Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Silence...

This is to say that even though I have not posted in a while, I am still working on this blog. It's just that a lot of things have happened, and I have not had the time to give much thought to my blog. I am almost finished with a story and I will post as soon as possible.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

...Blank

If you are wondering why I am taking so long to post, let me explain. I am going through what I like to call a 'temporary creativity lapse'. I am sorry to to say that the creative juices are harder to squeeze out than normal. So, bare with me until this... lapse, passes. And then enjoy the literature!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bad Weather

Afternoon-
Rumble. There it goes again. the clouds were preparing for quit a show, and had been floating above the city for a while now.
"Take an umbrella with you, it looks like it might rain."
"Yes, mum"
"And don't take too long hanging around, I want you back by three, okay?
"Yes, mum"
I know she meant well, but it does get a bit annoying, after all, I am seventeen years old. I went to my room to get my stuff, which consisted of my prospectus, wrapped in a plastic bag, my wallet, a note book and a pen. All dumped in my backpack. "I'm going with Arun" I said as I left the house, "I don't want to take the bus." My mother smiled as she said "That's nice of him, I hope it's not too much trouble." "Don't worry mum! We'll be fine." Julius was lazing on the floor of the kitchen. "Yeah, see you too," he just cocked an ear. I turned to leave and then mum said, "look! You forgot your umbrella!" Oops. "Here, and I hope you haven't forgotten anything else." I took the umbrella saying, "thanks to you I haven't." And with a final smile, I was off.
I walked over to a small shop by the main road. Sitting at the counter was a middle aged man, with graying hair. He smiled and said, "Arun said you would be coming, have a seat." He said, motioning to a stool by the counter. "He should be ready soon." I sat down, hoping that I wouldn't have to wait too long. "How's the match going?" I said, trying to start a conversation with Arun's father. He grimaced "Cricket? I don't watch that stuff any more, not for a long time." I really did not know what else to say, how's business these days? Not likely. A few minutes of silence later, Arun finally came out of the back room. "Hey Raj, sorry I'm a bit late, had to finish some stuff that came up. " He was a lanky college student who, since he had a bike, sometimes helped me with my transportation. I guess he gets bored, why else would he ferry me around? "Maybe you could give me a warning next time?" He just smirked it of, don't ask my how. "C'mon, aren't you late?" I got up to leave. Thanks to you I am. Arun drove a semi sports bike, or at least that's what he says. It was a bright red... thing. I'm not the kind of guy who sticks posters of bikes on his bedroom wall, or goes through car or bike magazines. Not me. "So, ready for a ride in the rain?" Arun called to me. "What? Rain?" I looked up at the sky, boy, it does look like it might rain. "Yeah, can't you smell it?" Arun said as he started the bike. "I never get a rain prediction wrong." "then go join the weather channel, you'll make a killing." I muttered as I got on the bike.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Bad Weather

