Monday morning, the first time I heard my mobile whir at 5.30 am. It was the alarm to drag me out of the bed. It was a day to travel the old roads that I used to five years ago. I hope our mind has an inbuilt mechanism that wakes all the sensory organs when we truly want to get some important things to be done. If things are nugatory then we fall asleep inspite of the alarm being set. Woke up with a vibe that created a good feeling within, having faith the work should be done without any hurdles. Geared myself with a backpack and the aviators, checked for the important documents, keys, headphones, charger. All checked in and I was set to go.
I had planned to board the Deccan Queen Express which runs between Mumbai-Pune. It normally reaches Kalyan by 8am. Thanks to the jam packed crowd of Dombivli, which is the crowdest and the most literate town in Mumbai. I literally had listened to Illahi from YJHD 8 times in repeat. “Not a good start”, I said to myself nodding with dissonance. Finally after a long wait I got a ticket to Pune. Rushing to catch the first train to Kalyan, where Deccan Queen was supposed to reach, I swifted across a few amazons, who were balking my path. There I was, on the platform, the GPS clock ticking 8.13 am and 8.09 train was yet to reach. “Arggggghh nature buttresses the situation better”, I punched my fist in air. I hastled to reach Kalyan, all in vain. I missed the Deccan Queen. Fortunately there was another train in the next 30 minutes.
As I boarded the train, I pushed past 6 7 people to squeeze myself in the compartment. Mumbai locals teach you a lot, to adjust, to be audacious, to care, to brawl, to protect your belongings, make you responsible, to make you apprehend that you are one tough Mumbaikar. Everyone should probably travel a week in Mumbai Locals and I’m sure that they will take the best of the experience. Finally after a 3 hour journey, I stepped again on the same land which I did years ago. A feeling of longing, the aura going black and white, a feeling of some baggage left behind, a plethora of memories played in loop. The historic Pune station which we were with friends a couple of years ago at regular intervals now seemed void. The two wheeler traffic still was the same, moving at their own melody nothing changed except for a few months added to the memories. The crowded streets near Dagdushet Ganpati Mandir, the lusty streets on the other side, all prevailed even after 20 months. There was a silence in every speech, a memory in every breeze of air around the city as I was travelling through the city bus. I missed everyone as I could see the places where I once used to be, however time lapses and it’s only memories that are attached as strings with people.
As I watched the roads and was busy clicking pictures, I could see the all the food joints which we used to visit every weekend. The token display at the Mankar dosa center still was ticking as it used to. The ‘Aaj ki pehli taarik Gelato’ brought me shivers down the spine. The same places where pictures were snapped, seemed barren. The finger licking Raj Roll was the cheapest joint when we were running out of money for weekends, was still selling delicious rolls at the same price. I was surprised to see the same guy who used to make some finger licking rolls for us, unfortunately he couldn’t remember my face. As I walked past the footpath, I glanced at the Pani Puri hawker, who was known for the chilled Pani puris. The reminiscences were worth remembering – the unconditional grab of the elbows seeking compassion, the kiddish headbutts on my shoulders and behaving like an elf and cribbing like a mouse with the loved ones, the tall, robust chest out walks with all the boys on the streets just to make an impression and break the ice on the girl whenever the eye contact was made and then wrangling over who won the contest – I nodded my head in the callow things we did.
The roads were bright and depicted the pictures of the past which were sketched in black and white as the friends were the colours who painted them the best. I could feel their absence in every food joint which was still the same but there was no fun having them. The breeze tickled my locks, made the hair messy and when I tried to set them up, I could feel that time had really passed on and the memories made down the lane were not making me feel better. It had pulled me in the clutches of time. As I entered my room where I stayed during bachelors, I could feel my legs getting cramped and suddenly all the strength within me dwindled. I dropped my backpack and fell on my knees just to keep my conscience. The warmth, the simulacrum of a mother’s cuddle all these emotions were running through my heart and brain.
Every street that I saw, I could spin a yarn with a whole bunch of memories residing there. The football ground where we crashed every dawn, all the assists, the gory fights on match day, the insane nights in hostels, the unremitting annoyance we gave to the Rector, and the unpalatable food in hostel which still tasted the same. The guitar jamming sessions on the terrace with Amit, Awin, Mashuq, things that we shared are beyond words, every time I think of that times you will be cussed with love, Mashuq if you hadn’t been there all our jokes would have been soulless, the brawling contests with Pooja, the cooking nights and the exhilarating stories with Debasish, the moments spent well with Prakash Chandrashekhar and his craze for movies, Rahul Gandhi, Balaji for the pre-exam predictions and the stories behind projects and mini projects, Leelanadh for his impeccable and inclination to storytelling and movies and also his philosophical interests, Vivek for the long photowalk and all the photographer in me is because of the Hand of God. Yash for all the frolicsome and lusty talks, Garima for all the jijajis-bhabhijis help and guidance, Pranjali for the ek time ki chai aur cream roll and for still bearing me every time I mess up, Rutuja for being there in the shadow of the darkness of the night and also in the luminous sunlight and making me realize the real me, Sandeep for all the jillion bike rides, Siddharth for being the sole inspiration for sports, Anand being debonair and who instigated that sleep can be taken anywhere and its importance, also your sprints and defences in football, Aditya you made me realize how dates are important and I really wonder how do you keep a track of it, Leon for all your crazy experiments and the tenacity in you to finish any damn game asap, you own all the respect, especially all the guys who were in the ups and downs of football a raised hockey stick respect to you. If I’ve missed out people really sorry about that, but you have all earned the respect throughout my experience in Pune, and for all the jaunty people who have not only made my journey resolute but also enriched it with medley of life sharing experiences which I can cherish anytime.