Parag’s engagement ceremony turned out to be eventful in more ways than we could fathom. Ever. It was supposed to be an evening outing that we figured in the course of our journey, should’ve been more a day trip.
- Dombivli is a valley town about 20 minutes from Matheran. [*smirk* Ever heard Marianne enunciate the name?]
- It is probably a station away from Panvel, the official gateway to the ghats from Bombay.
- It is beyond Kalyan.
So we hitched an auto at the Infotech gate, warned by our autowala that we’ll have to change at Mulund Check Naka.
Neel: Parag, chutiya saala!
Off we were, blabbering about the week gone by. Traffic began to thin so were fancy commercial establishments. I don’t remember any malls en route.
“This isn’t Bombay”
We knew this little factoid of life, even if local trains extended to there and beyond. And it was the highway! With green fields on either side, and hills on the horizon, Dombivli still a bleak possibility, “Dude, this is definitely not Bombay. The auto’s moving faster than a Lamborghini!”
Our autowala may not have taken too kindly to our entertaining banter. We had just entered the ghats. This was alarming enough. Who asked for his express advice? But he went on, “ यह Mumbra bypass है.” Uh oh – wherever that was, the name was spooky enough, “आप रात को कैसे जानेवाले हो?”
Neel: Cab से, क्यूँ?
Auto guy: यह area danger होता है. बोहोत खतरनाक.
I panicked at “खतराक”. Neel found it all highly amusing. As usual.
More vroom vroom and having crossed the ghati patch, Neel utters another set of his golden ones, “We are definitely nowhere near Bombay anymore, yaa Priyanca.” Yes Neel, I needed reminding.
Directions were already becoming confusing. Two calls to Parag and one on Baby’s cell and we were still measuring the perimeter of Dombivli. And then came Neelanjan Dasgupta’s priceless-of-the-evening,
“Let’s go back.”
I could hear the sound of vacuum for a while. “Shut the fuck up, moron!@#%$%,” is what I wanted to say. Instead the more mild, almost bland “Don’t be silly. We’re almost there” came out.
6 intonations of “गोग्रस्वादी किधर है?” and lots’a a backing and forthing later, we found Patharli road, at the end of which our destination lay. But as soon as soon as we entered the lane, our irritation, fatigue, complaints about inaccurate directions – and time – all melted away.
Our own sets of memories took us back in time to different places – Neel to Kolkata, I to a bylane in the Lakdi Pul area in Baroda. Tiny shops, a बकड़ा, simple life...
It also gave us both an insight into where this guy we call “friend” comes from: his childhood, his present, how he perceives us, how he perceives it all, his daily commute [and we complain], why he’d do it at all!
Like a pilgrimage, going all the way gave us a capsule of life the way we’ve lived one time not long ago, but shunned to the back burner in our struggle to maintain mundane routine.
The ceremony itself, the milieu, the people & their garb, the food, it all said, “We haven’t succumbed to the pressures that that Dumpyard lays on us.” Its superiority lies in its simplicity, in its non-flashiness, in its welcoming-with-flowers-and-attar and introductions to one’s kith and kin. I was instantly humbled and felt honoured that Parag chose to invite me!
I know he’s as much a tiny-towner as I and it’s perhaps that much easier for him to take to me than all of Bombay’s glamour-collective. Dombivli’s indeed beyond Bombay. Even above.