Am posting this from joshya’s place.. have been here since monday evening. Nice gang here! Watched three films on monday…started with 2 fast 2 furious, then dombivli fast (again) and salaam bombay. I slept off while ameya saw train to pakistan and went off to bed at 730am!
Yesterday night, we saw hasva fasvi on youtube, thanks to the marathi film and natak link bhushan had sent me. That was AWESOME!! we were rolling on the floor and kicking the air in laughter.. it reminded me of the time i had gone for the play at borivali with amu, pari, mugi and anu. The family in the front row had changed seats after the interval because of the relentless guffawing and seat-kicking from behind!
Well, now about bournemouth.
Ashish had booked bus tickets for leena and me from london victoria to bournemouth. We had a bus at 9am, so i left from home at around 730. reached victoria at around 810. leena wans’t there. Called her and she was surprised that i reached so early! She joined me in 20 minutes. By then, i finished off a very good burger from burgerking. She arrived at 830 and we walked to the victoria coach station. It is a huge bus terminal. Made me think of our ST terminals…which are nice in their own shabby and noisy way. In the city experience here, noise is the thing i miss the most. Everything here is so formal and mechanical, almost perfect. Will talk more about that later. Well, the bus we were supposed to get on was around 15-20 minutes late, so leena and i decided to get a coffee.took it outside the station and chatted for a while. Went back well before the delay. And as luck would have it, the bus had arrived on time!! and it had LEFT! The exemplary british punctuality had kicked in at the wrong time. We asked the attendant, and he was rather harsh on us. “I had told you to stay close to the terminal. I can’t help it if you wanted to have coffee outside. I had said that the bus would probably be late by 15-20 minutes.” so we trundled along to the ticket window, paid a transfer fee of three pounds over the 18 pounds return ticket (!) and got ourselves a 11 am reservation. With more than an hour left, we thought of taking a short walk. Took a straight route to avoid getting lost! Had a good chat along the way. Took a few good photos.
Came back in time. The bus left exactly at 11. was feeling pretty sleepy but did not. Wanted to see the landscape, which was great! waves of green all over with horses grazing away to glory! The bus was passing through a huge open grassland that had cottages and ranches that looked like chocolate chips on a huge cookie! There was no man-made structure for as far as the eye could go. There were massive trees lining the highway that stretched along like a huge snake soaking the sun. But that got boring after some time. And they weren’t even playing any films too!! NEETA VOLVO VIDEO COACH! So i took a small nap.
Bournemouth arrived in almost and hour and a half. Felt good to see civilisation! It is a small beach town down south. As the bus came down a main street, we could see the vast sea stretching out before us, the boundaries between earth and sky drowning away at the horizon. We arrived at the coach station at the exact time as mentioned on the ticket. Mane was standing there at the terminal in a yellow shirt eating chips! Haahah!! felt too good to see him. Was like back in Sion with the whole gang waiting near SB for a smoke and cups of mama’s cutting.
We walked to the campus where they were staying. It is a big building overlooking the bus station on one side and the harbour on the other. The view is just too brilliant. Ashish came over, and nanika joined us in some time. Mane’s flatmate betty (from croatia) had made some ham and cheese pasta. I had quite a lot of it as i was hungry. We loitered around the flat for an hour or so and decided to go out to the quay for a walk.
The quay is a kind of harbour where boats and yachts are anchored. The walk was nice. On our way back, I saw this excellent glass building with text etched on its huge paneling. It was the text that drew me to it initially! And then I sort of glanced at its name. It was the Poole Museum. Much to Ashish’s reluctance, we all decided to head in and have a look. It was worth the visit. The museum had authentic artifacts from more than 200 years back; nautical instruments, clothes, excavated stones and weapons, ancient washing machines, guns, charters of the Poole and Bournemouth area…there was a lot of cultural and artistic history to look at. We headed up to their open air cafe. The view from up there was breathtaking! We could see right across to the harbour on one side and the surrounding city with its alleys and restaurants and houses on the other!
Then we headed back to the flat for some beers, relaxed, took my stuff from mane which aai had sent, and went out again to eat. Played pool in the campus common room with ashish while the girlies took almost one thousand seven hundred and sixty (satraashe saath!) years to change and get ready. Walked to this nice pub called MINT. It has three levels, one a bar, one dance floor and a lounge. It was practically empty when we stepped in as it was just eight. Sat there for a while, had a couple of drinks, and went out to eat. Had dinner at this ultimate thai place. I’ve never had thai food, and the first time experience was terrific! Mildly spicy chicken in sweet and sour sauce was my choice. The music was authentically thai, even the waiters and the decor was great. After the dinner, we went back to MINT for dancing. The music was okay. We did a few filmi steps on punk rock songs! But after some time, the music got pretty jarring. We stepped out and rested for a while outside and left for home.
On the way back, the silence was getting overbearing. So i decided to break it, and yelled the timeless SHOLAY dialogue “sooar ke bachchon…!” quite loud. There was a couple on a bench who nearly jumped out of their jackets, looked at us like terrified rabbits when the light of a car stuns them midway!! and suddenly leena screamed!! She had seen a fox crossing the street! I did not believe her until i saw it for myself. A fox crossing the street like stray dogs. Ashish told me later that it is a common occurrence there. I had heard that people had seen foxes quite regularly in the kingston campuses of roehampton vale and kingston hill. I’d like to go there and have that experience!
Came back to the flat at close to three and had a good chat with mane while we were sleeping. It was about how things are so different here. Clean roads, very little garbage, everything so perfect. But then, there are reasons for it, and most important one is the population. Here, they do not have 125 people per square foot. Here, they do not have immigrants swarming in. Here, they are not confronted with the problem of illiteracy. And that is exactly the reason the government has so much control. What i felt was that everything here is pre-meditated, fitted into schedules. And what struck me the most is the level of independence. I saw an 89 year old woman shopping for herself. The high school kids are all over the place, seemingly carefree and in joy of their youth. But then, this very independence has led to teenage pregnancies, broken homes, old people left to fend for themselves and a society that shows no trace of any human characteristic. Everywhere you see cameras monitoring your every move. All machines in the university and in shops are automated. There are no helpers in cloth stores who run behind you as you flit from shelf to shelf, advising you on size and colour and price, wherever you are, you are being watched, constantly kept an eye on.. I know i am beginning to sound like an old man who hates what he sees, culture going to dogs, children out of control, life becoming just a page in a scheduler…but then that is what it is here.
(P.S. – everyone, please read 1984 by george orwell)
I do not wish to paint a grisly picture of the social conditions here, but am just making a comparison, and wondering why in bloody hell do we call ourselves an ‘under-developed’ or ‘developing’ country. I believe we are far more better than them, because we still have the family, because we still have our connections with each other and with our own souls intact. I think we spend more lavishly than them. I think we are free, in more than one sense of the word.
We are free.
I guess something close to 1500 words is enough after 4 days of not blogging! I will stop here. More later.