Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The Legend of the Travelling Shoe

My dado has been a source of great knowledge for me. I can ascribe a lot of my little religious knowledge to her, she says my fashion sense comes from her, she says our tendencies to yo-yo diet also stem from her and over the years she has given some great advice;  something akin to girls beings pearls, and their shine being the IT factor in life. Aisa hee kuch.

However, the one of the single most important and useful gems of wisdom she shared with us was when we were very,very young. So young that I don’t even remember what age we were, but I know that this information I can ascribe to her. She saw one of our  shoes lying one atop the other and said- this is a sign, it means you will be travelling. I’m sure we must have hounded her like bats about how and why and the mechanics of it – “why shoes? Who says? What positions and angles are acceptable? Is it for sure? For sure, for sure,?”  And “aap ko kaisey patah?”. You can imagine I’m sure, two little girls chilling in their grandmother’s room in the late afternoon and sneaking prince biscuits out of her almari, intrigued by supposed magical powers of shoes.

In any case, from then on my sister and I took this newfound information to heart.  Many a times when we were young we’d put our own shoes in that position and take the other by the arm to show – “look, I’m travelling”. Or ask Dado to come and see- “look, I’m travelling”.  Of course that wouldn’t work since positioned our shoes ourselves. But let me tell you this, as absurd as it may sound- it works like about 90% of the time. Of course it’s about belief as well. I mean since I have believed in it for more than a decade now, I can always spot my shoes or anybody else’s shoes doing that. Many a time’s I’ll tell /ask my friends- ‘hey, you’re travelling somewhere (?) ‘, and they’re like totally not into my clairvoyant powers, and sometimes sneer at me, but I think that the loss is theirs since they live in a  world without magical shoes sending them clandestine messages.
I guess my eyes have been trained to always spot them.  And I am not kidding you, but when my shoes start doing that, the thought that I might be travelling starts taking a very real shape in my brain. Often it has happened that I have no plan to go ANYWHERE, and all of a sudden something props up. Of course there have been cases when my shoes are doing it and I’m waiting to see where I am going, and I go nowhere. To keep my belief alive, I say to my self ‘you took an internal journey’, but deep down I know that all superstitions have a certain a margin of error.  Some, in fact, many, of my superstitions have proved themselves to be wrong and not stand the test of time- like eating cake on birthday, so on and so forth, but this one has remarkably held its own. Possibly since it was passed down to my grandmother through her ancestors (I’m guessing), and hence holds the wisdom of ages.
Now I find that if I have travel plans and the shoes aren’t saying so – there is something terribly, terribly wrong.

All of this year, my shoes have been almost never apart. I would find them on many occasions one atop the other.  I would take them half seriously, and half with dread- where can I possibly be going? I just came back from thisplace/thatplace, trust me; they were true on many accounts. I don’t want to sound full of my shoes and myself and say 100% but that’s what it felt like.  I was in Dubai for more than a month, and my shoes kept doing that, and I’m thinking- “I’m already travelling, where more can I be travelling?”… well, one day, I woke up and took a day trip to Oman, quite randomly (but purposefully).
 Oh yes btw, the travelling doesn’t always mean- a luxury vacation, No! It could be anywhere, anytime. Even to Multan or some other village.  Once, I remember I was in Montreal- this is right after winter break. Literally within two days of winter break we went to NY. Came back from there, my parents ended up making a trip to Canada out of the blue. This is all, say, within two weeks of me returning from home.  Then one day, my shoes start going at it. I’m thinking ‘no, c’est impossible, how can it be? ‘.
I asked my roommate, ‘ Nor-my shoes keep saying this, where could I be going? I don’t wanna go anywhere!”.
Well, within two days, there was a plan and we were going to Toronto.
On a whim.
Against my will.
 I remember Nor saying to me, the eve of our departure- ‘remember you were saying, my shoes keep saying I’m travelling, where could I possibly be travelling? – Well, look!”
Although I was not amused regarding the trip, I was highly proud of the shoes. They had proven right once again.         I have many more stories like these, but ill spare you- I’m sure you get the gist;  didn’t know I was travelling until my shoes told me.

Now I don’t know whether this is superstition that you’d like to get into, but I would say you should, since it’s a super fun one. Who wouldn’t want to get messages from the universe when they are about to travel?

Things you need to know:

1)   There are no time lines. Only the near future. So if your shoes start doing it, just allay your mind that it could be in the near future. I think it kind falls within a month though (for maximum allowances), if you’re travelling three months from now- your shoes should be pretty calm and should do it like once in a while. If your travelling say within two days, they can be doing it ALL THE TIME.
2)    When I say your shoes- I mean whatever shoes your wearing, whenever. It is not a specific shoe that you decide will be the agent between the two worlds. Its any/ and all the shoes you wear. Basically I’d like to believe that you feet transcribe the message onto the shoes. So for example, if you were wearing your mother’s shoes and when you take them off they position themselves in THAT WAY- its you who is travelling , not your mother.
33)    You can’t take you shoes off in a way that they position themselves according to the superstition and expect to travel. Has to happen on its own, without any interference from your end. Learnt this the hard way.
44)   As a general rule of thumb, travel plans should only be spoken about once they are final, and only a few days away. No two-month in advance discussions, that’s just jinxing it.
55)   If you spot somebody else’s shoes doing it, it is your absolute farz to tell them they will be travelling, and bring the message of the travelling shoes to them. If they don’t believe it, then, well then you wait and watch. Time will tell them ( and cancel their plans).

