" 

"Well, I was roommates with Mawii and we were together all the time, and I sort of started having funny feelings and..."

"So how did it happen?" He was looking visibly excited at this point which was a little disturbing. 

"We got drunk at this party, really drunk, and then we went home and...y'know." 

Hareesh nodded wisely even though I seriously doubted he knew. I mean, come on, he has teddy bears in his room. (He isn't gay, just effeminate.) 

"Does your family know?"

"Most of them don't, but my mother does."

"What did she say?"

"She wasn't happy about it, but she understood."

"Ah."

The conversation sort of ended there, but I was curious abut one thing. 

"Hareesh?"

"Yes, Colourful?" (His nickname for me is Colourful, god knows why since the only non-black things I own are my cardigan and a couple of scarves.) 

"Saikat said that you already sort of thought I was a lesbian. Do I look like a lesbian?" (This is something my brother has always told me - that I look like a lesbian - though I hadn't taken him seriously until that moment.)

"No, no. You don't look like a lesbian."

"Then?"

"Remember that time we were drinking at Hoppipola?" 

"No."

"You got drunk and came away with three women's phone numbers."



Yup, that probably explains it. 


26.6.14

To live a life unimagined.

It's the little things that take you by surprise. Living in a city you'd never have imagined living in before, a year and a half ago. Coming home to an empty flat after work. It turned into home the day you stopped searching for intruders as soon as you entered. It turned into home the night you left your knife in the kitchen, instead of keeping it by your bed. Buying vegetables instead of fruit because vegetables are cheaper. Refusing to buy a tub of  ice cream because it's too expensive - it could get you two days' worth of food. And then blowing up your money anyway, in a shady bar after work, with colleagues. The little things. Walking to work, to work, not college. Having to do things even when you don't feel like doing them. Having to think and to write when you can't, you just can't think or write, and then you learn - the hard way - that you don't have a choice. Dishes.

The little things make you soar. A cup of coffee, early in the morning, on the balcony, before the world's started to stir. Ecstasy. All those cliches about sunrises and new days and mornings? They seem true in that moment. Green tea, in the same place, on the same spot, when the world is drifting off to sleep. It seems so mundane, but it's part of a constant search for peace. And peace, you're starting to realise, comes in tiny parcels. Moments of quiet. Seconds of harmony. And yet, it matters. Cleaning the house. Dusting and sweeping and moving mattresses and doing the dishes and restocking the fridge and tackling bathroom drains. You were never cut out for domesticity, but it's teaching you something college never did: discipline.

There's nothing particularly exciting about this life. You're not making much money, you're living a hand-to-mouth existence, work tires you, it tires your brain, so you put off that phone call to an old friend, you don't pick up the book you've been planning to read. You don't travel, who has the time. But no, you've travelled through people. You're friends with people you didn't know existed six months ago, you've learnt how to like people without being their friend, you're constantly baffled by their stupidity, their intelligence, their quirks, their humanness. It's another important lesson that this year of being on your own, and trying desperately to carve your place in the world has taught you. You can travel through people, not just places. 

But still. It's not an exciting life. It's not the kind of life you imagined for yourself - you're not traipsing through London's streets, you're not editing books in Delhi, giving life to untold stories. You're not studying history, you're not writing, you're not doing a lot of things you imagined doing. Instead, you're doing something you vowed as a teenager never to do: coming to an office, typing things on a computer, sitting under tubelights. (But there's a secret they never tell you. An office can be more fulfilling, more exciting, more thrilling than any seashore if you're doing what you love.)

And sometimes, often when you're doing something incredibly boring, the realisation hits, such a physical reaction that it makes you shiver. You would never, ever have imagined this life two years ago. You would never have predicted it. And that, oddly, is comforting. It might not seem as exciting as the lives you haven't lived. But you've remained true to yourself in one essential way: you're building your own road. By yourself. And you don't know where it will take you. The way is hidden by new dreams that are still being born. 

23.6.14

Mama.

Once again, I feel like writing (okay, I don't, I'm just putting off writing radio scripts). And once again, I have nothing to write about (okay, I do, but I don't feel like writing about that). So I will write about my mother because that's always fun. Especially for my father.

She just left Bangalore after paying me a week-long visit. Here are some excerpts.

1. "I irritate you? *I* irritate *YOU*? Believe me, I don't irritate you as much as you irritate me. NO, YOU IRRITATE ME MORE. NO, YOU. NO, YOU. NO, I AM NOT BEING CHILDISH. STOP IRRITATING ME."


