Wednesday, 8 March 2017

International Women's Day 2017

It's Women's Day. When some of us get to celebrate the progress that a few of us have made, and think about the many of us who are not yet so lucky. I don't use that word lightly. Yes, if you're reading this, you're most probably very very lucky. We are. 

Lucky that we were born into families who could back us, emotionally and financially. Lucky  that we are born at a time where women are given more respect than any in the past. So many out there have not been so lucky. 

Today, I'm going to talk about how lucky I am. About the people who helped make me the woman I am today. 

I am going to introduce to you, my family. 

I have awesome grandparents. My mother's mother was a teacher and a principal, who spent the more than half of her life raising four daughters alone, after my grandfather died unexpectedly of a heart attack. She had such an awesome memory, that she would recite the sanskrit shlokas she learnt in school well into her 90's. But most importantly, she was a working woman. This is the 1940s we are talking about. 

My maternal grandmother, on her 89th birthday. She passed away in 2015.

My paternal grandmother is a family legend. In the 1940's, she had an M. Sc. in marine biology. She taught college students while pregnant with my father. She played multiple sports, helped raise her siblings, and then started a manufacturing business with my grandfather, in a field completely unrelated to the education they had both received ( the plastics industry; my grandfather had a Ph.D. in marine biology)

She was the one who introduced me to formal cricket. She kept a file of my newspaper cuttings, and would proudly display it to anyone who visited the house at the first opportunity. She taught me to not ignore my studies while playing sports. She taught me how to make timetables and organise my cupboards. She told me she would gift me her gold jewelery the day I played for India. She did. 

My paternal grandmother. Yes, she is on Facebook.

My mother has been the spiritual rock in my life, always making sure I am walking the path. My stepmom plays so many roles with aplomb , it is a scarcely believable that she has only two hands and one head. My step sister always reminds me that life is a song, and I should keep humming it. My mother-in-law taught me that stereotypes are meant for the bin. Then my friends, who I have leaned on even more than family, they are the sisters I did not have growing up. 

I tweeted this today:

needs to be as much about men as it is about women. So gents, this one is to you. Help, not hinder, your women, when they fly.

I mean it. 

I cannot be who I am without my men. It takes guts to send a 13 year old girl to Asansol for her first tournament. It takes love to drive a girl to practice session at 6 am every morning. That's what my father did, never batting an eyelid at my choice of career, never worrying -as my mother did- about my tomboy phase. 

My two younger brothers are both my tech support and my life support. Both engineers, one always has new ways for me to get better, the other always a cheeky remark to sway me from dark thoughts. My husband taught me to first love myself. And my dog, bless him, gives me a glimpse of motherhood everyday. 

These are the people that make me. These are the people I am lucky to have. We are just like most other families, but also unlike them. We are far from perfect. We can be petty, parochial, pedantic. We have dramas, and tragedy, even farce; don't be fooled by the pretty pictures I paint here. We are human. 

A few months ago I was out doing some errands with my (paternal) grandmother. Sitting in the passenger seat of the stationary car, she leaned out the window and hailed a youth who was emptying a pouch of tobacco into his mouth. He came over. 

"Why do you eat that stuff?", she asked him. He looked like it was the first time somebody had asked him that question  in his life. (It probably was.) Predictably, he had no answer and just tried to smile sheepishly. 

"Don't eat that stuff ok? Promise me, promise an old woman that you won't eat it ever again." 

Ok, he replied meekly, still half smiling incredulously. As if he had any choice but to agree; who could resist this plump old woman, jowls hanging adorably from her chin, asking him to be a better man for her sake. I'm convinced that he didn't listen, and is probably still swallowing tobacco packets today. 

But this is an example of the gift my family as given me. To bet on the goodness in other people. Sometimes it backfires spectacularly. Like when I lent my phone to someone who asked for it because they didn't have battery in theirs and they promptly ran off with it. But this is still my default setting. This is where I come from. 

