You show up as you please,
No matter how hard we squeeze.
In fact, that gives you speed
Like you’ve a mind of your own.
You come when you’re most unwelcome,
You don’t when we want you to run,
You sure seem to have a lot of fun
Like you’ve a mind of your own.
All it takes is a stifled yawn,
Or a scene in a stupid movie,
You be a bitch then and show up
You do have a mind of your own.
I wish you didn’t exist, were never born,
Especially when you’re not mine,
You ensure no one’s deceived,
Maybe it’s good you’ve a mind of your own.
This store exists here for 50 years now. He has nothing essential that you would need. No groceries, no staples. Near a school and a church, his shop stocks the same things all year round. Indian flags, brown paper to cover school books, Christmas decorations, Diwali decorations, calendars, a few chocolates and some stationary. Most of it is unsold for months. He says ‘I keep them because one never knows who might need to buy a calendar in September. They’ll come to me then’. He hardly gets customers, but he keeps the shop open till about midnight. He has seen the small town of Thane accommodating the spillover of Mumbai over the last 6 decades. But he has this smile stuck on his face which seems almost nonsensical to us, the all knowing people of today.
My dad graduated from the school nearby 45 years ago. That’s my dad taking to the 78 year old shop keeper about old teachers who’s names they still remember. That, is eventually what life is all about.
As a metropolis, there is never enough space in Mumbai. The city of dreams. Everyone wants to buy a house in this city. As a result, a lot of old buildings are brought down to be ‘redeveloped’ into large swanky skyscrapers. The flat owners love it as they make a neat sum and get a larger home. The developer makes a large bundle of money. This is one such building that awaits demolition. None of the residents who called this their home are inside. I wonder what these walls, now on death row, that once kept them and their kids safe would say. The memories the families shared outside their doors as they greeted each other when they met on the stairs. The festivals they celebrated within these compounds. The things they did that defines this city – helped each other. Well, they’ll all be back in a couple of years, with big smiles. There will be new walls then, they’ll keep them safe too.
They trades their homes for a bigger house. Then they move into the reconstructed building, and piece by piece reconstruct their home inside the new walls using old and new memories as the brick and mortar. The house becomes a home again. And hopefully as good as the old one.
I don’t really know how to begin this one. I mean, the title itself can pretty much sum it all up. However, writing something down is a form of expression for me. So let me complete this one as well.
Getting a haircut is an event, for women. It is just another chore for men. For most men. It is something you have to do just to maintain personal hygiene. Just like brushing you teeth and taking a shower everyday. There isn’t really a practical way out of it. For quite a few men from the above subset, this practice becomes even more of an annoyance. Those that are further evolved, easily distinguishable with visible evidence of male pattern baldness.
In economics and sales, when the base is small, the growth is often seen to be higher and quicker. Same is the case with hair. Hence, it makes the entire exercise to occur more frequently resulting in an end result which is only relatively desirable. In the above sub-subset, lies a further set, consisting of an even higher evolved being, known commonly as the Tam-Brahm.
With the obvious advantages of being further evolved comes certain disadvantages which are nothing more but the outcome of certain prehistoric practices. One such example is restrictions on when you can get a haircut. I’m not allowed to get my hair cut on any day post noon. I’m also not allowed to get a haircut on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Now, considering I’m a working man, it leaves me only with Sunday mornings when I can get a haircut.
In many places, a barbershop is a social hub. Where men hangout. For me, it is a visit planned a couple of weeks in advance. For me, the event is a curse.
I saw you flit around yesterday,
Moving from one to the other bay,
Five feet something above the ground
Clamping hair almost brown.
The date changes and the months too
And clothes change from red to blue,
But you always show up no matter what,
Just like twists in a well written plot.
Your master must adore you so
To let you fly but never let go.
Could be because you go best with reds,
Or maybe you represent a debt.
I’m quite infatuated with you it seems,
Though it’s more because of who you mean.
I do hope you’ll breathe one day,
Flutter little yellow wings and fly away.
There are many things I hate about us Indians. Me included. We are racists, we stereotype, we are sexists and we are classists and many more ‘ists’. Apart from these, what I absolutely hate is how in our mind, a little amount of money immediately makes us better than everyone else around us. Even better than ourselves when we had lesser money. I know this comes from the combination of all the above ‘ists’ and because that’s how we have seen everybody behave. So to us, that really isn’t a very wrong thing to do.
Last week, I was at the Mumbai airport, past midnight, waiting in the queue to get my immigration stamp and go home and sleep. Ahead of me was a family of 4, simple Dad and Mom with 2 daughters aged 6 and 3 (it came up). Let’s call them the Familys. Behind me, was a family of 3, parents and a daughter of 2. Let’s call them the Jackasses. For some reason, a sullen Mr. Family was having a hard time talking to the immigration official and convincing him that all their papers were in order. (It wasn’t a language problem). The Jackasses meanwhile had British passports and were in Mumbai due to a stopover from a vacation in East Asia, and they decided to meet a friend in the city. They were Indians born in Punjab and settled in London (I swear to God I am not making this up, I heard him say this to the immigration official). The Jackasses, consisting of a hairline-mustachioed (like all the Indians in London in the 90s), crew cut sporting Mr. Jackass, a make-up wearing (yes, on a flight with a kid) Mrs. Jackass and an extremely cute two year old, all talking with a stiff upper lip.
While we were waiting, the 3 year old little Ms. Family was quite active considering it was past midnight and her dad had been talking to the official for what now seemed like an hour (it was fifteen minutes). The little girl saw the three year old Ms. Family very awake and as any two year old girl would, went to say hi. Mrs. Jackass saw this and said, “Hemani, say hello to the little girl”. (Please note the three year old was actually littler than the two year old). Hemani said hello and tried to shake hands. Mrs. Jackass then said, “Hemani, ask her ‘What’s your name?’”. Hemani promptly repeated. To which the visibly shy three year old replied in a very hushed voice. Here, Mr. Jackass ejaculated, (this somehow seems like the right word), “Oh, she understands English”? He then looked at Mrs. Family and asked her in Hindi what the name was. Mrs. Family replied saying Iyati. Mr. Jackass chose to respond, in Hindi, by saying “That’s a very advanced name”. Meanwhile, Mrs. Jackass was instructing little Hemani to tell Iyati her name. “Hemani, tell her your name. Tell her ‘My name is Hemani. A-R-M-A-N-I. Hemani’”.
Little Armani and Iyati by now had started smiling and shaking hands. Mr. Jackass who was visibly disappointed with the fact that he had not yet made clear how much better the Jackasses were than the Familys, asked Iyati’s age. This kind of made his night, proudly implying that a much taller Armani was only two, while the tiny Iyati was already three. He then moved to the next queue which was now vacant. I could have pointed out to him quite easily that the queue we were standing in all this while was for people with Indian passports, written clearly in English. But I let it be.
While it does seem kinda obvious, I have been looking for some research on this area for a while now. See if it helps.