September 5, 2012
May 10, 2012
Thursday morning, I woke up dreaming Goa. One word that had me fascinated ever since second grade when I mugged up state names and capitals. The fascination back then was for a different reason – you had to remember only three letters. But year after year when cousins talked about vacationing there, when friends brought back happy beach photos, when I saw three hairless guys Dil Chahta Hai-ing… Goa was rushing past Singapore, London, and Japan (for some reason I like saying Japan every time I use travel)… Goa was on top of the places I just had to see.
So when Saturday morning I woke up in a cold homestay room in Madikeri, I was not exactly psyched. I was still mourning the drenched Goa plans. I wouldn’t acknowledge the quiet excitement shaping in my eyes every time it saw the trivialities that made a new place new. I wouldn’t cheer up when my hands would reach out of the car window to the hilly stretches of Coorg and pretend to catch a cup of coolness and pour it on my cheeks like water drops from a tap. But by the time we reached Abbey Falls I had to leave behind all pretence. A public enemy of the sun, Miss Cris, stood right beneath the giant yellow ball, smiling at the gushing wetness slipping from rock to rock and sneaking into the pools below. “Are you meditating?” her friends teased.
Got lost, away from the tribe, finding self in a lonely path at the Nisargam point, that led to the banks of Kaveri. A place becomes special when it is least trodden by others. Kind of makes it your own little place. You can pretend you discovered it, well, for the day.
There was the Coorg Fort with only an outdoor stretch, an unappealing museum and a few old caves. But like all century-old places, it thrilled me to hide inside the thin long caves and peek through the high wall-holes, imagining I am an 18th century princess searching forbidden love and life. Kings of Coorg stepped into the heights of a place called Raja’s seat to watch the sun rise and set, and think about the village girl they pretended to not see. In between the fort and the seat stood the golden temple with a giant gold-plated idol of the Buddha. I think all idols should be gigantic.
There was a Coorg wedding on our way to the waterfall. I saw men in black suits with swords hanging from their belt and women in Kodagu style saris. There was also the faint sound of Kodagu music. Badly wanted to slip in unnoticed and watch the alien customs. My tribe members however were not interested. Oh well, next time. I mean, what next time?! Next time is Goa! Nothing else! Not even Wayanad, which has recently made a huge leap into the must-see list. No, it has to be Goa. Spelled Go-Goa!
That would have been a nice conclusion but I just have to write a bit about Bangalore. That was my starting and ending point. On day 4 of my sojourn, I took a lone trip on the Bangalore roads. I know I started from the forum in Koramangala after meeting long-time epal Rosh. But I have no idea where I walked to. Somewhere along, I found a place to sit and jot down this:
“Somebody’s turned the lights dimmer. Up in the sky I mean. I love this moment – the one before it begins to rain. There’s a comforting bit of breeze that touches you like a lullaby. It’s like being rocked in a cradle. I have no idea where I am now. It looks like a bus stop. But no bus has stopped here so far. And no people wait here. So maybe, it’s just a green shed for people who walk by to come sit and write on their notebooks. So far, Bangalore seems same as Trivandrum. Except there is a lot more people, shops and vehicles. But there are men and women and kids walking about, unmindful of all this noise. There are moms and daughters shopping – moms bargaining, daughters looking longingly at a piece of cloth. I had to play both roles – the longing daughter and the mother who warns there’s no money. There are not-so-nice-looking men looking at nice-looking women (which in this case is quite subjective). There are little children fighting for the same little toy laughing as they do. Oh ye, B’lore is pretty much the same. I reckon so is the rest of the world. It just depends on what you see when you look at it.”
March 14, 2011
Going to work without my morning coffee the past one week has been killing me. There just had to be coffee today! With about five minutes to spare I popped into the nearest tea shop I saw. A minute after entering, I became aware of it being ‘unusual’ for girls to pop into tiny tea shops in little corners of the streets of Kochi. I could feel the stares sizing me up from top to bottom. I could also spot the smile my order-taker was trying to hide. “Sure you don’t want anything else?”
I might make speeches about this not having to bother me one bit. But it did it did! I am not sure which I despise more – the stares or the fact that I could be bothered. All I had in mind was drinking that coffee asap and getting the hell outta there.
I wonder why these little things don’t change. Women are anywhere and everywhere. But when it comes to breaking certain taken-for-granted little norms like ‘men of any status can be seen in any tea shop big or small, women regardless of their stature, just do not enter these spots’, we are big-time losers.
This is not about having to make a point that women can do it too. This is just a question of how such norms came to exist and how they continue to do so. They have broken rich-poor gaps, low class-high class differences, black-white horrors, but not man-woman. Never man-woman. Not in tea-shops, not in tea-untotalling.