Commute

I am happy, committed, loved, content. Yet something stirs in me when I leave the train.

The train, full to its maximum capacity, struggling to make its way through the hustle of the day, works hard like some people I know. It’s a no-sleep life. Extra load on top, people hanging on the sides for their dear life, men spitting everywhere – the train starts with a grumble, and leaves without another look. People sit inside mindlessly. It’s just another day of the same old stuff: my hour-long commute, seeing strangers again, tolerating the stuffiness and stench, hearing some personal stories and unnecessarily loud drama, getting off to another platform. No turning back. There’s no time for that. We have to move, push, shove into the next phase, the next scene. It’s chop-chop in here; there’s no time to stop.

My POV:

I stand there, my world slowing down to one heartbeat. I feel like a fish in a desert. Am I the only one? I look around fast and new people have already rushed to replace me. Doors shut with a slam and that kind woman whose baby I adored will soon forget my face. With pleasure, I existed for 40 minutes – made love to that space of vibrant life, lived those stories I saw and yet once I stepped away, I am alone in this station. The train has filled me with a void of hopelessness and cold winds slap me as it pulls away and leave me here. I stare in disbelief. Sometimes I think: I left my heart in that train, I wanted to make them family and promise to be home again but unfortunately I’m left with nothing. At the end of the ride, I’m “just another stranger”. Humanity has closed its doors on me and moved on, stranger.

