Category Archives: Wanderer

Govinda Ala re!

sketchpad12Anyone who lived in Bombay in the 80’s would know what festivals were and how important they were. Deafening loudspeakers yelled at each other from different colonies. All those Bollywood numbers on festivals started from dawn till late in the night until all the neighbour’s started complaining about the volume or till Ballu (the local drunkard) was completely sloshed and out after dancing on those numbers!

Those were the times when lovers dedicated songs on loudspeakers and new love blossomed under the name of festivals.

Holi and Govinda (Janamashtmi, Dahi Handi) were my favorites.

The year started with Holi. During Holi, a huge crater would be dug in the concrete of Amchiwadi and Kiran, the taxi driver, would perform Holika Puja! Kiran transformed into a Pujari (priest) on such occasions, after all he belonged to the Brahmin family and when would all the shloka’s (chants) payback, which he had earnestly learned from his Ajoba (grandpa).

I do not remember about the rituals though but I remember, we kids use to sit around the Holika (burning campfire) and watch all the mummies, aunties and Aajjies (grandmas) come with their thali’s (ceremonial plates) and perform their Puja (rituals). The interesting bit about the entire puja were the coins that were hurled into the Holika. We would sit around the circumference of the crater and watch those coins glowing in the flames.

Each one eyeing the loot!

Come morning and we would jump into that crater even before brushing our teeth. By morning all that was left in the crater would be ashes and dark burnt coins and some grey kids! People around us would be all red, pink and violet with the holi colours but we kids would be busy collecting the coins from crater all grey! Finally the big kids would come and pull us out and take their share from the loot …that was Holi for me all grey and smoky. It was only later in college days that it turned colorful and intoxicated!

Govinda (Krsihna’s Birthday) was my favorite and probably everyone’s favorite in Amchiwadi. A lot of days went into practicing, forming the human pyramid to break the Handi (earthen pot filled with buttermilk which is tied at height.)

Now every year the lightweight Raju was the top most boy in the pyramid and had mastered the art of breaking the handi. Each year the handi went higher and higher but the Amchiwadi’s govinda (the participant of the pyramid, they are called govindas after Lord Krishna’s gang of friend’s, who use to steal butter) also never gave up… they too climbed higher and higher… sometimes the height was as high as 30 feet… the Guinness record is 43 feet! The higher the handi the bigger the prize money… each colony had their own team of govindas and each colony had their handi with prize money. All the neighboring colonies would invite other colony govindas to come and accept the challenge to break their handi… who ever broke the handi would walk away with the prize money… now this was not very simple as it sounds… the govindas formed a human pyramid… sometimes going up to six tiers but the catch here is the colony residents… they would all try and stop the govindas to break the handi by hurling water. The small kids used coloured water balloons and their enthusiastic mothers would hurl buckets of water. All hanging from their windows and balconies. Hurling water, shouting and screaming, distracting the govindas.

Amidst the chaos and excitement we have the loud speakers blaring the famous govinda songs from Bollywood. In the late 80’s every Bollywood actor from Amitabh Bachchan to Jackie Shroff had one song to their name and they too have performed the govinda stunt in their movies. In Bollywood every actor has one such song be it a govinda song or ganesh song…. all of them have danced to these numbers….and during these festivals these songs go on a loop on the loud speakers. By the end of the day I am sure everyone knew the lyrics by heart.

Now coming back to Amchiwadi… Each year Raju our master govinda would be the top guy in the pyramid and would always make sure that their team broke at least four or five handis. They all use to look forward as the prize money would help them run their homes for months. Raju was the local barber’s son, the youngest and the smartest. It was only during govinda that the people in Amchiwadi made the barber and his family feel alive. Nobody knew how many days they slept hungry or how many nights their roof leaked but come govinda, the entire Amchiwadi made Raju and his family feel important.

As I lived on the topmost house with a terrace, every year the boys use to come home to tie the handi and made sure they stacked enough water in buckets, pots, mugs and balloons… to distract the other govinda team.

