A Cure For This Craving

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Those rains that we’d so missed and which weren’t welcome when they came, because they came on so hard and so heavy, those rains are gone, and we’re breathing a collective sigh of relief. Some of the bitterness we felt during rain-times has abated, bitter feelings against those in power, which came with waters flooding homes and offices and taking the lives of more than a dozen humans. Those tragedies and tribulations are behind us, and now the road-laying machines are out, we pass the grimy-yellow uglies during our commute, delighted that they’ve been brought out. Ah, the so-short life of public memory! The promise the machines hold out, of better commutes coming before this lovely winter leaves, it has the government basking in extenuating light.

While we wait for the machines to finish their job, we’re experiencing the tough times that must precede good times. These days we are commuting even slower than during the rains, and one morning last week we thought we wouldn’t reach office at all, we were outperforming the snail in being slow, but we persevered like the mollusk, and found after an age why we weren’t moving: A ceremony middle of the road. The corporator (I think) of the place and some government officers and the contractor and his men were performing a pooje, appealing to the mighty machines to please go unto the finish without once breaking down. Amen.

I didn’t laugh at the sight. My wife by my side laughed so much, looking at the fine-dressed important people (men and women, in silks and such) doing aarti middle of the road. (“Laugh,” my wife urges me often, pinching me, and I feel my grouch getting deeper, more intense. Seeing my expression she laughs once more, in closure.)

But I’m happy. It’s the happy time of the year for me in December, when the floating population of Bangalore thins, people leave en masse for holidays. You can already feel the gathering quiet. A depression in the Bay has sharpened the chill a degree, and a passing deep shade of gray obscures the lightness of the time — but all that will go this week. We’ll soon have back December’s sunshine, its crisp air, and chill with a nice nip to it: We’ve begun wearing light sweaters, and loving them so.

Dear reader, you must be charitable. You’re reading an Indian who is eking out such pleasure as he can while at home. Such as now at Starbucks, in the morning, where on the upper floor there’s only one other customer, a man with Mongoloid features wearing a blue cap with a red hood. He drank up a pink frothy Frappuccino a long time ago, and is now sprawled on the sofa, playing games on his phone with the screen less than six inches from his face. He is silent, absorbed altogether by his phone, and although there’s no sound about save Neil Diamond singing Sweet Caroline, I’m still distracted each time the young man shifts and rearranges his sprawled self.

I’m happy, as I said, but also I’m a little sad, because I must travel to Aurangabad for three days middle of the month, and I hate to leave Bangalore at this time. Again, at the end of the month, I’m going away for twelve days to Igatpuri, near Nashik.

Perhaps the Igatpuri trip is the right thing for me, where, through a ten-day Vipassana retreat, they’ll train me to overcome cravings and aversions, to detach from the cycle of desire and revulsion. If they succeed, then in January I’ll not covet this weather that now delights me, I won’t dread the torrid summer that this winter will fast-forward to.

Is it good, what Igatpuri offers? I shall find out.