Tuesday, December 20, 2005

That rare commodity called air

At 9:45, right now, the large tinted window beside me that keeps the sun out during the day is currently keeping out the smallest flicker of light. On the window is a reflection of my own office, with its fluorescent tubelights, yellow and blue walls, and blue pinboards with pictures stuck on. There is, as some of you know, that hum of the airconditioner that seems louder when you keep an ear out for it. Someone's typing, someone's playing virtual snooker, someone's writing because he feels like.

Meanwhile, it's winter outside. That distinctive nip, that reflexive shiver - not because it's too cold, but because a shiver is almost proof to ourselves that it is cooler than in the summer - they're all here. I cannot wait to be part of it. In a few days, when all waiting tasks have been fulfilled, I'll be huddled over a grill in central Bombay, watching roasting kebabs, and then on a rickety chair on a bumpy street, sharing a table with friends and strangers drawn here for the food. A jacket will be brought out, not because of the temperature, but because the idea of winter calls for one.

All this will be done late, after cars are parked and the streets are empty. A police van might stop to ask what's going on but our satisfied expressions will provide an acceptable reply. There's the cutting wind at Marine Drive, the warmth of the hotel foyer on it, the drifting conversation from the nearby pizza place, the vacant roar of accelerating taxis, the far rattle of railway lines, and the happy thought of a good week gone by, with better times to come.

And it's still only Tuesday.

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