Sunday evening shows are hard to get tickets for and me and my sister badly wanted to watch Rock On. So we reached the theatre an hour early and bought one of the last few tickets and headed straight into the Imax Adlabs multiplex. With more than hour on our hand and nothing to do, we wandered into the Crossword store. With the sale on, we just browsed through books, getting a glimpse of the first few pages. That’s when a book caught my eye. With a colourful map on its cover, Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan’s first novel, ‘You are here’ enticed me to pick it up just to browse. Get this. She has been a compulsive confessor and I am a compulsive writer! So yeah, I had to buy it. And I don’t regret it. The novel is great quick read. Enjoyable, and well to an extent, one can relate to the protagonist, Arshi.Getting lost in Arshi’s world is easy, especially since her world is so close to our won world but yet her world is just so different. We all have boyfriend issues, we all have mean bosses and we all have internal issues that we just don’t deal with. Arshi is a PR professional living one her own Delhi. She is 25, doesn’t love her job, adores her life, has a hot guy, she’s unsure if he’s her friend or a boyfriend, has the ‘it’ life (living on own, partying when she wants and all that) and yet somewhere she’s miserable. Her life is all over the place but fun, and I simply love the way she sorts out each distinct problem in her life. The book is a pleasure to read but if you’re looking for something to enrich you, this one’s not for you. It’s Chick-Lit with a real twist to it. Just like Meenakshi’s blog, which I promptly checked out after I found the link on the book. Grab a copy on a rainy day, sit down by the window with a hot cup of coffee (though you might want some Vodka as you explore Arshi’s numerous drinking parties), and relax.
She had driven all the way across town for a meeting, which didn’t happen eventually. The terrible traffic wasn’t helping her foul mood. She was sick of her being stuck in first gear. Her knees were hurting out of the excessive driving. The tiny rickshaws kept cutting into her lane, adding to her agony. She just wanted to get home and rest.
She didn’t notice the guy in the car next door look at her. She tried to focus on getting some song on the radio, but they were just playing songs she didn’t care about. She rested her head on her steering wheel in frustration.
He couldn’t take his eyes off her, and he knew it was rude to stare, but she was adorable. She was restless in her big huge car, shifting gears even when the car was stationary. He felt a strong urge to just roll down his window and knock on hers. He shook off the thought and smiled. He forced himself to look away. She was just driving a car next to his, she could be married or she could be a mother of 5 kids. He wasn’t the type to flirt with random girls. In fact, it was a long time since he had checked out a girl even.
While he was lost in his thoughts, she had driven away… He looked at where her car had been and shrugged. What if he had knocked on her window?
The morning was unsure of the season. The sun shone bright enough to evaporate the dew drops, but the light breeze blew cool air to ruffle up the leaves. Morning walkers paced down the road, carefully dodging the parked vehicles, stray dogs and other morning walkers. Some youngsters, very few of them woke up to walk early in the morning anyway, ran along choosing the blaring music on their ipods over the light twitter of early morning birds.
I observed this scene everyday. Some came regularly, some showed up one day and never again. But they all had their reasons.
Some strangers had become friends over the innumerable walks in the ‘walkers’ lane’. I loved following the gang of oldies that only increased each day. They had long stopped walking for exercise. Under the pretext of exercise, they came scavenging for a social life. Retired, lonely and bored at home, they found friends here. Each day, they scanned the newspapers, news channels to look for the topic of discussion for the next days’ ‘morning walk’.
They saw the world from their point of view, where the youngsters were rude, the politicians were corrupt and prices way too high… This sounds familiar, oh yes, I was visiting one of the neighbourhood homes, and there was some song playing that said something about Sunscreen. This gang had literally lived through some of those lyrics.
The totally opposite wonder of this gang was a young couple, who came dressed for the walk. Elaborate sport gear with tick marks all over, earphones plugged in and they walked to the rhythm of whatever it was that played on their iPods. Time to time they looked at each other and smiled.
They never spoke, they walked and they smiled. They never had the time to observe other walkers. They would be busy walking and smiling. They looked like a happy lot.
On the other hand, the lady with the jewellery never smiled. She walked alone, everyday for an hour. She, too saw the familiar faces. Unlike the couple, she observed them, but never did a smile escape her lips. If someone did smile, she would look away. In fact the over friendly woman, I’ll tell you more about her later, once made an attempt to befriend her and walk with her. But the lady cut her off and walked away.
The over-friendly woman walked everyday for more than an hour and a half. Her walking companions kept changing through the morning, but she had a jolly good time walking. You’d think she’d slow down to catch her breath, but some lungs she has. She walks and speaks at the same steady peace. She was always accompanied by an entourage of youngsters who seemed to enjoy her talks. They came to her with their agonies about love, career, money and many more. Being the older and the wiser one, she happily sorts things out for them. They love her company and make time to rise up for the morning walks.
