I *heart* Bombay (and well..Boston)

I'm urban..in the way other people are mountain-people or tunafish junkies. I love city life...something about dreary concrete blocks and grumpy people totally gets my juices flowing. Ergo, this will be a blog about me, my two favourite cities (Bombay and Boston), my addiction to Vietnamese coffee and my views on Gregorian chant and it's efficacy in curing some types of tympannic membrane rupture. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Baithe Baithe Kya Kare?

This simple statement heralded the beginning of EVERY single journey in my family. We travelled every year to our grandparents house in Bangalore from Bombay faithfully at the end of April for our summer hols.
Always such a production! My mum boiling butter to make pots of ghee for my grandmum, my dad making sure the suitcases were big enough to take all our stuff yet small enough to fit under the seats on the train, me packing the textbooks for the next year so I could read the stories and my sister packing enough Enid Blytons to stuff a small library....

And then the grand trip itself (Thank you Udyan Express - Train o' my youth). Getting bored and restless 15 minutes into the journey itself as the train starts unwinding for the 24 hour trip down South. We'd always forget to pack the books into a smaller carry-on and since we couldn't open the suitcases once we were in the train itslef, we'd just consigned ourselves to atleast 16 hours of boredom. A frantic search at Kalyan station would yield a pack of cards and/or a newspaper which would be our sole source of entertainment. Playing rummy was discouraged as we might grow up to become gamblers...so was playing Go Fish/Challenge (It teaches you to lie!). Endless games of Donkey followed the brief sermon.

Of course, we'd end up making friends with the similarly bored-out-of-their-mind kids all through the compartment and after evicting a bunch of fathers and mothers, we'd settle in comfortably into the "children's compartment". And then proceed with the time honoured Indian chant of "Baithe Baithe kya karen? Karna hai kuch kaam..shuru karen Antakshri, leke Prabhu ka naam" (loosely..very loosely translatred thus: Sitting sitting, what to do? Must do some work..let's start Antakshri, taking the Lord's name)

Antakshri for those of you too foreign to figure out (or too young to consider cool) is a game where groups sing songs starting with the last syllable of the song sung previously. In a group of pop-culture fanatics, this game could go on for hours and hours..leading to walking around asking stangers.."ga..I need a song starting with ga..HELP!!". Of course, the parents would be happy. Serenaded by several off-key renditions of songs from the 50's and 60's, they'd nod off to sleep allowing us kids the freedom to run through the compartment playing hide-and-seek.

Passing out from heat exhaustion as we passed through the dry, treeless interiors of the Deccan (these were the days before air-conditioned compartments) was common. As was drinking tepid water and eating uber-spicy batatawadas and barely edible thalis full of "vegetarian" food as we travelled through Andhra. Finally the train eased into Bangalore and it was goodbye to assorted new friends as they stepped out of the train at each stop..Bangalore North, Bangalore West, Bangalore Cantonment...finally arriving at Bangalore City.

Faced with a people who looked different, spoke different, smelt different, nodded different from the ones in Bombay. My sister and me sitting on our piles of luggage as mum tried to get a coolie to carry our bags to a waiting rickshaw.

I haven't had a vacation like that in a while. Not since we moved on to being upper middle-class and could afford the airfares there. Such a pity. I miss those days and yes, I believe I actually miss singing songs with strangers for 8 hour stretches!

Random website:
The response from the "vocabularians" was so "ginormous" that the lexicographers let out a "whoot.""Confuzzled?" You must be a "lingweenie."

Current music:
Baby got back - Sir Mix-a-lot
(Little in the middle, but she got much back!)


  • At 5:06 PM, Anonymous priya anthony said…

    ohhhhhhhhh my Bangalore Cantonment! my house was like 2 minutes away from the station! :( i miss my Bangalore! so anyway your blog has been my only source of entertainment at work for the last few days and i absolutely love it. now im coming to the end of the archives and i feel like i've known you for decades. hee hee :) anyway this one especially reminds me of my childhood.... not that im all grown up or anything. i mean 23 doesn't qualify you as an adult right? k. write sum more already!


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