2. "Fine order the cookie, but don't expect me to have half of it. I'll just have a bite, you have to finish the rest yourself."

*Five minutes later*

"Oops. I think I ate half the cookie. How did that happen?"

(I didn't know either.)


3. "Fine, if I nag you so much, I'm not talking to you. Nope, I'm not going to say a word.

*Ten minutes later*

"Baby, I don't want to go away. I'm going to miss you. Huh? When did I say I wouldn't talk to you?  I don't remember that. Babyyyyy....."


4. "I think it's time to close a door on that relationship."
     *Five minutes later*
    "If you want, I'll buy you a ticket next year so you can go to him and fix things."
     
(This swinging stance went on for a while. She was more confused about the aforementioned relationship than I was. But I'm happy to report that I talked her through it and she's in a better place now.)


5.
"It's important never to judge a book by its cover."

*A little later*

"Eesh. Why is that woman so FAT?"


6.
"You know I've gotten better looking as I've grown older. And I think that's going to happen to you too. So when things are bad, baby, and you need a reason to keep going, just remember that you're going to improve with age. Doesn't that make being alive more comforting?"

(It sort of does.)


7.
"Don't drink, baby. You're not supposed to drink anymore. Stick to soda, okay?"

I come home, alcohol free. She's leaping around with a glass of wine.

"I think I'm drunk. Tee hee."





But the weird thing is I miss her already and I miss her everyday.
Well, okay. Most days.




     




16.6.14

Days like this.

There's nothing I enjoy more than having existential crises and feeling that life is futile and locking myself up at home, chain smoking and feeling sorry for myself. But on a day like this...on a day like this, I wake up in the morning and feel sparkling, glad just to be alive. Light filters in through my window, littering my room with promises. On the walk to work, I notice things. The sharp outline of leaves on trees against a fresh sky, the intensity of their greenness. The scent of mangoes and of wood from the dilapidated carts they're piled up on. Stray thoughts of people I love; there are so many people I love.Catching a glimpse of my reflection on a shop window and feeling rather pretty. And some sort of elusive, tantalising feeling that I'm at one with the earth. That it knows who I am, although I don't. That it knows who I'm going to be. And because it knows, I don't have to worry, I don't have to be anxious, I can just let things unfold with time. Sometimes I'll float with the tide, sometimes I'll swim for the goal. I spend a lot of my time feeling as though I'm fighting a battle against life, but on days like this, on days like this, we agree to a truce. Or perhaps, I'm hit by the realisation that we're fighting on the same side.

Until tomorrow anyway.




P.S. And, on top of everything else, this just arrived from PM and my dad. Ah, days like this.


9.6.14

Update.

I've been wanting to write for a long time, but I have nothing to write about. Actually I do, but not stuff I want people to read.

Anyway, just to keep this blog going.

Last week, on my way to the gym, I noticed my shoelace was coming undone. I trip a lot even when they're tied properly, so I didn't want to take a chance. I bent down and was busy tying it. (It takes a lot of concentration for me to perform even ostensibly simple activities like this.)

I felt something warm on my cheek, something warm that didn't smell too pleasant. I looked up. A cow was standing next to me. Sniffing me.

That's pretty much the most exciting thing that's happened to me the past two weeks.

Just keeping you posted. 

12.5.14

Some call it the black dog.
A big, black, shaggy haired dog,
That sits on your chest,
Pinning you down,
Until you can't breathe.

That's the usual analogy.

I don't see it as a dog.
More like a hole.
A bottomless pit,
Devoid of beauty,
Of life, of hope.

And though you're falling,
You travel nowhere.
No new doors are opened.
No oceans are crossed.
The horizon is dead.
Strangled.
You move like a slug.
You feel like a slug.
You arrive nowhere.
You learn nothing.


(When I fall in love though,
  That's a bottomless hole too.
  And everyday I fall a little more.
  But who wouldn't want to fall,
  Into beauty and hope?

  Into life?)




22.4.14

A boy, ten years old. Lean, hungry, torn. Kicks a puppy, hard, so hard, repeatedly kicks it, kicks it repeatedly. He hears bone break, such a satisfying sound, a sound that fills, a sound that completes. A crack, a crunch. Like inhaling wine, he drinks in its high pitched protests, its whimpers. Drunk now, he is, on twisted power.
(Later, he meets his friends for a game of football. While the puppy lies mangled in the gutter. It will never feel the wind brushing its nose again).

