Saturday, May 23, 2015

Of chai and pakodas

Today I happened to watch an advertisement on TV. Which is a very rare event because 1) I usually change the channel as soon as an ad comes on, and 2) I rarely watch TV. So this ad comes on, about Splendor bike, and it went something like:  a guy sends a text that says “Chai in the Misty Mountains.” Then three of his friends, happy to receive that text, drop whatever they are doing, and ride on their bikes towards the Misty Mountains. Somewhere on the way our four friends meet up, and they ride happily together until the Misty Mountain is reached and the chai is drunk.

It left me thinking, “Wow these guys are something else, not only do they want to go to the same place, but get ready immediately and reach the meeting point all at the same time,” and wished meeting up with friends was as easy as that.

Flash back a couple of years ago. Hyderabad, when it still was the capital of united Andhra Pradesh. Me and a bunch of friends from work often meet up on holidays and weekends and do something, go somewhere. Our plans were never plans, more like a puzzle where you don’t know where you’re headed until the last minute. Someone would have the grand idea that we should do something, and call everyone. Plans, or something similar to that would be made. Fellow with the car would pick up everyone and then the discussion on where to go would begin, and the actual plan would emerge.

 AR was always late. Since he was the guy with the wheels, we could never go anywhere without him, and he knew we would wait for him, which makes him even more late. Oh how we cursed him and bitched about him and called him and texted him, only to hear “I’m almost ready”.  Of course almost could mean anything from five minutes to two hours. Sometimes we would all go to his place and while he ran around getting ready his family was forced to feed us and be nice to us.

And then there was the “invite someone along without my friends’ approval” which always ruined the day/evening/night because we then had to be extra polite and use nice words to each other.  There was that one time AJ decided to invite one girl, who declined the invitation and then once we had started off changed her mind and had to be waited for an hour. I remember that day, we waited for her on a petrol bunk, and just opposite the road was a bar-cum-restaurant. We had waited for almost an hour, and everyone was low on patience.  We were so tired of sitting in a car, on a hot sunny day, waiting for someone who might or might not show up, that when someone suggested we all go into the bar and get drunk and go home we almost said yes.

However, time delays never dampened our spirits. There was that one time we decided to go to Medak and see the church and maybe visit a nearby waterfall on the way home.  Medak is about two hours’ drive from Hyderabad. AR was late again (no surprise there), and when we left the city it was almost 3 PM. A few photo shoots  on the way, a tyre puncture, and by the time we reached Medak it was after 5 PM and the church was about to be closed to visitors. We managed to get inside, did a quick tour, and left when it was dark. We then visited nearby old buildings and drove back to the city, and on the way had the best dal pakodas with coconut chutney.

Incomplete research on a place you intended to visit (visiting a beautiful lake, except it was the middle of the June and the lake was completely dry)? Breakdowns at night in the middle of the forest with no equipment or spare parts? Police patrols asking you to show your ID because you are in the middle of a Naxalite-infested area? Wondering what the living arrangements are between two women and a man who sheltered you while your car is being fixed? Check all that. Having a good time in spite of all that? Check!!

Life’s changed.  Now everything has a timestamp. Go to that place at that time, do that thing and go home. If you’re going to be late be sure to call home and relay the news.  No more long rides and going out whenever and wherever just because you can. No more touristy and sightseeing trips. No more being free.  All I wish for now is Gandalf to show up when I'm 50 and take me on the adventure of a lifetime.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Love of God

It was a Saturday evening. I was busy with the after-dinner cleanup and listening to music on my phone which I kept nearby. Suddenly out came this beautiful song (probably received via the many Whatsapp groups), which I instantly recognized as a song we often sang in church. I was surprised, not because there exists an English version of a Mizo hymn, but because it was so easily available, and in such a modern version too! I grabbed the phone with my dirty hands, and after fumbling with the buttons for a while found that the song was called Love of God, performed by Mercyme.

Later I opened the Kristian Hla Bu and found the song at No. 43 – Pathian hmangaihna ropuizia, written by one Frederick M. Lehman.  Then came a flurry of Googling and Youtube-ing and discovering that the song was written by Lehman in 1917; and that the third and last stanza was inspired by a poem written nearly 200 years ago by an insane man on the walls of an asylum, which was in turn originally composed by a Jewish Rabbi around the year 1050!

