I saw something lovely today — I was about to collapse into bed for my afternoon siesta when I looked out the window and my eyes fell upon a curious formation of white and grey cloud. They each had a serrated edge touching each other, perfectly matched serrated edges, that looked like they were pieces straight out of a jigsaw puzzle. (Of course, if they were, I’d feel considerably differently towards them — I HATED the bits of sky and ocean, they were always infinitely annoying!)
I’m not one for particularly appreciating rainy weather, but gotta hand it to this wet yet mesmerising evening. I walked to the library and had to cross courtyards and fountains under dark grey skies, thick with the promise of more rain — and a wind that made me feel if I closed my eyes and wished hard enough could magically transport me to anyplace I wanted.
And for that one infinitesimal moment, ignoring everything that is going wrong or that might, I was wildly, rebelliously glad to be alive, and would actually have meant it had I said, agar jannat zameen hai, hameen hai, hameen hai, hameen hai.
No matter how desperately wrought with sorrow, disappointment, anger, envy or any other negativity we might be, there are always these filigreed memories that we’ve collected along the way. They might be few and far between, but they’re there, and that’s always heartening. And so you keep persevering in the hope that one or another of these thought-virtus might encounter you at the next turning, on the peak of that unconquerable mountain, might surprise you when you’re out of your depth and actually throw some inspiration on your predicament.
I’ve felt this way on surprisingly varied occasions. Once in Munich, when my friend and I were supposed to meet someone at a fountain in Marienplatz, but we didn’t know which one — and we ran up and down, and up and down, and were awfully late and in a lot of trouble, but that feeling of just running through the streets of Munich was exhilarating — like nothing existed except the two of us, the wind against our faces, and the fact of our running.
Another time was at the Sea Lounge on Marine Drive in Bombay — when it still had a marvellous array of desserts at something-like-affordable prices — sitting with my family, devouring a gigantic Risky Rider, and looking through the large windows at the expanse of the Arabian Sea, that little dock with the fishing boats, and their colourful flags… the madness and mayhem on the street below (it’s just Bombay’s general madness, not like anything out of the ordinary was happening) contrasted with the pristine crispness of the Lounge, piped Coltrane in the background, and beautiful, disinterested-looking Caucasian women smoking long white cigarettes… Unforgettable.
I can also think back to the Golden Dragon Parade in Shenzhen; an afternoon of nothingness at a nondescript eatery with two of my classmates here — that’s when a very strange sort of bond was forged between the three of us, fighting over kathi rolls and Davidoff Lights; and an incredible, incredible few minutes in B.’s arms, closing my eyes and dancing to Norah Jones.
More precious than any million-dollar artefacts are these virtus of memory that nobody can steal from you. That you can take with you wherever you go, and share with whomever you like without their value diminishing in the least. Things change, places, people, and situations change — the last time I went to Sea Lounge at the end of 2005, the food was about fourteen times as expensive as it had been, dessert servings were a quarter the earlier size, and instead of piped music there was a live pianist playing horrendous covers of old Bollywood songs — but at least when I think about what it used to be like, the memory is eternal. I guess some things in that sense do last forever.