Foreign native digressions

He was hesitant to go inside, it had started to get too nostalgic in there. A calm yet shrieking silence prevailed around post marriage ceremony, only challenged by the faint but constant hub dub of an electric generator. There were few cars coming and going , their harsh headlights tearing through the darkness. From his childhood days, he hated the lacklustre, the unceremonious wrapping up of an event. Guest departing, tents getting wrapped up , long haul trolleys taking away the furnitures and lights. The place which was teeming with laughs and smiles, of heavy perfumes and ittar, would be as desolate and quite as morgue.  He remembered that a similar sight would conjure up after college festivals and events.

– Probably thats what happens when one dies – packing up ! But as they say cest la vie (such is life).

But there was not much digression on cest-la-vie, for the latest blinding light was of his friend’s car. Thus ended his brief moment of epiphany, and thanks to apple’s smartphone ( and a pinch of right hemisphere), he saved some of it in words.

 Little did he know that ditto same feeling would impunge his first week  after his vacation in India. Singapore felt too dull, like a saltless cuisine , after his India trip. The hum-drum, the halla, the liveliness was in stark contrast to this nation’s systematic inertia. He missed his homeland.
Today :
The ennui at office reminded him to similar bored feeling during his school days. It was like revisiting the same monotonous routine after eons, yet he was able to pinpoint the same old ennui of school days.   The sad part was that everyone seemed oblivious to the fact , no one was complaining. May be it was classic case of stuck in ‘Maya’ as they describe in Hindu scriptures. But this corporate ‘maya’ was strangling him. A throbbing monotonicity was building up in his brain challenging him to ‘turn on, tune in and drop out’.
Rewind to 19 days back 
2 Feb
He was flummoxed at the ensuing crowd, and the majestic evening scenery at the vast banks of Ganges.  Although only 1 hour before he was proclaiming my gonna-be-atheist attitude to an old friend, yet the whole scenery of the Kumbh Mela captivated and enthralled him. He had read somewhere that Kumbh’s attendance exceeds over 50 millions devotees. !!
– Fucking big number!!
So far this vacation had been a calm composite one. He had expected India to surprise him after 13 months abroad, but it didn’t.  Things move too slow in this part of the world.  Only thing out of place was his initial  urge to get down from taxi and start dusting New Delhi’s flyover railings. The dust has been overwhelming. It took him some time to grow accustomed to Indian capital, and by the time he got down near Akshardham Temple, his original self had been returning. It was good to see advertisement hoardings in Hindi. Some familiar and some new faces on print ads. Someone reading this might reduce the feeling to oh-yet-another-foreign-return-banter. But truth has been told. Delhi had disappointed him lately, and it was his first time that he was more than glad to leave Delhi, without hanging around for few days.
Moving across towns and cities of Uttar Pradesh, which might as well be least developed state of India, with reins in hands of goons and dons, there seemed to be no respite in sight. Owing to recent happenings (read Delhi gang rape ) the Indian within him had been tortured, and was now raring to come out to do something. He was quickly shuffling through stacks of ideas to an extent that he had started romancing with an idea of writing civil services exams, but leaving the perfect-Singapore life needed some more weights on the scale.
The sun was high, and there was a some breeze that one encounters during winter end in India. It was serene and the flannel shirt provided a much needed sheer. His mind was largely blank, and he was enumerating an acquaintance he made in high-court-city of east UP. How he is pursuing a goal to become a IAS officer? To which came an expected reply, “it’s useless, the unlimited power corrupts the officers”.
14 Feb
Fast forward to Varanasi. The traffic was going berserk and random. It would have flabbergasted NNT. A particular gust of dust cloud blinded him beneath his rimmed glasses. He was recuperating with the dust, when a truck horn jolted him and responded with a cuss. In spite of all the bodily unpleasantness, his heart was at peace. His soul was at ease. It had been …some 395 days… since he had last came here, and he had missed these blaring horns… the humdrum, the liveliness… the random bovines on roads, and the extreme motion which would have looked like a vigrous brownian motion from a great height. Singapore seemed like a distant utopia, he read someone blaring out on Singaporeans, hating their kiasu spirit et al, in last month’s GQ issue.
“I should now really get that power goggles for driving here”, he thought, finally clearing the dust off his eyes.  (Btw still need to get hands on that last copy of his mother’s novel  “heat & dust”). A different feeling had dawned when he met his college friends after ages, few after what…5 years…his mind was like…dude is this it? But then by that time effects of Shiva’s Prasad also had started empowering his thinking.
Near Dasaswamedh ghat there was infinite queue of juntaa and faith,thanks to Kumbh mela. All for, ten seconds of ‘darshan’ of deity. Although having been brought up in the religious capital, logically his emotions were not justified. But few years away from this religious capital of India, had instilled seeds of doubt, rather questions  in his mind. Now he had started dissecting religious beliefs with a logical reasoning, and quite often they had been defeated with logic. Yet the faith is one thing which has defeated many atheists and non-believers. (And then ofcourse there was ongoing MahaKumbh)
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Buying books at his favourite book store near Assi Ghat, he lamented yet another aspect being missed , the literary and artistic upper hand of the city. Being a bibliophile buying a book in ‘x’ dollars would fetch 4 books in equivalent INR , and much better ones than those available back in videsh…    (to be continued)