Lurking outside a dimly lit bar, a middle aged man waits and watches. His eyes invade long legs going through the door. His fingers - they itch to know the smooth expanses of dusky, velvet skin his eyes already know. He bides his time, waiting for a pair of legs to stagger down a dark, empty alley. Helpless legs, beautiful legs. Legs that his thin, veined hands will conquer.
(He has a wife at home whom he has not touched. Not touched for two years. She still loves him).

A young girl walks down a lane. It's hot, so hot, as if a thousand suns, and not just one, are beating down on her head. A nondescript man steps out of a nondescript car. His pants, stonewashed in all the wrong places, are unzipped. A purple penis throbs in his hands. She averts her eyes. She runs.
(By the way, this is the first time she's seen a penis.)

An old man lies on a dusty street in Delhi. He's dead. Very dead. Once, he was not. He was young, he was alive. And people pass his decaying, damaged corpse. They screw up their faces in disgust. And why wouldn't they - that's what he is now, a thing. A disgusting, very disgusting, vomit inducing thing.
(He was a kind man, though. When his mother lay dying, he'd spend hours with her head in his lap, massaging her head, and loving her.)

In a small courtyard, grey stoned and peaceful, a small courtyard that smells of rain - there is a flower in a pot. A small flower, a pink flower. Unabashedly, unashamedly sweet. A security guard, in a starched uniform, carefully fills a plastic bottle with water. Tap water. He pours it over the flower. For no other reason than this: he likes flowers. They answer a wordless yearning in his soul. If he has a soul.
(And you, sitting on a stone cold, grey slabbed bench nearby, you, you'd swear, that you're not crazy, that you really did see that damn flower dancing.)




16.4.14

"Just Another Stupid Thing Trisha Did."

I know I've been supposed to talk about Nandi Hills, but I went through this horrible time where I had to fight this huge metaphorical war and I couldn't write, I couldn't write at all, and now I don't feel like writing about Nandi Hills. But I will sort of sum it up: We got there, it was painfully beautiful, watching the sun rise over that thick mist-wall, but it was spoiled by all the people around, it's the sort of place that needs solitude, not cameras. We sat on this slab of rock, and smoked a joint, and then lay down in the sun, and I took a little nap. And then we biked back to the city, and this was even more fantastic than the ride to Nandi Hills, because the sun was out, but the wind was cold, and everything was glittering.

And then we had dosa breakfast and went home and slept. And it wasn't even noon.

Anyway, to get back to that stupid thing I did. Last week, I had to visit this clinic. Just as I was entering, I tripped (naturally) and my sandal broke. Plus I was loaded with two huge bags because I've been a vagabond lately, flitting among various people's houses. So I was very flustered, and I paid for my appointment by card, and later that day, I got a call from them saying that I'd left my card behind. And my headphones which are actually my friend Harshita's headphones (very big, very expensive and very awesome).

"Alright," I said to the disapproving man at the other end of the line, "thanks for telling me. I'll swing by in a bit and pick it up."

Now this clinic is pretty close to office. Both places are just off 100 Ft Road in Indiranagar. About twenty minutes apart on foot. Since coming to Bangalore, I've been walking around everywhere quite a lot (which is why I can eat cake and not get fat - ha!), but it's very hot right now, and the sun was shining particularly brightly that day, so I didn't feel like it. But I didn't want to take an auto either because autos are bitches and I didn't want to shell out 80 bucks for a 5 minute rickshaw ride.

I was telling my colleague PK this, and he said, "Why don't you take my car?"

Not a bad suggestion. I've driven his car before. If a slow afternoon is happening at work, we usually pick up a couple of beers and then drink in  the car. I've often driven it to the next lane. I'm not a very good driver - mainly due to lack of practice - but I reckoned going straight down 100 Ft Road wouldn't be a problem.

So I cheerfully took his keys and started the engine. I accidentally reversed instead of moving to first gear which should have been my first warning, but I ignored it and took off, carefree and lighthearted. Disaster, however, was close (it always is, it follows me around, like birds do) - only a couple of minutes away.

I turned out of my office lane and got onto the main road. I was going really slowly - I'm incapable of driving fast - and was still on second gear when a car zoomed past me on the right. I had to swerve to avoid it, and I did, and went bang into an auto.

Oh god, the hell that followed.

I was surrounded by four or five autowallahs in an instant (the bitch car had taken off) and they were shouting at me, so I shouted back trying to explain that it wasn't my fault, but they kept shouting and I heard the dreaded 'police station' and once again, I shouted some more, and they shouted back, and this went on for a few minutes, and more people came and I decided to follow Bitch Car's example, and I just took off.

My heart was pounding, my hands were shaking, I took a left to the lane where the clinic stands, but didn't stop, because I had a feeling I was being followed. And I was. The autowallah caught up to me and I pulled over.

