Monday, April 30, 2012


It’s annual school holidays in your new neighbourhood where your family has just moved into. You’ve made a friend across the street. It’s an unusually cool summer morning when you go to his house which is in the back of the owner’s house. It was a standard practice when the owner of a house wanted to make some extra money they rented out the small ‘portion’ in the back to people they knew or friend’s friend’s relative. Your house was also in the back come to think of it. Your friend is in the owner’s house, and he introduces you to them, two brothers. They seem like nice people. One of them has made some sweet dish and he is offering it to you to taste, you have a taste and it’s quite nice. It’s a fairly big house but not as clean as your house is. Bachelors are like that, you remember someone saying in connection with something else. Later, your friend takes you outside where the owner’s tractor is standing. It’s a blue tractor with a trailor, and you get on the trailer, and he tells you you can see air if you look real close. You strain your eyes and all you can see are those vague dots swimming in front of your eyes. He says that’s air. You can see it now, can’t you? When you go back in, this song comes on the radio, it sounds beautiful.

Ilaya nila

The year seems good for decent grades, especially in math, a bit unusual. There’s a sense of relief in the air as the eminently forgettable two years at the not-so-top of the line school are coming to a swift end. And come June, the so-far-near-drab life would take on an exciting turn with the next step being in a college. College! In other word, freedom. Freedom to go and come as you please, freedom to ogle girls, freedom to talk about things you couldn’t till recently, freedom to watch movies that were certified ‘A’, freedom to come home late … you can taste it now as you go to your school. The hope of a new beginning makes even this dowdy affair seem interesting. As you take the bus in the morning, and as yo leave for school, they pla this song on the radio. It’s captivating, jazzy, unusual (like the high grade in math), and its guitar work is like nothing you’ve heard so far. Then, when you are in college, in the hilly, cooler part of your town, enjoying the unalloyed freedom of being above reproach from family members, your friend plays this song on the guitar and wins a gold medal. Years later, very many years later, you would pick up this song on your guitar too, and it would be one of the most satisfying experiences of your life, especially when you play the last interlude. Bliss!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Take a bow

It’s during the first few months on your new job in the new city. You’ve come to work on a Saturday and the office looks deserted save for the few other people working on the same project. Time dilates on a weekend shift, especially when your wife is waiting at home. You finish your work as best and as quickly as you can and take your friend up on his offer of a lift, he is going your side of the town he says. There’s still someone at the office who will lock up later. You take the empty elevator down to the lobby that has a few tourists looking for a bargain at the shops selling cameras and watches. Your friend says he has parked his car a few blocks away, about a 10 minute walk, so you walk to the car park in a mall. It’s an old beat up Toyota. It has character, feels strong somehow. The streets start getting emptier and emptier, wearing a lazy weekend look as you reach home. This song comes on, accentuating the emptiness further. Your friend looks at a passing car and says, ‘red merc’. You laugh at the way he says it. He drops you off outside your apartment block and you walk up, feeling a bit drained but looking forward to the evening.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Walking in Memphis

It's early days in the new city you have moved to, and you are on your way to work or is it a weekend and you're on your way to the mall in the downtown area with your newly wedded wife? You don't remember now, but you remember the day was pleasant. It was a cool tropical morning and the air con in taxi make sit cooler. Rain drops slide down the window blurring the view of buses, cars and pedestrians on either side of the road. Everything feels refreshingly different, the newness of the place hasn't left you yet, there will be time for that, years later when it would be not so different as it is now. The cab with its air-con and the almost silent clicks of the indicator light, the smell of the interior which is quite pleasant, the taxi driver's accent, the sights of the city ... everything feels so different. The taxi is at a traffic light, you look out at all the foreign-make cars you never saw back home, as a yellow taxi pulls up next blocking the view, and this song comes on the car radio.

Love is all around

It’s still early days in the new city. You are settling in, with your colleagues, in your new home, the new surroundings. You take the train which is everything the trains in your town were not. These are clean, new, efficient, and nobody hung out of carriages like the did back home. You take the train with your wife to the mall in the shopping district. There are cosmetic counters on the first floor, clothes and household stuff are sold on other levels. You watch a movie in the hall which is located on the top floor, and you look down at all these shops on your way up the escalator. Later you will have dinner at a pasta place you’ve become a regular at over the last few months. It’s a routine now. As you go up, this song comes on again through the speakers.

Postcards from L.A

You always heard this song on your taxi rides in the tropical city you moved to recently. They played this song mostly in the mornings. You don’t remember what the days were like now as you try to remember. Not specifically, but they seem very pleasant. “everything looks and feels different”, you said to yourself as you soaked in the feel of the new city, with its new people, foreign faces, colleagues who looked nothing like your countrymen, roads that were totally unfamiliar, sights and sounds and accents that were nothing like you had ever seen so far…. Living in a different country, travelling out of your familiar womb was always going to be laced with a thin line of nervousness. Wasn’t that what excitement was all about? Like a rollercoaster ride. And every day almost they played this song on the radio, which too was a new experience, for the taxis in your previous city didn’t have a radio. They didn’t have air con, let alone radio.