Monday, July 25, 2005

Mumbai Madness I. "Crazy roomies".

NOTE : Be warned !!! This post is long and is from an unabashed mumbai fan. If you are in mood for a short bite, perhaps this is not the place and time.

Every morning I am jolted out of my bed with a recurring bad feeling that I overslept. More precisely I am out of step and rythm with the life around me. All dictated and clocked by one thing called the Eight.14 Andheri Slow local. Here is a samll slice of my mumbai life. It was a typical friday morning. We were excited saturday is coming and just one more day of the week to endure. The weather gloomy and threatening to dump. "Ats" and "Sangy" two room mates. Now life cant get more crazy, a tam brahm (vegetarian) a maharashtrian (sauve sopesticatd financial whizkid and "Ats" - an ahomese (he made me pronounce ahom), with a raw sense of humour and an even rawer sense of cullinary taste. "Ats" had a vivid imagination and a potly figure which can pull a smile even from an Ambedkar statue. "Sangy" losened up and laughed only when "Ats" was around. Quoting "Ats". "Like sangy has a choice. I would crack offensive, adult jokes anyway. he can laugh if he wants to". "Sangy" relented often.

six.30 : The old mechanical alarm from yester years shrieked and I
was scared. I realised that if I dont haul my ass out of bed, I
am going to feel very very sorry. I would be late to office and
I hate arriving late and I missing my appointments (Thanks to an
ever moving life in the big bad city). I could hear

"Ats" moaning "Ughhhh Noooo Man..." Madrasi , throw the thing out of the
window man. I make a mental note today is the day I got to do it. put an
extra spoon of chilli poder in the sambar. "Ats" loves sambar. "Sangy"
sleeps like a rock. Of course, he can afford it. Afterall he goes to
goregaon for work and travels the opposite direction.

Six. 35 : I got to get out of my bed. 5 minutes of my grace time is over.
Time is up. Move it man..
Six.40 : pour a hot cup of coffee down my throat and feel it
reach the cells in my eye lids. Wake up stage II accomplished.
Time to do the dew ;)..
Six.45 : "Ats" banging on the loo door .. Madrasi Madhru... bahar aa
behen Ki Laude (my sister's lover) come out man..
Six.50 : "Ats" banging on the loo door .. Madrasi Madhru... bahar aa
behen Ki Laude (my sister's lover) come out man..
Six.55 : "Ats" rushing into the bathroom with mumbai times in hand.
"Crappy paper man and I am going to use it as a toilet roll".
"Ats" likes to read up his morning share of bollywood gossip.
He particularly likes Rambha and calls her
"The-thunder-thighed-wonder". (Dear reader, Offended reading
it ? Imagine, we were roomies for 2 years. I couldnt afford to
get offended. With a little attiude, patience and practice,
I got to enjoy it)

Seven.00 : "Sangy" banging on the loo door .. "Ats"... bahar aa
behen Ki Laude (my sister's lover) come out man..

Seven.15 : "Sangy" to "Ats" - Sale how many times I have asked you not to take the
paper into the loo. You have to change man. "Ats" responding. Sale, the
paper had a story on rambha man.

"Sangy" is a true gent. calm, composed, sauve, sophesticated and professional. Maharashtrian sums up his character. "Ats" was hopeless. Laughing at everything, ogling at MTV grunch at 1.00, hitting at my HR manager "Soni" when she asked me to refer somone for a marketing position. He was so openly flirting with "Soni" and the word went around that "Soni" was interviewd by "Ats" and not the other way around. I later explained to "Ats" telling him that "Soni" was a mallu and not a (TTT) tam thunder thighs. As usual "Ats" sulked for like 20 secs. "Ats" once decided that he would seek the surreal and went upto dharamshala (Himachal) to become a budhist monk. His descent to the plains was equally surreal and quciker than the ascent, when he realised the monks had their balls frozen to marbles living in cold and that was the unavoidable path to salvation. "Ats" in his own words lamented, "Marriage is better than aching balls man".