"FIVE THOUSAND RUPEES!" He was shouting.

"FOR WHAT?" I yelled back.

"AUTO, LOOK MADAM, LOOK WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO MY AUTO!"

I looked. Couldn't see anything.

"WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?"

"Dent on back, gone in."

"It wasn't my fault, I slammed on the brakes in time, didn't you see that car, I probably saved your life. If I hadn't hit the brake, you'd probably be dead." This part wasn't true of course, but I hoped it would soften him.

It did not.

"Police Station or five thousand rupees."

"I DON'T HAVE FIVE THOUSAND RUPEES." (And seriously, I don't. The autowallah's monthly income is probably a lot higher than mine). "And," I added, "There's no way that dent will cost 5000 rupees to fix."

And then I offered to give him my number and address and told him to bring me an invoice for damages and he insisted that repair shops don't do invoices. By this time I'd called PK and another colleague, Saikat, who will be known as The Lunatic on this blog, and they were on their way.

"YOU WERE SPEEDING, MADAM." Said he.

"SPEEDING? HOW CAN I SPEED? I WAS TRYING TO RUN AWAY FROM YOU AND YOU STILL CAUGHT ME AND I'M DRIVING A CAR? DO YOU THINK I KNOW HOW TO SPEED?"

This threw him for a bit, and while he was digesting it, I moved in for the kill.

"I'VE OFFERED TO PAY FOR YOUR DAMAGES BUT I INSIST ON SEEING AN INVOICE. YOU ARE TRYING TO EXPLOIT ME BECAUSE I AM A WOMAN."

"MADAM. BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH."

"STOP SHOUTING AT ME! WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING AT ME?"

"No, no, madam. Not shouting." Instant change in tone.

"THEN WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?"

"No problem, Madam, no problem. Five thousand rupees, no problem."

"EXPLOITATION!"

"Madam..."

By this time, I was feeling a lot more confident and I stepped out of the car. The poor autowallah on the other hand, had put a fair amount of distance between us. PK and The Lunatic drove up on a bike just then, and the look of relief on his face was hilarious.

Many words were exchanged, with the autowallah apparently assuring them that he wasn't exploiting Madam. "I am an honest man. Always, I go by the meter."

The honest man was finally content with taking a grand and drove off without a backward glance.

But I'd broken the bumper on PK's car. He drove me back to office (with The Lunatic following behind) and I apologized profusely. Over and over again. PK was very nice about it, he must have been raging inside, he must have been like, damn this fffing girl. But to me, he said, "These things happen."

I needed to pay him for the damages which came to eight thousand, and for this, I had no choice - I had to call my mother.

I don't even want to begin to describe the conversation that occurred. Let me just say it was far from pleasant. Very, very, very, very far. But to cut a long story short, she sent PK the money, and she's deducting it from my rent. Also, the next day, she sent me a two page long e-mail that I also don't want to think about.

I know I should draw some sort of life lesson from this, but I can't think of one. Except - never borrow another person's car.

Unless you know how to drive really really fast.





8.4.14

This too shall pass, this too shall pass, this too shall pass, this too shall pass.


4.3.14

My first ever full page press ad.

Whether it's actually good or not (and I can't be objective about this obviously), may I just say - HELL YEAH!


21.2.14

I want to go to Delhi again just to hear him live.

18.2.14

Nandi Hills: Part I.

Friday night, sometime in January, at Peco's.

22.00 hours. I am sitting with a bunch of my brother's friends - actually they're my friends now and I'm going to stop referring to them as my brother's, that's right, MY friends. Bwahaha.

Getting back to the point.

I am sitting with them drinking beer. But no one is mindbogglingly drunk on account of how we're not teenagers anymore.

(A/N: I started writing this before Friday night's disaster.)

But we're all pleasantly tipsy, pleasantly amused, pleasantly, er, pleasant. Anyway, at some point, someone has the bright idea of driving to Nandi Hills first thing in the morning to catch the sunrise.

"Nandi Hills!" Everyone roars in agreement as we stagger out of Peco's. Okay, fine, maybe we didn't roar in unison. But we could have.

00.00 hours. We go back to Leo's house and chill there. There is myself, there is Leo, there is Yamini - together they are Leo-Yamini - there is the Undoable One, there is Hitesh, there is Shloke, there is Shloke's friend Mickey - who is now our friend Mickey. Everyone is stoned.

2.00 hours. Hitesh goes home with Shloke and Mickey, promising valiantly to come with us to Nandi Hills though he has work the next day at noon. Shloke and Mickey make no promises. They have work - before noon - and intend to sleep.

