Saturday, September 13, 2008

Children of a Lesser God

I write this as I sit in front of the TV, watching the horrifying scenes. I wonder how they can do this again and again. One city after another. The time and place of attack seem to get "better" each time so that more people are shaken up, so that more people killed. Should I feel thankful that I decided not to go to my favourite Morning Stores at GK-I and went to sleep instead? Somehow I am not able to do that. Instead, I feel terrible about the folks that did choose to go and who may not be able to sleep again.

I have never understood how one person can bring himself/herself to take the life of another. When I read The Prisoner of Zenda, this sentence stayed with me: "You won't kill me unarmed?" cried Rupert, in alarmed scandalised expostulation. I altered my thinking a little bit then. Murder in cold blood is what I loathe the most.

Innocent people waiting at bus-stops, traveling in city buses, spending a weekend with their loved ones, going about their lives as normal have been attacked in each of our blasts. Having lived in the NCR for about 3-4 years in all, I know the significance of this weekend. The period of "shraadh" starts from Monday and local people do not make any purchases of any kind during this period. So people must have been out to finish whatever shopping they had pending so that they don't have to wait till Navaratri. What an outing it turned out be!

I wonder how the people who did this sleep at night. I wonder how they can take pride in such acts. I wonder how anyone can make a point in this manner. I wonder how taking lives of innocent people can ever be justified, however crooked one's sense of logic can be. Angry, sad, frustrated... I am not sure exactly how I feel right now. These people must be very ill, nothing else seems probable. I can only pray that these people see the enormity of the crimes they are committing. That they get cured of their illness. People who can take the life of others, especially in cold blood, must, according to my segmentation, be children of a lesser god.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Down the Memory Lane

We’re back. And I’m back here…after a very long hiatus. All my promises to myself and to my readers that I’ll be regular here have been forgotten. And I apologize for that. I’ve just been a little too busy over these past few months. I made a post when I had completed 51 weeks of marriage. As it turns out, we are 51 weeks into our second year of marriage today.

We took a much needed break and traveled to Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. Two weeks of meeting friends and family. There are loads of friends and family members that we weren’t able to meet. Two weeks spread across three cities just isn’t enough. I know there are lots of folks who’ll be upset that I didn’t even call. But I figured I can always call them from here. It is the getting together that matters. The “so much to do so little time” syndrome is something I identify with all too well at this point. On this trip, we met up with folks we hadn’t seen on any trip before this one and so ended up catching up with friends after a gap of two years. There were times when we did nothing and just chilled out at home, but that was also what this vacation was about.

We traveled by the much recommended first class AC compartment of the Rajdhani Express. It was nice that we had a coupe just for the two of us. But apart from that, it wasn’t great. The compartment was probably one of the first ones that rolled out of the ICF. You could tell that it had been painted and repainted many times over. The compartment had a plug point and since we were carrying our laptops, we watched Season Three of Three’s Company to help kill time. But the plug point came off as soon as plugged the power cord in. It worked till the end… so thank heavens. My glass had a dead cockroach stuck to the bottom and I returned it right away. For the remainder of the journey, the glass was not replaced. Not that it mattered. I wouldn’t have used it anyway. The service on the Rajdhani can be a little intrusive and the food is better than most train fare. But the fact that they serve sweetened curds with the meal means that they don’t read the comments on the feedback form one gives them anyway. I had given them a suggestion of serving plain curds with some sugar on the side.

Hyderabad was fun. It is a different thing that I don’t recognize the street I called home for years. Jubilee Hills is so commercialized now that it doesn’t even feel that residential anymore. Road No. 68 was a nondescript road for most part of the stay there. Now it almost seems like a mini Road No. 36. The flyover leading to Banjara Hills from Somajiguda has really helped cut down travel time, but traffic in Hyderabad is the same as before. As unruly and as disorganized as it used to be, with just far more cars on the streets. I didn’t get a chance to do much shopping, but I did pick up a lot of cotton outfits. Delhi seems to be moving away from cottons to synthetics and I have never been able to relate to that. We met some old friends and one new “couple” friend. The highlights of this trip were a family reunion and meeting a fellow blogger for the first time. We really hit it off and we spent an evening together and I got chocolate lessons. We did manage to go to the place where S spent his childhood. We wanted to have authentic biryani, but just didn’t get a chance. The train journey from Hyderabad to Bangalore was nice. We met this family and got talking. The usual, ‘Where are you from?” When I told them, the gentleman asked, “Has Chennai improved or not?” I asked, “Since when?” He said, “We had gone there a few months ago and it was not nice at all.” What fun! One can’t do much to change the weather in Madras, but as a city, it would win hands down and definitely when you’re comparing it to Hyderabad. (I love Hyderabad, but facts are facts.)

Bangalore was a different story. Fun and yet relaxing. The traffic is crazier than before, but the weather makes it all worthwhile. Walking around Sampige Road and 8th Cross a day before the Gowri Ganesha festival is a gentle reminder that some things will never change. And that is probably what I love best about Bangalore. I showed S several places which were linked to many childhood memories. We also met friends and family. Some planned, some totally by chance. I wanted to savour Chhole Bhature at Shiv Sagar (who IMHO makes the best Chhole Bhature… better than any stuff you can get north of the Vindhyas) but I had no time for that either. But we did manage a great meal at Little Italy to celebrate my parents’ 45th wedding anniversary.

Chennai was hot. Hotter than last September for sure. We celebrated Gowri Tritiya and Ganesh Chaturthi in Chennai. All my plans to wear sarees on all 5 days were thwarted by the heat and the fact that I only had silk blouses for the sarees I had left behind in Chennai. So, cotton salwar kameezes on 3 days and sarees on two was the best I could manage. I may be conservative but I somehow cannot understand how people come to these functions in jeans or with their hair left open or without wearing a bindi. I wouldn’t go to a puja dressed inappropriately. But that’s probably just me. Other than that, I gorged on amchi food for 4 days, enjoyed breakfast at Ratna CafĂ© and made full use of our time eating sambar vadais, sambar saadam and parotta kurma. I met a childhood friend whose trip to Madras and ours overlapped by a couple of hours. I’d not seen her in 11 years. What I didn’t do was to take S to IIT and show him around. Take him to my school, to Lake View Road where I spent the first 20 years of my life, to all those places that have made me who I am. On my next trip…

I’m happy to be back. I never thought I would be this happy to be back in Gurgaon. Being back at work, I can still understand. With a lot of happy memories and a few regrets, life is back to normal.