Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Day 0 - Homecoming : Kanye West (Bangalore to Delhi)

You know that feeling when you actually have to do two different activities at the same time but realize that you have been blessed with only two hands and half a brain? The first few hours of today were spent unsuccessfully juggling work and my packing and trying to remember what I needed to buy on the way to the airport. And once again I realized that for the life of me I cannot multitask!

As I stood there in the questionably titled Beauty Care aisle of the supermarket, I had to choose between picking up yet another sunscreen by a global manufacturer of cosmetics or trying the herbal approach to saving my skin from the harsh attack of the merciless sun. For once I chose the latter, not knowing whether the product had actually seen the insides of a testing lab before being released into the mass market. Seriously, who checks if they actually are SPF 25 or SPF 2.5?

My trip to the airport was spent typing away furiously on my laptop and I grabbed a quick lunch thinking that I would munch on it once I finished my check in. The airline though had a few tricks up it’s sleeve as it claimed that I had to pay for excess baggage and despite my vehement protests (I’m not one to give in without a fight!) I ended up paying them more than a grand. Of course payback would be coming at a later date …. A quick call to my favourite roomie of all time meant that I got a detailed description of what to do and what not to do and I realized I nearly missed boarding my flight as I was trying to take in all the details. As I said, multi-tasking and I don’t go hand in hand.

Once on the flight though, exhaustion well and truly kicked in and I was out cold before the flight had taken off. Now that’s the third time that’s happening to me this year and it’s a habit I need to kick. And it’s not like I’m flying around the world every other weekend or anything. I woke up an hour or so later, groggy as hell and hungrier than well a guy in his mid 20’s who was three hours behind on his usual lunchtime. Which meant I was really hungry but my lunch was in my bag which was in the storage bin across the aisle and I had to cross two sleeping oldies to get to it.

Realizing that I was better off with my rumbling stomach than trying to wake the elderly couple twice (once to get to my bag and my lunch and once to return to my seat within 2 minutes which is more than enough time for them to fall asleep again) I turned my attention to the view outside and wondered for the first time about what I was leaving behind. For one, there was the absolutely fantabulous weather that Bangalore was currently experiencing, something which we all talk about but rarely get to see first hand. In many ways, Bangalore’s great weather is like Big Foot. Everyone claims to have seen it but no one can prove when. 

Then there was the new Superman movie, the Man of Steel, that was being released that weekend and I was really looking forward to catching it when the trailers had first aired. The NBA finals had the red hot Miami Heat going up against the ageing but popular San Antonio Spurs (something I had called way back in Feb) and for once I had caught most of the games leading up into the actual finals which I was going to now miss.

Eventually I turned my attention to the clouds outside and for the first time in my life I realized how beautiful even these simplest of creations can be. And I’m not the arty farty types, so you can imagine how stunning they actually must have been for me to have noticed and appreciated them. The play of the sun light on these magnificently shaped clouds made me feel that the Man up above (whatever be the name you would like to call him / her) probably had some spare time and decided to dawdle by creating these in his spare time. Well compare a human being’s life time of say 80 years versus the higher power's life time of say forever and well he is bound to have some free time to make clouds, right?

"Do you think about me now and then?
Do you think about me now and then?
'Cause I'm comin' home again, comin' home again"
                                                                                                                      Homecoming : Kanye West

I was returning to Delhi after 6 years and life had certainly changed a lot during that time. Back in the day I was a young (well Im still young!) kid out on the mean streets of our national capital for 2 ½ months as I did a project with one of India’s largest telecom companies and certainly learnt a lot as I did some hard time there. The years in between have a way of flavouring your opinion of things and Delhi remained a distant memory, a reflection of another way of life that was remarkably different from what we saw day in and day out half way across the very same and yet diverse country. 

Given the time of the year I was expecting to land into a furnace that would have me somewhere between well done and roasted before I left for Manali. “It’s raining”, someone on our flight remarked as our plane descended through the Man up above’s little playground high up in the sky and I was more than pleasantly surprised. If I thought the weather in Bangalore was great, what I experienced in Delhi was just brilliant. The nice wide roads, the lack of peak bumper to bumper traffic, seeing a national politician in the car next to mine as his security cleared the way for him to rush to his destination meant that I was well and truly back on familiar ground. And it felt good.

Hell, the memorable weather and the city seemed to have turned my favourite lion into a warm hearted softie. As I spoke to my friend who I hadn’t met in ages and had missed quite a bit (shhh don’t tell her!) since she and her family relocated from Bangalore, I was sure that I could detect the faintest hint of fondness reserved for the favourite victim (or so I would like to think) of the super mean and incredibly smart lion whose identity shall remain a secret from the rest of the world. I was given a list of places to go to and eat in Delhi before I boarded my bus and I quietly pretended to be making mental notes when in reality my overstuffed bags meant that I wasn’t going anywhere and would have to restrict myself to the waiting room of the Himachal Pradesh (a state in India) Tourism Department until the bus started.

Last minute complications had meant that my boss had to postpone his trip to July and hence it was down to me and my distant colleague (refer to the previous post for intro) who juggled his bus ticket to ensure that we were on the same bus to Manali from Delhi. Over the next few days, the distant colleague would be known as the Man who didn’t know which football club to support, but that is another story for another time. Now this was only the second time I had met distant colleague and we spent the next few hours on the bus talking about our common friends and cribbing about our company because well that’s what all grumpy employees do.

The bus stopped for dinner at a surprisingly nice restaurant and seeing as I was eating alone, I had to forgo the authentic local cuisine that I wanted to have (no sense in wasting all that food) and settled for a plate of American chop suey instead. So much for my decision to stick to the traditional culinary experience for the entire duration of the trip! I spent a few minutes taking photographs of the whole place which had some nice animal statues including that of a giraffe, a tortoise and some herons. The kids from the bus seemed to love it but hey, they were kids, what did they know? The crowning glory though was the signboard with a delicious sense of humour and the statue at the entrance that I’m sure did a great job of attracting hungry passers by. Or not.

Sleep that night was an easy affair as a day full of pleasant surprises finally wound down.

Click here for Day 1 - Manali


Nefertiti said...

long long post... and i shudder to think what's yet to come!

and a guy in his mid 20’s? really? you? now it's my turn to laugh!

Neil said...

If you thought that was long, wait till you read the new posts .....