2.15 hours. Leo, Yamini, U.O. and I keep smoking. Man, we keep smoking.

2.35 hours. We pass out. Just before passing out, I observe to U.O. that I highly doubt everyone's ability to wake up at 4 am and drive to Nandi Hills.

"I will go," proclaims U.O. "I've made up my mind and when I make up my mind, man, I make up my mind."

I don't bother replying. I give U.O. a Look (completely wasted on him) and go to sleep.

4.00 hours. U.O. is up and insists on waking the rest of us up particularly obnoxiously. This includes a constant, loud refrain of "Wake up, wake up, WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP!" and an unnecessary banging of doors.

4.10 hours. U.O. and Leo have an intense discussion about their bikes. U.O. has no papers. Leo has no license. Leo has no papers either, come to think of it, but he has a photo of them on his phone.

"Do you think that will be enough?" Leo asks anxiously.

No, Leo, it probably won't.

Now the thing about Nandi Hills, according to U.O., is that it's shut between 6 am and 6 pm. And by six, you have cops and check posts and things. The reason for this is that it was a favourite place for couples to make love among the trees or bushes or whatever, and a lot of people objected to this. But we decide to drive there anyway and give it a shot (getting access to Nandi Hills, that is, not making spectacular love on a bed of grass).

4.30 hours. U.O. and I go back to his place to pick up some stuff. We agree to meet Leo and Yamini by the Domlur flyover. Hitesh will meet us there too.

4.45 hours. U.O. and I meet up with Hitesh. No sign of Leo and Yamini.

5.00 hours. Still no sign of Leo and Yamini.

5.10 hours. Still no sign of Leo and Yamini and no one has cigarettes. Tempers are getting frayed.

5.15 hours. A bike passes. Is it Leo and Yamini? No, it isn't.

5.30 hours. "I'm going," says U.O. "If they don't come, I'm going, I'm going alone." One expects to hear a lone wolf type howl, but sadly, one doesn't.

5.35 hours. Leo and Yamini! U.O. not required to travel alone like the lone wolf he sees himself as.

5.45 hours. And we're off! Yamini on the back of Leo's bike, myself riding pillion on U.O.'s and Hitesh flying solo, a free pigeon.

So the thing about U.O.'s bike - he has a bullet, like my brother - is that he has no goddamn backseat. Since it was going to be a long ride, we tied a little pillow over where the backseat was supposed to be and fastened it with rope. That is what I sat on - for two hours. Did I complain? No, I didn't.

And boy, did I have stuff to complain about.

It was cold, so cold, I didn't realize it would be so cold, and my ears were freezing. I borrowed a thin scarf off U.O., but it was woollen with big holes so that didn't really help. But you know, I was trying desperately to be cool and not-fussy, so I didn't complain. Just shivered. And to make matters worse, U.O. doesn't have indicators, so I was forced to be his indicator.

I have felt ridiculous many times in my life, but sitting on a pillow on the back of a bike, with a scarf wrapped around my head, sticking my arm out and waving it around when it instructed to, is definitely up there in the top ten twenty.

6.15 hours. We stop for tea and cigarettes. Yamini ties my scarf more securely around my head.

7.10 hours. We reach the road that leads to Nandi Hills. It's surrounded by vineyards. The sun is up, a very gentle, peaceful sort of sun, like all early morning suns are, and the road is ahead and I'm surrounded by green on either side and the air is fresh and cold and wonderful.

Also, U.O. is a very good rider. To be travelling on a bike at a very high speed, but at the same time feeling completely safe and secure, is a delicious feeling. I strongly recommend it.

I receive my first glimpse of Nandi Hills. U.O. has already described it for me, but - ohmygod.

Imagine a road curving lazily at the feet of hills. Imagine that on your left, you see a sea of green, interrupted by clusters of huts, people starting their day, lazy cows, frolicking goats, and - for some inexplicable reason - grapes being sold every ten feet.

Oh right, that would be because of the vineyards.

But to your right now, imagine seeing a mass of hill rising, clothed in thick green foliage, with a vast wall of mist - as thick as cloud - guarding it. It's the sort of scene that can't have changed much over the years, the decades, the centuries. You feel that that mountain was always there, the wall-mist was always there, it was all, all, all, always there.


7.45 hours. We start making our way up the hill. The check post is unattended. We encounter morning walkers, morning joggers, and morning selfie-takers as we move up. There are quite a lot of people around. We reach the summit where we park the bikes, and then we do what will be documented in Part 2.