Google Translate

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Home, the Home!

Home! Where is it!
Is it the one I was born in, or the ones I lived from time to time? For, I have loved every place that I lived in: Bapatla, Kalyani, Rudrur, Mahidpur, Mundi, Khandwa, Guntur, Eluru, Hyderabad, Bombay and now again in Hyderabad …. Yet, Home means, though of the distant past, Tenali comes to my mind.    

Every one of us has a place we turn to or remember in our hour of despair… And just the very thought of it pulls a veil of colour and happiness, however ephemeral, over our troubles. Yes, it was only for 16 years out of my 73 years that I lived at a stretch in that magical place, yet it has the ability to cast a spell that guides me through the vicissitudes of my life.

Can I go home, again? “Yes”, perhaps. But every going now is more like a tourist… but with wispy feelings of the first 20 years spent there… anecdotes about those foolish wanderings in those lanes and by-lanes with those same couple of friends ….musings over those sweet bygones but in altogether new surroundings …

Tenali was then a small town with a village-ish camaraderie among the residents. There were, of course, stray streaks of cosmopolitan evidence here and there but only for those who seek them out. Why, even a little of celebrated café culture of Paris could be seen around Peoples Restaurant on the Bose road.  Sitting in the wooden chairs of yore on the pavement in front of Peoples Restaurant, some sipped coffee lazily watching the passers-by; some sipped tea discussing animatedly about a movie; while a few in the distant corner were immersed in their intellectual discourses…    

Countless idealistic discussions among those stalwarts of the yore—the likes of Gopichand, GVK, Tummala and so on, sitting in those same chairs dusted earlier by the plebeians—over Camus and his philosophy of the absurd or Sartre and his existentialism; Freud and his Psychoanalysis and Marx and his  Marxism and their impact on different genera of literary output, the kind of stuff which sounds esoteric even today to passers-by like me—till late into evening, of course, with intermittent sipping of coffee. From a distance, it all appeared hazy, perhaps of the encircling cigarette smoke and yet it was the main attention-puller. Indeed, it did generate curiosity in us, curiosity to emulate them, once we grew up.

Later, as the stalwarts emigrated … it was Udipi­—hotel near Gandhi Chowk with all whites, charming and quiet, particularly after the morning rush exited—opposite Bata store which became the star attraction with its white soft steaming Idli on plantain leaf placed in a steel plate …Pesarattu with a certain fragrance of its own and frothy coffee, for the young generation of us. In summer holidays, we—Sridhar, YSR, Inumpudi, PS, and the occasional others—used to flock to it.  Taller than any one in sight, clad in all whites and thin enough to make one wonder if I had a decent meal in the recent past, I was the first to go to the corner table and tuck myself in the chair abutting the wall—perhaps, more of a habit that drove me always to that corner seat … As waiter Ramu served us 2/4 coffee, we get hurled into discussions that hover around all sundry… and it used to be for long.  I often used to amuse that this Gandhi Chowk perhaps had a resonance for me … may be because I had frequented this square right from my childhood:  as a school student I visited  Gandhi Chowk for buying textbooks, wisdom notebooks, Indian ink bottles, pencils, rubbers, and particularly it did quench my long-lasting desire to imitate what the elite of past did in front of the People’s Restaurant…. if not in the airy-outside, …..and if not about loftier matters…

And in the evenings, it was that super natural healing heaven of our hometown, which added so much bliss to my life: Chinaravuru Park next to the tank, which I started frequenting along with my brother right from my school days. I used to drive my friends to the far end of the park to sit on the slope of the tank bund… the same spot where I first sat with my brother when he came home during his 2nd year summer holidays from AMC, Vizag  and took me along with him to the park. On the opposite side, there stood a giant pipal tree. Watching the reflection of the evenings’ blue sky, the mighty pipal tree … the towers of the temples and the people passing through the road on the other bank…in that turquoise blue waters of the tank was an experience by itself. 

That was the place where sitting in the lazy breeze of summer evenings I had the most enchanting conversations with my close pals who were then back home for summer holidays from different universities/Professional colleges. And, the discussions, my god, ran around varied topics— may start anywhere right from Five year plans and Mahalanobis theory of sampling distributions to ISI and its CR Rao to telecommunication engineering and microwave transmission to veterinary pharmacology to Watson & Crick and DNA to cytogenetics,  hybridization and cytoplasmic incompatibility to  Milton to Homi Bhabha to Feynman and his bongos … or anything that I read in the library from Span/Time/Imprint/Mirror/Blitz/ Illustrated Weekly of India/Baburao Patel’s Mother India that morning to Raj Kapoor’s Sangam  or Alistair MacLean’s Guns of Navarone or Ian Fleming’s  Dr No… or Beatles …. or    Looking back I must say it was not a mere naming game though discussions were perhaps mostly strayed in the margins, nevertheless we were well in sync with what’s happening around…

As the darkness crept in and stars started blinking brightly in the night sky, the sound of the paddled boat along the distant bunds of the tank used to stir an eerie feeling in me …  nevertheless, that was the escape I sought! That was the company I craved for in solitude…. even amidst the gathering….amidst that cacophony (?) even ...  

And on Wednesdays, as the evening advanced into night…. how longingly we used to look forward to the finale of that most popular radio programme, ‘Kalpataru’, for in those days it often ended with that sweet croon of Janaki: Neeli meghaalalo gali kerataalalo  / Neevu paade paata vinipinchu neeveela (Amidst the blue clouds, among the air waves / The song that you sang  resonates today). Ha! What a composition! How touchy the lyrics are! The lyrics and tune that was composed based on raag Aabheri together simply overwhelms the listener with Karuna rasa. Or, should I say, it used to simply lodge us in the rolling clouds…indeed, toss us into that gentle swirling summer breeze!  

That was the life in that cosy home town! How often I wished I could wrap up all that and take with me wherever I went. But I know, it’s only a wishful thinking, a mere longing! But then, yes, I still replicate those lovely Tenali mornings of coffee with idli wherever I am .. .. that’s all I have of it! Oh! yeah, of course, those sweet memories of Tenali and the life that I lived therein is enshrined in my heart as the unparalleled (apuroopamai nilichee naa antarangaana). A mere virtual revisit to those places ….those memories simply veil the heaviness of my heart even (Naa hrudaya bhaaramunee maripimpajeeyu).

Those comings and goings… these virtual/real visits… I wonder if they are telling me: life is that happiness which cannot be reached (Andukoo jaalani aanandam) or that joy visits only to drift away! And, particularly listening to those words Andukoo jaalani aanandam neevu that Janaki renders so soulfully, one couldn’t help but fall in love with that which remains away from you ….


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Recent Posts

Recent Posts Widget