Six In The City

Monday, May 01, 2017 Of Minds And Mixtapes 0 Comments

Zaheera Vaz

The older structures have more to tell. The colours and textures of their high ceilings, crusty walls, rusty doors and beamy rooms sew time together, telling tales with a dimming dedication and wimpy whisper.

Stepping around the corner from KC Das, the metro station seemed such a large and imposing building. A big red-grey thing trying to wipe every other structure on erstwhile South Parade from memory and possibly even consciousness. Everytime I walk down there I take a while to register the existence of anything else in the street; with the exception, that is, of the tall grey door and large, arched windows of the bookstore, where new and old readers waltz about, in and out.
Having spent countless mornings sitting across from it, at the metro station's fire hydrant, this particular piece of the street stands gently in view. If a building's character were to be thought of in terms of music, Higgin Bothams alongside the Deccan Herald look like Lennon rolling over with Bruno Mars to the left and Kygo to the right. The left keeps getting funkier, shinier, noisier; and the right seems to have found its ground in a sleek, visceral vanity.

It's a familiar lingo.


6PM, and the old guy from across the street walks his restless dog. He is certain of all shenanigans women our age are up to. I am almost as certain as he is on the matter, and twice as sure that the matter doesn't matter. Not him, though-- he speaks of it with dripping concern, like it could raise oil prices and collapse governments.

At the end of the lane iron man's wife neatly stacks all the clothes. A meditative iron man is hunched over a pale blue shirt. The repetitive movement, the hiss of steam, the vanishing of creases one by one-- such romance in ironing. 

Ironing bedsheets is annoying. Growing up it was the punishment metted out for scoring less than 70 percent in your term paper; you had to iron the bedsheets, tablecloths and curtains for an entire semester, until you scored more than the threshold.
I've ironed a lot of bedsheets, tablecloths and curtains. Courtesy: My mother and Martha Stewart.
Zaheera Vaz | Bangalore 2017

As the fiery sky turns purple, the city's lights come on one by one, and a slight sodium vapor rises between rooftops in the distance. Up here you can feel the cool wind and hear the whizz of a tower crane afar. Barefoot on the rooftop has become the new me-time. A cup of chai and a book has learnt to slow me down. Through my feet and the wall I rest against I can feel the vibrations of rushing cars and gushing horns as everybody scurries for their bargained me-time; heading somewhere they wanna be.

Where do I wanna be? I'm not sure; but up here seems good for now. Now -- that's where my mind extends to. It oscillates between then and now, rarely looking over to times that could be. I've come to subscribe to this lethargy over the last couple years. Devoid of long commitments, it allows me to waltz about, in and out; allows me to change my mind, should I feel differently, or be afraid.

I’m faintly trying to grow up a little in this respect.

An excercise or two also helps wind down. If a morning run (walk) is skipped, some exercise in the evening is entertained just so I die healthier. When I can't reach my toes, I often think of my college yoga instructor who was determined to educate me about the ways of asanas, as if it were a country of its own with history and liturgy that only she could impart.


The grass is quite green at the East Parade Church. Its corinthian columns assert themselves with a Wesleyan grip. D takes off her sandals and walks across the lawn, perching herself on its steps. She talks about her convent schooling, the hills, the weather, her mother, her ex, her current.

Insecurities manifest in strange ways.

I tune myself out after a while as a version of Our Lady of Knock begins to play in my head. That hymn used to be sung so passionately by my school principal that I'd imagined she would ascend into heaven at its closing G note.

I walk around the side and peek into the nave where a man mumurs himself as he arranges the pews and collects hymnals. He looks up at me and asks me to come in from the door on the other side.
Past the choir seats I sit at the end of the third row. He continues talking to himself, like he knows I wouldn't indulge in a prayer. Big church-y windows grace the aisle side, while midget-y arched windows deck the upper walls all around. Yet there isn't enough light. There isn't a lofty seriousness in the architecture you'd expect of churches.

We probably expect much of churches.

I've come to expect much from my colleague. Without him in the building, I understand why most are convinced the team would rip free of its foundation and float into the sky. His street-smartness never fails to awe (and shock) me. It’s the things we don’t remember that stay with us for a long time. 


A post mid-night stroll has been more than a disobedient act ever since university. The night reveals a different reality of the city. You understand the stretches of its space. You see the landscape without its commerce and consumerism. Besides public transportation, seeing a place post-midnight is an essential part of our experience of having lived there.

The absence of people is an unusual and thrilling episode. The occasional solitary night walk helps me pull my spaced-out self together.
It was about one in the morning when I left, walking down 100 ft road, where the traffic lights blinked yellow and not a single car went by. The homeless slept at store fronts, while the sleepless sat in balconies and on steps. 

I scroll through Instagram. It's true; there, emotions run wild and apprehensions run wilder. The feed is flooded with propaganda, paid and other wise. People I know posting pictures of their loves and conquests.

Manipulating human thought might sound like a project for governments and fraudsters to shoulder, but it’s one of the oldest trades in the book, and religions, entertainers, corporations, doctors are dedicated to the art.
That's the thing about these little propagandas -- People don't always think for themselves, sometimes they can’t or don’t want to; sometimes they need team colors and game rules that are drawn by other people. It's what makes social interactions easy and difficult at the same time.
Zaheera Vaz

6AM and the morning is unaware of the name I told to the night.

Having unheld my alcohol I have little intention of leaving my bed. Prateek Kuhad plays through the sun beams and the plants and the curtain, and her cigarette's making its presence felt. She scrolls through my photos taken years ago, getting to know places and people in them.
Mumbling descriptions, I try to casually distract her with details of various cameras involved, Pentax Optio, Sony Cybershot-- I feel like an imposter.

Wanting intimacy and autonomy, it's one of those be-careful-what-you-wish-for things. From time to time, I’m attracted to difficult people. Like a surfer who would rather try a big wave and wipe out than ride a smaller one to shore.
Given half a chance, she'll infringe me like it's hers to do. So I present my all timetable-d, determined and charmless self and get on with the day, steering clear of any strings.


6PM and so consistent was the texture and colour, bronze and white with the last flare of sun, that the yard wall and windows of Higgin Bothams looked, or almost looked, as if it had been lit from within.

There in the safe insignificance of shade I sat, reflecting on how unbearably moving it felt to watch this silent fury against the dying of the light. The half-darkness inched up the structure’s rungs until, having seemed to stay that bit longer on the final rung than any other, the light of day rose into nothing.

Nothing is all that we end up taking at EoD and I'm grateful.