Weekend and holiday hangovers are terrible! When I was back at Madras on Tuesday morning, it was humidity and the round the clock briskness of Central that welcomed me. I hated it, I don’t know why; I wished fervently I could run back to where I boarded the train the previous night. But there wasn’t time to even think; I had to rush to Park to catch the metro at 5:30 AM.
Park station. As I got into the metro and secured a seat for myself next to the window, it wasn’t difficult to switch to a different world. People around wouldn’t matter at all..
What do you do when a train that usually runs on time, reaches an hour late only on the day you are travelling? Well, actually, nothing. I cursed my luck and got down, when this lady about 55 years old, came up to me. “Hi, where are you going?,” she asked. “Airport Road,” I replied, very matter - of – factly. She paused for a moment and looking earnestly at me, queried, “Oh, are you travelling abroad?”. I was puzzled, for I had barely woken up and was still, very much confused.
“Uh, sorry..but?..” I muttered.
“No, are you travelling abroad? You are going to Airport road”
I realised what was going on.
“No, no. I am just going to Airport road.”
“Oh, Airport quarters?”
“No, Airport road is a place where there are other things other than the airport. My friend stays there. I am going over to her place.”
The metro train screeched to a halt at the next station. I caught myself smiling over the conversation. Well, why was I explaining to her so patiently about the nuances of Airport road? I mean, just why? Couple of seconds, I began swaying to the rhythmic and perfectly tuned motion of the train..
“I have to go to Vivek Nagar, are you working here?”
I didn’t know where that place was and I walked quietly.
“You look so much like my daughter. She is doing her M.com in Ethiraj College”
“Oh!” I reacted to the remark and smiled, “Ok.”
“Do you work with Wipro?”
“Man, why does she want to know that? And why Wipro?” I thought to myself.
“Ah, actually no. I am not working here now. I was working here before.”
“Why have you come here, then?”
Uh, excuse me!!
“Am here to meet all my friends,” I said hurriedly.
“Oh, that is really nice of you,” I heard her meek voice as we reached Cant’s entrance. She waited with me at the prepaid auto-rickshaw counter. The sleepy state that I was in, I was all in a mood to get into some rick and rush off. I was about to climb into the rick (My eyes and the mind were busy altering the template of a rick inside my head. Replace yellow ricks at Madras with black ones in Bangalore, replace yellow ricks at Madras with black ones in Bangalore..)
“THANK YOU..” I was jolted out of my dreamy state.
I turned and she was there.
“Oh, no problem, “ I smiled.
“It was very nice meeting you,” she said.
“No problem?” Eeh..Why did I say that? I wondered. How silly of me!
I was busy fidgeting with my handbag zip. I opened it and amidst other things, I found this small piece of paper – My “to do” list, for the three days. The couple sitting opposite to me were busy moving their suitcase around and gave me a puzzled look – ME, who was looking at a crumpled sheet of paper and smiling strangely.
I landed at M’s place. She was thrilled. She had neatly laid out a bed for me next to hers. “Come, come sleep here,” she said sweetly.
I was just waiting for someone to say that, and flopped carelessly. Two minutes. M’s mobile jingled with a message, enough to begin a conversation. We began talking, went on for three whole hours. (I quite hadn’t realised that). I had made a complete schedule of whom to meet, when and where. People started messaging in, “Anu, shall we meet tomorrow?” or “I have suddenly been called for a meeting, how about after five today?”.
“After five?” I shrieked through a message. “But I have to meet J and B at Brigades”.
“Enna Bangalore poyacha?,” a friend called in to confirm.
“Hmm..yeah, I will call you tomorrow night between 9:30 and 10:15,” I answered after working out details inside my head.
I went messaging and my mobile balance dipped to a negative. A juggling of schedules till afternoon and I finally decided to drop in at Su~’s place. “Ooh..you have put on weight!” I just blurted out as soon as I got out of the rick, in front of my old office.
“Yeah, I know”. Within minutes, we were heading to her newly constructed house. “God, it has been so long no?” she said.
The house. I stared at it in awe. I had seen it as a mere plan on paper when Su~ had got it to office last year, around the same time. “Remember how you rushed to the architect’s place from office?” I asked her in a recollecting tone. “Hmm..yes”.
“Hey the garage, oh, the hall..Oh this room that you were talking about, the stairs..Geeh, Su~, I can’t believe this!”. She just smiled. I was thrilled like a little kid.
“See the window grilles,” she pointed out to one of them.
“Oh yeah. Hey, I still remember how you modified the design through MS Paint and how we went about selecting a design!!” I almost jumped.
She took me to her mom’s place. On the way back, she showed me a road, “Do you remember this place?”
“Oh yes, your in-laws place!” I said.
“No, no. It is my place also,” she replied.
“Su~!! Not bad, you do seem to have changed in ten months! So, you are making an effort to say it is your house too!!” I laughed and she joined me. I just thought, it has been so long!! :)
At her mom’s place, it was like being back to a close one’s home. Aunty was smiling and Su~’s first niece (who once used to shy away when she saw me and who remembered me as one who shared her bday!) came up to me, showing all the stuff that she did in her summer camp. Her second niece – I saw that kid when she was three days old, at the hospital, about 15 months back! Now, the kid stared at me through her innocent, big eyes and within a matter of 10 minutes, she slowly came to me and smiled showing her kutty kutty teeth. “Su~, God, I can’t believe this!!” I just knew I kept saying that. When I was about to say bye, she thrust a salwar-kameez set into my hands, “This is for you.”
