Thursday, November 1, 2012

Post 21: Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai By Rishi Vohra



For the twenty four years of his life, these are some of the words "they" have used to describe Babloo. He knows his family agrees with "them" and he senses that he is different. He doesn't hate people; he just cannot find the right way to connect with anyone, be it his parents, his arrogant upwardly-mobile younger brother or the bad boys from the Railway Colony who use him purely for entertainment value. Vandana is the only exception. She is the connecting thread to the kind of world he wants to live in. But how can he find a place for himself in her world? What can he do to make himself worthy of her?
Trying not to lose himself in the chaotic fast pace of Mumbai, Babloo finds simple pleasures in small things; walking on the Carter Road promenade, being in the middle of the swirling sea of commuters at Churchgate station; watching mindless erotic films in the dark, forgotten confines of adult theatres where he does not have to struggle to understand plots; following the seemingly endless railway tracks that scar the grimy, concrete encased city. A random twist of fate along these familiar train tracks brings Babloo face to face with the harsh reality of escalating crime in the local trains of Mumbai, and shakes him out of his apathy.
This mass fiction follows Babloo's fascinating, heart rending journey that begins in the twisted, choked lanes of Mumbai and leads him into an open space where he can finally exhale, be born again!


Prologue:

I WOKE UP ALL OF A SUDDEN.

Darkness returned my sleepy gaze. And the stillness that serves as a prelude to the morning was like a familiar friend waiting to greet me. My name is Balwant Srivastav, my friends call me Babloo. But even the name Babloo sounds alien to my ears since I dont really have friends. Very few people know me. And contrary to the ways of the world, I am happy being unknown. The fewer people one knows, the less complicated the rollercoaster of life is. But somehow my simple life did get complicated. I didn't plan it. It just happened. Destiny took some surprise turns, which rendered me a stranger to my own life.
'They' said that I had psychiatric problems. That I was autistic. 'They' said that I was schizophrenic and psychotic. That I had a split personality disorder. 'They' said that I had no social skills and all my conversations were disjointed. 'They' said so many other things that I eventually stopped paying attention. By the way, 'they' also said I had Attention Deficit Disorder. But these so called experts who had the upper hand – 'they' didn't really know me.


My pride doesn't prevent me from admitting to my shortcomings. I admit that I'm a little slow in my responses. It is a fact that most of the time, I have nothing to offer to a conversation. But little do 'they' know that I understand everything.

However, no one ever understands me. And when that happens, one feels all alone in the world. Yes, I do feel alone but not lonely. There's a difference.

Nature was generous enough to give me a best friend within myself. Sometimes 'he' answered me, at other times, 'he' asked me questions and provided me with clarity of thought. In situations that demanded it, 'he' helped me recognize my inner strength and manifest it into physical force.
No one understood the dual existence of 'him' and me that made me the person I am. Only the railway tracks that ran along outside my bedroom window knew the both of us individually. The endless, idle wooden planks connected by durable steel had formed a fine segregation between my fantasy and reality.
I lie awake while my mind races and thoughts overlap each other, putting me in a state of confusion. My restless mind starts pulling me in different directions as I recall the uneventful chain of non-events that are my life and piece them together one by one. Soon I surrender to blissful sleep.

About the Author

Rishi Vohra recently relocated back to Mumbai after completing a Green MBA from San Francisco State University and a Masters Diploma in Environmental Law (World Wildlife Fund – New Delhi), prior to which he had a successful career in the Indian Entertainment Industry. He has worked as an Assistant Director with Filmmakers Sohail Khan and Shimit Amin, and independently directed music videos, television shows, live stage shows and film award events.  His other academic qualifications include a B.S. degree in Finance with a minor in Multi-Ethnic Film/Theatre from Arizona State University and an Associate of Arts (AA) degree in Film from Scottsdale Community College.

After featuring as a guest columnist for various newspapers in India, he currently writes for delWine and is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW). 'Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai' is his first novel.

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