Mumbai

I have had a recurring dream.
It starts with me waking up at the break of purple dawn, my favorite time of day. I have always loved this city, at this hour, when it is still sound asleep. I can look at it through my window for hours. I have. I can hear it breathe and think of myself as an actor in one of its countless dreams.

In my dream, I see myself getting up and leaving the house wearing my night pajamas and a camera slinging across my shoulder. I think I’m headed down to Powai lake. I’m not so sure.

I am walking down the building. It’s the same old place that I had called ‘home’ for years. As I come around the end of stairs, the child in me goes for a jump and skips the last two steps. I say Hello to the security person who looks like he’s just taken over the shift from the night guard. I walk outside and take a deep breathe in. It feels as real as a dream can get.

The society gate has just been opened to the new day. Delivery boys are rushing in with renewed hopes. Oreo, my favorite dog wags his tail and I pet him saying, “good boy!” I look at my favorite couple – a huge tree and a bench sitting beside her. I smile at the thought of all the memories I’ve trusted them with. I’d like to think that they smile back.

I stroll down the loveliest of all streets, one that changes view with my every footstep. It looks perfect for our chance encounters, for our surrealism to merge into our reality.

I see myself hopping onto a local train and share a greeting with a new stranger for the day. The familiar voice from the train announcement gives everyone enough comfort for the day. I stand near the train door and let the wind flirt with my hair.

Blink of an eye and I’m sitting at Prithvi café. I fold the sleeves of my shirt all the way up to my elbows and feel proud at being surrounded by art connoisseurs. I wonder how many of them will later remember the moment they’re sharing right now. Sun beam escapes through the crevices of tree branches above and my eyelids close in.

I open my eyes and find myself playing with the strap of my office shoulder bag. My colleague stares at me like she’s seen a ghost and wears the expression of ‘what the hell I’m waiting for’ on her face. I walk inside the place that’s going to be more than a workplace. Few known faces turn around to say Hi.

With my heart overwhelmed with a pleasant feeling, I find myself in a cab on the way back home. I get down near Powai and walk towards a café at the corner. ‘Aromas’ it says. I keep looking at the place and a man sitting at the table outside turns around. I see myself holding a cup of Americano and with dreams for lifetime in eyes. He shakes his head looking at me and retreats into the conversation.

I think I hear someone calling out my name. I turn around and I’m blinded by sunlight breaking through. With my half-shut eyes, I think I see you across the street. I reach out to you, but I can’t move. My pockets are full of stones. You stare at me from distance and the syllable of your laughter fills the sky. It is mixed with a deafening alarm tune of my clock.

I see myself spiraling skywards. You look up and wave me goodbye.
I wave back to my favorite city.

Flying monster

Disclaimer: this blog post smells like a pile of shit.

What do you call an asshole with wings?

Hint: it starts with P.

Nope. Not me. I don’t have wings.

It’s the Pigeon.

Yeah, that multicolored, evil specie from the kingdom of birds that keeps spying on the windows in your house.

The first time I saw pigeons closely was when I was in school.
My elder sister had taken me to a place nearby our house where a man used to look after a large group of pigeons.
I saw that the flock had several grey birds along with one lone white bird – apparently a female. That was my first introduction to how much men in our country must compete for a woman.
The man made some weird sounds and pigeons flew around and came back.
“So, what are you thinking young man?” He asked me with the tone of being extremely proud over his pigeon-control skills.
“Do they come back to shit here, or do they shit here to fly around?” I replied.
My sister held my hand tight and took me away.

That question went answered for a long time, rather many years.
I grew up watching pigeons take over the country little by little.
I saw people outside temples feed them.
I saw Bollywood actors dance around them.
Being an animal lover, I always loved observing minute details about bird and animals.
I noticed it rather early how pigeons were so much unlike their friends from the bird family.
During 90s, I saw that the mighty kites, tiny sparrows and even middle-class crows were buying a house for themselves on trees in their locality.
But not the pigeons. Nope.
They were just keeping an eye on humans and their houses.
They were basically intruders who were making a room for themselves in buildings and houses instead of trees. Maybe they’re the rentless innkeepers in Barney Stinson’s words. Or maybe the other birds did not like them. Or maybe pigeons realized that humans are stupid and would let them stay rent free in exchange for a giant pile of poop.
You open a window, stroll into your balcony or just peep outside – they were ubiquitous. And so was their shit.

By now, I had learnt three things about pigeons.
One, they were horny all the time and had some target to keep up with. Maybe they were all part of this huge multinational pyramid scheme that demanded them to make x number of eggs on a quarterly basis.
Second, maybe Devil was the CEO of their organization.He must have been paying them dividend every time they capture a new locality and spread their genes around.
And third, they had skipped Darwin’s evolution and decided to stay as disgusting flying fucks over the time immemorial.

Lately, I went out to buy some groceries during the lockdown period and what I saw was anything but surprising. A large ground nearby was full of pigeons as they fed on and left no stone unturned with their grey-white souvenirs.
I finally got the answer to my question from the childhood.

They shit around to fly around and fly around to shit around!