Street play at sundown


High up in the sky, the moon is a sliver of silver on a late evening sky that is still blue. The moon seems to be gliding peacefully far above, totally oblivious to the goings-on below.

Down here, there is a sense of desperation, as people try to make the most of the last few hours of the weekend before the work week starts.

The market street looks chaotic. People, street hawkers and vehicles jostle for space, as they strive to reach their goals for the week.

Splashes of colour in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables, sarees on display and vibrant colour baskets dot the crowded street.

Everybody seems to be in a hurry, there is a sense of urgency to people’s actions, to the last calls of the street hawkers attempting to close sales for the week. Then again, there are those who stop at local street food stalls to partake of chaats, pizza and other Indian snacks.

There is a sensory overload – a blurring motion picture of rainbow colours, the loud hum of human chatter, the aroma of street food, the weaving and the jostling…..!

Amidst all this chaos are the balloon sellers, who walk up and down the street carrying ballons, toy ferris wheels that spin merrily in the evening breeze and other toys that entice children, whose eyes trail the balloons even as their bodies have gone on ahead with their parents, who hold them in vice-like grips, lest they get lost in the teeming crowd!

We have to pause frequently as we walk down, simply because there is no way to move.

That’s when we stop to enjoy this evening street play!

Trapped!


The roads are jammed, and most drivers have switched off their engines. I stare absently at the scene outside. An old lady is standing under a bus shelter. As I watch, she pulls out something from the waistband of her saree. It is a small cloth bag of the drawstring variety. She rummages inside and pulls out a few betel leaves and pieces of broken areca nut. She patiently tears the leaves and folds them, places the areca nut in the center, and puts it into her mouth. Her eyes have a faraway look, as her hands tighten the drawstring pouch and tuck it back into her waistband. She chews the leaves, and is deep in thought.

I watch in fascination.

A young girl soon joins the old lady. She is in her teens. As I watch, she stretches her arm into her bag, and pulls out her smartphone. She is soon completely absorbed in her own world!

I laugh at this contrast.

The old lady has stopped pondering. She looks around now, and looks at the young lady, who is completely oblivious to the goings-on around her; her neck bent at an awkward angle.

This makes me think. When did we become this way? When did we stop looking out at the world? When did we trap the world into a smartscreen and start looking for all solutions in that small screen. Instead of looking out and going out into the world, we have brought the world into our palms, to the point where we don’t need anyone or anything else to keep us occupied.

Image courtesy – http://www.dreamstime.com

As I watch, the old lady chews her leaves and watches the world curiously. Her eyes fall on me. She smiles – a toothless smile, her mouth stained by the red of the betel leaves.

I smile back. There is still hope!

‘Tis more about the popcorn


The school holidays have begun. Time expands itself to fit our mood of purposelessness and lassitude. We laugh in glee at the clock, for we are the masters now!

We decide to go watch a movie at the neighbourhood multiplex. And when we enter the complex, the aroma of popcorn is tantalizing. For me, it is more about the popcorn now, and less about the movie.

We stand in line and buy huge tubs of salted popcorn and drinks. We scan our ticket and walk into the dark hall, our hands carefully balancing the popcorn and drinks, eyes scanning the alphabets for our row.

Soon, we settle into our seats. With a gentle tug, the popcorn tub opens. Movie trailers play….and finally the movie begins.

My eyes are glued to the screen. My hands and mouth are in perfect sync. Delicious handfuls of salted popcorn are seamlessly transferred from the tub to my mouth. The popcorn is perfect, and crunchy.

Now and then, there is a surprise caramel popcorn masquerading as a salted one! I take sips of my drink. The plot thickens and the popcorn tastes even better as the movie winds through the good and the bad, the laughter and the tears.

Just when we are about halfway through the movie, I realize that my stock of popcorn is almost over. I now slow down and relish whatever is left. An acute sense of disappointment remains.

Sigh! It is done.

Now, I settle down to the task of movie watching!