One such year, I remember we decided to tie the handi really high, almost 30 feet! … Why? We had collected more cash for the prize money and we thought we can’t give the money that easy. Result many govindas came, fell, re-tried and fell again… almost all the neighboring colonies came and tried but none of them could make it. Normally by lunch all the handis are broken but it was almost evening and still nobody could break the handi… finally Raju decided that we will break our own handi… they had practiced the pyramid till five tiers but this one needed at least seven… so without practicing they went for seven… result… they all fell… they all came tumbling down like a pack of cards … everyone took utmost care that Raju fell first and was taken good care of… each time they went up, there was pin drop silence… even the loud speakers were shut but they came tumbling down.

Now I was really tired and wanted this madness to end … I was hanging from my terrace waiting for the handi to break so that the loud speakers would stop and I could get back to my studies… the rope from where the handi was tied was right under my nose. I looked at the rope and then at tired Raju .. Raju caught my eye … I smiled and he winked … Raju pleaded to his team for one last try …

And yes they did it.

There was cheering and clapping, the entire Amchiwadi was dancing… the loud speakers were louder than before and there was no end to the rejoicing… it went on till dawn.

I really wanted this madness to stop, I wanted to sleep and wake up for my exams in the morning.Had I known that the party would never end I would have never lowered the rope.


Why I don’t get lost more often!

sketchpad10Many stories are incomplete many dialogues are interrupted.

I wish I had said that,
I wish I had kissed him,
I wish I had stayed back a little more,
I wish I had gone a little further…

We often wonder what if … many such what if’s and why not’s!

I often wonder what if I had stayed back in Omaru (New Zealand) and got lost with the penguins. What if I sneaked out of the bed and took a flight to Amsterdam to meet Van Gogh. Often in the traffic on the way to office, I feel just go … go straight to the airport and take the next flight out to anywhere.

I always did whacky, all the time…

Suddenly took off to Lonavala (a nearby hill station) from Bombay rather than going to college to meet my love.

Landed up at a friends place midnight to say sorry and then drove back 50 miles.

Kept my friends waiting at home on my birthday and treated the street urchins to yummy chocolate cakes in a fancy Bistro.

Drove straight to Pushkar from Delhi 300 miles! It was better than standing in the long queue for those movie tickets.

Walked out of the hospital after a surgery and hours later I was in a meeting & next gorging at my favorite Kakori Kebaabs!

Went for a trip with office staff and then suddenly took off  to a nearby desert, calling my boss that I will not be turning up for work for the next few days!

Crept out of bed midnight and took the early morning flight in my pajamas to meet my love!

Sold my gold earrings and gave all the money to a boy singing in the train for medicine for his little sister and told my mom that I lost my earrings.

Resigned from my job one day and went to watch Vertical Limit with a friend and end up getting another job in the movie intermission.

Blew all my bank balance … got reduced to Rs 3/- and then called a friend with that from a pay phone and signed up a big deal!

Kicked a drunkard from a moving bus in dark hours in Ghaziabad! (Not very safe for girls in the night, rather anytime!)

Danced with a friend in a stranger’s wedding and ended up taking pictures and video’s … I am sure they will be wondering who the hell am I?

Go for a Christmas party and end up Proposing!

We all have stories and those whacky moments … I have endless

I never thought twice before saying or doing anything … then why now?

Have I lost my spark! that spunk or have I stopped living (at the edge)
Have I sobered, have I got domesticated?
Nope I don’t think so. I still fall in love everyday…

Now I just trip to see my little angel’s face everyday, to hug her all sweaty and smelly when she is back from school. All cuddled in bed with her, I don’t feel like creeping out. Now I like to dance with her rather than dancing in stranger’s wedding. Intoxicated with her smell and touch
…  She’s my Trip!

I know soon she will take off … and I will too!


Wanderer…

Mama use to call me dhoor! (Wandering dust) … he knew me so well!

I always have wandered… in my thoughts, in relationships and literally too!

I wandered in my Amchi Wadi collecting anything and everything that caught my fancy! When mummy took her afternoon nap… that was the time I slipped out into my adventurous trip of collecting aluminum foil, red and blue stripped milk bottle caps, colourful broken glass bangle pieces to make a kaleidoscope which pappa had promised and which never happened! Scrambling through wriggly Bombay monsoon earthworms to get those shimmery colourful glass bangle pieces (worn by my Marathi neighbors), from below the drain covers … I do not know how and why but that was the spot where I always found them!

