Saturday, July 28, 2012


...The next day I left the studio and got into the last bus for the wharf. The driver was drunk. Music was playing. I got a seat. They rarely play music in these things. Sweet soft saxophone sang a lullaby. Cars honked outside. People got in. People got out. Fished for seats. Fished for change. Quarreled. The driver swore. It was beautiful. I sat there, listening, thinking, isn’t this fucking beautiful? A Konkani crooner overtook the sax now. Someone hummed with. Behind me a mother told her kid to stay up for just a bit more. The bus will stop now. Then home, dinner and then sleep! The little boy looked out of the window.  
The ferry was late again. I sat at the edge of the water, waiting. The river was dark, speckled with ships. The bridge was dim, distant, wet. Huge ships renovated into casinos stood docked in front of me. Shiny multicoloured lights, moving, shimmering, hypnotizing. One of them had a big electronic billboard. Casino Pride, it advertised. Then the C in Casino turned into a roulette wheel and went round and round. Round and round until it vanished and there was a dealer wearing a red vest doing card tricks. He vanished and there was a busty woman at the table screaming with joy. Now a fat man with a goatee kissing a card before he played it. Now another fat man ordering a drink. Now a bunch of cakes. Now a brunette in a bikini, winking, pouting. Now a smiling bartender. Now two blondes clinking glasses. Now a roulette wheel going round and round and round again until it turned into the huge C of Casino Pride. Now the busty woman again. And everyone was so motherfucking happy. The fat hairy men were happy. The women were happy. The dealers were grinning like the end of the world. The doorman was fucking ecstatic. The waiter gave you an impression that he would lay his life for a twenty percent tip. The tourists behaved as if the whole world was trying to sell them something. I kept on looking at the bizarre hypnotic show, smoking. Waiting for the brunette. All the lights were there but there was no sound. Just smoke. Just a constant hum of some distant yacht. The fat man ordered another drink. Someone spat at my feet. Everyone was waiting for the brunette now. More lights. Flickering lights, shimmering lights, mad wondrous dancing lights. And no sound. The water lapped softly at my feet. The fat man won his hand. And then, as the brunette finally winked again, the tired dark rusty blue ferry came to take me and my tired rusted people home.   


I was a lost young man when I found this city. It wasn’t much of a city really. More of a town. The streets were cleaner and the cops smiled at you and you could smoke anywhere you wanted. It even had a river. And a ferry boat across it. Casinos on the water. Hookers on the street. Bars everywhere you look. Bars next to schools. Bars next to petrol pumps. Welcome to Panjim, sponsored by Kingfisher. I had to catch a ferry everyday to go to the other side of town. Everyday I would pile into the blue rusty monster, like a little kid getting on a boat for the first time, amongst fifty odd people, bikes, scooters and the occasional car. Tired, sweaty and wet at the same time, inching closer towards the exit as the shore came in sights like a tired old army bound to attack a beach. Thick horizontal rain would then pour down, soaking your underwear, rocking the boat. I would pass my time imagining an accident. The monstrous boat suddenly would seem tiny. How windy must it be for a boat full of fifty people to upturn? I would look around me and wonder if the others were thinking the same things. People, clutching everything they could reach, turning their heads against the rain, holding out communal umbrellas, waiting for the little blue boat to stop moving. Waiting waiting waiting. Checks to clear, weddings to attend, offices to reach, memos to read, cigarettes to smoke, prices to haggle, bosses to kill, waiting. All that while periodically sneaking a look at that wet ass in the taut white skirt in the corner. Thank God for that ass. The incoming shore would vanish in a spray of mist and rain. And someone deep inside the heart of the suffering boat would calmly light up a joint.
I was staying out of a small apartment which belonged to the artist I was working under. A Three rooms and a terrace with an open kitchen. Sparse old furniture. A drawer which looked like a chocolate bar. I felt lonely at night. I had some whiskey Krithika had left me, but I didn’t feel like drinking. My only friend here was an eighteen year old Nepalese kid called Vinod. He had never seen Nepal though. And yet he still had the accent. I found that funny. He worked at the coffee shop next to my place and taught me pool after dinner every night. The first night after we were done and I was picking up my jacket, a step out of the door, he said, “Goodnight, Boss.” And he said that to me every night since then. I would come back home and smoke a lot of cigarettes, try to play the guitar, try to write. I couldn’t. In the end I would just stay up smoking in the dark, looking at the godforsaken furniture around me till I was so tired that I slept. 

Of guitars and paintbrushes....(and a few other things too) Headline Animator