Old Lover

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I often take a trip along the city’s old side. At these times I like to keep my vehicle away. I jump into a rickshaw and tuck along my camera. Being a tourist is refreshing. I look outside, mostly through the view finder of my camera and often find something new stare back. Pune is like a difficult lover. Someone who is very tight-lipped. Who is deep, romantic, yet strangely rude and assertive. Who does not like to share. And still demands attention from you. In the narrow lanes of Sadashivpeth the blue coloured bus stop makes you stop and stare. A few metres away, a chai kiosk watches you earnestly. Walk in and stories loom large. Of course, these stories don’t want to be captured. They stay suspended in the air, sometimes clear and candid, sometimes tainted and twisted. Walk along and several old wooden houses catch your eye. Their stories are snuggled away. Tucked in a polythene and wrapped on a distant shelf. The streets are oddly colourful. Their tones and tunes are unheard.

I often get into a conversation with the autowallah. Most of them are quite eager to talk. They talk about the city – some exclaim on its changing nature, and some talk of their own existance. Suprisingly, a lot of them are concerned about what is happening beyond their workplace. They are the movables. They interact with different people everyday – right from the fincky man who counts every penny to the young lover who does not mind paying a fat tip. They encounter the young and catch their energy and find the old and look at their wisdom. And a lot of them are plainly, frustrated. I love it when they talk. It seems to be a window to the city’s otherwise mum demenour.

As I walk out of the auto, I thrust the earphones in. Then I try to match the rhythm of my song to the faint breath of the street. I hear Mozart, Beatles, Gulzar and feel that I am special. It is then that I wonder, how music makes the most mundane things, beautiful. But at times, I am compelled to take my earphones off. The lover decides to open up. I don’t want to miss the chance. It takes me through the narrow houses. It allows me to smell its dreams. I pay for a cup of tea and sit with him. I talk. But I try to hear more than I speak.

My silence grows wider, and his monologue continues. But I understand little. He goes away.

I wait for my next journey to the old side.

Thankfully, there is always a next time.

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