The Ringside View

My attempts at writing have always been stacked up in old diaries and scraps of yellowing paper.Time,neglect and phylum insecta however, always ensured that the gibberish i scrawled, never would see the prying gaze of an alien eye.Years later, i still scribble once in a while - this time in word documents stored in some obscure folder somewhere in the innards of my C drive.I am unearthing some of them and opening them up for the interested.To get what i call - The Ringside view.

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Location: Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The old neighborhood

The 1980’s is a long time back. So long time back, that I can only think of it in grayscale. Nascent memories; many of which I think, are mere fancy sub conscious fabrications and nothing more, flash by on recall like reality itself. Like say, images of me shrouded in a blanket and gasping for air on that ferry to the ancestral home. Grandmother had died. I was but a few months old. Winds lashing. Rain pouring down in angry torrents. Signs apparently were so ominous, that even the oarsman feared for the little one’s life. But as it appears, the little one gasped; and gasped hard, and lived on to tell this tale.

But wait a minute. I was but a few months old at that time. And there is no way I can have a visual image of that scene. Funnily enough though, I do. Etched, clear and crystal. How can that ever be so, ponders the pragmatic side of me. Pat comes the answer. No Freudian logic involved here. The image is but a picture reconstructed from oft repeated hearsay I say. Conjured up by the creative mind, to scale up to the melodrama that the scene demanded. That’s all.

Ok, disclaimer. The reader is at this stage forewarned, that if you find me speaking eloquent about the early eighties, Woodstock 69 and the man on the moon, remember, it’s merely reconstructed from other people’s stories. So if you happen to spot something to the effect of ‘When I was a year old, I remember the blooming gulmohars lining the promenade. Crimson and lilac, fluttering in the wind like colours on a painter’s canvas……..’, remember it could very well be bullshit.

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The Bangalore real estate scene in the sixties was as lukewarm as lukewarm can be. People gently enquired in good quintessential Bangalore spirit, if you wanted a plot of land in ‘modern day as costly as Sunset Boulevard’ Indiranagar. ‘Why don’t you take it sir; you can pay me later’, some shortsighted gentleman had offered father. Circumspect and risk averse, dad very myopically replied ‘Very generous of you sir. But I am fine, thank you. And further more, who will stay so far’. And those were the days when the wallets were thin and aspirations of settling down in the city minimal. (Talk about foresight and sound financial planning. Godammit.)

A decade or so later, father was still working in Bangalore. And when familiarity with the city and matrimony, both happened, he eventually decided to buy this flat which has been home for the last 27 years. It was spanking new, cousin tells me. And the strong smell of whitewash ensured the cold that I perennially had, stayed with me like an alter ego.

A wild undergrowth of parthenium flourished in the neglected land in front of our multistoried building in those days. ‘I have seen snakes in there’, cousin claimed confidently of a distant past which I am sure he never did see. But whether it was that or the constant tirade of ‘how many times to tell you not to go near those bushes chasing the ball. You will end up with rashes I tell you’, I do not know, but the early days were all spent playing along the fringes and hoping the ball did not roll into the uninviting wilderness.

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As years ticked by, and the school routine kicked in, I remember the parthenium shrubs had cleared out. A barbed wire fencing, made a feeble attempt by the corporation to convert the clearing into a park. And whether it was the grass or the gravel I know not, but the rubber ball used to turn at Shane Warnian proportions in our evening games of cricket. We would come back home and keep records; cousin and me. And he would always claim my 100 against Azib, the neighborhood bloke would not qualify. ‘You ran the last 20 runs without even hitting the ball’, he would assert himself. ‘But it was getting dark and he said it was ok. I swear.’, I would argue. What an unfair world it was, in those days.

We shifted to playing at grounds further away from home as we grew a bit older. It somehow seemed a little too childish to play in front of your own home. We were big boys now you see. And what’s more, the cover drives now had more power, so why put your own window panes at risk.

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The rains washed down. The occasional hailstorms showered. The sun on summer days shined unrelenting. The plasters came off. And the odd pipes broke. The storm drains overflowed and new kids replaced old ones on the same track where the ball spinned square. Familiar people disappeared, new ones appeared. You walk down the flight of stairs and it still at times transports you back to images in grayscale. It’s still the same old neighborhood but in a changed time. And there will always be memories of a distant past; hidden in every bend and turn.

But for now, it’s time for me to disappear like all those people who disappeared before me. Into some place new, where someone else will sigh and tell – ‘old faces disappear and new ones appear’.

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12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

lovely one! sweet memories, aren't they? although we can't help but pine for those days to come again, we could atleast be happy that it happened :)

-Laxman.

March 09, 2008 6:04 PM  
Blogger The lost word said...

i will always pine away for old bangalore
It is simply the bestest thing in this world :)

March 10, 2008 2:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I knw the trigger for writing this pls ? 'Change is constant' aint it ?

And by the way, lemme knw the final price for interpreter..i'm ready to pay :D

March 10, 2008 2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Preethax for someone I find it weird to see you reminisce good old days. Excuse me for that.
But your post made me think about all those ICCian cricket rules of gully cricket.
-> The closest municipal planted tree trunk is the wicket.Who wants the bales.
-> The hieght of the wickets is directly proportional to the avergae waist length of the group.
->Any square cut that lands in the neighbours house is considered out
-> All matches to be played compulsorily with 3 re rubber balls.I rememebr the hue and cry when the cost went up to 4rs.
-> When the ball crosses the farthest manhole its a four!
->One pitch catch is out
I can go on and on ......
Panes will break , newly painted walls will be stained , neigbhours will complain ,we will grow out ....but the cricket must go on

On the other hand your post makes me realize that Cheran's Autograph or Preeths "The old neighborhood" .Past sells.
-KSP

March 10, 2008 5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a wonderful post, loved it ..

- Ganesh

March 11, 2008 10:33 AM  
OpenID runningink said...

Awesome. Your timing couldn't have been any better to write this..

March 12, 2008 8:35 AM  
Blogger Bikerdude said...

Wah lovely I say. Full koi lauta de mere... moment has happened.

Macha I wonder if it was you I saw at tavern about two thursdays ago. caught a glimpse of someone who looked like you outta the corner of my eye.

March 16, 2008 11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

almost aamir khan like performance bro, you come out a winner each time you put pen to paper. good stuff!

paps

March 17, 2008 9:05 AM  
Blogger Preeth said...

@Laxman -> How true. We should be atleats glad it happened

@the lost word -> Old Bangalore is dead. And we can only pine for it :(

@anony -> chnage of address shortly. Thats why.

@KSP -> Hilarious.

@GD/runningink -> Thanks :)

@Bikerdude -> Illa dude. Havent been there in a while. And anyways, how would you spoty me? we havent seen each other ever na?

@Paaps -> Full compliment bro. Thanx da.

March 17, 2008 11:50 AM  
Blogger Bikerdude said...

Argh Im getting senile. Sorry da, I meant someone else. Fool I am.

March 18, 2008 1:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sooper! Loved this one man! U speak bangalore, old memories, school.... and am goin 'aaaaaaaaawww' :D

-S

March 22, 2008 10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cmon.. its too long u can ask for a blog. dont lemme start using bad words ;)
-Bebo

April 23, 2008 3:34 AM  

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