Seven.25: "Savant" (our domestic help. "Ats" calls him domestic Hell) rings the bell. Fires a salvo to "Sangy". If the bathroom is not free in 10 minutes, I would not wash the clothes. "Sangy" pleads with him in marathi and abuses ahomese bath habits just to please "Savant". Life is hell without "Savant" and its heller with "Savant". Precisely life sux.

Seven.40 The run begins.

I always felt that everyone in mumbai is running. I very carefully observed that even if I have enough time, I invariably run and hurry. Somehow I want to reach the station and catch the first train. I have never waited and observed the architectural wonders of a mumbai suburb railway stations. Even on sundays, I run. Its not about being punctual. It is psychological. Everyone hates missing the train. Not just missing their appointed regular train. But missing any train. Thats why a mumbai station is a mass of bodyies, dodging squeezing and running. Like an animal pumping blood. Thats why I like mumbai. Its a constant adrenaline rush, and I am a selfconfessed Mumbai addict.

Eight.04 I reach Andheri station and see the train standing on its bay. A fast train moves in and I leap and jump a bunch of stairs at a time so that I make it to the train before the maddening crowd comes out. Its a personal race to the finish line. Its not just getting into the train. Its running to get your spot. The first in line of the four people standing on the door.

Eight.14 The Andheri slow local leaves at Eight.14. Not a minute earlier and not a minute later. It is just waiting for the borivili fast to leave. I open up my packet of hide and seek. With the right hand clutching the holder, I eat with my left hand. The white bhajan and clapping competes with the "dhadhak-dhadhak" of the train and I get the white goli prasad. Its my favourite mint variety. Metropolitanism and devotion go hand in hand. Even though I am not particularly relegious and god fearing, I like these guys. They have fun. Loud throaty music and the rythemic clapping. It has its own high cresendo which sometimes mesmerises me. The rains lash my new shirt and the monsoon spray refreshes me completely. I just pray its not too heavy, cos I want to reach office.

Nine.05 I reach office and slug on my chair. I space out for like 10 minutes (even spacing out in mumbai is compressed. No more one hour spacing out like in US. For more gyan on spacing out, watch the movie "office space".)

The day rumbles and grumbles. Like any day its got its highs and lows. Awaiting the dubba and hogging the meager meal. eating with my whole team including my project manager. Cracking jokes at "Bhupi" the lone surd in Cool cool canada. thats our server room and the only airconditioned spot in our rundown office.

Five.00 "Ats" gives a call and says we should meet up for a beer, before heading home. He has invited new Ahomese friends home for lunch the next day and wants to cook them some good ahomese food. Fish, mutton and chicken. I just mumbled to myself "Sangy" is fucked tomorrow.

Six.30 "Ats" rolls his way through the crowd and we meet as usual at McDonalds. he is smiling widely. Abe sale Madharchode.. how come you dint tell me you have a hot cousin ? "Oh my god...", I blurted out. "So 'Ats' got to 'S'". He explained how his day was full of life and how he bumped into her during a client call and how both of them chatted and finally figured out that his Mad Madrasi roomie is cousin of this hot chick. First time in my life, I hated beer. To tell "Ats" to stop it or to display any sign of irritation would be like throwing petrol on fire or more precisely "Axe" in a bonfire... Ever tried that ?. I silently mumbled keeping a fine balance between showing my displeasure and not airing it. I just wanted the topic to pass and die a natural death. "Ats" seemed to guess what is happening and proceeded to reassure me. "Vasu, dont feel bad I am hitting on your sister. If you hit on my sister, I wouldnt mind.". I just couldnt take it any more and said. "Ats, enough da.."

