I decided to visit a few friends and stay over their place during this weekend. One of the main reasons was – they stayed a bit far from the main city and I wanted to see how it looks like when you move out of the city?
How does it look?
It looks serene.
That’s the only word that comes to my mind.
I got a chance to see an asset which this country has in plenty – land. All one can see is huge, never ending meadows. Oh yes, every now and then the real estate growth intercepts your view but still – greenery and the beauty of it is mesmerizing.
Our first stop was at a friend’s place. First thing that came out of my mind as soon as I saw his house was, “Don’t you get lost in this house? Don’t you get scared?”
“We have got used to of it now” was the answer. Oh yes, people adapt.
Well, the house was beautiful and huge. If such a big house is moved to Mumbai, considering its size and Mumbaikars’ amazing ability to fit in the smallest of houses, I wouldn't be exaggerating if I say that half of Andheri might have fitted in that house.
I was treated with a drink I hadn't had for almost a month – tea, made by friend’s wife. With due respect to all my male friends who have made tea for me, I must say – there is something about women and tea. Only women can make it taste good. Maybe that’s why the tradition in India – when you go to see a girl as your prospective bride, she gets tea for you.
Time came to go to another friend’s place and we did. Seeing my jaw dropping while seeing the size of his house, he made a comment – “You know? I have to clean this house every week”
Oh yes. Ever pro has a con. “Oh, we get maids in India” was my tongue in cheek reply. Deep down, I felt happy that my house is one fourth of his house. If I am asked to do it clean such a big house every weekend, I would rather sell it and shift to a smaller one.
Another friend joined and we started talking about different aspects of life. A question was thrown at me, “How are you finding it here?”
I was ready, “Well you know, if you are having a fling with a girl, she looks all great. The moment you are told that you would be marrying her, things change dramatically” seeing listeners impressed with my analogy, I carried on “Right now I am enjoying the fling. But the moment I am told I shall have to stay here for the rest of my life, I know I would face numerous challenges here as well. Because to throw challenges at us is not the nature of place but it is the nature of life. Challenges may vary depending upon the place but then, so do you and your ability to face them”
“What is that you find really challenging here?” I was asked.
“Rules. So many Rules. So very many of them. You cannot do this. You cannot do that. You cannot go here. You cannot go there. I agree that it is important to maintain discipline but then, I find it suffocating”
One of them said, “You know, in my five years of stay here, it was the first time I saw checking happening in trains”
“So, did they fine anyone?” I asked.
“Yes, the lady sitting next to me. The fine was 80 dollars”
“Stupid. In order to save 3.5 dollars, she ended up paying 80” I laughed.
“Nope. She wasn’t fined for not having the tickets”
“Is it? Then why? For breathing oxygen?”
“Because she had kept her feet on the seat”
“What?” I almost fell down.
“Fined for keeping her feet on a vacant seat”
“Holy humanity. Fined for keeping her feet on the seat? Vacant seat? God damn it. What do they want? The seat was vacant. That’s the best a vacant seat is supposed to do for me – allow me to stretch my legs and save them from the hardness of ground for a few moments. What harm can it do to anyone if I keep my feet on vacant seats?”
“It helps in keeping them clean”
“What clean? If they are so worried about people’s feet making them dirty, why not ask people to get their own seats? You get your own stool, you board the train with it, you sit on your stool, you can get another stool to keep your feet on it, and you get down from the train with your stools. It can in fact give rise to another industry – people making stools for travelling in trains” my frustration was coming out.
“What calm down? This is what I don’t like. The urge to force the discipline is so suffocating” my horrifying memories of driving experiences were at their haunting best.
“Okay, fine. Let’s go out for some time. Let me show you my garden” I was told.
We went out to his garden which was bigger than my own house. He had planted different kinds of plants, vegetables, flowers and what not. The garden was so rich that during dinner, half of the material was supplied from the plants in the garden.
The enthusiasm with which my friend was showing his garden was commendable. He knew everything about the plants, the flowers, the vegetables, when they grow, how they grow and all that. I could sense the love for his garden in his voice.
By the end of the garden tour, his tone turned a bit sad. He told me, “I had brought some seeds from India. I tried my best but they didn’t grow here. I don’t know why. Weather is perfect here for these plants”
I replied in a philosophical tone, “It’s not the weather but the soil. Every seed doesn’t gel with every soil”
Most often I say things which don’t have any meaning – no matter how hard I try to find out meaning in them. Sometimes I find deviations in this theory. This was one of those times.
For any plant, the flower that grows are them may give immense pleasure to others. What is important for the plant is – if its root gels well with the soil or not. I hope you know what I meant.