“Bye Su~, I don’t know when I would see you next. Hope it is sometime soon,” and I got into a rick, to rush to Brigade road.
The train came to a screeching halt at the next station. Some people were mumbling, some were getting down and the train began on its journey yet again.
J had messaged at 4:20 itself. “Hey, I am already outside Café Coffee Day, but doesn’t matter, I’ll wait”. I dashed in at 5:15PM. “He-lll-ooo!!” I heard her voice from behind. B joined in late and we rambled on and on about our first six months of training together and about their new offices now. I carried J’s sweet red rose back home. Dinner was fun at Madhuri Grand with “long time no see” batch mates from college and M and V. I laughed like nobody else’s business and there closed the first day.
The next morning, M woke up early, made hot water ready and pushed me for a bath. By the time I was out, she was ready with a bowl of chocos. “So sweet of you,” I muttered through a spoonful of chocos and rushed to my cousin’s place. The proud father, whose kid was just a month and a half old, took me to his in-laws’ place.
“Manas kutty paapa,” he went on, holding his little daughter, Manasvini and swaying gently.
“Shhhyaaaaaaaam…adapaavi! Ennala namba mudila ya!” (I can’t believe this, again!!). I saw the transformation of this guy whom I had known from when I was a child, now playing the role of a father! Time has flown. Oh dear, ain’t I getting old too? My cousin was nice enough to dispel that feeling. “Kozhandai, romba naal kazhichu vandurukka!” (Kid, you have come in after a long time), he said and pampered me with lots and lots of bar chocolates. Ah, ah, I am not that old!! :))
DD was excited when she caught me near BTM bus stand. We had decided to go to our hostel together and give a surprise to people there. I landed at my hostel and An~ was shocked. “HOW AND WHEN DID YOU LAND UP HERE LADY?” she jumped. Mi~ was busy getting ready (as ever). “Edi, Anu kutty!” she shrieked in that heavy mallu tone so characteristic of her. I went to MY room, sat on MY bed and went non stop for almost four hours to An~ and DD. “I almost feel like we have gone back to our days together here. I am so glad you came,” said An~ thoughtfully. “I feel you have come back and you are never going to go back again”. I walked away thinking how true that was. For sometime, I almost lost myself in space and time. I never thought I was going back. DD and I went to Forum (the much hyped up Forum and the PVR cinemas in Koramangala), roamed around for sometime.
The girl sitting next to me was squirming. I wondered why she couldn’t sit peacefully. My mobile was totally shut off. It looked like a dead, good for nothing instrument then.
I messaged M from DD’s mobile, sitting at Forum. “I will come there by 7:30PM, is it ok?”.
“Dear, we are supposed to meet V at 6, do you remember?”, she messaged back.
“I know, What do I do?:(”
I rushed to Raaga on CMH road, landing half an hour late. “Sorry, sorry!” I began even before I got out. M and V had the patience to wait! We went ordering; V watched us with amusement, as M and I argued as to who ate better. “I am caught with two mad girls,” he said with that silly smile on his face. M protested. “Don’t say I eat as badly as she does!”. I wouldn’t open my mouth; I knew the truth. I am sure they would have pounced on me, if I had said I ate well.
“So madam, I don’t know when I would see you next, all the best!” That was V. I said bye, left with a heavy heart. I rushed to the already closing STD booth to call up A~, whom I had promised. Boy! He didn’t pick the phone!!
Back at M’s place, Sw~ and Rag~ arrived in their new Santro. M and I sat inside the car with them, chatting up till 12:30 into the night. “Do make it to the wedding girlie, “ Sw~ said, Rag~ was already dozing and just nodded, “Yeah, please do!”. Oh well, I only wish I could..”I will try my best!” I muttered, as I said goodbye.
The next station had arrived. I had mentally counted the number of stations. One more station and I had to get down. I gathered my bags together and kept them ready. The train slowly pulled out of the station.
Monday morning, I woke up at 10. M was busy inside the kitchen. We had great plans – movie, meet Ru~, shopping, Corner House Ice cream. Movie got dropped, thanks to me, I got up late. We met Ru~ at her office, had lunch at Pizza Hut. Ru~ spoke of how south Indian marriages were lot of fun. We left Pizza hut, went to her office, stood outside and kept talking. I knew I wouldn’t be seeing Ru~ atleast in the next two years. Bye dearie, good luck! M and I took a rick to Shoppers Stop, half way through felt we were tired, and diverted the rick to Airport road. We watched Baazigar (of all movies), Ra~ landed up in the evening, for about 15 minutes, told about his new play, novel and movie. I looked at this extremely creative friend of mine, in awe. I wished all came out well for him.
M put me into a rick at 9:45 in the night. Back at Cant. I waited for my train that was supposed to come at 11. I got into the train, loaded with memories. I carried back with me the pleasure of having relived a lost relationship with that place. The weight had surely increased!
The metro stopped at my station. I got down still dazed and walked back home. Amma and Appa were awake. “Enna kanna, tired aa irukka?” I just nodded and collapsed into the sofa. It was time to alter templates again..Replace black ricks at Banglore with yellow ones in Madras.. Replace black ricks at Banglore with yellow ones in Madras..R-e-p-l-a-c-e..
This post is a record of memories..