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Turning in my head,
Perfectly in phase
With what was being said
By a dreary monotone.
To switch off supply
To the flux in my head.
I just got too bored of boring old '...and life goes on', so here's the brand new name. First thing that popped up in my head. Whaddaya think?
I am not a very sociable person. Apart from a great reluctance to be the first one to strike up the conversation, I also think I suffer from, to say the least, a mild case of Enochlophobia. Google it if you don't know what it means. So it is clearly established that I am, under no circumstances, a party animal.
But fate plays it's funny games, and I had to attend, of all the parties that could've brightened up Delhi's nightlife, a wedding. And not just any wedding, a Punjabi wedding. I had very cleverly avoided so far all the social obligations I had as an army brat, but none of the excuses in my list, which now had become considerably exhaustive, could nudge me out of this tight spot.
Thus at nine in the evening, when I should've been sprawled on my bed listening to music and playing football manager, I was smiling rather uneasily at people I neither knew or cared to know. I somehow survived the initial pleasantries, and set off on a reconnaissance of the vast lawn where the part was being organised. I located the food stalls, the bar (which served only Coca Cola) and the gazebo under which a band was playing the latest Hindi hits.
And then I saw it. The perfect vantage point. As if illuminated by a heavenly spotlight, it was waiting for me. I walked towards it almost instinctively. The spot was close enough to the food stalls for me get refills without having to march cross country, and far enough for me to eat in silence and anonymity. It was a stone's throw from the bar, so I could have as much Coke as I wanted. Most importantly, it was at the perfect distance and angle from the speakers, which made even a most ordinary rendition of 'Om shanti om' seem almost mellow.
There I stood, drinking my coke and eating the free food, listening to the latest bollywood chartbusters, and all this far from the madding punjabi wedding crowd. Every now and then I would get a refill of the chaat they were serving- I liked the fruit chaat the best. And I lost count of the number of glasses of coke I consumed. The rest of the party was like a colourful blur, what with the Aunties separated from fresh air by three layers of greasy makeup, one layer of glitter, and heavy, bright, shiny, lacy outfits, the uncles all suited and booted, kids zooming around, and 'cool' teenage boys and girls cheering the 'band' on, and requesting encores of songs of the class of 'Om shanti om', 'Dus Bahane' and some some stuff I couldn't recognise.
Much like Sauron's, my eyes saw everything. Aunties discreetly helping themselves to cartloads of Golguppas, ice cream dripping onto the little boys' best pair of shorts, and dejected uncles settling for coke, visibly disappointed, the band moaning on all the while. And then dinner was served. It was rather lacklustre, to say the least. I ate only half of what I had very greedily heaped onto my plate, but my appetite was pretty much satisfied by all that chaat. A few more glasses of coke, and I was done.
I wasn't disappointed by the mediocre food, or the groaning band, or the smell of myriads of cheap colognes permeating the atmosphere, for that night, I had come as close as I had ever come to getting rid of my enochlophobia. The trick was, simply, to look at the crowd objectively, treating it as a single entity. And then you see how the whole thing unfolds before you, like I said earlier, in a blur of colours. Maybe it was the beauty of my spot, or maybe it was all in my head. I'll find out at the next party.
Ironically, I didn't set my all seeing eyes even once on the bride and the groom, not that I knew them anyway.
The metro was crowded as usual, but I didn't mind the journey, hardly ten minutes. We disembarked at Chawri Bazaar, the station before Chandni Chowk, Mum had some shopping to do. The market was a fair distance from the station, so we had to take a rikshaw. At this point, I suggested that we take two rikshaws, but the rikshaw-wallah said with pompous reassurance, "Ho jaayega bhai, do aage, do peeche." The 'peeche' was a nothing more than a plank with a rusty iron rod running accross it about chest high, not unlike an amusement park ride, and naturally, my brother and I were dismissed to it.
So we set off, four people, overweight to say the least, being towed through an ocean of activity by a set of skin and bones in comparison. But the man was an expert- he meandered cleverly between pedestrians, motorcycles, bullock carts, hand carts and horses, and we progressed at a very lively pace considering the situation. He took us through numerous shortcuts- paths just wide enough to accomodate a rikshaw and, say, two pedestrians. Lined along every path were innumerable shops that claimed to sell everuthing to microwave ovens to cheap kites. And the kites were so abundant they might have outnumbered the people. It seemed to be the season for kite flying, as every shop stocked them. They came in all shapes, sizes, colours, materials and prices.