Morning-
'Raju! Wake up! Or you won't get any breakfast.' What? morning so soon? I looked over to the clock on my bed, 7:56. It really is late. "Last warning! Out now or I'll give your food to Julius! The warning was well heard, and I crawled out of bed. Julius was not going to get my breakfast again. I got dressed as fast as I could and hurried to the kitchen, where a plate of scrambled eggs was waiting for me. 'Not this time, Julius.' I said to a black rottweiler sitting by the counter. 'You know, I shouldn't have to resort to threatening you with Julius to get you out of bed.' Said my mom, the only other person living in our little apartment. 'Yes, I know, but I didn't get much sleep last night.' I said through mouth fulls of egg.
'Another dream?'
'Yes'
'About the exam?'
'Yes'
'Well, we're going to get you signed up today, then you can really start worrying about it.'Funny how mothers seem to be able to read your mind.
'I still need to get some stuff for the documents.'
'Very well, do it on the way to the office'
After breakfast, I took a ride on an old blueline to the city. My stop was at a large building, signboards filled the spaces over glass walls, jewelers, travel agents, electronics, clothing, photo studios. Photo studios, thats where I was headed. The studio wasn't much, just a small front room, full of film rolls, cheap disposable cameras, and there was a board full of sample photos for passports, weddings, stuff like that. there was T.V in one corner, and the shopkeeper was watching a cricket match. 'Kya chaiay ?' What do you want. He asked me, still watching the T.V. 'Ek photocopy, aur ek passport size ka photo'
'Thik hai, undher jao,' ok, go inside. I'll just translate everything else into English for now. I walked into a small room with one wall covered by a blue cloth. There was a professional looking camera on a stand, and in front of it was a wooden stool.
'Sit there,' said the shopkeeper, pointing at the stool. 'Ok, now, sit straight, no smile.' Click, flash. The sudden light from the flash blinded me for a few seconds, 'do you want another one?' I shook my head, 'no, one is enough.'
'Ok, sit out side, and I will get your photocopy also.' A minute later, the shopkeeper came out of back room with my photocopy. 'Here, that will be fifteen rupees,' 'how have they been doing?' I asked as fished out the money from my pocket. 'Who? India? No, the match is not going well, were five wickets down, and we need about one hundred and twenty more runs'
'They still have some hope, Dhoni is batting' I paid him the money, and left the store. The rumble of thunder greeted me, I looked up at the sky, those clouds weren't there before, looks like rain.

to be continued...

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Man By The Road

Noise filled the air, of every kind and at all levels. The high squeals of auto rickshaw horns. The heavy rumble of bus engines, long past their prime. Voices of people crowded any place they could. Dogs barked at a couple cows that wandered a little too close. the cries of crows filled the air, their shrieking voices able to drive a person mad. Foot steps pattered on the side walk, on the road. Noise filled the air.
The faint rattle of metal on metal, no one noticed. Again, the sound came, and again, it went unheard. Lost in the chaos of the street. Or so we thought. One was there who noticed. "Here you go, and don't waste it," plink, slight sound of a falling metal. A rough rasping voice came, "No. ma'am, that is exactly what I will not do," the sound was rough, weathered with time. But the words were smooth, perfectly pronounced. "..." Silence, this was not something to expect. "I... Why is that so?" Again came that rough, aged sound. " If it was not, would you still help me?" "Yes, I would, because I will have given you the chance to change, to start afresh." A loud, rumbling, rattling, noise filled the air as a driver pulled his bus over to the side. And the shouts of the conductor, loud and clear. "Yes, that is a good reason, though I am forgetting our real conversation. My mission, to leave the streets." The shuffle of cloth, the patter of feet. And all of a sudden, there was no separation, no rift, between the two. "Tell me, about this mission, how will you leave the streets?" Plink, came the sound, once again from a passer by. "With this," rattle, came the sound out of the tin. "I have enough now, to pay my debts, and to free myself from the man keeps me here." This was no normal story, not something you hear out of your ordinary man by the road. "I... did not know that your situation was so... different." The traffic. The noise, of the buses, the cries of the shopkeepers, the fall of feet. All this noise, and above it all, came a sound that is rarely heard. "Ha ha ha!" Laughter. From the rough, harsh voice. A laugh that came from the very depth of him. A laughter that had not come forth in many years. "Yes, it is not." When he had finally recovered. "It is good, that I was able to shere my story with you, all these years, I have been foreced to keep my thoughts to my self" "Well, then I am glad that I was able to help." Again, the shuffle of cloth, and the rift was recreated. "I hope that your mission is fulfilled, and that you will see better days."
The sound of feet on the ground, of cars, of men and women, of the animals. The sound of the street, and those who share its life.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Waiting for the bus: back again

