Monday, April 11, 2016

Life in the Metro

I sat across from her on the yellow line of the Delhi metro. I was on my way to my workplace in the heart of the largest vegetable market in the city. It was almost noon, I was drowsy. She had boarded three stations ago, standing for a while in the corner until she managed to find a seat, luckily opposite to mine. She looked 25, but could have been younger or older; I am not a good judge. I was distracted by her appearance. She was voluptuous, with extra generous curves and very fair skin. Dressed in jeans and a loosely fitted shirt, she sat staring into her phone, conscious of all the eyes pinned on her, including my own. The air was heavy with sweat and masculinity; she looked diminutive, almost non-existent, in comparison.
I couldn't take my eyes off of her. I was constantly drawn towards her neck. Concealed partly by her open hair, adorned with an expensive-looking chain, it seemed to be playing hide and seek with my eyes. I was hooked. The neckline of her shirt sat tentatively on her sizeable breasts. Desperate for a glimpse of what lay underneath, I found myself wishing she had sat beside me instead. She had caught my gaze a couple of times already and had stared back at me questioningly. But I was clever enough to look away and act innocent. I'd wait for just a few seconds before affixing my eyes on her again. She was awfully pretty: how could I be expected not to feast my eyes on her? And clearly she was enjoying the attention; she kept brushing her hair behind her ears and adjusting her top self-consciously. She was in on my intentions, and that realisation spurred me on. 

For the third time, she looked up from her phone and caught me staring at her. She looked irritated, or was that a look of impatience? I wondered. Maybe distant gazing was not her thing. She seemed restless. She certainly had to be aware of the effect her clothes and her body were having on me. She would not be travelling in the general coach in those clothes if she had expected anything better. I considered getting up from my seat and standing next to hers. I would get a much better glance down her shirt from that vantage point, while also satisfying her need for proximity. That thought made me smile.

I had been busy conjuring up mental pictures of her breasts when I felt a rude push: an old hag had just parked herself in the seat next to me. Brought back to my senses thus, I realised my gaze had unconsciously been glued to her torso this entire time. I looked up at her face: she was staring daggers at me. I was instantly puzzled by her reaction. What had I done wrong? As I sat there wondering my next move, there was an announcement for the next station. She got up, clutching her bag tightly, and made her way towards the door. But all of a sudden she stopped, and I watched in a confused daze as she turned her steps towards me. Crossing the short passageway that separated us, she flashed the sweetest smile any female had ever given me. I looked at her expectantly and, the very next moment, felt a sharp stinging sensation on the left side of my face. My jaw had been struck square in the middle with near-inhuman force. I couldn't see clearly; my head was beginning to swim.

It took me a while to become aware of my surroundings again. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught her retreating figure on the platform as the metro sped past. I looked around and suddenly felt the heat of countless pairs of eyes affixed on me. I felt diminutive, almost non-existent. Turning exceedingly self-conscious, I fished out my phone from my pyjama pocket and sat staring down at its blank screen.

* * *

Click here for my most popular post on the ladies coach and the different kinds of people found in the Delhi Metro. It got me trending for quite a while - don't miss out on reading it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Sister's wedding and all that jazz

It was one of my first cousins' wedding this past weekend. It would only be fair to call her a sister though, since we've lived together in the same joint family for 20 years and shared so many important moments in each others' lives. She is the first out of the six of us (cousins on my father's side) to enter holy(?) matrimony, and naturally, we were all super psyched and anxious for it to all go well.

Several weeks of preparation on our side, and of course several months of it on the couple's respective families' sides, went into making this wedding the great affair it ended up as. The proceedings weren't, of course, without their share of minor and major hiccups, but as the cliche goes, all's well that ends well. And this one ended at the crack of the dawn of my sister's brand new life with her husband and partner in all crimes. So no one should ideally be complaining (though that's a Utopian idea to harbour - but I digress).

It is world renowned that if there is one place where there's a riot of colours, festivity, loud music, dancing, endless drama and lots of hoopla, it has to be at a Punjabi wedding. It would not just suffice to say we had it all, and more. So I'll stop writing and share some of my shots from the Mehendi, Chooda and wedding functions to illustrate how beautiful the whole affair really was and how much fun we had.

The happy bride getting the traditional mehendi (henna) applied on her hands...

...and feet.

It's my sister's shadi. Of course I won't miss getting clicked in all that wedding finery and mehendi!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A misplaced idea of love

A mistaken sense of belonging
A misplaced idea of love
Is it real, what I perceive as mine?
Who am I? Where do I belong?

Finding comfort in pages and words
Impervious to faces, voices, and noises
Am I estranged from the world?
Or am I lost to my mind?

Here today, gone tomorrow
Transience has been me eternally
Memories plague me, certainty evades me
How long will I live in ivory towers?

A beating heart, a twitching ear
An insomniac's urge to run
They ask, what is out there?
What beckons me to fly?

Flitting between physical spaces
No semblance of ground in sight
Have I left home forever?
Or am I homeward bound?

On the trail of a place under the sun
I've lost track of where I come from
Will anything ever tie me down?
Is there no cornerstone I will find?

And in the wake of every flight
In my heart will I always find
A mistaken sense of belonging
A misplaced idea of love?

© Mahima Kohli 2016

Monday, January 25, 2016

Memoirs from Gujarat: Reliving Bollywood, one palace at a time

The sights and sounds of Gujarat constantly remind you of one or the other Bollywood movie. Filmmakers like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Ashutosh Gowarikar, and Sooraj Barjatya, smitten by its picturesque locales and larger-than-life forts and palaces, have repeatedly taken recourse to shooting for their films in Gujarat, giving birth to such visual treats as Lagaan; Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam; Kai Po Che; Ram Leela; Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster; and most recently, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo.

This past December, my friends and I took the opportunity to explore the filmy charm and beauty of two such palaces in the Kutch area of Gujarat. The first palace on our royal itinerary was Vijaya Vilas Palace, which many will recognise as the British house from the movie Lagaan, and also Aishwarya's Rai's family home in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (refer to this video).

Friday, January 15, 2016

The One with the two Secret Santas

"Secret Santa is a Western Christmas tradition in which members of a group or community are randomly assigned a person to whom they anonymously give a gift."
This is how Wikipedia defines 'Secret Santa'. I have vague memories of having heard of or read about this tradition on American TV series and the Internet. But come December 2015, I saw this amazing activity unfold before my very own eyes at the Young India Fellowship. It turned out to be an immensely beautiful way of spreading love and cheer around Christmas, and I'm sure the world would benefit greatly from more people adopting it.

Here's how we executed it: an excel sheet was sent to everyone, and those who wished to take part in the activity put in their names. A random assortment algorithm was then used to assign one Secret Santa to each person, so that every person got one present and in turn gave one present. It was overwhelming to see a large majority of my batch sign up for it - it reflected the deep sense of giving and sharing that the people around me harboured. The deadline for the exchange of gifts was mutually set at 22nd December, since that was the last day for most Fellows on campus before leaving for the holidays. For over a week after this, there ensued on campus a heart-warming gift exchange drive, mostly in the form of surprises springing up on people in random places at random times. Some would wake up in the morning to find a present and a beautifully written card/note on their doorstep or table. Some would receive presents from messengers. Some would return to their rooms in the evening to find a surprise waiting for them on the bed. Some lucky ones even received a series of presents for each day in the run-up to 22nd! It was an utter delight to watch the entire spectacle unfold.