It is a beautiful song, simple yet profound. I cannot decide which lyrics I love more, the Mizo or the English version.

KHB #43

Pathian hmangaihna ropuizia,
Thu leh hlain a hril seng lo;
Van aia sang, aw a zauzia,
Sual hmun thim ber pawh a thleng zo.
Sual bawiha tang, lungngai, mangang,
A Fapa a pe a;
Boral fate muanna a pe,
An sual a ngaidam ta.

A va thuk em, a va na em,
Pathian hmangaihna chu!
Chatuan pawhin a chuai dawn nem,
Angel varte hla chu.

Ram ropui leh lei lalthutthleng,
An tlawm vek ang, hun a ral ang;
Tu pawh tawngtai duh lova ngeng
Chuan tlang leh lung an la phen ang.
A chuai lo vang, a lang zel ang,
Pathian hmangaihna chu;
Adama thlah tlanna a fah,
Angel varte hla chu.

Tuifinriat zawng hlotui chang se,
Ziakna atan thingzar tinreng;      
Lehkha phekan van khi chang se,
Ziaktu atan chuan mi tinreng.
A hmangaihna puang dawn ila,
A kang zo ngei ange;
A leng dawn lo, a hlai tawk lo,
A hril seng chuang lo’ng e.


The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


oh my god i've lost it. i cannot write anymore. this is maybe the fourth or fifth try (or maybe more) and i will not delete this no matter what. see, i've stopped using capital letters and typing directly on, that's how far gone i am (but i still use my apostrophes at the right place so i guess i am still redeemable).

blame facebook. blame whatsapp and those messaging apps. blame free wifi. blame too much to do everywhere i look. blame life for changing its course. blame all those people who surge into my life. blame torrent downloads and quiet nights.

blame all those people who stopped blogging. blame those beautiful songs on repeat. blame all those online shopping sites that let me window-shop without lifting a foot. blame those cute nieces who are still hyper-active at ten in the night. blame those social events that are compulsory. blame these eyes that close too early at night and open too early in the morning.

see it's only three paras gone and already i'm looking for people to text and friends to annoy and movie spoilers to reveal.

sometimes you have to stop worrying and do what feels right. yeah i know easier said than done.

i take back my words. i don't blame any of the aforementioned things/people. it's all me, me, me. 


do scars bleed, ed sheeran?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Sometimes you miss the bright lights. The cinema halls and the restaurants and the food courts, the late night shows and midnight buffets, the neighbourhood general stores that stay open till 10 pm for any emergency shopping, and the streets that quieten only after midnight. You miss the shopping malls and fancy brands and the back alleys where everyone goes to buy their clothes. The festival season and end-of-season sales where everyone has a competition on who offers the most discounts; and store cards and discount coupons, though you never used them. You miss the big bookstores and the fact that you can sit and read there for hours and nobody cares. The shopping area which turns into a second-hand book market on Sundays, and rare books that you discover at unbelievably cheap prices.  You miss having a lot of free time on weekends and holidays and going on unplanned trips with friends. The strange fact that even in such a big city there would be a familiar face to run into at almost every place, although you keep a very small circle of friends. The fact that you feel younger, never weighed down by the pressure that comes from all your friends being married and gone, and being an anonymous face in a city of millions. 

 Twenty months have passed since the relocation, and you begin to feel that things are quietening down a bit. People no longer stop you to ask when you arrived and give their verdict on your weight and looks. Questions about what you do for a living since coming here have stopped. You have met your old friends and are pleased to discover that the friendship is still there. Now you can somewhat match the names and faces of people, especially young people who you have to identify through their parents. You are shocked, however, to see that people from your generation are now beginning to look old, which brings a horrific realisation that you must look the same.  Random faces seen around town slowly stop resembling people from the old city. New friends slowly emerge, and a few old friends reappear.  You discover that you know more people than you are aware of, and find a familiar face or two in almost every place. It’s a small town, and everyone knows everyone else, so there is always a common link with any new person you meet; this however is comforting and frightening at the same time. You could roam about and nobody would care who you are and what you do, and it feels wonderful being anonymous in a city of thousands.