Livinghigh: We.They.Me.I. What People?
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Livinghigh was here at 5:36 PM /

We.They.Me.I. What People?

So there are things I want to say. Like the fact that I saw this gorgeously blue poster of SRK in Swadesh, and stopped short. I loved that poster, and not in the least for the blue. Blue is a splendid colour. Maybe that's why I like looking up at the sky whenever I’m free. Simply stare forth, like a strange seagull who's lost his way - or a wannabe astronaut who still hasn't taken his science lessons as yet. There's something mesmerizing about the waves of the sky - blues, golds, dazzling whites, sombre greys, ravishing reds, the whole lot. The sea? No, the sea is but a poor imitation - water is colourless, and reflects someone else's glory. If it's beauty you want, climb the stairs to the terrace. A cup of coffee, some soothing music, is always helpful, too.

But I like the slogan. We. The People. That was clever, I think, using the first line from the Preamble to the Indian Constitution. Puritans may be horrified at its use in Hindi filmdom, but me, me - I quite find it clever. What does that mean? That I'm not a puritan? (exhales now) Well, that's fodder for yet another introspective entry.

Whenever I see rushes from the movie, I'm reminded of how I've traveled like this, or like that. In Calcutta, I avoided the bus like the plague. I hate those buses - all tin and growl, lurching angrily forward, spewing out black smoke. I traveled by the Metro - much more cleaner, more antiseptic, much more bhadra, to borrow a Bong expression. (smiles in lost memory to oneself) But to go to the Metro station, I had to go by rick, and in Cal, the ricks take five-six-seven people at a time. It's like SRK, sitting boxed up in a train/bus/car/rick. In a Cal rick, everyone sits boxed in, and it doesn't matter if it's raining cats and dogs, or shining sunbeams like a supernova exploding - there's something oddly stable about community seating. The rick does not leave the subway station unless you're packed in, and it will not arrive there unless you're packed in, either. A law of nature.

It's like the buses in Chennai, and the trains in Bombay. Both of them of course vastly different in character, though both of them also adhering to the maxim of 'snug as a bug in a rug' (gawd! it's been ages since I've said/heard that!). Hanging from a rail, in the bus, watching nothing but endless Tamil posters hastily pasted on the insides of the bus, talking of fertility clinics and life insurance policies and mobile phone touts, it was all strangely engaging. The conductor trings his bell (you have to warn him from before, in broken English, that you don't know Tamil and you don't know where you're going, so could he please inform you when your stop comes), and you snap out of your reverie - it's time to get down. Rub the red out of your eyes, walk under the cool shade, and head out for your assignment, rookie reporter. It's a brand new day in Chennai.

I usually travel in the evenings, by train in Bombay. That's when they happen to be the most crowded. Or, I travel late night, and that's when I put my feet up on the seat opposite mine, and look out of the window. Armpits nudged into my face when it's crowded, and people kissing-signaling to get your fat arse inside the bogey, a couple flirting right there, surrounded by highly interested bystanders, and I grin, like a schoolboy. I'm not a rookie reporter anymore, I'm a correspondent (or so my card says), but this is not the kind of story I can file, this is not the story I can profit by (CNBC-TV18: Profit from it). I'm hungry for fame and recognition, and while something tells me that Bombay is the best place for that to happen for me, another voice whispers, I should get my arse out of the train and so some heavy-duty chasing of my dreams!

So, yes: We. The People. Lovely slogan.


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