Am I the only one getting bored with this whole routine? Like many other things, observing them all through the morning was very interesting in the beginning. But now, now I am bored. I know what I need to know, but I wonder what kind of a life they lead after their morning walks.
I am too weak to follow them along to their homes, many of them drive to the walkers’ road you see. But I want to know more. I know enough about the old men and women, they don’t excite me. The young couple who keeps smiling does. They drive to the walk everyday, I assume they live far away. She is pretty, she is slim, dusky complexion, expressive eyes. She is pretty. He is tall and well built, intense face, with eyes that rarely express. She is the one who drives when they come, but he drives away after the walk. They have struck a balance, or are they trying to strike a balance?
I wish I could follow their car. I wish I could get into their car, but not many people welcome stray dogs in their car…
I want to be a superhero. I want to fly high, across the world. I want to fly into all the toy stores and get whatever I like. I want to be a superhero.
When I will be a superhero, people will flock around to see me. I will be popular and I will have my own trendy outfit. All the kids in my class will look up to me. I am a superhero. Everyone knows me. I have magical powers to make all my dreams come true. I am a cool superhero.
I have grown up a little. I want to grow more. I want to grow older a little, to watch TV when I want to. To go to the mall by myself and buy myself all the ice-cream I want. I want to grow up a little, so I can finally have a room of my own, a computer of my own and eventually a world of my own.
I have grown up a little more… I want to end up in a great college, a great college with great friends and a great degree. I want to have loads of cool friends around me. I want to have loads of fun. I want to be able to do all those things college kids in the movies do. Flirt a little, play a few pranks and have big laughs.
I have grown up a little more. I want to end up with that person I fancy. I want him to hold me; I want him to whisper sweet nothings to me. I want him to fancy me as much as I fancy him. I want us to hold hands at sunset on a long, lonely beach. I want him.
Oh man, time has passed. I have grown up even more. I want to land the best job with a great pay-packet. I could use that money to get fancy things for my Mum, Dad and friends. I would spend money I have earned doing things I have always wanted to do. Go to the pub, go shopping, travel the world.
Time has passed yet again. I want to get ahead of all my contemporaries. I want to be the most successful one. I want to have a fat bank balance, a plush apartment, a fancy car and of course everything fancy. I want to be known as the best of the best. Wherever I go, people should talk about me. They should know me. I should be respected.
Now I am an old lady, watching the sunset in the distance. Trying to point to that long lonely beach, I may have walked in my fantasy… So what if my fingers are crooked and my vision blurry? I still fantasize…
I have said goodbye to all those groups and to life and I have been dead into another group. I cannot tell you what group this is, because it is useless having any knowledge whatsoever of it before you die. You hear a lot of stories of what happens after you die. Some say you go on to another world, some say you can watch over the world, over your loved ones. Like I am trying to watch over you… What the stories don’t tell you is the pain of watching your loved ones go wrong, seeing them fall into a pit and then being helpless to tell them what you feel… That is the first rule of this group, we don’t communicate explicitly with your group. You need to have a higher power to be able to do that.
How can they expect me not to communicate with you, a part of me, a part of my soul, a reflection of my life. You learnt your first words with me. You learnt to look at the outside world through me. Eventually, you helped me see the outside world… And now I am in a different world, one that you can’t see or feel, but it is there. From this world I can see the dangers coming to you, I can tell your true friends from the false ones, I can see the mistakes you make but I cant tell you. I cannot break the code. It is like going back to your teenage years when I wanted to tell you about the mistakes you were about to make, but you didn’t need me. I felt helpless then and I feel helpless now. You sit by your bed every night looking at me, frozen in that little photo twenty years ago, and tears well up. I can almost hear you call me as if I were lost or hiding from you. I wish I could whisper in your ear, ‘I am right here’. I feel the urge to cry, to weep, to stretch out my hand to you in distress like I did on my deathbed, but now, there are no hands to stretch out, and there are no eyes to weep with, no voice to call out with. All that remains is an essence of my being. But I see myself in you right now… I see your daughter hold you and comfort you, just the way you comforted me when your grandmother left us. I am alive, in you…
We live our whole life in groups, a family is a group, our friends are a group, our school, our education, our profession, our social position, our income, our culture, our religion, our gender, our age, our language, our music. Everything in life is divided into groups. Everywhere we go we look for a group to belong to. Sometimes when you realize that some person belongs to the same group as you, you feel excited, because you have at least one thing in common; the group. Many relationships in life are built on this foundation of a common group.
Sometimes you leave a group, or sometimes time comes for the group to leave you. It is like birth and death. You are born into a group of people, your family and when you die you say goodbye to an extended group, which is the universal group of all the groups you were a part of.