Part III

Getting of a bus is in many was as hard as it is to get on. The bus was only half full, so it was not going to be as hard as it could be. Through the scramble that followed, I lost track of the Girl and the Big Man. As soon as I set foot on the ground I started to look around for a return trip. There was a bus on the other side of the road that was going back towards the city. Crossing the road can be a particularly hazardous thing to do in most places. But here in India the risks are increased by a fair bit I won't go in the details now, But it involves a lot more than cars, bikes and other man made machines. So, dodging through the myriad of obstacles, I mad it to the bus that was just about to leave. As I neared the rear door it really did start to leave. Taking a few quick strides, and with a last heave, I managed to get on. Taking seat near the rear end of the bus, I waited for my stop. I guess this is a good time for me to introduce myself. My name is Aman Kumar, just another college first year trying to get through life. I'm not from Jaipur originally, though.
I still cant believe how I got myself into this mess. All I wanted was to get a model car for my friend, now it turns into a sort of a treasure hunt, with everyone cheating against me.
The Conductor called out my station, and I got up from my seat and pushed through to the door. Once of the the buss I crossed the street and turned into the lane where the shop was. Prem Collectors looked just like any other shop that you'll find on a by lane in India. Shabby at best, with no real limit to worst, these shops rarely have much to offer. Prem Collectors was an exception. For long Mr Prem and his sons have been known to offer rare and expensive, er... stuff. I can't tell you exactly what they sell, partly because I don't even know all that he sells. And partly because most of it is not exactly legal. For example, I didn't ask him where exactly he got the car model, though I doubt it was from a authorized dealers. Other things include antique jewelry, old books, stuff like that. The shops front window showed some coins, stamps, and cheap jewelry, none of it worth much. A sign on the door showed that the shop was open. Pushing open the door, I was suddenly in another world. The air had that distinct old smell, the walls were covered with shelves. And the shelves were full of all the old stuff you could imagine. There were tables displaying jewelry, coins, paintings, statues, the list goes on. Just think of anything that might be old, valuable, and Indian, Mr Prem probably has it.
"Ah! Kumar, I thought you would come back!" A loud voice called out from somewhere in the shop. Then from behind a stack of boxes stepped a plump elderly man, his face dominated by a large mustache. I was looking at the boxes though, they looked like they came from somewhere out of India. "Yes, they came in just now, from Pakistan." Said Mr Prem, reading my thoughts. "Really? What are they?" "Oh, just some old statues and stuff like that." Mr Prem deflected my question easily. "Oh, well, I left my car behind, is it still here?" Mr Prems, face became serious, "There was a man who came by just a little while ago, he offered a lot more than the price I asked of you." My heart sunk, I had tried so hard to get that model, and now it was gone. Seeing my dejected look, Mr Prem smiled said, "Don't look so sad, I didn't say I sold it!" I was so surprised, for a moment I just stared at him with for a moment. "That man didn't look very happy when I refused to sell it, come, I kept it over there on the counter." Mr Prem walked over to a counter piled high with documents, files, little pieces of paper scrawled all over. He pulled out a drawer, shuffled around for my car, then pulled out my white plastic bag, with my model Muira still safe in it's box. "Here it is" he said. I walked over and took the plastic bag from him, holding it as if it would disappear. "Thank you, I wasn't sure if I would see it again." Mr Prem smiled, "I knew you would come back. And by the way, why do you want it so much? I haven't seen many with such determination for a model car" "It's for a friend, a birthday gift." I smiled, and I knew I would not loose it again. It was a short walk back to the main road, across the street, and to the bus stand. Another bus ride, and I hope it will be the last of the day.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Waiting for the bus: The ride