Women's day is for me a day to celebrate these stories. To recall how lucky I am. 

Happy Women's Day 2017. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

The year of the dog: One year of Krish

Krish royally breaking the rule about not being allowed on the bed.

Krish turned a year old yesterday. At least I think he did. The pet shop owner we bought him from told us he was 35 days old when we took him home. Some approximate back calculations later, we arrived at his birth-date. 20th June 2015. I think. 

In any case, it has been 11 months since we brought him home. He was an irresistible bundle of fur when he came home, and now he has grown. Elongated is probably a better word. Like the members of his adopted family, he is taller than most of his kind. In general, hes a good looking fellow. So said every mother of every child. But i'll say it nevertheless.     

The first year has been about education. For both sides, more so for us than for him. I've realised there is no such thing as dog training. It's simply human training hiding behind a fancy name.  Either that or they are calling us dogs. In this, thank you Zak George for your amazing guidance. 

This year has taught me patience. It's something any positive trainer must learn. Its hard, especially during potty training. But then it takes a split second to pause, and remember that they are dogs. They don't have agendas, or cunning. They don't know what spite is. They don't mean it. Really. Which in many ways, makes them so much better than so many people. 

Side note: When I've introduced Krish to strangers, I've always assured them that he's harmless. Pat comes the reply: "Jaanwaro ka bharosa nahi" (you cant trust animals). To which I reply, with geological certainty, "Aaj kal ke insano se jyada jaanwaro ka bharosa hai"(These days, animals are more trustworthy than people).

This year has also been about responsibility. I've realised that though we can take a Sunday off, a dogs excretory system doesn't. Which means that for dog parents, there is no such thing as a Sunday. The same is true for journalists. And journalists who are dog parents. Sigh. Yawn. 

Krish has his unique nap position, where he makes an S with his spine. He sheds a lot. A LOT. He loves the car. He will patiently sit in the car while I do my errands, which is such a blessing. He loves to fetch. He loves other dogs, and other people. Ergo, he's not much of a watchdog. He rubs himself against our legs like a cat. If he's sleeping in our room, he wakes us up at exactly 6:30 AM. He has learnt (to my great annoyance) precisely how to wriggle out of his harness if he's leashed to a tree. The slightest play is enough to get his tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth.  He goes beserk when daddy's home, and wont sit still until he gets a bear hug from him. He's great with kids. He used to be scared of the tom cat in our building (in his defence, the cat can be pretty scary). He loves socks, especially his father's. And slippers, especially mine. He is the darling of any day care or hostel he stays at, because he adjusts so well. He is not allowed on the bed or the sofas, and he listens (most of the time. Ignore the picture above). I still have scars on my arms from his puppy biting phase, thankfully long past. He made sure I became a regular raffu customer back then as well.  He has a crooked ear, which makes him look all the more adorable. He isn't a barker. Except when there are fireworks. He loves trailing along when I'm riding my bicycle. But every once in a while he will make a go for my ankle. He doesn't like the sound of airplanes. He doesn't mind trains. 

A lot of this is probably true of most dogs, but all of it is still what makes him special. 

Many years ago, when I was a schoolgirl, I was an avid and sincere dog lover. I used to frequent the house of a vet who lived nearby. I used to care for whichever puppy was there, and once in a while, bring one there myself. Or bring one home. The strays in the neighbourhood were all my friends. Once I took one of them to hospital when he needed surgery, and felt faint at the sight of his blood. I dreamed of becoming a vet, or maybe working with the blue cross, or something that involved animals. 

Somewhere along the way, I grew up.I got caught up in the pretence that the adult world is and demands. For so many years, I forgot this part of me, buried it under things I thought were more important. Every time I met a pet dog, it would peek out, hoping again for a release from under the oppression of maturity. But I wasn't as friendly to strays as I had been before. The class based view of the world is infected with had subconsciously imprinted itself on my love for animals. And that wasn't the worst of it. The schoolgirl in me wouldn't have done quite a few things I did while pretending to be perfect.

