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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Barapani Diary...A peek in the city


January chill set in with fanfare..a little bit of drizzle and the new year ushered long.Another year..adding up to the number.. as I get reused to my office chores after my vacation..just gives the feeling another year passed by and I stand here without achieving much. Yes of course 'achievement' is relative. Anyway blogging isn,t about achievement stories rather I,d talk of the little gathering we, most of the office goers had, in the city of Shillong in the new year night thanks to the promotion of my colleague and his enthusiasm in getting us all together for a treat.
 I, with my limited vision expected a gathering at the nearby lake resort and didn,t imagine we would move to the city late in the evening. With this expectation I left my little one at home, it was only when we crossed Orchid ( the lake resort) I realised we were moving to the city.Initial pang of leaving my little one behind..how late I will be.. and what if I get stuck in the traffic fiascos I have heard of.. then I sat back and relaxed. It was then I understood after many days I was going in a drive without a little bundle in my lap and I wasn,t continuously worrying about the little one vomitting in the next curve we cross, without ripping my head off if the anti vomitting medicine is going to work or not...here I was on the outskirts of Shillong at this time of late evening..pine trees zoomed by the window.. Bhupen Hazarika,s ' Shillongore godhuli' ( Dusk of Shillong.. my naive translation) , 'Sitore semeka raati' ( Moist winter night) echoed in my head and a whiff of freedom lingered on in the sultry evening . FM radio too churned out beautiful Lata classics..reminding me of Delhi FM gold.. and the lovely numbers at night.

Shillong New Year
I have hardly ever seen Shillong at night. The working womens' hostel I used to stay earlier.. gates closed at 7 in the evening. Dinner bell rang at 8 sharp. I cant help remembering women and girls of different shapes and sizes, different states of India, aged between 20 to 50 all queuing up in the dining hall for a bowl of watery dal to be sipped with rice and two spoons of sabji..After that some would gather for a gossip, younger lot mostly loitering with the newly acquired mobile phones,( and would you believe it charging phones was not allowed as it would enhance electricity bills.. and how the girls managed..not less than miracle) another group rushing with mugs of water for brushing and other beauty regime because water supply if at all available would stop exactly at 8 and then lights to be switched off  by 11.Though I remember lighting candles after 11 and finishing thrillers. My Shillong night life apart from candle light adventures or gossip with my room mate night ended blissfully at 11.. someimes i stared at the window and watched the deserted foot path near the church showing no sign of life. But this time was different... new year and the whole city dressed up..lights everywhere..all restaurants filled..long queues outside.. As we waited outside.. I was marveling at the outfits both traditional and modern of the women.. their matching ballet shoes,toddlers and teenagers in beautiful boots. I remembered the pink pair of boots I bought for my little one and was glad that I did.

The city and its people looked different from the village near my airport and its people. May be the age old difference between the city and the country. Irreconcilable differences. In the crowd I noticed the bus conductor who comes to airport. His little daughter tied in his back draped in traditional shawl..but for some strange reasons he refused to reckon me..Should I give him the benefit of doubt he did not see us, the group of 14 odd people..Well new year anyway.. and he has the liberty to reckon/ unreckon the people he pleases. Though he would wave to me enthusiastically whenever we met at the airport, exchange some pleasantries.Somehow with the good food,I tasted the feeling of being ' outsider'...The city with its wide arms accepts anyone and the country shuns itself off from everyone. It is only work ,necessity which opens the doors..at least make some perforations in the concrete wall..

We came back.. and my bundle squealed and rushed in my arms.A good beinning to the year..some freedom..some bond.. I hugged my bond tight and took her inside shielding her from the chill.