If you have to ask you'll never know ! [L.Armstrong]... thats Louis not Lance.

Dec 18, 2008

Jai Jai !

We were in college . A part of a group that did things together. Or did we come together because we did the same things ? Go for movies. Exchange cassettes of the Beatles and The Blue Oyster Cult. Spend hours at the USIS [ United States Information Something…? ] Waiting in line to use one of their two VCR’s to watch grainy footage that went from Martin Luther King to Jimi Hendrix . Take home our two allowed books a week from the British Council. While we worked at whatever it is college students do Jai would keep us laughing with his bad jokes.
College finished . People went their different ways. Within the country and without. Jai went to Japan. Where he worked in graphic design. For Sony. He married. And then his eyes started failing him. Retinal disintegration. Where you start going blind and all you can do is stand by and watch. And as Jai would say you can’t even do that well because your retinas are disintegrating. Right before your very eyes. Yes . That’s a typical Jai line.
It got worse and he couldn’t live without assistance. So he had to come back to India. To live with his parents because his wife did’nt want to live with him anymore. So he came from Japan where assistance to people who are visually impaired is an art form to here where assistance to people who are visually impaired is a myth.
He moved to Bangalore where he made a career shift to training. Where he talks to people he cannot see. Where he has a computer that talks back to him. Where he has to have someone with him if he moves out of his regular orbit by even a millimeter. Steps that continue past handrails that don’t. Ramps into buildings that pop out of nowhere. Roads with pavements that suddenly morph into roads without.
The group decided to meet up. Somebody was flying in from Goa, the U.S. , Delhi, Pune.
And Bangalore. From where Jai was put onto a plane by his father. With a pick up at this end arranged in duplicate. Along he came on the arm of the prettiest Kingfisher hostess. She was laughing and he looked happy. The insane conversation where you try and catch up with twenty years of each others lives immediately. And you do. Home. Where loose furniture has to be pushed against the walls. Where the bathroom layout has to be gone thru by touch. To the reunion where we ate batawadas and drank kadak canteen chai like it was Moet et Chandon of the 1864 vintage. Where we played the Eagles reunion concert. And yes for the record we never broke up. We just took a twenty year vacation [ Thank you Don Henley ].
Back home. Where the Moet and Chandon had you sleeping like a baby
[ OK Old Monk ].
The next morning Jai told me he’d heard the planes, the trains and the automobiles. The bell of the paowalla. The dudhwalla, the paper wallah, the watchman sloshing buckets of water on the cars and himself in equal measure. All the morning sounds that slip below the pale , for us. He opened our ears to the birdsong just beyond the window. To the sweetness in the voices of the kids. To the harshness with which we sometimes spoke. And the carelessness. Before white caning his way back home.


Kris said...

your post touched me. when i step out of my house tomorrow morning i shall close my eyes and open my ears for 10 seconds, if not more.

Francis said...

Wow! Thanks for this. You write well!

agent green glass said...

i have tears in my eyes. for old friends. for the music that never dies. for nostalgia. for learning to live with things. the thing with this post tho, is that it ends with hope. for life. for ourselves. think i wrote way too much : ) anyway, you write very well.

Rahul said...

Really like ur writing style and ur take on ur Bandra and Bombay. Can totally relate even though I was born (and hope to die) a delhiwalla. Agree with agent green glass above, this post made me feel really nostalgic and li'll sad.

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