A few of these barriers broke down when we finally got Krish home. I was able to love, both animals and humans more openly, more widely than I had before. Once again I saw stays as just dogs, just as worthy of love as pet dogs. This is the love Krish has given me. It extended itself into a wider love and respect for all animals and led to my turning vegetarian. It has made me more honest and transparent, like a dog is. 

So even though you cant read this Krish, happy birthday. And thank you. I pray to God that you will always be happy, and keep giving us so much happiness. 

Follow Krish on Instagram @krishibu

Friday, 4 December 2015

KITCHEN KOMPOST: A beautiful solution for the wet garbage problem

Indian houses are super clean. We make sure we throw our garbage out, every single day. Sometimes twice a day. And then we don't care about it. It's garbage, who cares about garbage right?

But is it garbage?

It isn't.

But lets just for a minute assume that it is. Out of sight, out of mind. That's the  code we operate by. 

Here's what happens to it once it leaves the house :

1. Another human being has to handle it, often without any protective gear. Which means they have to stand beside/in it, and sometimes use their hands. 
2. It adds to the scenery of our locality, inviting stray dogs, rats, cows(if you live in Indore). 
3. It is transported to a landfill outside of town, and forms a heap there. The stench becomes a way of life for the people living in the area, and their groundwater will be forever unclean. It occupies land     that otherwise could have provided food for your children and grandchildren. 

Lets just pause and think here. What if there was a way to avoid this, or at least cut it down by half. Would you do it?  For the human being who handles our trash? For the people who live beside it? or For your children, and their children?

One lesson I learned when I moved to a new city in my first job was that I should take responsibility for my own actions. So why not apply that philosophy to my own garbage? Is garbage not a result of my action, and therefore my responsibility?

What I'm about to describe in this post today is a way to handle one half of our garbage issue. 

Garbage can mainly be divided into two parts : Wet and Dry. We all learn in school that wet waste can be converted into compost. If that is true, wet garbage is not garbage at all!

It's food for the soil! We just need to pack it the right way.

What if we had a solution to convert our wet garbage into compost, the soil's favourite food, inside our kitchens, easily, with no foul odour?

Thats exactly what microbiologist Mr. Jayant Joshi, a resident of Thane , Mumbai, has given us. After years of research and trial and error, he has developed a simple yet elegant solution to this complex problem. And his product comes in the form of a simple picnic basket. 

Inventor Mr Jayant Joshi posing with the Kitchen Kompost basket.

The Kitchen Kompost basket, as he has named it, is a mixture of some serious science and lots of common sense. With its custom made mixture of micro-organisms that specialise in the composting of organic matter, and its sensible design, it is an amazing innovation. With a fairly simple day to day care routine, your garbage can become food for your garden! If you don't have a garden, just chuck the compost in the nearest tree, or gift it to friends and family who have a green thumb. The important thing is, your daily wet garbage is off the streets! That's more than enough reason to own one.

Some of you would be wondering why I'm advertising this product on my personal blog. Its because I LOVE IT!  I have been using one myself for about four months now and am thrilled with the results. Even my family couldn't believe their eyes when I showed them the first harvest of compost. "This was our food waste?" they asked me! I even started my own little home garden, just so I had a place to put the compost from the basket!

My fisrt harvest of compost from my Kitchen Kompost basket.
The waste leaving our house has reduced dramatically. Whereas before, the unsegregated waste would lie in the corridor the whole night, waiting for the garbage lady every morning. It would sometimes smell, especially when the garbage lady took a day off, and attract flies, and often soil the dustbin.  If the local stray dog visited at night, we would find the garbage strewn across the floor outside our front door in the  morning. Now, the garbage lady has to ring the bell, asking us for the day's trash, only to be told that our dustbin is hardly full yet! Less headache for us, less work for her. Win-win.

