Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Playing Columbus the Explorer

Childhood is the best period of a man’s life. Carefree and innocent, the child is still adventurous, exhibiting a quality of curiosity. He is oblivious to the fear of the unknown. In fact the mystery is even more beckoning.

When one grows up on a heavy diet of books, especially the likes of Famous Five and The Secret Seven, this idea takes a stronger form. It is easy to imagine oneself as a young sleuth trying to figure out the thief stealing Das Aunty’s prized dahlias, or as a hero rescuing the baby bulbuli bird abandoned by its mother, and at times the explorer whose curiosity gets better of him and gets him to explore the compound of the abandoned Dutta bari.

Such was my childhood. Growing up in the steel city of Jamshedpur, we were a gang of eight. Though studying in different schools, we had formed a strong friendship which is often brought by the fact of living in the same para. Our games were quite simple, hide and seek, chain-chain, lock and key, and an occasional game of cricket or football. But the real fun lay when we went exploring. Riding our cycle, we felt so free and liberated, we went round the old and familiar roads, the new and not so familiar streets, ringing the cycle bell with excitement, calling each other names, shouting out cautions, and laughing our hearts out.

It was during one such evening, that we found ourselves near Domani. This area was a 15 min ride away from our homes, and marked the meeting point of two rivers, Kharkhai and Subarnarekha. It had been our long unfulfilled dream to cycle to this spot ever since we came here for the Chhat puja celebrations. The river bank ran along for five kilometres and we had to climb down the cemented steps to reach the river. It was a forbidden spot, more so if you were a child and unaccompanied by an elder. But today, there we stood, defying the rule, infused with the spirit of an explorer, breathing in the fresh, musky smell of the river, savouring the sight of a new land! The Dalma hills with its lush green forests lay on the other side, the electric lights of the small hamlets flickered in the evening twilight; we saw people being ferried across the river to their homes; they will be back again on this side in the morning with fresh supply of vegetables and fish. It was a moment, a calm, breath taking moment in life that stayed with all of us forever.

Our moment was interrupted by the screeching sound of a powerful vehicle. A cloud of dust hindered our vision, and once it settled down we were presented with the sight of the new Tata Safari STORME Explorer edition. Our eyes admired the curves of this bevy black beauty, which in every way looked the perfect SUV. We never saw Mohit’s uncle stepping out of the car and the angry look on his face. We were let off by after a tough scolding, but Mohit had it tougher getting his ears boxed in public! Anyways we decided, it was a day well spent, with the river bank finally conquered, we felt victorious. Thank goodness for childhood and the madness it brought with it.:)

This post is an entry for the #I am Explorer contest for Indiblogger.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Monsoon Memories

The rains are finally here! Thanks to the low depression created near the coastal Andhra, Chennai has been experiencing continuous rainfall over this weekend. A fresh, washed smell lingered in the air. The city welcomed me with the sight of overcast skies with roads washed out, mud splattered on the lanes, water-filled potholes, and constant play of pitter-patter of the raindrops. Men with trousers rolled up, mothers clutching the umbrella in one hand and in another  their kid, school kids moving in groups all trying to cluster under one big makeshift shelter, these sights are common sights during the rains.  

People in Chennai have always been very welcoming to any weather.  They treat the monsoons too with kindness, for without ample rainfall, the summer months would become difficult for the common man. 

It’s amazing how the sight of rainfall, fills you with nostalgia, bringing back memories. Memories, which go back to the times, when you were a seven year old; one who made paper boats and launched them in many rivulets that ran through the backyard, who would read Phantom as Ma brought in hot pakodas. These are my memories of the monsoon season. There is of course, the unspoken, silent prayer that please-God-let-tomorrow-be-a-holiday; but inevitably this prayer always went unanswered. Somehow my salutations and respects never appeased the rain God.

Being brought up in a Bengali household, I have been especially fond of food. And the perfect recipe for a rainy afternoon is incomplete without a meal of hot khichudi, with rivers of ghee running through and beguni. Mouth watering right!
For a bookworm like me, nothing beats the combo of a good book teamed up with some good food. And with the monsoon at my doorstep, it’s my favorite time of the year!