Friday, 3 April 2015

Musings on a Good Friday

As far as my reading in 2015 goes, I have begun the year with woes rather than wows. I’m running out of excuses and lamentations on why I’m reading and reviewing fewer books and blogging even less, although I have been managing to visit a few blogs. And yet, I find there is no dearth of alibis and they’re all genuine; that is if alibis can, indeed, be genuine.

Over the past few days I have been caught up in both personal and official responsibilities like a fortnight of major home repairs, helping a friend look for a new house, a Wi-Fi router on the blink and in need of immediate replacement, a brief out-of-town visit to my company’s annual sales conference, braving above 32-degree Celsius (90 F) temperature that is so humidifying as to take the fun out of reading in non-air conditioned trains—my library on wheels—and single-handedly writing, editing and filing stories for my paper and portal. 


An illustrative picture of an autorickshaw.
© Wikimedia Commons
It’ll be a while before I regain my mood to read books and improve my statistics that nearly hit the bottom in March. I’ll cover that in two sentences in my next post. For now, I’ll tell you about my travel to the annual conference. 

Thursday morning, I took the ‘local’ train to a distant suburban railway station from where I took a “sharing” autorickshaw to the venue, a resort, located some 15 km (9 miles) on National Highway-8. “Sharing” means you share the auto and the fare with five or six people. It’s a popular money-saving concept in India. We were seven passengers and three of us, including myself, sat next to the driver on a seat that was no bigger than a large pillow. My left leg and half my ass were out. Don’t ask me how I managed. The incentive was the fare per passenger, Rs.40 (0.64 cents). 

© Prashant C. Trikannad
As I got off at the station, called Naigaon, where “nai” means new and “gaon” means place or village, I felt as if I’d got off at a station in the countryside hundreds of miles from Mumbai when, in fact, it was less than 30 km (18 miles) from the bustling suburb where I live. As you can see from the picture, the station was so deserted, I found it spooky. If you’re from Mumbai, you’re not used to such empty platforms. From 7 am to 11 pm there are no less than a thousand people on the platforms at each of the dozens of stations within the city and its neighbouring suburbs.

At Naigaon, there were no buildings on the east side where I was headed; only a creek, salt pans, and open land almost till we touched NH-8. The place wasn't quaint or anything like that. But it struck me as odd because I realised development hadn't even remotely touched this distant suburb, ironically, in spite of its proximity to India's financial capital. It's a good thing it hasn't. The last thing we need is one more urban jungle ill-defined by narrow thinking and claustrophobic living.


I resisted the urge to drive down to the venue because a fast train cuts travel time by half and besides you get to read on the 45-minute single journey, as I did yesterday. On the way back I listened to some good old Hindi film songs, equivalent to 50s & 60s hits in America.

Today is Good Friday, a public and bank holiday in India. I don’t have an official holiday but my Christian colleagues are entitled to take the day off. I walked in late as I had to sort out a few things with the contractor and his kadias (masons) at home. I thought I’d file this piece before I left office later this evening. In case I don’t come back on the weekend, here’s wishing ‘Happy Easter’ to all my blog friends and their families.

16 comments:

  1. Would you consider posting a picture of yourself sometime. I always wonder what my online friends look like.

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    1. Patti, that's very kind of you. I look like something straight out of a horror show but I'll definitely give it a thought. An upcoming occasion might merit it.

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  2. As we say in Italy Prashant, Buona Pasqua, and thanks for the image of the calmer shores outside Mumbai. Have a great weekend chum (and I hope your wifi gets sorted soon!!!)

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    1. Hi Sergio, you're welcome. I hope you have a great Good Friday to Easter Sunday weekend too. It felt nice to step out of the city, something I ought to do more often with the family.

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  3. Enjoy your holiday weekend!

    That's a lot to have had to deal with recently. Hope things improve and that you're able to do more reading. I've ridden in something sort of like a rickshaw...I think it was called a tuk-tuk and I was in Kenya. I'm tall and it was tough to get in and out of...

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    1. Elizabeth, thank you. I wish you the same. I have heard of the tuk-tuk. Auto- and cycle-rickshaws are a common sight in Asia and Africa and probably in South America too. Most Indian cities and towns are dependent on rickshaws.

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  4. Cheers Prashant - an interesting post. Hope your reading mojo returns soon!

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    1. Col, I hope I do. It's frustrating to want to read and not being able to for whatever reasons. I'm starting out with short stories; maybe, I'll make April a month for reading only short fiction.

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  5. It is amazing how many things constantly pop up to deal with. I know the feeling well.

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    1. Charles, they sure do. With home renovation, the one thing unpredictable is the number of days it takes to complete the job. Fortunately, the contractor takes care of everything, from masonry to plumbing.

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  6. Regarding what Patty wrote, at a very quick glance wondered if that was you in the picture! Do you ever think of moving to a less populated place, or would it not be even possible? And may I ask why your blog list on the sidebar moves? I've seen it on a few blogs and keep wondering why it happens. I find myself holding my hand over it while I read a blog post so I can't see it. :<)))

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    1. Nan, no, that wasn't me! I might put up a picture or two later this month. It would be possible to move out of Mumbai and we have contemplated shifting to smaller cities in India. Besides, the prospect of migrating to the West, say, Canada, has occurred to us.

      As for the sidebar dancing, Nan, it was happening even as I was typing my response. I have also seen it happen on other blogs. I think it may be a Blogger issue.

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  7. You have had a lot going on, Prashant. I loved your description of your ride on the autorickshaw. You write very well, Prashant.

    I hope you find the time to do the things you want to do, Prashant, whether they be blogging or reading or all the other things that pop up in life. I have had trouble making the time I want to write posts, but sometimes I don't have the energy after work and I don't want to spend all my time on the computer.

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    1. Tracy, I appreciate your kind words — thank you.

      You are doing a wonderful job on your blog, reading discerning books and reviewing them regularly, not to mention the literary challenges you are a part of. I hope to return to active blogging as soon as the home renovation is finished. I enjoy blogging, that is reading other blogs and leaving comments as well as posting reviews and related articles on my own. It is entertaining and a learning process.

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  8. I like the glimpses you give us of your life Prashant. A happy Easter to you and yours....

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    1. Moira, it's quite an ordinary life. The magic lies in making it as exciting as possible though I can't say I succeed always. Belated season's greetings to you and your family too!

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