My experience has prompted me to recommend this to everyone, and that's what I'm doing here. I've even started distributing them in Indore, and I hope it will catch on here like it has in Maharashtra.

Mr Joshi is ever enthusiastic in his efforts to get this product to the people. He explained his vision to me once, saying, '' Fifty years ago every house didn't have its own toilet. Now they do. I want every house to have its own compost basket in the next fifty years.''

For years we have taken from the soil unflinchingly, without ever the thought of giving back. For those who thought about it, the ways to do so were too expensive and arduous. That time is gone. Now we can feed the soil of our cities and country again, like it has unselfishly fed us for years. Now we can make sure that our soil will have something left by the time we have children and grandchildren. Now we can help secure their future.

If you're interested in the Kitchen Kompost basket, give Mr. Joshi a call on +919969634182. Or if you want to know more about it, like

Monday, 2 November 2015

Going Green

A little bit of background. I hardly identify with my caste, but in this case, it is relevant. I am a CKP. It stands for Chandrasainya Kayastha Prabhu. According to Wikipedia, CKP culture is said to have traditionally adopted a diet that includes fish, meat, poultry and eggs. In other words, we are  foodies to the core. 

So it was quite surprising for our whole family when my dad quit non-veg a few years ago. And a bit of an inconvenience too, I imagine, for the people cooking. Family dinners, which normally were a one-dimensional hardcore non vegetarian affair, and in which vegetarian food made appearances only as side dishes, now became a little more complicated to plan. A vegetarian main course was now necessary, not an option that was only pursued if time permitted. 

Its funny looking back at it now, after I myself have decided to turn vegetarian. I just may be better off than my dad though: my family is not complaining about my decision, as we have quite a few vegetarians in family dinners. They do miss my company on non veg binges mind you. But its all our dog's fault, so they should complain to him really. 

Krish (our four month old German shepherd puppy) is sleeping soundly nearby as I write this. He, blissfully bereft of a conscience, consumes more than a kilo of meat a week. Most times, I'm the one feeding it to him. But he's the reason I wont be putting any in my mouth anymore. His love did that. 

''Its amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.'', said John Grogan of Marley, the worlds most famous dog. And it's the same with Krish. Life without him would be like a wedding party without a dhol, goes on fine but just not as much fun. Whether it's making sure he keeps his teeth off the furniture, or going on cycle rides and runs with him, or watching him grind my favourite headphones like they are a chew stick, my cup overfloweth when it comes to being a busy but content dog owner.  

And then I remembered a conversation my cousins and I once had about how they eat dog meat in China . Back then it was just a fun fact. Now, I was mortified at the thought.  Now that I was so attatched to a particular dog, the thought of any dog being eaten horriefied me. I mean, these are intelligent, loyal, loving animals who have the potential to bring us so much joy in so many ways. How can we kill them for their meat? 

And then I thought, what about other animals? Granted most species aren't ideal human companions like dogs are, but don't all animals have a huge potential to love? Who am I to discriminate between animals created by the Creator, by saying its not ok to kill these species for food but it is ok to kill these. How far is that from saying it's ok to marry people from this caste but not ok to marry into this caste?  Or that coloured people are meant to do these jobs and white people are meant to do these jobs? 

 That was when I decided that I could not justify taking any animal life just for the satisfaction of my taste buds anymore. 

There was something else that influenced this decision too. I'm currently re-reading  "My experiments with truth'' by a certain M. K. Gandhi. Given the direction my thoughts were taking in the weeks before, it was no surprise that this line struck a chord : ''I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man''. (Pg. 208)

I reasoned that the killing of animals for food could be justified at many points in history, but not now, when our intellect has sufficiently evolved to develop alternatives that need no loss of life. 

So it was that on the 2nd of October this year (by the Creator's arrangement, the anniversary of Gandhiji's birth was around the corner), I took the decision that felt right, that didn't prick the corner of my mind that I had walled off. 

