Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Spiritual Renewal

One morning in cold cold Delhi I woke up and felt like I'd just hit a massive block in my life.Bangla ma’am had a great way of expressing that feeling. Only, she used it to describe her frustration with my pathetic spellings – she called it “hotasha”. Complete and overwhelming despair! And she spent hours painstakingly going over the difference between all the random bangla “sho”s. And I spent hours painstakingly researching organizations which would take as far away from Delhi as possible. And before I knew it - I was hugging Jess in Goa.

Yes, yes, I work in Goa. Yes, yes, the Goa. Yes, yes and yes - land of sun sand and sea. And clear skies. And navy nights. And stars carelessly scattered around. And the fireflies with their lit up bums, flitting around and lighting my way when I’m gingerly stepping over the broken stairway to my office at night. And that oh-so-fat moon and bathes the backyard with a strange silver glow. There’s Baga the bitch who quivers with pleasure when she sees me, because she knows she’s gonna get a treat and a scratch. And I have a pet frog. It lives in the crack between the door and the ceiling and eats up all the mosquitoes. And it even gets hiccups sometimes. And Janna and I talk to it. We say goodnight. And we believe it bulges its eyes out a little extra in response. And there are some beautiful grass snakes which live in the garden. When they glide by my boss gets completely distracted from our oh-so-important staff meeting and does a tip-toe-hop-run towards the snake all the while whispering excitedly “look, look, can you see that cute snake!” There are langurs who visit the bamboo grove shake the branches when I walk close. And there’s a cobra near the water tank. Apparently. I haven’t yet seen it or the python, but am pretty careful when I tread in those areas! And of course…there’s Jahaan. Who’s NOT an animal. But equally fascinating. With his blond hair, tiny hands and spouting broken Hinglish, Jahaan loves the sound of his own laughter and knows exactly how to twist the silly adults who coo whenever he smiles.

I’d been a little apprehensive about moving to a whole new location all over again, no friends, no family, no one I really knew there…and then, I went to the office. My impression of my new office was – “I’ve come to the wrong place!” I mean I came here to WORK right? And here was this bright old style yellow and red bungalow with lots of smiling people watching videos and chatting with each other. This can’t be the place. But there was Jess, my new boss, introducing me to everyone, and people smiling back at me…!!
I stared at all, shocked, how could they be so happy at work?! And I found out…the first night I went out with three colleagues whom I now consider friends. And thus began my love affair with “office”. Like I said before it’s a beautiful old bungalow nestled half way up a hill. So in the morning I sit with coffee and watch the bald eagles chase off crows, and Baga scratch her fleas off and butterflies flit around me. Then I walk down to ‘Nani’s and Rani’s’ for breakfast and watch the sea and get my daily dose of Bengali while chatting with the waiters. Then I walk back to office, sneak up on the dog from Divine Guest House and surprise him with a few tummy rubs, then sing ‘good morning’ to my work mates and start work. “Work” means chilling on the verandah with my tiny computer and calling people in Jharkhand. These calls mean that they are desperately trying to understand my pathetic genderless Hindi and I am struggling with their Santhali laced Hindi. But we are all friends now, and when I call to scold them for not sending me their applications they greet me with cheerful ‘Hi’s and placate me with questions about how I’m enjoying work. I love their curiosity, their cheerful attitudes despite that most of them earn less than what you or I would spend in a bar and I love how happy to help most of them are. They are eager to learn and so keen to change not just their lives but the lives of others as well. These are people who often travel three hours by bus to access internet or walk to the next village to call me. Then sometimes I have to deal with Mukesh. Mukesh is one young fella who is the epitome of curiosity who calls VV everyday mostly because he just wants to know what’s up with everyone at office. He is a Community Correspondents who has the knack of taking an issue head on and bulldozing his way into the camera shy villager’s hearts, getting them to open up about causes and concerns they have about failing governance with a special focus on education. Lunch usually means a shady shack somewhere that Joel and Sid somehow dig out in the gullies of Goa. Usually the food is amazing and I return to office with a doggie bag for Baga for a mere seventy bucks. Once I got a fried fly. Joel ate it up. *God said never to waste food*
There’s Arun bhaiyya who sings “chai” when he walks in with the huge kettle, bringing smiles and sighs from everyone who just want an excuse to lounge in the garden. And the dratted internet is our beloved saviour, conking out at crucial moments, bringing mixed emotions in to VV coz we all know that means an impromptu half day -- little grins on people’s faces laced with frustration that I didn’t manage to save the changes on my Google Doc. Sometimes, at night, I talk to my pet frog or curse the mosquitoes while lying around on the veranda dozily staring at the stars peppering the sky.

In this last but one post of 2011 I’m gonna do a typical thing and count my blessings to be healthy and happy. And give my love and gratitude to so many people who have accepted me as their own and have been so kind. The one’s who adopted me in Delhi. The one’s who threw open their homes. The one’s who drove me around coz I was “feeling lazy”. The one’s who fed me, looked after me, and generally put up with my childish whims and fancies. There were people (and dogs) who just overwhelmed me with love. And in Goa of course, there has been so much kindness.

Goa has been a spiritual reawakening for me. A job I love, some fantastic people, some really random ones. It’s a place where I can love so freely. I can love nature, the beauty of it, I can give up caring about the way I look, (you would too, if you saw some of the plump ol ladies blithely waddling down the road in their skimpy string bikinis!), I can fall asleep to the sound of the sea, I tried fishing with my sarong, watched a moth flit in the psychedelia of the sun reflecting off a CD, I can play with umpteen dogs and revel in the kindness of the people who feed, pet and look after these dogs. I enjoy strawberries and ice cream amongst scary Russian hippies (no mom, I do NOT hang out with them), the cold breeze playing over my arms after two hours of carefree dancing, the smiles from a random stranger with whom I made eye contact and the general friendly attitude. My friend and I forgot where we left the bike and giggled our way up a hill. I enjoyed poking the moss on the rocks to see if they close or fall off. I like looking out for Kamini’s three frogs which she believes are her forefathers watching over her. I love the easy going people, the random traffic jams, the ambling cows and I’m starting to get used to the lizards too – one is black and looks like it rotted on to the wall, I feel sorry for the poor guy, he’s probably dying of cancer or something according to Sumedha! I love eating like a maniac at lunch and then groaning all the way up the hill. I’m burnt brown and so happy. I’ve managed to pass out with over eating! I’ve danced in the backyard. I’ve bathed Baga. I’ve learnt to face the big waves with a very brave look on my face. I climbed a hill. I've found millions of touch-me-not plants which I never fail to prod whenever I walk by. And I'm learning new constellations. 

I’ve learnt to love life again.                


  1. Amzing Radhika... your experiences in Goa are truly amazing... and the way its put down is quite warped.... Great Goin! 2012 is goin to be a blessed awakening....

    Goa is not an experience but a state of mind!

    Happy Hippy!

  2. with a healthy sense of resentment for anyone who could be productively working in Goa, this is most remarkably written, Radhika!

    i chanced upon your blog through your father,
    and with the number of times i've been nipped by playful dogs, i sure am glad i did stop by. :-)

    you seem to be at remarkable ease narrating your adventures in gastronomy and canine-banter to complete strangers.
    it takes a story-teller, i think, to weave in such wonderful form, pressing upon even those merely passing by to pursue your stories, and find out about the many people and more people-like animals you surround yourself with.

    i particularly liked how you seem to be having a conversation of sorts with your dear mother in this and other posts. :-D

    keep writing,
    for the better and the verse.

  3. Thanks Sarthak and Joey for your comments... Nice to know people like reading my random ramblings :)