Part II


Through the traffic I watched the bus. Trying to see how many people were in it. Now, I would have got on the bus even if I had to hang out the door, but it's always good to see what your in for. My bus seemed to be having some sort of trouble with a little car that had just come out of a lane, but it was blocked by the traffic on the other side of the road. The bus driver honked his horn a bit, then stuck his head out his window and started screaming at the driver of the car. who in reply started shouting at the the bus driver. Eventually there was an opening and the car made way. The bus driver passed the car, leaving a few stinging remarks about the other drivers absolute lack of driving skill. I saw now that it was only about half full.
"here's the bus" I said to the man and the girl as it pulled up. My current state was not one so that I could fight for a seat, so I didn't really bother to hurry in. But I was an exception. The big man was one of the first in, I was one of the last. I couldn't see where the girl was. On the Inside, the bus was not much different. The paint was faded, peeling, with the scribbles of bored passengers all over. Seats that once might have been comfortable were worn down to the wood. In general, it was what you would find anywhere in India. I scanned the seats to see if there was any space to sit, but saw none.
Then, looking at the seat on my right, I got a bit of a shock. The girl had managed to get herself a window seat. Think about it. Me, a seasoned traveler of buses, trains, and many other forms of transport, is usurped by a first timer, and that too a girl. I tried to console myself, well I'm tired, and wasn't really trying to get a seat. But my competitive nature was just too much to let it lie. Steading myself as the bus started of, I couldn't help but ask, "So how did you get in so fast?" The girl looked at me and smiled, "I saw that every one was getting on from the front door, so I just hoped from the back." Now why didn't I think of that? "Oh, well" was all I could manage. The conductor was going from passenger to passenger, perfectly balanced, one hand full of notes and tickets. At his hip hung a small pouch, which I knew held all the change.
"how much does it cost to go to the train station?" asked the girl.
"It'll cost about six rupees." I replied as I tried to get my wallet out of my pocket. You might be thinking, how difficult can it be to get a wallet out of your pocket. Well, on a bus that has about as much body roll as some boats, and with the driver seeming like he was trying to throw every one of balance, the way he accelerated and braked with no apparent reason. Anyway, The important bit is coming up. As I tried to get my wallet out of my right hand pocket with my left hand,(my right hand was occupied holding the railing above head) I noticed that what was supposed to be in my right hand was not. And and what was supposed to be in my right hand was a small white plastic bag which was carrying a limited edition model car. It was a Lamborghini Muira. A friend of mines birthday was coming up soon, and, being a bit of a car buff, I thought it would be a good gift for him. Only now I must have left it at the store. The shop keeper would keep it for me, I knew, but there was someone else also wanting to get it, and he would probably be willing to pay a fairly large amount to get the car. I'll explain later, it's a long story. Paying for my trip, I started to move towards the door, as the station was getting close.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Waiting for the bus

Part I

The traffic sped by, spewing out dark clouds of smoke, ad adding to the cites pollution and kicking up the dust bringing gasps and coughs from pedestrians. Crowds of people walked along the side walk and road. And there, at the bus stand I stood, waiting for my bus home. It was midday, not a great time to be stuck out
doors. Especially in the summers of Jaipur. Well there I was, hoping that this misery would end soon. I was not the only one suffering, to my left was a tall, dark man. On his head was a big white turban, and he wore a simple white kurtha and wrapped around his legs was a plain dhoti. Sweat had made the kurtha stick to his body, and his forehead was shiny with perspiration. His face was dominated by those big handlebar mustaches that are so common in Rajasthan.
Then up walked a girl in her late teens. She was wearing a red salwar top with a pair of blue jeans. I could tell instantly that she was fairly well of, and was probably not used to riding a bus. The big man looked at the girl and raised his eye brows. I was not the only one thinking she was out of place. She took out a cell phone from her purse gave me and the man a glare-oops! I pretend not to notice, turning in the opposite direction, looking for the bus.
"What's taking that bus so long?" said the big man.(that's been translated, of course.)
"Who knows? Buses are almost always late." I said.
"So, where are you going?"
"To the train station, I'm here only for some work" He replied.
"Really? I live just five minutes away"
"Well, that means we'll be on the same bus" By now there was a small gathered, waiting for their buses.
The girl had just finished talking on her phone, it had appeared to be a heated conversation. She looked around, then said, "Which bus goes to the train station?. Excuse me?" I only realized that she was talking to me now, and I was a bit tired from standing in the sun. All I could manage was look that was a mix of fatigue and confusion. "Eh?" How can you mess up so badly?
"which bus is going to the train station?" She asked again, why she didn't give up on me I still don't know. "I'm going there too, so just wait for the bus that I will go on." I finally said.
"Thanks" she answered.
Then, coming around the bend, driving like any other respectable bus driver. Which is not very good. I looked at the number displayed on the board above the wind screen, and could just make it out. It was my bus.