This is an admission. I always felt the slightest bit guilty while eating non veg, but suppressed the pinch with what I believed were credible reasons. Foremost among these was that I "needed the protein", given until recently my line of work. But now that I'm not playing competitively any more, I couldn't hide behind that excuse. 

And so that's that. Score: Krish 1, Snehal 0. You win little fellow. 

Monday, 14 September 2015

Welcome home Krish

After a hiatus of almost a year, I will once again tread on my first blog, this space that gave me my first push into the world of the written word. I return to this space as and when I am moved, and this is again one such occasion. Two things have moved me, the second of which I shall advertise in the next post. As for the first, his name is Krish.

He is our dog. It feels so good to finally say that. Our dog.

He is a German shepherd to be precise, now 2 and a half months old, right in the middle of his moulting and teething-biting phase. My husband, mother-in-law (henceforth fondly referred  to  as MIL for the purpose of this blog) and I brought him home a little over a month ago.

It so happened that my youngest brother was coming to visit me for a weekend in Indore, along with my dad and step mom. He had the impression that Indore was this boring, small town kind of place .Which it is, in many ways, to my delight. It reminds me of the Pune of my childhood, where I learnt to cycle, brought home strays, and broke windows, of a Pune that exists only in small pockets within the city now. But I digress.

My brother was afraid his two nights in Indore would be the most boring of his life (This coming from a young man  who has spent the last two years in studious isolation). It so happened that we brought Krish home the day he arrived. Needless to say, there was not a dull moment over that weekend.

But I digress again. The story of Krish's homecoming began earlier. It was one of those things that just happens to you, that you have little control over. ''The story wrote itself'', said  George R.R. Martin  of his moving tale, 'The Ice Dragon',  Such was the intersection at which Krish met us. 

My family are all dog people, so we had discussed bringing a dog home before, and the responsibilities involved.  But my MIL had been firmly in opposition, reasoning that we were not in a position to care for one as we no longer lived in a bungalow (where she raised her previous dogs). Yet we said, lets just swing by the pet shop and have a look, hmm? Harmless no?

At this point, I had given some thought into things like the right breed for our apartment (in terms of adult size), the timing of a possible adoption, and where to get a dog from. I had a noble notion of adopting a dog that needs a home from a shelter, rather than picking up one from the pet shop. All the above calculations went  clean out the window when we reached the pet shop and my MIL beheld and then held Krish. To put things simply, she fell in love with the ball of fur in her hand. 

Leaving the shop without him was hard for us, especially my MIL. Krish was adorable,but we decided to sleep over it. Back home, we all (read me) debated whether it was a good idea to bring a German Shepherd home, considering that it is a large breed and demands lots of space. My MIL put forth a simple argument :That 35 day old puppy had made her switch from being anti dog to pro dog faster than political parties switch alliances in poll season. If we were getting a dog, it would be him. She had been moved, and was in this matter, was unmoving. And with good reason. Thus it was decided. 

And just in the nick of time too. The next day when we went to pick him up, another customer who had laid a claim to him turned up. The owner convinced him to go home with another German Shepherd puppy, and our fortunate family, who were so close to losing Krish before even having him, brought him home.  Today, I dread to think about how less noisy, hairy, and scratchless our lives would have been had the Creator not arranged for us to be there at that very time. 

The rest, as they should say, is the future. And we are looking forward to it.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967

So yet again John Mayer has moved me to write about one of his songs. Unlike last time, this one is not a Grammy winning creation, but it is a piece of art of singular beauty none the less. As I write this, it fills my headphones on repeat, though I have no need of listening to it so often for inspiration. I received that the first time I heard it, and I immediately had to share it with my loved ones. Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967 can have that effect on you.

