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Life in Mumbai: Early Morning Woes

What are the things you need to do within 30 minutes of waking up to ensure your day gets off on the right foot?

1. Don’t Hit The Snooze Button

This should probably be my new year resolution.

My first act every morning after waking up is turning over in bed, pulling the covers snugly under my chin and muttering, “5 minutes more!”

When I finally do wake up — 15 or 20 minutes late — I inevitably curse myself and become the whirlwind of destruction and drowsiness, trying to get ready for college.

Forget dressing up in the latest college trends of the season — I don’t even have time to match my clothes. Half-asleep, peering through squinted drowsy eyes, I grope blindly in my cupboard and wear the first two things that I reach. Accessorise? Forget it!

After spending 15 minutes playing tag with the cold shower (who has time to wait for the geyser to heat up?) I emerge shivering and dressed like a gypsy, ready to wolf down a quarter of my breakfast, while my mother attacks my hair with a comb.

Five minutes later or sooner, I am clumsily fumbling into my shoes, hastily pocketing my watch (and maybe a pair of earrings) to wear in the rickshaw, and after a quick peck on my mother’s cheek — while she admonishes me for not finishing my breakfast and laments my dowdy appearance — and a hastily called out goodbye to my father, I am out of the door and jogging to the street to find a rickshaw.

10 minutes later I am at the station, running pell-mell on the platform to reach the train compartment, as it blows it’s whistle impatiently.

10 seconds before it departs I throw myself into the compartment and collapse on a seat, or if a seat is not available, against the side-bars by the door, and make an out-of-breath promise myself — Tomorrow I shall wake up on time!

2. Do Something Constructive on the Train

If you are a Mumbai suburban resident you know that you have a lot of time in hand every day while in commute. The choice then lies with you how to utilize this time. I know a friend who spends her one hour of travel solving algebra sums. Now that is dedication!

I may carry a magazine or a book, and sometimes even a newspaper and vow to read it on the train, but what I end up doing every day is plugging in my earphones and dozing off on my makeshift pillow aka my college bag. Or at the most play Candy Crush.

I am pretty sure I would be a more knowledgeable person in life if only I spent my commute time in doing some constructive reading.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Two Right Feet.”

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Photography 101 – Bliss

Last year in November we went to Kerala on a family vacation. The state has often been called ‘God’s Own Country’ by the industrious tourism industry, but after our trip I can’t say I dispute. It is one of the most beautiful, indeed perhaps the most beautiful place, I have ever been to. While enjoying a leisurely ride on a shikara in the gorgeous backwaters, certain lines kept playing over in my mind:

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
Innisfree 1
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, 
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

Innisfree 2

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Innisfree 3The Lake Isle of Innisfree by William Butler Yeats

Things You See On Mumbai Locals #4: Life’s Little Dramas

She got on from Dadar, and sat in the corner seat, tapping her toes and fidgeting with the strap of her bag.
Suddenly she asked, “What time will this train reach Borivali?”
“45 minutes”, I answered with the suave ease of a seasoned Mumbaikar. She blanched so visibly that it was evident she was running late for an appointment.
“Tell them – wherever you are late for – that it was raining and all trains have been delayed” I tried to reassure her. “It’s true.”
“No – actually I have to catch an express train” She confessed, and now both me and my friend (who was accompanying me) could empathize with her situation.
Who hasn’t experienced the nail-biting stress of being late for a train? Trains are the most heartless of all beings on the Earth. They never listen to excuses, or justifications, no matter how ‘justified’. Sometimes they will leave the minute you step onto the platform, just so that they can have the sadistic satisfaction of knowing they made you feel like a loser.
The three of us together tried out 3000 different hypothetical possibilities, but no matter which way we looked at it, it was a bleak situation. At the best, it would be a very close shave.
Our train, being the sadistic thing it is, didn’t make things easier, by suddenly becoming a slow, which means that it would now stop at 5 extra platforms!
My friend’s station arrived and she alighted. A few minutes later, she called up to tell me that the S Express (the girl wanted to catch) had just thundered past. We were only a few minutes ahead of it.
What followed was agonizing 15 minutes as we waited and silently urged our train to reach before S Express. After every few seconds, we would share a nervous smile. I wasn’t going to catch the S Express, but I could almost feel my co-passenger’s tension, like it was mine. I wanted her to be on time for the train almost as badly as she wanted it.
2 stations later, the S Express thundered past our train, past our dismayed eyes….till I had a hopeful thought: There are a lot of signals outside Borivali. Most express trains are forced to wait for a while before entering the station. Ours being a local had no such compunctions.
Another hopeful against hope 10 minutes later we reached our destination. The S Express was still at its platform.
The last I saw of the girl was her running towards the overpass, till I lost her in the mass of black heads and colourful backpacks.
In life, we like to have a happy ending; and so I hope she got the train.
For all I know, maybe she was going to take the train to meet her lover; maybe she was a secret agent, in hot pursuit of a criminal aboard the S Express; maybe she had a life-saving drug in her backpack that she had to take to her sick sister; or maybe she was going to participate in some sports tournament, and years later I will see her onscreen playing at the Olympics – there is a thousand distinct possibilities, and if this was a movie one of them would even be true. But who says life is any less dramatic than a movie? It may not be as obvious, but life has its little dramas…and all I hope they have happy endings.

Let’s Teleport!!

Today’s Daily Prompt says: Your local electronics store has just started selling time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only afford one. Which of these do you buy, and why?

SquareVendor-AnywhereDoors

A nearly impossible choice in my opinion, but if I had to pick just one I think I would buy the anywhere door. I mean I would love a time machine or an invisibility helmet, but I want an anywhere door the most. As a child, one of my favourite books was ‘The Wishing Chair’ by Enid Blyton – a chair that could take you to any place you want. I always dreamt of owning it, but an anywhere door will do too.

Here are the 6 reasons I chose this product over all the others:

1. I love travelling but hate crowds or traffic. With the anywhere door I can visit the entire world in fractions of a second. I could study in Oxford, party in Las Vegas, shop in Paris, and stay at some beautiful place in the countryside, without worrying about travelling time. I can even visit exotic locales like the top of Mount Everest, or the deep recesses of the Amazon Rainforest, without breaking a sweat.

2. I would get to sleep in for longer. If I cancel out the time I spend in travelling every day, I could probably have more than an hour left on my hands. I could sleep in, watch TV, read a book, really the options are endless.

3. I would never be late for any appointment, ever. No more running in late to class, muttering hasty apologies to the professor as he glares at me with livid eyes. I would get up, get dressed and just open the door – tada! I am at college.

4. I can attend all my favourite concerts, movie premieres, book signings, fairs or any other event, even if they are happening across the globe. Shopping would be so much cooler with this – pick up bread from France, olives from Italy, milk from Gujarat and chocolates from Switzerland. The best of the entire world right at my doorstep, literally. 

5. I will never be out of touch with my friends and family. I could pop down for a visit, any time I like.

6. As the product specifies ‘anywhere’ I could even visit fictional places from books, like Hogwarts, Narnia, The Enchanted Forest, Camp Half-Blood…..the possibilities are endless. Get me my Anywhere Door already!!!