Saturday, June 20, 2009

On arrivals.


Arrival # last-but-one was at Pune. The first sight there was the rear of platform 1. Cement-grey backdrop. Never been painted. Looked like it never deserved to be. Only a few bored, listless porters and tramps. Great ambience for a godown, but not exactly red carpet material.

More bleakness when I stepped out of the station. 8am, and the sun didn’t look like it’d ever come out.

Hotel Kundan Palace gave me a heavily carpeted and cushioned room. Tried way too hard for a red carpet. Much heaviness, stuffiness in the room.

10am. Skies diffused from mere sunless-ness to near-darkness. Dampness and dankness seeped through the gloom, I could only helplessly watch as they did so. The inevitable finally happened. Rain began to belt down, it was not to stop for two days.

Essentials such as local-food sampling had to wait. Relative luxuries such as cell and internet connections didn’t stand a chance. Vehement bursts puncutuated lulls in the rain, dissuading me from any attempts at going out.

The watery, lukewarm tea matched the weather just fine. Pathetic attempts at continental cuisine fit the mood just right. The cook even managed to make bad curd rice.

It was only slightly warm under a blanket. The wetness outside sucked the coziness out of any warmth there was within.

There was only so much peering-at-rain-outside-window that you could do.


The last arrival was on a bike. I was out of Mysore in the chill of early morning. Cold shafts of air rushed into my crouched upper body. Twas an invigorating coolness, though. The shivers it caused were those of alertness, not fright. Perhaps what coolness does to you depends only on what you feel like letting it do.

At 7, the coolness had slowly condensed into the chirpy warmth of morning. By 8, it was a bright sunniness amid which I was coasting away. Smooth, straight, steady, amidst equanimity. The bike was a near-noiseless purr of effortlessness.

I got out of the hotel at Kalpetta after a late breakfast. The world was a different one now. A grey smokiness had come out of nowhere and flung itself across the clear blue skies of the morning. There was rumbling in the distance. There was a hint of hesitation, a teeny bit of trepidation as I left the last house behind, exit the town limits, and go into the arms of the approaching thunderstorm.

The first refuge was under a tree. The precipitation gave no time to seek out man made shelter. A brave attempt at driving through didn’t succeed. I impatiently waited, twiddling fingers.

The storm subsided just a bit, I droned through the shower that remained.

Every piece of clothing on me was dripping. There was still 80km to go. The rain didn’t look like it’d stop all day. The morning’s sun was a distant memory.

Still amid the deluge, I descended the Wayanad ghats. Through the water curtain, I stared disbelievingly at the valley below, as the bike noiselessly glides down the 15km long downward slope. The only sound was that of wheels cutting through water on the road amid the tapping of raindrops. I was so wet, I wasnt feeling the clothes clinging to me any longer.

A renewed burst of rain forced another stop. By now, there was no fear of the rain. There was no exasperation in the inevitable wait. There was no helplessness in knowing that it was not going to stop anyway, or in knowing that I was going to have to drive through it anyway.

There was only the liberating feeling of knowing that the rain couldnt get me any wetter, that it couldnt do a thing. Perhaps that’s how hope begins.


This arrival was in the morning. Not much sleep – perhaps there was too much of anticipation of the morning. The impatience for the arrival made me cut the morning run short.

I made up for the lack of exercise by lugging boxes of material possessions. Down to the auto, into the elevator and through into the new apartment.

In every new house, there’s the inviting vacancy, emptiness, a craving for things undone and thoughts unthought. Here, today, though, there was some preoccupation with things to be done. Even the blue of the Arabian sea stretching away forever couldn’t dislodge that.

But not for long. It was in the evening, after-office, amidst twilight, when all sank in. That was when I really saw the dim lamplike glow of the lights on the beach road. I gently tiptoed to my switchboard, turned off the lights, and stood watching the row of orange embers below.

There was the sheer immensity of possibility that lay in the eternity of the deep, deep blue sea outside my balcony, as it slowly faded to black. I stood listening to the faint hum of the waves crash into the shore.

On my first day in her company, the Arabian sea made me cry.