The title is as offbeat as the starting tune. I have heard of few other  Mayer songs named after people ("Victoria" is one, though I wonder whether she is imaginary; Walt Grace certainly is). And  I have never heard a song that starts with a distinct  instrumental intro, clearly separate from the tune of the song proper. And then the tune itself kicks in, and again its not the guitar that hit me; as one would expect with John Mayer; but the percussion beat. It made me imagine a tiny parade of toy soldiers, or a mechanical whirring reminiscent of the sounds one might imagine in Gepetto's workshop, where he would be busy bringing to life a creature of wood and paint. Mayer's intelligent and easy on the ear rhymes have the same effect on the music.

And the interlude.  It is a beautiful soulful instrumental piece, placed between verses two and three.  Mayer again takes the road less travelled on this one by favouring a piano in this section instead of his  faithful guitar. The music is simultaneously haunting and soothing, awakening something deep within me, and at the same time singing it to sleep. It is a piece that speaks of hope sown into the tune amid a few fears and a bit of doubt, in continuity with the theme of the song.

The lyrics describe the imaginary Mr Grace , who decides that something must be done with his life, something greater than simply the sum of his years or the count of his hours. So he locks himself up in his basement and takes to birthing something uniquely his own, something unseen and unthought of, unexpected and astounding. He builds a submarine.

"Cos when you're done with this world,  you know the next is up to you..."

Being employed in the railways, hardly a day goes by when I don't hear about someone talking about their retirement.  "Pension and no tension",that holy grail for government servants. Those are the rewards which hang like a carrot in front of our noses and compel us to commit our entire working lives in their pursuit. Somehow I imagine that Walt Grace is one of the same breed, who has done the hard yards, put in the work, brought up his children, and provided for his family. But now, upon retiring, he takes up something risky, something outrageous and unbelievable,  prompting the line "his wife told his kids he was crazy, and his friends said he'd fail if he tried..".

But when you're done with this world, you know the next is up to you. Walt Grace had lived his life for others, racing along in the pursuit of happiness,  only to realise his destination didn't give him the peace of mind he thought it would. So he set out on a journey, perhaps obsession is a better word, of his own.

And on that journey he found beauty and wonder and belief, and maybe, just maybe, his life's meaning too. Maybe he created a memory, that would endear him to the world and his family in ways his job never could. And maybe he taught us all a lesson on how to live our lives, so that we needn't have to wait till they are almost over to make something extraordinary of them. That ridiculous dreams aren't as ridiculous as they seem. That,"with a will to work hard, and a library card", anything is possible. 

The song itself, with a beautiful paper art video on the background:

Monday, 8 September 2014

Conversations with a Taxi Driver

Its all my brothers fault.

Like most things in my childhood were (including the loss of my favourite cycle; yes I will never forgive you for that), the events that unfolded today were also my younger  brothers fault (not to be confused with my youngest brother). First he asks me to book train tickets for him to travel to our home in Pune from Mumbai for the weekend. When the IRCTC site renders itself unavailable due to maintenance, I, out of the boundless love I bear my brothers,actually stand in line(who does that nowadays?) to get his reservations done. But I need to drop an application off at VT (CST) station to get his ticket confirmed. And this almost undid my own journey home.

Friday. Churchgate Station. 4:20 pm.  After trying (and failing) to sneak out of office early, I had less than an hour left before my own bus to Pune left from Dadar at 5:15 PM. And I still had to drop the application at VT, then go to Lower Parel and pick up my bags, then somehow get to Dadar and catch my bus. I was trying to figure out if I could make it all, when I remembered that trains,not roads are my domain. So I asked a road expert. A taxi driver.

I hailed a cab outside office. A glance at the Ganpati idol on his dashboard told me I should speak, my mother tongue, Marathi. All the following conversations took place in Marathi, but since ashamedly it is not my strongest language, you will have to endure this post in English.

I explained the logistics and asked him if we can make it? He said, ''We have about an hour, so lets try. If it were not Ganpati season, I could tell you for sure. " I ignore the voice of reason in my head that says I'm not going to make it, and with a sense of hurtling into adventure, I walk into the proverbial rabbit hole.

