Saturday, August 13, 2005

A long weekend

And today is the 13th of August. Nothing momentous on its own (Actually anything with the number 13 in it is distinctly considered un-momentous), unless it is conjoint with the fact that it is also a Saturday. A second Saturday. And just 3 weeks after the rainiest of rainy days. And so, it is a day of occasion, since it heralds the beginning of a 3 day weekend. Yes, 3 complete holidays. 72 hours of sleeping, eating, watching Inane TV Shows, Amitabh Bachchan movies, Star Sports, NDTV Profit and KBC, and doing not much else.

When I was in school, I used to be in the NCC. No no, not the National Chappal Chors, but the National Cadet Corp. The days preceding August 15th usually were very hectic, in preparation of the Independence Day flag hoisting and the demonstrations we put up.I remember buying hacksaws from Sion Hardware Stores to make up machine guns from PVC Pipe so we could stage a fake India V/S Pakistan war. The Indians had machine guns and the pakistanis had twigs. A very good example of our military superiority. And our principal always took this opportunity to speak to the sparse crowd about National Heritage, and World Peace, and Honour for your Country, and Serving you Nation. And the boys were looking at the girls who had arrived and wondering if there was half a chance that they might get to go out for snacks after the speech was over. And the girls were preening for the guys, and were trying to decide which lucky guy to bestow the full glory of their attentions with. And the rest of us would just look at each other, surreptiously scratch our backs through the terry cloth material and yawn. Ofcourse the next morning, all the students who had slept in that morning, would look at us and snigger amongst their friends.

On other independence days, when the principal was feeling the effects of last night's whiskey, the school would look deserted and ex-students would turn up with their girlfriends to snuggle in nooks and crannies of the campus, and the basketball coach would call for extra practice in the morning, and we would be running around the basketball ground rather than parading on it. And then we would go home and take a bath, catch up on our homework, and watch "Gandhi" in hindi on DD-1. Surprising that a movie made by Sir David Attenborough and starring Ben Kingsley as Gandhi would be termed as nationalistic and patriotic. In a population of a billion people, a Britisher was asked to act as Gandhi. But these questions were taboo.

And watching films like Karma, and Mr India, and Bhagat Singh movies. And buying flags from street urchins with tachni pins to pin up on your clothes, and buying flag umbrellas to put up in your car, and watching RSS swayamsevaks hoist the flag in sheets of rain on the playground in their khaki shorts and white shirts.

Ofcourse, once you grow up, you are so much more aware of your responsibilities and your duties and your honour for your country and your nationalistic fervour is at its highest. And since you are working to contribute towards your country's GDP and you are a cog in the wheels that turn the nation's economy, it is but natural that you must take a break for a while from your back-breaking toil.

And some of us want to take off to Pune, and Lonavla and Khandala, and Matheran, with 3 day weekend packages, and newly wed couples and children jumping up and down with bright blue and shocking pink polyester-cotton shirts with teddy bears and swans printed on them, and plastic caps and plastic bags of sev, and chivda, and dabbas of achar and thepla and vegetarian resort hotels and mist covered mountains, and verdant greenery with empty packets of Ruffle Lays, and Uncle Chipps and Pickwicks Wafers, and Simba Chips peeking out of the verdant greenery and empty Frooti tetrapaks blending in with the verdant greenery and little ponies carrying big aunties and uncles huffing and puffing along the small muddy mountain paths, and cheap tennis shoes with nobbly soles and red mud sticking between the knobs, and using a stick to clean the mud from the knobs like treacle from teeth. And strawberry fudge, and mid chikki and water fountains with no water spouting from them and little toy trains and mungphali on quaint hillside stations and Neral Station flagstones and sitting on the floor without a care in the world.

And some of us want to just laze around the house and maybe go out into Mumbai when it isnt that crowded. And walk along the deserted footpaths from Mcdonalds (used to be Empire Restaurant) upto Khadi Emporium, and then back from American Bakery upto GPO and the Nepalis selling sweaters on the footpath. And walk across an empty parking lot across Flora Fountain, past Kay Davy's department store, opposite HSBC Bank, and Standard Chartered Bank, and past Khyber lane, where the rich and relaxed people from Cuffe Parade, and Marine Drive and Cumballa Hill and Churchgate come to spend the money they save from Rent Control on lunch. And past Kapoor Lamp Shades and past Rhythm House, and the roadside artists drawing large lifelike pictures of Sai Baba and Hanuman and Ganesha on which there are silver coins, and walking past Chiquitta's with their 32 rupee Chicken Patties and past the first ever Apna Bazaar, and onwards past Cecil Court with Texprocil offices on their top floor and other big important offices in the buildings and past Bade Miya, closed, waiting for the night to begin, and past the Victoria-wallahs past the bombing-wallah parking lot to Gateway of India populated by tourists and pigeons and postcard sellers and coin-operated telescope wallahs who allow you to peer out at oil tankers and Old Woman's Island and Elephanta, and Cargo Ships. And you could go for a ride on a launch to Elephanta and eat packed Kheema-Pav and watch the cuddling couples in the caves and run down the broad steps wildly and have your Frooti stolen by even more monkeys, and buy a stick to run in the water past the cargo ships and the oil tankers and lose the stick halfway. And walk past the twinkling lights of the half-evening to Churchgate Bus Depot and sit in the empty No.5 Double Decker right in front and let the rain, spray and the wind hit your hair as you go home.

Ofcourse, some of us would actually like to sleep through most of Saturday, wake up on Sunday in time for lunch, and then sleep some more, till it is time to greet Independence Day with a few shots of Vodka and Sprite.
And since August 15th is a dry day, we catch up on all our sleep, until it is Tuesday morning again and we can drag ourselves off to work again.



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