Seven.00 : "Delicate daisy" (the model type mumbai woman, who thinks that a little smile and a boob show would melt the battle hardened commuters) bypasses the cue of half irritated, half anxious and on the edge BEST (local buses) commuters. Daisy flies like a butterfly and non-challently ignoring the shouts and cries boards the bus and occupies the seat. Now no one cares enough for gender in mumbai as regards to catching a train. It gives many women (they say) the anonymity to do what they want and not be judged. But the flip side to this lack of "C"hauvenism is a total lack of "C"hivelry. "Delicate daisies stay away" screams the mumbai life and sorry there are no exceptions. I found myself a seat and when it came to "Ats" all seats were taken. "Ats" walks upto the "delicate daisy" and lectures her in a totally fake-moral voice of how everyone should follow rules. "Delicate daisy" sheds a tear and exasperately asks "Ats" " Tell me what do you want me to do, get up and give you a seat ??? !!! ". Obviously she doesnt know "Ats". With a gleeful 100 watt smile "Ats" says "I wouldnt mind that". Thus delicate daisy stands the whole way on the BEST bus and feels totally humiliated. I am sure she would think twice before breaking rules again. My heart went out to her but that was for like 10 seconds. I couldnt care less as I was reading "Mid day". Though one might think that "Ats" is inhuman. He has a softhearted side too. He admitted that he felt bad for the "delicate daisy" and wanted to offer her a seat. "On my lap", he added later with an obnoxiously throaty laugh.

Eight.00 The fish market was full of fresh arrivals and "Ats" was picking up the best of the pick. I was telling him about my latest meeting with "Admiral Ding" who is a famous bodyshopper. I have a job offer for US, I added. "Ats" looked at me and smiled. "You know what Vasu ? This body shopping thing is demeaning man. They look at you, examine your tounge and peek down your asshole and decide that you are a good body to be sent to US. ITs like me buying this Rohu. If I dont like it, I would not pick it up.". I just hated his guts.

Nine.45 The kootu is boiling(I am the sambar + kootu + rasam guy). By popular demand we decided that todays menu would be kootu and rasam. "Sangy" voted against pappaya sabji in khar, bamboo shoot pickle and pumpkin flower fry. According to "Sangy" we cant experiment on fridays. No logic just an absurd criteia to disqualify khar and vote in kootu. Again "Ats" sulked for 10 seconds. Meanwhile the kootu was boiling and the rest of the guys having a good laugh at Rajdeep sardesai's guffaws. "Sangy" anounces, "Guys, you are now looking at a lakhpathi. I won the Brand Equity quiz contest. I won cielo". I watched Atanu's eyes change shape. His mouth fell open and said "madhroo". We listened with rapt attention and found out that the clinching deal was the caption which had to be filled by the participants. "Sangy" had written "ET is part of my family". He was laughing loudly as how much of a sucker for sentimentality these ET (Economic times) chuthias were.
"Ats" had a profound look on his face. He sounded conciletary and asked "sangy". "Who is your family man ?", "who cooks for you, pays the bill, helps you wake up ?". He was intense with emotion. "Us sangy, us. We are your family". "Sangy" was dumb struck and some gutteral sound smilar to "ughhkkkjkj" came out. "Sangy" was shut. "Ats" was brilliant. He made "Sangy" promise to take us movie, mondegaar and bade miyan that sunday.

11.00 The kootu and rice are done. the t.v. room is silent. It generally goes quiet when MTV grunch starts. And after that no one talks, just watch a bunch of booties and boobs dance to glory on some beachside swimming pool in jamica. Its animal-like and even "sangy" sports a weekness for grunch. I clutch the kadai full of kootu with a pair of clippers and bring it to the living room. Sangy engrossed with grunch was blocking the way. I found myself shouting "move Sangy. move" and before clayfoot could get out of the way I could feel the kadai slip the clipper. I could feel the pit in my stomach and instinctively clutch the kadai harder. Sometimes I am possesive of my diner and food. I like to cook well and have people eat food and say "The food is good". Its a good feeling. No one can fake that kind of feeling. Meanwhile the kadai slowly slipped down the clippers (idukkis. Used for picking up hot vessels and transporting them small distances). With a bang the kada hits the floor and splashes hot kootu al over. Less than one spoon of kootu is left.

