I finally publish

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

London, September 2006

London. West Hampstead. The tube.

Caught between the underground and the sunlight. Drops of sunlight dancing on your body. On the pages of your book. Then there is darkness. Your eyes unhappily adjust to the changing phases of light.

I lean on the bar, flipping the pages of the book as my eye reaches the end of a page.

My colleague finds an empty seat and rushes. Musical chairs had a significance behind it in case you haven’t already realized.

He grins sheepishly at me when he catches my glance. I didn’t want to look reproving. He gestures his willingness to switch. I shake my head in the negative and return to the sunlight playing peek-a-boo with the pages of my book.

A lot of people get in. A lady with a baby. She stands there shuffling her baby from one shoulder to another. The train isn’t very considerate. Lurches n all that. I stop reading.

In my country this wouldn’t have happened. No, not ladies having babies. No, I don’t mean trains lurching either. But people who stare away deliberately or not. But definitely oblivious to the discomfort of someone with a baby in hand. Many stations pass.

She still stood on.

This wouldn’t have happened in my country.

London. Wembley. The bus.

Have you been to Wembley? No? Well, it’s a place full of Indians. I'd be more accurate to say Asians. Different shades of brown. Varying accents of English. Navrathri was around the corner and it somehow managed to reach even London.

Colorful skirts are on display. Sweets. Pan. Dosas. Thaalis. You name it. A cleaner version of one of the market streets in India.

I deliberately do not look at any of the price tags. People do not smile at each other. I'd have thought it would be easier. After all in a strange land even strangers are familiar. And brown is a good color to begin with.

It doesn’t deter me somehow. I keep smiling at people I meet. Once in a while I catch one back. Maybe I remind them of someone they left back in India.

We get into a bus. It’s already quite late and my feet ache from so much walking.

I lean back into the seat of the bus. An old man shuffles in.

The lady in front of me gets up and gives her seat up.

He doesn’t acknowledge her gesture. He keeps standing, his gruffness pushing away her kindness.

Embarrassed she sits down.

He was white. She was Indian.

This too perhaps wouldn’t have happened in my country.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006