Saturday, September 19, 2009
Swinging times, blogging times
Nestled as I am in one of the most wooded areas, meeting my blogger friends for a lunch, in a campus greened by the monsoon, appeared to be a great idea. Except as soon as we agreed on a date in September, the rains started to play truant.
But the area is still greener and calmer than the chaos outside, with plenty of parking and no tow trucks making rounds . There was also no danger of having to leap over road dividers , or suddenly taking off on shopping sprees post-lunch.
And so they met. Five of them , for real, and one of them, virtually.
The virtual one was usually the instigator of these lunches. Nudging comments about how it's been a long time since the last meet. He travelled the most for these lunches, often arriving for it with his luggage, and then catching a bus post-lunch to his house 200 kilometres away. This time , a week before the lunch , he called, citing scheduling problems. Timing changes weren't the solution.
What he would miss this time was a new member joining us for the lunch. A lady we all read and admire, and feel we already know. This time we would put a face to the thoughts.
And then there were the usual suspects.
One who has made these blogging meals an international thing.
Another , who came straight from teaching at college on a Saturday morning, is a kind of soul-sister-in-bus-travel; she walked down a shade-dappled road lined with palm trees, her face creasing into a big smile as soon as she sighted the older one squinting against the noon day searing sun.
The new member drove in. We had never met her in person. But the car kind of hesitated at the gate , turning in. We couldn't see a thing through the tinted glass. But we were sure it was her.
And she emerged, smiling at us, deciding to herself, who was who. Certain last names in India often mean certain typical features, particularly in the color of the eyes. And she wasn't wrong.
Very soon the eldest arrived, sporting a new jazzy family car. Granddaughters dictate choices and grandfathers quietly agree.
In the short time that these four met, non stop conversation and exclamations over knowing common people could be clearly heard.
The last one, may possibly be the youngest, and he succeeds admirably in being an enigma. He lives the closest, but is often involved in secret pursuits of the running kind. Which is to be admired given the deplorable condition of the roads in this area.
One suspects that he runs with his camera, and never with his phone. And you get to see some amazing observations on his blog. Rumour has it that he is preparing to run the marathon , and Saturdays are practice days. He drove in last, and folks say he would have possibly been a couple of kilograms lighter had he not possibly gorged on some excellent idlis and sambar prepared by his wife in the morning, before the run.
They had just settled down at their table, when the virtual blogger called. Imagine the scene. Lunchtime on the green outskirts of Pune. A husband working in Mumbai during the week is home on a Saturday, and his wife has made his favourite stuff, and they are about to start a meal.
Suddenly, he notices the time, whips out his cell phone, and makes a call. He wishes he could have been there. They all take turns talking to him. His spouse shakes her head. All this blogging is getting too much. Write all you want . Comment. Why eat with them ? The Almighty obliges her. There are network problems and the call gets terminated.
It feels like everyone has grown up a bit. Not that there is much left to grow for at least some of us, but the younger ones appear quieter this time. Less leg pulling. Maybe its the heat. Maybe they are hungry. They've even turned vegetarian.
The place is roomy. Lots of space between tables. You can get up, turn and nobody's mushroom masala gets flipped on the neighbor's lap. They order a basket of parathas and a few veggies and raita. Its hot, fresh of the griddle, and good. They have come just before the rush begins, and have the undivided attention of the serving staff.
I watch. Someone famous walks by. Some magazine has declared him one of the 50 powerful folks in IT industry in India. I have known him in our respective younger days, and he is delighted to know that we are having a bloggers meet. He is introduced to all. I mention the 50-powerful stuff. He just waves it off. Maybe sometime in the future, when lunches are passe, we have bloggers fruit meets, and the youngest ones is done with his marathons, we can look at a picture in the paper, and say, "Oh yeah, we know him ! The Bloggers lunch !"....
One of them is wearing a Tee that says "Guess" . Its not clear what. Then he whips out 5 packages from somewhere. Wonderful classics . One for each of us. Some of us have read them in school. Our children would enjoy these evergreen books.
We take some photographs. On campus, these kind of spontaneous activities are seen amidst students, sometimes, at the lunch place. Folks are amused to see us grownups ,moving around, taking pictures, changing places to bring a much needed symmetry to too much weight on one side. Some innocent folks at other tables are cajoled into taking a picture of all of us. It helps that there is plenty of space to move, and we are not in danger of dashing into the waiter arriving with vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.
We shortly leave, and take a short walk near the lake. A great lake breeze blows in, amidst the construction rubble that stands destroying the beauty of the place. There is a fountain on one side in the midst of an artificial lake. On the other side, a huge lake, the afternoon sun glinting on the surface.
Its time to turn back. I thought all that greenery and water would give a sense of calm. It did, Till we reached a huge banyan tree , which was probably there originally before we became a campus.
I could see a pair or arms kind of itching to perform . And it had to be the youngest one.
The first lunch had the two youngest devouring an icecream with great relish. The second time we went, the french fries almost had some people in trouble. This time things appeared unusually subdued. There was less leg pulling. Less teasing . Less guffawing. Maybe the youngsters were growing up. Hmm.
I guess some people never change. That tree was too good a thing to bypass. You don't see too many such trees around these days. In Mumbai.
But this was a sight for sore eyes. Those banyan tree hanging roots were so inviting.
Corporate fitness marathon types finally becoming the swinging type. ADA***, you have competition.
We oldies need to look out. Its the age of the Swinging Blogger....
*** Anil Dhirubhai Ambani, India's answer to Bill Gates, Warren Buffet etc. Except thatthis guy is a fitness fiend, and runs the marathon every year.