Friday, January 28, 2011

The Parade Escapade

For almost twenty years, every 26th January, even before the sun would rise, I would wake up with a zeal that would miraculously disappear on other mornings. I would run downstairs and switch on the television to watch the Republic Day Parade. My favorite bit would be when the cameras were idly capturing the filling patriotic songs would be played in the background. This would begin at least an hour before the parade, and I'd love watching that aerial view of Rajpath, India Gate and little little people in colourful clothing walking around.

This year, I got to be one of the little little people with colourful clothing. To say that it was just an 'experience' would do tremendous injustice to our nation's might. What unfolded before me in three hours encapsulated ten years' of patriotic movies like Rang Day Basanti, Lagaan and Swades. Watching one brigade march past after another made me miss sports day (almost). As each tableau rolled out it's culture carpet in front of the crowds, my enthusiasm would soar higher like a kite on harvest winds.

Ok. Enough with the similes. Everyone must watch the parade live at least once in their lives. (Well, not everyone, because the crowds got so chaotic this year that half the Glove got separated from us.) But there's just something else about watching a Parade. Waving at the helicopters and aircrafts zooming above, waving at the bravery award winning kids, clapping extra hard for the Karnataka Tableau (which was beautiful, by the way), trying to catch a glimpse of the country's leaders (which wasn't too hard actually, considering our Prime Minister wore a bright blue turban.).

But the best bit was the National Anthem. I know we've all squirmed and fidgeted when we sang it in the school assembly. But when some of the best bands play it in front of you, accompanied with the 21 gun salute, it transports you to a different world. You begin to understand the fervour of freedom fighters. You begin to see your nation's might in a different light. As each gun salute goes off, the ground beneath your feet vibrates, saluting the nation by itself.

Okay, so maybe I overdosed on Rang De Basanti before going to watch the parade. But it really was a brilliant experience. There were many non-patriotic highlights of the day as well.

1) Leaving your cell phone behind can be oddly liberating. For almost eight hours, it was like leaving a chain behind and exploring the world uninhibited. And this is coming from me, someone who isn't all that addicted to the phone and carelessly leaves it all over the house, always missing calls and messages.

2) Getting separated from a friends' group. The Glove ended up getting split due to different autos, different routes to India Gate interspersed with half of Delhi's population. So three of us made it to the VIP enclosure and bagged enviable seats, while the other three got left behind. :( It sort of makes you realize how important a big group is. But the one unifying factor with both halves was that we experienced two different sides of Delhi. I know I speak for the entire Glove when I say that Delhi is absolutely enchanting in solitude. Quiet, empty roads sprinkled with little flowers and wide, shady footpaths uninhabited by vendors is like walking into the 1900s all over again.

There are so many many more things that I'd love to record, but they keep fleeting in and out of the memory. Long story short, the parade was a fabulous experience, and the self discovery of a patriotic streak that I thought only manifested when I watched movies.

Hm. Other news. I attended a national Deaf-Blindness conference last week as well. Have you seen The Silent National Anthem ? It sums up the spirit of all the people in the conference. Of course, a good tip for the future is to carry tissues and surreptitiously wipe away tears brought out by a moving performance. When the organizers thanked me for covering the conference, the entire audience turned to find a teary eyed girl muffling sobs and waving feebly. (In my defense, the children who had just performed were beautiful, and I had no idea they would introduce me to the entire audience as their media representative.)

Oh, and Delhi had an earthquake last week as well. Not exactly an earthquake, since the epicentre was south-western Pakistan...but the tremours were felt. And it was a moment of further self discovery for me.

I am pathetic during Catastrophes. Absolutely Pathetic.

So the tremors began and woke everybody up. The buildings from across even began evacuating. I didn't feel diddly squat. Then I was woken up with a very rushed "Vaishnavi!! You have to get up! There's an Earthquake."

To which I respond, "So?"

Anyway, the earthquake didn't do any major damage, and I went back to my not-so-warm covers only to realize the magnitude of what could have happened. I didn't get sleep forever after that, starting at every little annoying pigeon noises. (at one point, I even thought the walls were cracking.)

I think after graduation, I will write scripts for melodramas.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Two Arms

Two Arms were gifted to help me out
To keep me safe from harm
To keep my smile from going south
And fill my life with charm

Twenty four years, it doesn't seem
Only yesterday it could be
When these two arms entered this dream
And now, share it with me

If one arm taught me how to drive
The other gave me the car
Together, they strove to make me strive
And encouraged me to fly afar

I'm called the apple of their eye
Their pear and orange too
And with each day that goes by
I live more and more like you

The arms have stood by me all through
To be my beacon and wings
To repay them, all I can do
Is to fill joy in each day life brings

Happy twenty fourth wedding anniversary, Amma and Appa. :) I know I don't say it often enough, but you are everything to me. Thank you.