I'm not usually the types who will chat with a stranger, but discussing logistics, traffic and stoppage time is a good conversation starter. After making our first stop (VT) in pretty good time, he ask me where in Dadar were headed. ''The Shivneri bus stop, heading to Pune", I say. Pune is another conversation starter. He told me about a few jobs he did there, before moving to Mumbai and getting into the business of driving. Told me about a techie he recently drove to Pune.

"So whats better? Working the Mumbai-Pune expressway or a cab within Mumbai" I ask.

''Cab in Mumbai.'' ,he promptly replies. ''Start at 7 AM, finish up at 7 PM, then go home to your family. Expressway might earn you a bit  more, but you are on the road too much. Family is more important."

Wow. My respect for this guy just shot up.

He asks about my job and we talk about extra curriculars. I tell him about sports quota railway jobs, He tells me how his niece could pick and choose her college because of her singing. Then he tells me he sings Marathi Natya Sangeet (musicals).

"Oh! My brother studied that too!"

He tells me how they have drama contests at his work, which give him a chance to leave work early and travel for the contests.

''Work? meaning?'', I ask,confused.

''Madam i actually work in BEST. I'm a bus driver. Been there 10 years. We also have sports and cultural quota. I drive a cab on my weekly off for timepass."

This guy is full of surprises.

He talk about how extra curriculars helped his own kids. Proudly tells me that they both study in an English medium school. Ryan International. He talks about the cost of education. I realise hes not driving a cab on his weekly off for timepass.

"The costs are really  high. But an English medium education is worth it. But they really have to study a lot. They have big fat books that I cant understand. Since my wife and I don't speak good English we cant tutor them at home. so they attend extra tuition. Which is an extra expense. But they are doing well, so its worth it. I don't mind working extra hard for them."

I tell him it will definitely be worth it. I tell him about my grandparents and parents, whose hard work has given my brothers and me the luxury and the joy of choosing off beat professions.

"Madam whats your surname?" he asks me. I give him mine, and I ask his in return. Rajaram Maruti Khedekar he says. How strange it is that we tend to talk about everything else with a person, only to neglect to ask thheir name.

We were only just at Lower Parel picking up my bags. Things were about to get exciting. Picture abhi baki hai.

Now the focus had shifted from the conversation to the transportation. No more school fees and  dramas. It was all business now; routes, signals and ETAs. It was 5:07 PM  when we left Lower Parel. I was now counting on the bus leaving five minutes late as was its habit. Our driver had turned onto a road that was usually open but closed for the Ganpati festival. A policeman stops us on the turn.

"Going for a cricket tournament!"

"Have a 5:15 bus!"

"Please please please"

After a bit of such grovelling the cop lets us go.

By the time we got to Dadar it was 5:24. I rushed out to the enquiry counter leaving my bag (containing my wallet and laptop) in the taxi. I had never done that before. Ever

And I had missed my bus. I had never done that before either! EVER.

Like I said, all my brother's fault.

"Maitri Park!" I said as i got back into the cab! I would have to try and catch the bus at its next stop in Chembur!. Without actually saying it, I had just said,''Follow that bus!!''

So we rushed as much as one can on Mumbai roads, all the way to Maitri Park, and the driver kept saying how fast these new Volvo buses are, and that if we haven't seen it yet we probably wont make it. Amidst all this, I was sitting in the back seat, with a faint smile on my face. I was really enjoying myself. This was all an adventure, and if I missed the bus and had to pay double for another ticket, plus the taxi fare, I wouldn't mind it much.

One signal before Maitri park, we spot the bus! The driver parks in front of the bus, I rush out to make sure the conductor hasn't sold my vacant seat to someone else. Its still vacant, and I am so happy that this adventure had a happy ending. I pay the taxi driver the fare (which was now more than the bus fare to Pune!), thank him for the good time, and get on board.

And  then I remember why I had to take this taxi in the first place. All my brother's fault, and I'm glad it was. Its not everyday you find reasons to smile fondly at the adventures and conversations Mumbai tends to throw at you.