Saturday, March 24, 2012

Upper class travel

Not sure if this post will be anything close to coherent. The story begins with my first 'phoren' trip- which was also maybe my 2nd or 3rd flight ever. As things go, my connecting flight was delayed by 24 hours, which meant that I needed to spend a day and a night at the Frankfurt airport. Incredibly crowded it was, and I was desperate to sleep. I wandered about till I came to a room that was miraculously vacant. There were loungers, remarkably clean and empty toilets, and a sense of peace. I sponge-bathed and lay down to sleep congratulating myself on finding a decent spot no one else had found yet.

It was much much later that I realised that I had probably gate-crashed into the business lounge. The Indian Railways have a similar and even more complex hierarchy. there are separate waiting rooms for 'sleeper general', 'sleeper women', 'general', 'AC', 'AC women', and in atleast one station a separate one for 2AC and higher.

The delhi metro might be alternately lauded and criticised. One thing is pukka, though. It is totally, unabashedly democratic. A couple of days ago, I watched as what seemed like an entire village helped a gramdma use the escalator. She was triumphant as she stepped off it. 'That was the first time', she informed everyone. 'A couple of more times, and it will be nothing'.

What do I want to say with this post? I am not entirely sure. Maybe I just want to convey the pleasure I felt when she triumphantly stepped off the escalator. Maybe my sense of empathy with her as she found herself out of her element, but coping all the same. I don't know

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Just drag her along

The day before yesterday, the little pup-let went off her food- an event sufficiently unusual to provoke a flurry of texts between me and my mian. She also threw up a pellet of animal hair- proof of a 'meal' she illicitly had when she had run away the day before.

When I called the vet however, he didnt want to take any chances and asked me to bring her up to the roadhead. 18 hours without food is a long time for a 5-kg pup, and she was too weak to manage the 45 minute trek uphill. And so I hoisted her up on my shoulders.

This caused a great deal of comment, and I needed to explain to all I passed,"This is usually her favourite walk. But she is ill, and can't do it. I'm taking her to the vet." In most cases, the response was a cluck, and wishes that she would get well soon.

 Until I met a man who said, "so what? drag her along." I looked at the trusting eyes of the little patient as she lay on my shoulders, and felt horrible about that remark.

My sadness was defused pretty soon though, when I realised that she has more friends here than I do. Little children darted away from their mothers to say hello to Shona- who they knew by name. Later that day, G came runnning down because he had been told that I had taken Shona to the vet. And in the evening, Mian told me that the villagers of Sitla were asking how she was.

 Clearly, Mr.Drag-her-along was a stranger around these parts.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The ghosts in our house

The house that is now ours is full of stories of the people who lived there before us.
There's Kaki, to whom the house belonged and who I always suspect has a soft corner for my Mian-who she calls her Panditji. There are their relatives, visitors, and the several people who worked on this land.

But the stories I hear most often are of the couple who rented before us. I hear of their ambitous garden, of how they imported the compost all the way from Pant Nagar, of how they were scared of the rural setting, of how they lit up the orchard every night to scare the darkness everyday.
And I don't just hear the stories, they crop up in our lives. They planted sunflowers, and gladioli, and lilies- all of which are now naturalised here. They erected a creaky bird feeder which scared the birds and that I now -in a most prosaic fashion- dry laundry on. They read Mills and Boons, and I now dip into the two books they left behind. They began to painstakingly stencil the walls of their house before giving up and laughingly painting a huge flower on a part of the last wall they worked on.

And this makes me wonder about the stories we are creating. Our black thumbs, the solar cooker, the way we take our trash all the way to Haldwani, these things will perhaps be talked about. But I hope that somewhere in those stories is also mention of our coffee mornings, of how Mian and I stand on the porch wrapped around each other and look at the sky. I hope their are stories of how he brings the water and does all the heavy work. I hope there are stories of the meals we make, of our little Bhaloo. I do hope that some of this joy lingers in the house.