Sunday, January 21, 2007

Memories of a bageecha

Dehradoon. It's my happy place, my sanatorium, and other home. If I wanted it could be a weekend retreat, but the fact that city life becomes such a time consuming habit.
It's only a six hour drive from Delhi, of which the last stretch is plagued with hair-pin-bends and langurs. And you have to pass through this one landmark tunnel before hill crows begin to sound different, or so I imagine.
Milestones -- plain with their yellow arched heads, are suddenly more becoming by way of the promise they hold. Rajpur 13, this one says. Home nears, sleep and sloth are shrugged off, windows are rolled down -- or well, buttoned down in today's up one level cars, and we start inhaling (increasingly diesel infected) hill air. Home nears even more, and whatever bouts of car sickness, and sun induced frowns existed before, all vanish. We turn off the main road and take the much anticipated left turn. Gravel gravel everywhere, Tibetan kids stop playing to look up. We're home, and still giddy. It's not novel, we've lived this holiday routine all my life, but reaching still feels so very good; therapeutic, like hot water.

Stretch, open car doors, luggage, hear the dogs bark, pet them while yelling Shaaadaap, hug the grandparents and charge inside to inspect if every thing's the same. It invariably is. Quick round, and they/ we/ us/ me collapse on the poky lawn, and feel excited at the sight of a bee. Why do we live in cities, what a waste. I don't see bees here in Delhi on a daily basis, I miss stuff like that. Bees, and homemade strawberry jam; moss on drains, and neighbours whose lives we're in tune with, and whose cakes we will eat in the evening while returning from forest walks. Even their crockery has been drunk from before. We know their quirks, and their dogs -- Tobu abso, Radar terrier, Bahadur jungli, their grand children's names have always been known, even though their e mail addresses came later.

It is a slower world, Doon. Curtain prints are bigger. People aren't anti white linen for the sole yahaan dhool kitni hoti hai reason. It is easy to relish, this Doon imagery in my head.

Big white flowers, Kohli from next door always welcomed mommy with. They wither, and attract ants in no time, but smell great. He'd pluck them off trees brandishing his sickle from up there, looking down with his one eye short that would freak me out as a kid. Handicap coward I was, petrified of disability. And cook faithful's one legged father with his raspy voice didn't help rid me of any phobias either.

We generally reach Doon by lunch, for the flavours that emanate from that kitchen are aged, loved, and spectacularly familiar in their longed for taste. Very very edible by any standard.
The dining table used to shrink with every visit, either that or I grew taller. Confusing dimension game it used to be at one point. It hasn't been shrinking all that much in recent years, but the suspicion lingers.
The place is my weakness, the house is, the lawn is, even the big jars in the kitchen store are. And except that's it's just so bloody selfish, I want my grandparents to outlive any of us. I want to get married in that house, I want albums to get filled with every part, every inch, and piece of of that house. Bric-a-brac -- the cut glass ski-man, the brown little hut, and the flower shaped flat bowl; all in the drawing room, with it's high ceiling and white Buddha light. The steps which aren't so steep, the banister which isn't really much more than a practical wooden-ish stopper, and his study table which has fifty five five years of dust on it, thanks to my grandfather's tidy ways.
I want that place to stop like that, the frame to freeze. I want a miniature version of it, like in those glass balls, with optional shiny bits to disturb, and turn upside down.

Gravelled driveways, and little purple flowers on slightly bigger green bushes. All Doon images. Ashrams, and tall crooked trees; lots of mango, lots of litchi, and forrest fires further up. Perfect ingredients for a childhood enchanted.
Fresh samosas from a filthy Rajpur bazaar, lots of stray dogs surreptitiously socialising with the pedigreed ones, orange coloured non tulips and the suspicion of snakes in damp corners. All Doon, all home. My very own Eden. Old magazines in musty smelling napthelene-d cupboards, that are ransacked every time, purely for the fun of it.
There used to be a projector. Memory reels kept in small yellow cases. I was a cute baby. But then it is only a little less fun looking at other family miniatures.
When it rains you can't here anything else in that house; sounds become patters, voices dissolve, TVs go off the air, and one has to contend themselves with Scrabble or decade old Readers Digests.
The room upstairs is an ideal love nest, I know I've thought so forever. It's secluded, and there's that red lampshade with the silken tassels, and a big dreamy painting on the slightly mildewed wall. What does the trick though is a slanting roof, and big windows which open out to guava trees down below and Mussorie on the far side. It's where I always want to curl up; with a man or a book, is somewhat besides the point, and so very secondary to the place one is just so darn grateful to have been born in, and still a part of.

5 comments:

sushant said...

hey that was a wonderful narration of your native place . i felt like packing my bags for dehradoon.
lovely post.
keep writing.

Anoop said...

I think some places leave shadows on ones mind. They form a shape which is pleasing for the eyes to hallicunate, but in the struggle, some dreams do come true. I guess you lived one! Power on my friend!

Going back to the blog, the narration is very theoritically poised. Give some room for creativity.

Anyways. Cheers!

nimpipi said...

Anoop, if you do come back -- and i wish you do, it'd be nice to have access to your blog, meanwhile thanks for those lines.
Sushant -- ditto, thank you. I see I DO have access to your blog, going there now.

Gaurav Kishore Bahri said...

I got a bit nostalgic reading your blog ..... spent 7 years there ... undoubtedly the best years of my life ...... lat I went there was in Aug 06 .. eight years after leaving school ...... The town looked completely different .... too crowded.... too many MNCs .... your house seems to be in a quiter part of town ... Lucky you !!

dmb said...

bee you tiful,

dude your description of the house gave me goosebumps.

"to curl up; with a man or a book, is somewhat besides the point"

:D can I quote you on that? because it's a sentiment you've tapped exactly how it's felt.