Part I - Veni
The journey starts like all journeys do..with anticipation. I’m going to catch up over a long weekend, with some of my closest friends in their new house. I even baked a cake for the occasion (it’s a perfect present - one can indulge in it with alacrity). Wriggling around to achieve the maximum level of comfort in my Volvo A/C ed bus, on an overnight journey, I find myself wishing “why can’t they make a damn A/C bus colder, for chrissake?”
Oh well! No one ever said there’s gain, without the add-on pain in the posterior, literally.
My first impression of Hyd is caught behind half closed eyes, peering sleepily out of the window. It’s nice, quiet.. peaceful; dawn light weaving in through lazily floating wisps of fog. The roads are almost totally empty, with a few lone-wolf trucks rumbling on ahead.
The city leaves behind an impression of aridity, a veritable dustbowl sitting in the midst of huge rocks strewn haphazardly everywhere. Immediately, it strikes me that it is as far from Blr as it can get..less people, less traffic, less hi-fi places, less buildings in general. It probably reminds me in a way, of what Blr might have been like 30 years ago, a small sleepy town on the eve of “development” rather than smack dab in the middle of chaos.
Sachin’s house is almost near one end of Hyd.. a place called Kondapur which is near the Tech City. There isn’t much junta around here, the hustle and bustle of the city is left far behind. Chatting with him and his wife, over a cup of adrak chai made by Alka, it is a good moment. We never realize how much we are starved for our closest, till we are face to face with one.
Catch up with A., once S. goes off for work very reluctantly. I do try to do my duty as a best friend and try to persuade him to stay, of course. A. is the perfect hostess; she packs me off to freshen up and rest, while she goes off, oh so competently, to whip up breakfast for the 2 of us. Then it’s time to chat about all and sundry – life, love, marriage, work, hopes and wishes, highpoints and failure – we are really getting to know each other “properly” this time around, rather than as the “best friend” and the “wife”.
Hyd is HOT..a dry heat that settles into your skin and leaves it parched and cracked. Water almost sizzles on the body and disappears while taking baths, giving me to reflect on all the Physics I studied ages ago. It leaves one inert to do anything the entire day, unless you have forced yourself to escape the cool confines of the house already. In the afternoons, a lassitude sets in among people, they buzz lazily like drones searching for food in the hot sun.
S’s house is huge and carefully thought out and built; but as he dryly mentions, not constructed by a very intelligent man. The halls and bedrooms are huge, the kitchen almost even bigger. The loos are tiny, in comparison. Since they are in the process of still acquiring furniture, most of the house stands empty, reverberating with sound when we speak. Opera singers would have a blast singing here, I wonder.
The whole house is pink..a delicious frothy pink with white pillars. It reminds me of a strawberry shortcake, lovely white cream drizzled with threads of pink color in it, and folded neatly to make sweet sweet icing. As a child growing up in Cal, I seem to recollect our own house walls being a pale pink at a point of time. Thankfully, post that, we have moved into a more neutral all-white color scheme, with the occasional large muddy pawprint left as a decorative statement of valor by our overly energetic dogs.