Thursday, January 15, 2009

A mid-winter night's dream

The army of Alexander the Great rushed down the mudded waters of the Yamuna charging into the landscape of Delhi. Nearby, a train passed on the Metro rail over the river and the passengers screamed with fright at the sight of the army. The Yamuna has been silting for years and now the army reached the other side - the Promised Land in no time. Across the land, they were in for a surprise. It was vast, barren, empty, and lonely except for a sole eighteenth century Englishman who stood there nonchalantly with a bar of Cadbury Bournville dark chocolate in his hand. He demanded to speak to none but Alexander the Great. As the great conqueror approached, the Englishman asked, "Have you truly earned this chocolate?" Enraged, Alexander drew his sword and charged at the Englishman with his horse. Just as he swooped down to behead his enemy and grab the chocolate bar, the Englishman disappeared. Dejected and shocked, Alexander looked hither and thither and ordered his army men to look for the enemy. In confusion, his army started fighting with each other.

In the meantime, having nothing better to do, Alexander dismounted from his horse and started to explore the land. A street lay ahead and as he crossed the street a Starbucks coffee shop beckoned. Alexander the Great remembered how thirsty he was and walked in and ordered a cup of Tazo tea. To his great surprise the Englishman was also in Starbucks enjoying a cup of coffee. Tired as he was, Alexander was in no mood to fight and settled on a comfortable sofa by a window. It was a Saturday and as usual a band was playing in Starbucks. Only this time it was the renowned tabla artist Zakhir Hussain. As the barista served tea to Alexander, he took a sip. Zakhir finished his performance and everyone said 'Waah Ustaad Waah!' Alexander closed his eyes and remarked in chaste Urdu, “Arrey Huzoor Waah Tazo Kahiye!"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tired out and Tried out.

In hibernating for almost a month and not posting anything at all in this blog, I have nobody to blame but myself. I have traveled across the seven seas and have come back to the land of the insane, wiser and fatter. In the short span of time, that I was at home, I have been subject to a treacherous schedule of boiled vegetables in the morning to build my appetite, followed by sinfully rich chingri maacher malai curry during lunch, samosas fried in ghee in the evening and chicken chowmein for dinner. The cycle has been repeated with small variations during the stay. I have been woken at 6 A.M in the morning to watch the spiritual programs on ETV Bangla and had to practice the daily new Yoga shown at exactly 6:40 AM Monday to Saturday on DD Bangla. I was made to visit all kinds of temples and ashrams, holy men and aged relatives. The last mentioned fed me with beguni, roshogolla and love. It was too much to digest. I was not allowed to hang out with my friends, because time was precious and they were dispensable while relatives are most definitely not.

When along with my stomach I cried for mercy, I had a day's rest and I finally caught some sleep. In the meantime, I visited the bank to make sure that the little money I had was safe, visited tailors because despite the freezing temperatures an Indian girl must always wear her salwar kameez, went shopping but could not buy anything and even made a futile attempt to take out my folks for lunch to a nice restaurant.

Much of my ranting here would have lessened if time had let me relax and heal the exhaustion both mental and physical. My time has been divided between dropping relatives at airports and teaching my parents to use the webcam to communicate with me. My mother now puts it to optimal use. She positions the webcam in front of the 'thakur ghor' - the prayer room and makes me say my daily prayers even though its 10:30 at night when I usually speak to her. My maid servant was astonished to see me disappear in such a short span without any 'bakshish' (as if!!!) and now demands to know whether I have a maid who does dishes for me. When my mother informed her that I use a dish washer, she said she could come over and wash my dishes for real cheap!

My whirlwind tour has come to an end. I am not even sure whether I am glad to be back or whether it would been better never to come back at all. To contemplate on that, I need to catch up on my forty winks!