I’ve taken quite  afew pictures of my shoes doing it, for your personal reference as to what they should be looking like, on a general basic level.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Jab We Met Revisited ( not really)

Jab We Met is possibly my favourite Indian movie of all time. There's so much to love in it,and it has some great lines,which, lets face it, can be all we remember about a movie after some time has passed. (Or a day- i have terrible short term memory). Anyway, in the movie, if you recall, there is a lot of symbolism based on trains and well, being able to catch them. Infact; its how the protagonists meet in the first place. Now this post isn't about trains, or their symbolism, but its about how I TOTALLY get how Geet felt when she catches trains and misses trains.

You see, for the past few weeks I have been using public transport a lot. By that I mean the metro and the bus. The metro is not much cause for conversation (yet), because the metro station is well air-conditioned, and the metro train comes every 5 mins without fail. Buses, however, are a far trickier business. First your standing outside, in the full blaring Dubai sun, with no chances of the sun being less in yo face at any point until sundown (today morning was surprisingly mild though). Second, the buses are highly elusive. Here one second (and a half, perhaps) and gone the next- not to be seen from anywhere between 15-30 minutes. This may not be all buses in Dubai, but its certainly the case with bus number 84. Now imagine, getting done from a hectic 6-8hr day on your feet, just wanting to lie down, and then missing the bus by just a slight and having to wait, under the sun in all its naked glory. If you cannot imagine, then let me tell you.
Simply put,

it sucks.big time.majorly.
Its a mix of anger, exasperation, heat and fatigue. Its torturous on every level; physical, emotional, and mental. About after ten minutes of waiting, you think, forget this; lets take a cab. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don't. One may think, but why not just take a cab? well, money for one. Since I'm here to be a student for a bit, i'd like to partially live like one too. Which means taking the bus to school, and cabs everywhere else (i know that doesn't make sense, go figure!). The days I successfully make a roundtrip in the bus to and fro from school feel way more gratifying than others.
Two, the joy you get from catching the ever-elusive no.84 in the nick of time, especially if you feel you won't be able to make it and some running is involved- is unmatchable. It is one of the greatest feelings of elation i have experienced in everyday life. Scratch that, its one of the greatest joys I've experienced in adult life. Its pure, unadulterated joy. I don't know what that is; maybe its that you know that it had nothing to do with you, and its purely of a matter of timing, and for 5 minutes you feel like the luckiest person on the planet. Maybe because it catches you completely off-guard, and your day all of a sudden has gotten a 15-30 min bump, and now you can nicely be at home and in bed 15-30 minute sooner(and that is priceless). Or perhaps, its just that you don't have to wait today. 

Often, these moments are tinged with little mishaps, and mini-thrills. Once while running to catch the 84, my anti-aging fedora (a normal hat i wear to ward off the sun) fell off in the middle of the road. I ran back to get my hat, all the while knowing that the bus may take off,  only have all the dinner rolls i made in class fall as I picked up the AAF - Ofcourse that had to happen, no hard feelings universe, this was pure comedy. I ran back to the bus laughing, my roommate waiting inside the bus laughing as hard. Whether the laughter was because of the hat, the dinner rolls, and or the sheer absurdity of how hard we had to work to catch a damn bus, that remains a mystery.

Another time, I remember walking in the desert ( between the school and the road is this massive piece of land which i call desert) , and as soon as i got to the road, i see THE bus juuust arriving, and 2 of my classmates who had left at least twenty minutes before I did still waiting. When they saw me running and coming, they looked at me with a  mixture of amazement and envy. One even remarked, twice, "what timing!". It felt as though I had been distinguished and honoured amongst them by some special power. 

Another time, I saw the bus just as its door opened, and i was on there other side of the road,waiting to cross it, which meant that in all probability I would miss the one-second-window i had to get in. The road was also bustling at the time, cars coming without missing a heartbeat. I decided it was do or die. I started crossing the street with the cars coming at me, since surely dying in the process of catching the bus would be a most honourable way to die. In the midst of the death sprint i also started flagging the bus down like my life depended on it ( which it did). While crossing the second road, and running towards the bus, the ' will I? won't i?' feeling transformed to 'I made it!, I made it!'. The theme song from chariots of fire started playing in my head, and I felt like Geet, in the start of Jab We Met, trying to catch the train.

Point being, take the bus- 2.30dhs for an ineffable feeling; pretty pretty great bargain.