Now that I am spending muggy monsoon nights clacking away at the keyboard, I miss the summer evenings. Winter evenings would be perfect but summer will do. The rains are welcome for the first week when the city cools down. After that, I’m screaming murder at every big car who thinks s/he doesn’t need to give a rat's arse about drenching pedestrians or people on bikes. That's it! Bring back the sweltering, migraine-inducing heat! But the horrendous heat apart, this summer was special because it brought rides through Aarey Milk Colony. So for those of you who don't know what Aarey is, this is what Wikipedia has to say.
As you will observe, that is a miracle in the city of Bombay. But to meander back to the story, I live in Versova and used to work in Powai, the commute to which is a first-class bitch. So I began travelling with the ex-reviewer. It seemed a relatively less painful—less traffic-infested with no useless fighting through public transport—way of getting to work. Scant days later, we'd already quite fallen into a predictable little rhythm of him not waiting to get to work to annoy me.
Aarey is not only the most peaceful way of getting to traffic-forsaken Powai from the Western suburbs, it is by far the most beautiful. Until late March, the trees are a subdued shade of light green. You can see they're slumbering, trying to ignore the persistent cold. But in April and through most of May, the gentle green undergrowth becomes a burgeoning verdure that diminishes the simmering resentment at being on my way into work. Each day brought leisurely breezes and roads covered in the graceful remains of yellow flowers.
You know how people talk about sound being switched off in certain places, when everything becomes mute? Well, it's not quite the same trite, muting experience but the moment you cross the Malad toll gate into Aarey, someone seems to muffle out the sound. The roar of the Western Express highway seems silenced by the waving grass and the astounding greenery, complete with trees with funny ears.
More often that not, the reviewer and I would stop en route for breakfast. In the shade of the picnic spot where almost every child in Bombay has been brought on a school picnic is a little canteen that sells below average samosas and some very weird snacks. I have spent many mornings here, renewing my acquaintance with coffee and pineapple Energee.
There have also been mornings of repast provided so thoughtfully by the reviewer. Halfway up the road to the Powai toll gate is a small left that might be presumed to go nowhere interesting or indeed, nowhere at all. About a hundred feet up this road, at the foot of a large tree is a moss-covered stone bench over a clogged culvert. One mild morning, the reviewer stopped because he wanted to eat. He then pulled out the leftovers of a wine bottle and roast beef sandwiches from his saddle-bag. I tell you, it's a nice, nice way to start the day!
On the precious few days that the reviewer and I managed to get out of the office while it was still early evening, there were evenings of exploratory, rambling drives and bickering peacefully. There is such a pure pleasure in selecting an unknown left or right and finding myself on a winding green-brown road that led down two years at the University of Hyderabad. And by summer's end, the entire forest burst into flame to welcome the monsoon. The yellow flowers were soon replaced by motley shades of red.
Now I don’t know if it’s A’s departure from Bombay and a lack of practice, a camera that wasn’t mine, or indifferent lighting, but of 92 shutter releases, I did not like a single one. I'll leave you with a couple of A's shots instead. They're a more than fair idea of what I saw!