Thats it, I hit rock bottom. Blood rushes through the face and I thought, "there goes the dinner". The first few minutes of losses are the worst. Like when you realise that your pocket has been picked or you lost your cellphone. This one was similar. "How can I do something stupid ?? " is what I end up asking myself. I feel shitty and extremely angry at myself. Anger is an understatement of the mood that prevailed that day. Rage was more like it. All of us look at each other and one wrong word uttered would have sent two of us at each others' throat there would have been murder. I was shivering with rage. Intelligently "Ats" shut his mouth and quietly picked up the telephone. "Sangy", picked up a wet cloth and wipes the floor clean. I stare emptily not knowing what to do. I dont get too emotional that easily. That instant I was in a delicate condition. I could have murdered, cried or commited suicide. It was too intense.

Eleven.45 Three room mates living in a matchbox-in-the-city quietly munch through tripple schezwaan noodles and egg fried rice. All one can hear is "munch" "munch" and "munch".

Ten.00 a.m. saturday. "Ats" comes to me and says. I think MTV grunch was the reason. Bad karma got you man. Predictably he lets out a throaty laugh. I dont resist and let out peals of laughter.

After an exhausted laugh, I just sigh, "What a day. Thank god its a weekend".


At 3:46 AM, Blogger Prat said...

YayyyyyY!!! Amchi mumbai in all its glory!
Thanks for this wonderful ode to this brilliant city.
It is smiling at you, today.

At 12:08 AM, Blogger Geetanjali said...

Hehe - amusing read, tho a trifle too long...
Don't remember EVER running for a train. My dignity was more important to me than missing trian - sp since I was always early - me, I sauntered into trains regally :-)

At 4:20 AM, Blogger Vasu the terrible said...

@Prat - I miss mumbai man. And the enthu you showed for the city made me miss it even more.. Sometimes feel like chucking it all out and get back to where I started... in mumbai... The silence is killing me..

@ Gitanjali - Hmm.... Thats interesting... The thing about mumbai is that everyone is equally at loss or at gain with their dignity.. One is not adversely judged by what one is..
About regally sauntering into trains ?? you must be one of the bandra churchgate slow traveller ? or you travel against the current ?? enlighten me...

anyways thanks for dropping by.


At 6:48 AM, Blogger Princess Au Contraire said...

THat was HILARIOUS! Love dto read aboutyour exploits. Brings back memories of mad room mates and life in a fast city! Keep up the good work! Will be back for more helpings of kootu and more masala..

At 2:41 PM, Blogger Misreflection said...

I had to read this seeing as I'm planning on visitng Mumbai real soon for the first time ever.. It took me three days to read ( kidding two), but found it rather interesting, so you cook too, some of the stuff I recognize heard the names before, sounds good. Sounds like a quick paced city and sounds like you have a bunch of characters living with you too:)
hey how about posting some of your fav spots in Mumbai..

At 11:40 PM, Blogger Vasu the terrible said...

@misreflection - yeah, I am a story teller. I tell the best stories by the moonlight a campfire and a couple of whiskeys.
Mumbai is quicker and for the uninitiatied, a completely overwhelming experience. I think to best enjoy mumbai, one has to wear a smile, drop out hangups and be open in the mind. Give mumbai a week, it grows on you so much you will remember it always.

About the mumbai spots. I would someday post. When are you making this trip though ?

@princes - thanks a ton, Will try to tell more stories of masala.. One thing you got to note is the title. Mumbai Madness - 1... there would be more coming.. Let me work out a good appetite meanwhile.

At 9:50 AM, Blogger wookie said...

LOL good read

At 1:20 AM, Blogger Rejon said...

that was real good.keep up the good work.

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At 11:31 PM, Blogger Shagun said...

hey Vasu, this is brilliant. i miss amchi mumbai too.....
7 yrs in mumbai n now in bangalore, it's like moving from mind boggling frenzy to slow moving hindi art movie!!!


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