I wish that every time I saw the train leave, I didn’t feel betrayed. But I always look at it, shocked. How can you be so alien when once I was so intimate with your beauty? I feel small in this large world of mindless connections. I wasn’t made for this. I never will be.

~~~

Ah! It’s so nice to have written something again!

For the past few months, every time I started writing, I couldn’t stay with my emotion and finish the piece. This was really bothering me but hopefully now I’m back on track. See you soon!

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Red flowers outside my window

Flowers on concrete,

in concrete, in intangible quantities

in my heart- they fill my hollow

with colour like never before.

In situations that cut me open,

they run to get stitches

again and again:

loyalty that I wonder how I deserve.

And sometimes they lose me in crowds of

unknown faces at every turn

but in the break

between two rocks at a faraway beach,

away from reality, I’ll find them

blossoming between my broken heart.

again.

 

My hairstylist.

🎶

I look at her beauty,

Not just simply her body:

I see the attitude on her lips,

A fullness in that pink;

The risk in her hair,

A dash of electric blue;

The bold on her eyes-

More than a look, really:

The daunting played by black coal.

I see through the facade now

 

I see her past-

Rotting away in a cage of misery,

Sickening in the mirage of beauty

 

How could she have allowed herself to live thus?

How could she have let situations kill her?

 

I see her beauty in that resolve

And for the hundredth time,

I appreciate it,

I beautify it,

I love it.
And I hope for more of it.

To chances in life

Here I am,
Red lipstick; fun earrings
And there he is,
A question mark.

Will it go as planned?
Is this what I had expected it to be?

Or am I to be deceived?

 

The conversations of yesterday determined my today,

But my today determines my tomorrow!

I really hope I’m not deceived,

Yet, difficulties find myself secretly hoping I am.

 

This tragedy and comedy of hope and betrayal is life long,

I perceive with a sigh,

But it’s beautiful.

 

It’s beautiful because

People are always deceptive but situations are intelligent

They give you different kinds of learning;

They teach you to love the wait,

Hope for the best,

And be glad situations outsmarted your quirky

little

imagination.

The Crying Baby’s Wail

So I took up The Great Indian Poetry Challenge and wrote a poem in one hour on ‘loud sounds’ (randomly picked topic). Here is my piece in word and video!

I enter the bazaar,
An image of confusion,
Bodies touching like
It’s no one’s business.
Hands clutching purses
For fear of witness.
And to top it all,
That one baby wailing
In Satan’s truest form.

Absolutely resolute in it’s desire to annoy, the baby left me…grateful.
Let me explain.

Before it’s cry, I had only heard
The dukaandar‘s yelling,
The cafe blaring,
And the men daring
In their attempt to *impress*,
So they say.

I had only heard
The busy butchers,
The screams for divine interference
The hagglings for notes of worth,
Again and again and again.
I had only heard the tired tinkling of bells,
The casual defeat in “Yeah, oh well…”s

Then I heard the baby in all its annoying worth.
Surprisingly, it brought me to other things.

I noticed little boys objectify,
Little girls pacify,
And fervently-
Like they’d grasped their roles in this clumsy world.
I heard elders dominate
And sadhus recreate
For they thought they could
Fake their way through innocence.

I heard impatient sirens of help
From this chaotic place
That just seemed capable of a yelp.
I heard the same loud murmurs of
Cowards and hollow individuals,
And those who long since needed to be dethroned.

I heard it all in this small bazaar and all that it could be expressed in,
Metaphorically,
Was a crying baby’s wail-baar baar.

Here is the video!

Beauty and rains

Beauty.

Beauty of the mind,

Of the soul,

Of nature,

And of the little things

Your touch, one kind gesture,

A warm smile,a heartfelt apology.

 

This beauty-so real in every second, every moment, every ounce of the air we breathe-captivates me.

It urges me to be alive.

Away from the aspects of life that make me close my eyes, I’m grateful to be alive.

 

Eyes open, senses heightened, woes are forgotten and the rest of life seems assured.

And the feeling that comes with experiencing first rains is unimaginable

It is beyond the ‘I feel at peace’

It is beyond expressions and mere amateur words.

If is like the birth of a baby, the realization of

A first success or the turn of a century.

It’s the pride in being,

In living and feeling.

It’s the caramel-enveloping sound of symphonies.

It’s so much and more

Yet, it’s  nothing simpler than the most intimate thing- LIFE.

beautiful-Rain-Photography

My First Day On The Metro.

CHAPTER ONE: My First Day On The Metro.
For the next chapter, see CHAPTER TWO: Over-ripe, Under-ripe Students.

My first day on the metro. I walked into the compartment with my sister, sat on the spot-free morning seat and looked around. Sophisticated and simple women sat shoulder to shoulder looking high and mighty in their silence. All back to the Monday grind. Sigh, still a few more of these internships, the end of college and I’d be in their place. Hopefully the big window with its fleeting scenery would save me from routine. Full and luscious green trees stood before me each for just a millisecond – looking worse than a few years ago, I’m presuming, but still beautiful.
My sister had a don’t-talk-to-me-before-10am-rule and in my own world of mellow morning music, I thought about what was going to become a unique memory for the future-my first time meeting children from the Nirankari slum. It was the first day of our teaching internship with Save The Children that day and I was anxious about meeting the little ones. They were not more than 14 and so sadly distant from us in their underprivileged lives. Still, here we were, going to teach them something that would link us forever.
Ananya and I got off the metro and took a bus to Shivaji Nagar. The bus journey was hot and uncomfortable but that was just another thing we got used to, by the end. At Shivaji Nagar, an office help was sent to direct us towards the work area in the Muslim-dominated project location. (I learnt later-to my delight-that Kondiba Bhaiya was considered as no less than the other members of the office).
The slum was just surrounding the dumping grounds of the city of Mumbai and there was an immediate stench when we walked into the interiors of the rural-urban setting. I took in the stench as any other local there but I was very conscious of the fact that I was a stranger. Apart from being a resident of a suburban area, something that separated me from Mankud was that I was a different-looking woman in a clean, hygienic state. And that received some cheeky looks and scrutiny.
I walked on the unpaved road amidst locals going for their afternoon namaaz and entered our work area for the next 30 days-a large, blue bus with pull-down tables and a  clean whiteboard.  The children were young, scruffy, eager, talkative and wearing what seemed like yesterday’s clothes.
The first struggle in teaching, I realised, was the difference in language. I was shocked at our lack of complete fluency in Hindi but the teachers at Save The Children helped us out with a few translations here and there. We taught the children the basic education we had taken for granted in our primary schooling and helped them with Math and English specifically.
In our later-afternoon session, we recieved a larger audience of students who had been freed of household chores and afternoon namaaz. I was personally surprised about their ignorance about certain fundamental matters and amazed at their child-like curiosity. Ananya and I asked personal questions to the students in an effort to show that we cared about each one of them.
The day ended with a little staff-room chatter in our bus and a reflection on the huge difference between this life and the life back at home. 29 days to go.

~~~

This is the first post in a series of posts regarding my experiences teaching young children at a difficult slum in Mumbai last year. The experience is close to my heart and I hope you can live it early as well as I did.

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metro