The air was saturated with the smell of fried, oily food from homes and restaurants, mixed with the odour of sweat from labourers who engaged themselves in a plethora of activities, from pulling huge handcarts to carrying people around in rickshaws to sweeping the streets to making paraanthas in roadside restaurants. And the sounds- the sounds were loud and ceaseless- people calling out loud greetings to each other as they passed, the rickshaw-wallahs shouting 'Raasta!' at the top of their voices to clear the way ahead of bodies, motorcyclers hurling profanities at the rickshaw-wallahs and the handcart-wallahs, who in their turn flung them them back even louder, shopkeepers advertising their wares, hawkers attracting customers for goods ranging from jalebis to digital watches.
The sights, sounds and smells of Old Delhi were beggining to sink into me. And sitting uncomfortably on the back of a rickshaw, holding on for dear life, I felt a little bit like Shantaram on his first tour of Bombay. But reality struck hard moments later. There was a big bump on the road ahead. The equilibrium of the vehicle, precariously tipped towards the back already, gave way when the rickshaw attemted to negotiate the bump. There was a moment when I thought I was floating in mid-air, and a split-second later, the rickshaw went down on its backside, much like a tipsy elephant. And as I mentioned, my brother and I were perched on this backside, so the weight of the rickshaw, with mum and dad and the rickshaw wallah still on it fell flat onto our (my brother's and mine) stomachs, which, thankfully, acted rather like shock absorbers. I hit my shoulder on a rock and bruised the back of my thigh. I didn't really see what happened above, but Dad told me later that Mum and he jumped out, and Mum ran towards us screaming 'Mere bacche! Mere bacche!' The poor rickshaw-wallah was a good six feet above the ground pressing down on the pedals trying to level the vehicle. It was quite a spectacle. Bystanders came to help us, suppressing their laughs, commenting on our indecision of opting to travel four in a rickshaw. We thanked them and told them we were okay, paid off the rickshaw-wallah and now with the wisdom of hindsight, decided to walk the rest of the way, as the market was not very far.
After and hour of uneventful shopping, we set off to find Paraanthe waali galli. Basing our route on directins given by shopkeepers en route, each of whom insisted 'bas aage hi hai, do minute," we plodded on for about half an hour and finally, four shaken, famished people reached a veritable oasis in the sweltering desert that Chandni Chowk was. There were several paraantha joints in the galli, but one of them came with strong reccomendations, and luckily as we entered, four people were just leaving. We sat down to our collective relief, and had a long draught of water each and slowly glanced toward the menu.
It was a huge of assortment of paraanthas made out of anything you can imagine- from kela to karela. We ordered the Mewa, Kaju, Paneer, Rabri, Khurchan, Paapad and Matar paraanthas and a lassi each to go with them. They took some time to bring our food, and I got time to look around. It was a very small place, seated about thirty cramped people. The witers jostled their way through the diners to serve paraanthas that were made outside the place in tens and hundreds. A certificate hanging on the wall indicated that the little establishment was over a hundred years old. A few photographs of the owner of the place with various dignitaries like a few MPs and MLAs were hung in places, although I suspect that the one with the Prime Minister is fake.
Anyhow, lunch was served in ten minutes and we fell upon it and ate it in earnest, and very few words were exchanged. It was totally worth the money, which wasn't much by any standards. We finished it off in ten minutes, paid the bill and walked to the Chandni Chowk metro station, which wasn't far away (we got off at Chawri bazaar earlier, which is the stop before Chandni Chowk). The metro ride to the car and the drive home were refreshingly uneventful, and the long sleep afterward felt extremely well deserved.
I woke up a few hours later with a sore shoulder and a bruised thigh. I had visited 'asli' Delhi and lived to tell the tale.
You may have checked out the song sample I composed and uploaded earlier this month. Well that one's almost done. A few final finishing touches and it'll be a free mp3 download:D.
But in the meantime, I was also working on another song. It was originially meant to be a grand ballad, for a fallen hero or something, but now I don't really know. I just can't get the lyrics to gel properly with the music. So I've uploaded just the instrumental, karaoke, if you may. It'll give you a general idea of the rhythm of the song, so that you can help me with the lyrics. Complete lyrics, incomplete lyrics, ideas, praise, criticism, advice, everything is very welcome. Click on the link below:
Here's your chance to get your name up as a lyricist if I ever become a major star :D...