The Two Stop Express
And so very slowly, I opened my weary eyes.
I was tired and lonely, with a whirlwind in my head.
Came to realize that in a blink, 27 had gone by,
Feet moving furiously, but never leaving the bed.

Strange that I woke up, when it wasn’t meant to be;
Surrounded by millions, wherever I laid my sight.
Some were silent, some smiled, while some of them cried;
Some huddled in a corner and some shadow-boxed a fight.

I found myself riding The Two Stop Express.
That runs till you stop,
Circlin’ a circular track.
Found myself riding The Two Stop Express.
A one-way ticket ride,
You start, to always come back.

Tried to stir up, the stranger asleep nearby,
She mumbled and whispered quietly in her sleep,
“You are the one asleep, and I am who’s awake.
Go complain to the driver, I’m in too deep.”

A hundred I tried, to get them to answer,
A hundred times I heard the very same words spoken.
I set off walking, then runnin’, towards the driver,
Hours and hours on, there was no sign of the engine.

I found myself riding The Two Stop Express.
Where the two stops are one,
and the start is the end.
Found myself riding The Two Stop Express.
A surprise at every turn,
and it’s always turnin’ a bend.

I had stopped to catch my breath, when I heard him ask,
“Did I sell-out for a price? Did I exorcize my demons? ”
The sleep-walker cried on my shoulders as I said,
“Whatever it be, I am sure you had your reasons.”

The sleep-walker smiled, he patted my head, and said,
“That’s right. And I guess, you had yours too!”
I found myself right back, as if I never left my bed.
And sleep prepared me, for all that was to come through.

(Pic Courtesy: Flickr )

Summer vacations during our school years meant lots of time and energy, on me & my bro’s hands. This used to be directly proportional to our Mom’s CQ (crankiness quotient). We stayed out of her way by ably channelizing our restless energies through countless hours of cricketing action.

During our 7 – 8 odd hours-a-day cricketing schedule, discounting loss in time between deciding the teams, fights, retrieving ball from the gutters & thorny vegetation, injuries, claims of cheating, losing the ball, identifying whose fault it was, more fights, getting contributions for the money to buy the ball, deciding who will go buy the ball, water/loo breaks, reshuffling teams due to sudden loss of players in team midway due to idiotic strict parents etc. etc., we managed to get around 1 to 2 hours of decent cricket. This was still more than the average, considering we didn’t have to account for time loss by running away after breaking tube-lights and window panes. Since we stayed at a company quarters, broken window panes were paid for by Dad’s company itself! Not that it accounted for much, but our talents thus were never bottled and we ended up playing hours and hours of unperturbed, unrestricted, bindaas ‘baap- ka- raaj- hain’ types cricket!

Due to all this, by the end of such momentous days’, we were usually super tired & thirsty, like … dogs in a desert! (I know. Sucky analogy. Replace with your fave animal, correlate & move on.)

Bro & I would usually find ‘it’ during our what-did-you-bring-for -us ransack ops, post our parents’ grocery shopping sprees, back at home, in the evening. As would be expected, sometime during the first week of the holidays, Mom would do the honors of getting it. And as soon as she would see that we have had visual and have locked on to it, she would yell, “NOT NOW! I am not making it now! Wait until tomorrow” The tribal dances all over India would start getting displayed by me and my bro, in an anxious bid to get our Mom to immediately make it. ‘It’ being our favorite summer drink – Rasna!

The making of the soft-drink concentrate, used to be nothing short of a ritual in itself. Mom would have finally buckled under our unremitting and undeniable ‘charms’ and begin the preparatory procedures. Knowing that we two will be playing a major hand in this operation, she will spread a few newspapers on the kitchen floor and make us sit cross-legged beside it. Then she would bring our biggest utensil and place it in the centre. The Rasna Orange & Lemon (occasionally Mango) pack would then be officially brought forth.

The packs would contain a powder sachet & a cute little vial with a red plastic cap, filled with a liquid. We used to have a collection of those little glass bottles. The instructions on the pack were then read out again, even though we knew it more thoroughly than our History & Geography chapters. The powder, the liquid, sugar and water mixes to create a heady aroma that made you literally want to dive in. After all this is done, mom would give us a ladle to stir on till the sugar dissolves. This was an awesome moment, as we used to stir away to glory with who-can-stir-the-fastest- without-spilling contests etc. More than once, the newspapers would come in handy!

I Love You Rasna :)
The concentrate would eventually get made, and we then mega pester our mom to give it us in tumblers made of glass (exactly as depicted in the commercial) after making a thousand promises, to be very careful & not to break it. As soon as she obliges and gives us Rasna with floating ice cubes, our next brotherly contest of ‘who drinks the slowest, so that once the other guy finishes, I can smugly continue drinking’ would begin. After some point, with all the ice gone, we would be drinking super diluted stuff, but the contests were  taken very very seriously.

Now, the real reason for writing this blog post, was a fond recollection that our Uncle (Dad’s cousin bro) told us, when we had visited him recently. He was reminiscing the times he had spent with us when we were little kids, and all the troubles we gave him. This once, Mom and Dad were down with a terrible bout of chicken pox. The task of looking after both of us fledglings had come down onto my Uncle. He used to run a tight ship, I remember vaguely, and after a super long hard day’s work the last thing that he really wanted to do was be in the company of a 6 year old and another 3 year old. We two would have done little to help him with anything, during the course of the day. It was an age when we used to bawl and howl to get our ways, and that would probably be what he would walk into immediately after his arduous train journey at the end of his tiring work routine, on a regular basis. But we were kids, and we used to do that without an iota of sympathy. I think it was my Uncle who probably prayed the hardest for my parents’ quick recovery at that point in time.

So then, my uncle’s most memorable recollection through all of this, were of the moments when he would be in the frenzy of conjuring up the dinner for all of us, and my li’l bro will time this to poke his tiny head from the side of the kitchen door and howl away, till he got … Rasnam!!! (Ahahahaha! Mallufication Alert!). As my bro’s case was being taken royally over ‘Rasnam’, Icouldn’t help but agree that Rasna was indeed a part of our growing up!

Unfortunately, it is when I look-back upon the beauty of small moments in life like these, that I feel that change has not always been kind. 🙂