I collected Monty uncle’s cigarette stubs too. The filter’s made a lovely sponge bedding for my dolls. I quite liked the activity of removing the sponge from the used stubs. The tobacco smell was quite intoxicating and I remember it was Four Square!

Once I came home elated with my pockets full of black beads, very excited and happy. Mummy got wild, threw them immediately.

I did not know that goat’s droppings looked like beads!

Pencil shaving also figured into my collection. In a vain attempt to make rubber (eraser)! Eraser from pencil shavings?

Recipe for creating Eraser:
Ingredients: Pencil shaving and Milk
Method: Mix and freeze!

So simple… but it never happened! We never ever figured why the rubber never happened? Probably we did not know the right proportions of milk vs. pencil shavings.

The afternoon naptime was also our playtime. Games of the 70’s were chor police, laghori, dodge ball, stappo (hopscotch), Queen of Sheba, and Goldspot!

What was playstaion or gameboy?

I often use to play marbles with the now Shiv Sena turned boys! I played with them then but then when I became Muslim girl I do not know?

I always use to chase all the young boys away and fought for kites that got tangled in our television antennas… I did not know how to fly a kite but I loved to collect the one’s that got tangled in our antenna!

We girls, a bunch of us from the second, first and ground floor played in the passage of the old and the new annexe buildings, known as Chaggan Mansion! The first floor passage was our den. During the hot, humid Bombay afternoon, when all mummy’s and grandma’s had their siesta, we girls came out to play in this passage … Bombay never had gardens or playgrounds … at least not where I stayed! Building passages were our play area, recreation zone. We girls often ended up fighting and neighbor’s came out yelling! Often we use to gossip and share secretes on that first floor passage.

The passage corner was also my haunt for collecting cigarette stubs thrown by Monty Uncle. Monty Uncle with that skull tattoo.

I remember Shalini, describing how she saw naked Monty Uncle humping over Pam Aunty. Shalini was Monty Uncle’s, domestic help and our playmate in the afternoon. We did not have to imagine Pam Aunty (Monty Uncle’s wife) naked cause she always was… in her see through nighties and deep necks!

Monty Uncle had quite a home! A small one room kitchen with a balcony. He had split his one room into two by a crafty, wooden partition. One part was the living room and the other a bedroom. He created great wooden masterpieces in his balcony turned workshop. The most interesting bit about his home was a hammock that hung across his bedroom over his bed! After what Shalini described, I always imagined Monty Uncle and Pam Aunty in that hammock and little Shalini sleeping below that hammock watching them!

Monty Uncle had an amazing pet… Peter Repeater the parrot! Peter was quite a prized possession in the Monty Uncle’s home and it was evident from the spot he resided. Monty Uncle had carved a fancy high, stool to perch his cage right outside the door. Peter the Repeater had a nice big cage all to himself on that fancy stool …we kids often use to tease him, probe him to repeat after us and feed him green chilies! I have heard people parking their dogs outside their doors, they are good guards but Peter was no less… whoever visited the door, Peter would screech and say “Hello aunty, Hello aunty” and I am sure that Monty Uncle and Pam Aunty would get alerted and jump of their hammock!

I often wandered to my storeroom, to a lost forgotten Godrej Steel Cupboard. There were many interesting things stored and forgotten. Some bottles of Chivas Regal and White Dog (gifted by my aunt from Canada… pappa never drank them but gifted them to his business associates), some porn magazines (belonging to my new young cousin brothers who stayed with us then) .. old fancy bell-bottom pants, funny conical padded bras, and all that 70’s stuff… Pictures of mummy in fancy frocks and pappa in smart shades. I loved to check out those old photographs and fancy clothes. I was quite amused by one black and white, Russian porn magazine. It was full of pictures. A story about three nude ladies and a fully clothed, three-piece suite-clad detective. Every time I wandered to the cupboard I found new booties!

One fine day … pappa came home and announced that he was shifting the Godrej Steel Cupboard to our factory office. When the Cupboard reached the factory, the guard called up pappa and announced that the workers have found some liquor bottles and he could only save a few from them…rest are all gulped and finished!

I wonder did anyone find those Russian Ladies?


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