P.S. You are allowed to read my blog now. But only for this post.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Zappy New Year!! =)

Remember what I said about the month of December being Magical? There's something in the air and the weather that makes you want to....just go out. There is no way such beautiful weather could curtail me from sitting inside a closed room and writing blog posts.


*Thaws fingers out of the frozen keyboard*

Right, moving on. Delhi is frozen. No, really. It is one big misty block of frozen traffic, colourful winter wear and smoky shacks at every corner. Last year, inspired by the weather, I had written this poem - Winter Frost . It was probably my first (and so far, best) attempt at poignant poetry. So as I sit down today to recreate that frosty magic, I seem to be at a loss of words.

The weather is really beautiful, I concede. Honestly, when the flight was about to land, I was terrified (what's new?). I could only see a thick creamy blanket of fog with no visible land and the plane kept losing altitude rapidly. As I bizarrely began to wonder if fog could insulate us against the fire that would probably break out due to a crash landing, I saw the runway about 10 metres from the ground....and the plane finally went thud thud thud...vroooom on it. Phew. Of course, when the stewardess announced that the temperature outside was 6 degrees, (this was at noon, mind you.) woolens started popping out of cabin baggage like magic. So yes, this season is truly magical.

Poetry will follow sometime soon, but now, dissertation and term papers await. So here's a quick update of my fabulous Christmas break before I delve into windows with 'better' views (read: Google Scholar)

It all began with the flight, like it always does. The humongous T3 terminal in Delhi made me feel like a liliput in Gulliver's land. And being the posh airport that it is, the attendant at the bookshop pursed his lips in polite consternation when I asked for my only therapy for aerophobia (A Mills and Boon book, remember?). Salvaging my dignity somehow, I trooped away and found a rather interesting book instead and walked off towards my gate.

Home was awesome, to say the least. This is the first time I've truly been at peace, without worrying about which entrance exam I have to write or which direction I have to go in the next couple of months (uh..not like these worries don't exist. I've just given them a raincheck for the summer.) So the blissful bournvita-filled days passed by me like a Delhi metro train, and before I knew it, I was packing to come back. (With 4 kgs over the baggage allowance and tonnes of good memories.)

Good memories, you ask? Because this time in Bangalore was special. :) convincing two of the best BFFs you can ever have to take a day off work and roaming all over the city (or at least all over one part of the city) can only result in good memories. From that fancy dinner in fancy clothes to the funny auto-bhaiya who insisted on charging us, like, half the normal fare at 9 in the night, the pajama party began with a bang.

Of course, staying up most of the night and watching mindless movies, only to wake up after a few desperate hours of sleep was just as entertaining too. The heavy breakfast at Maiyyas (I want Masala Dosa. NOW!) and walking ALL around Jayanagar made up for all the lack of exercise I have (or don't). Eating golguppas (Yes, in Bangalore. I've become a tainted Delhite, eating and bragging about paani puris outside of my ultimate food paradise) and just spending all that time together somehow made up for the fact that I don't see them as often as I could have, had I been at home.

But it's ok. I'll be back soon, and we'll go where we've been planning since forever but couldn't make it this time! (And no Sneha, that does NOT give you the right to crib about my grand-motherly lack of energy after a long day's hard work of walking for over 10 kms.)

And yes, reunions of other kinds happened as well, which was great fun too. But my loopy friends stole the limelight for these holidays. Thank you for a brilliant time and for treating me like a completely pampered baby. Thank you for the superb gift that I will wear and show off to everyone I know (I think I've already covered about 50% of that.) But most importantly, thank you for taking time off your super-busy schedules and spending a wonderful weekday-night-day with me.

Why does this sound eerily like I'm being forced to give a vote of thanks after a conference at school? Anyway, the point is, Thank you for YOU. And rest assured that my god children will be supplied with endless stories of our stupidity when I babysit them (in that solitary house atop the hills of Mussorie) and you guys holiday in far off destinations. (Unless, of course, you keep your word and give me that promised birthday gift!)

So a brilliant start to a New Year. There are 11 months and 27 days to go, but something tells me that the finale of 2010 has given 2011 something to seriously worry about, if it has to be upped!