Today I spent almost 5 hours on the road. Yes that’s what you end up doing if you decide to go out on Bangalore roads and aim for a destination thats around 20kms from your starting point. Anyway, the drive took me across the city to places where G&I hung out when we were just kids together (18 or so). And boy was it tough!
I started off from home in a pretty good mood. I was going to a birthday party after all. I must’ve reached mid-way when things started to go downhill. The traffic was moving really slow – it was at a standstill really – so I was just sitting around watching vehicles on the other side pass by. And I started noticing something, strangely all the men had beards. Maybe I’ve never noticed it before and they’ve always had them, but today it was very obvious to me. Recently a few friends had also let their faces sprout in observing movember. And I got to thinking how G would look in a full beard. He’d never kept one and went with a french instead. As I was thinking about it, I saw his face, he was laughing at something, and I noticed his beard. Then all of a sudden everything vanished – his laugh became a smile and he was in the cold storage again. Why does everything end up there? And the tears welled up again; just like that, right in the middle of a traffic jam.
Perhaps driving half blinded by tears is not a good idea; or a safe one!
Still, I managed to pull myself together and reached the venue. I didn’t have much time as I wanted to get back in time for a business meeting. So I just said hello, munched on some snacks and left for the long drive back. And then things got really bad. First off, the data on my phone wasn’t working, and so I didn’t have access to GPS. That meant I really wasn’t sure how to get back home. I had been in this area years and years ago, and much had changed since then. I followed general instructions to get to a place I knew well, but due to changes in one ways etc. got lost a couple of times and had to take long detours. If G were here he’d know the places. I stopped to ask the route only to get answers in the local language that I don’t understand – remember; G was my translator. If I could just call him, he’d tell me how to get home. But I can’t, can I? So it was just wandering around trying to find something I recognize. And I finally did.
I reached a road where G & I had spent many happy evenings. We’d seen many movies at the old theater that was here. I’d made him run around to buy me burgers from the KFC that was on this road. We’s discovered a brilliant pani-puri place and we always stopped by there. This was where he’d got his hair straightened the one time. Oh so many memories packed in to a few hundred meters. I could have taken another route, but somehow I went to this road instead. And the first thing I saw was that the KFC was torn down. No trace remained. And it bugged me no end. Just a few days ago a friend and I were talking about how I pestered G for burgers from here – that time it was the only KFC in Bangalore. To not see it there was bad. It made the leaky bucket start up again.
Then I crossed the area where an old pub used to be – somewhere we’d spent many a nights dancing away. So many places, shut, vanished, the new people wouldn’t even know they existed. So many moments, gone forever. How can one not cry?
I am home now. Welcomed by his smiling portrait. In hopes that one day when I think about him, the cold storage won’t feature anywhere. But right now there is a lump in my throat, a tightness in my chest and some water in my eyes.
I am exhausted. I have a headache.
I need a hug and a good cry.
I think I’ll just go to bed.