Scuba Diving !!

Buoyed by water, he can fly in any direction-up, down, sideways-by merely flipping his hand. Under water, man becomes an archangel.”

“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to the earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface, and he is free.” –Jacques Cousteau

Alright I did not make my bucket list on paper, but if I would have made one then scuba diving would be there for sure. Little did I know that s.diving will become the focus of my tropical vacation. We, at least I, went without much expectations. After paying around 100 bucks for 30 minutes underwater, I thought it was lil bit too much. Once we donned dry suit for diving, and diving mask then I started feeling some rush of blood to the head. Also blame it my hypermetropia  with 5.5D ,
-I was like dude am gonna see nothing in there without my glasses.
And in answer came diving mask with power lens.
-Wo Wo !! Lets do this boys
We jumped onto the motor boat, with dry suits, scuba fins (which made me look like merman from He-man series). Once the diving guide showed us diving signals and ear equalization technique, we went in open sea for training. The weight of gas cylinders was overwhelming , but slowly and slowly the acclimatization period got expired.

But soon all this enthusiasm flew away, like a soul from mortal body. To tell the truth, it was shit scary in the beginning, breathing underwater with the mouth piece !!(thanks to wiki, now I know its name – diving regulator) with weight belt tied around your waist. Also the dive fin took some time to get acclimatized to.
And lo ! I was in sea amid corals and fishes, frantically breathing through diving regulator, biting hard into the mouthpiece, lest it goes out of my mouth.
I clearly understood what Gonzalo (The tempest )meant when he said ‘The wills above be done! but I would fain die a dry death.’
I was still overwhelmed with the bubble , with the sea-grass and coral reefs down below  when diver handed me bread slices to spread around in water, it was then that I was surrounded by fishes – this being the moment of epiphany. It was soothing and heartening at the same time , and then I realised dude this is it !! Everything went on perfect after that.

I think poetry of Farhan , from zindagi na milegi dobara summarises is pretty well. I should/would have written one for myself if I had the solace and pen and paper, right after dive. (Although I would say it wasn’t this intense )

पिघले नीलम सा बहता हुआ येह समा
नीली नीली सी खामोशियाँ
ना कहीं है ज़मीन, ना कहीं आसमान
सरसराती हुयी टहनियाँ, पट्टियां
केह रही है की बस एक तुम हो यहाँ
सिर्फ मैं हूँ मेरी सांसें हैं और मेरी धडकनें
ऐसी गहराइयाँ , ऐसी  तनहाइयाँ
और मैं सिर्फ मैं
अपने होने पे मुझको यकीन आ   गया

Now that I have read through scuba diving literature and learned about the various risks involved, I know the risks and joys of it.  Also who remembers Captain Nemo elucidating about Rouquayrol apparatus in ‘20,000 leagues under the sea’, my first English novel at the age of 10 years.
And now there is a new item in bucket list, finish all greatest scuba diving locations around the world.

Insha Allah ! Amen !

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