November 24, 2007

Aha Zindagi


Stepping out of a Mumbai restaurant one afternoon we hit the road, dodging vehicles before stepping onto the footpath where clear walking stretches beckoned, and getting off where they broke off to let an inside lane connect to another and so on.

I like walking on sidewalks lined by trees, a rare opportunity in Mumbai, often watching leaf patterns that light sneaking through sparse canopies makes on the uneven floor and the road. In watching leaf patterns ‘sweep’ the floor and the road in a lightly stepping breeze my spirit often matches its intent if not its rhythm. And it is not the only reason I avert my eyes to the footpath, sometimes I do it to dodge a homeless man asleep on the sidewalk like the one I passed the other day, muttering ‘Kya Zindagi !’ (What a Life!) under my breath even as I cast a backward glance at him without pausing on my way.

Another place, another time his image might have lingered on in my mind. The three of us walked on, I trailed behind. Approaching a bend in the path an advertisement fixed to a branch of a tree by the sidewalk caught my eye. A few steps and the letters in Hindi stood out clear ‘Aha Zindagi’ (Aha Life), loosely translated ‘Aha Zindagi’ is what I might say to a bloke who stays only ten minutes from where he works, and gets to step out to lunch at home, and whose only experience of Bombay rush-hour trains is from the Amol Palekar starrer Bataon Bataon Mein that he saw with his parents as a kid after promising them he would stay quiet the entire duration of the film – in short ‘Wow, what a life’.

I might have walked on after reading the advertisement if not for a movement in the corner of my eye. Turning my face away from the ‘Aha Zindagi’ in the tree I notice a cat reclining on the ledge of the compound wall to my left, licking itself lazily as if to whet its appetite for the meal of rice and dal that awaited His Majesty on the ledge behind its hind-quarters.

Watching His Majesty stretch out in between all the pampering he was administering himself I flip the camera open and mutter under my breath, ‘Truly ‘Aha Zindagi’”.

To read the board in the tree, click the image to open it enlarged.

12 comments:

anan said...

the cattie is definitely living life kingsize...

Anil P said...

Anan: Cats know how to find peace, lucky them, even if on the ledge :)

Shantanu said...

Heh! Brief glimples into life that no longer seems possible where time seems to have slowed down. Most of the scenes I see outdoors are of people rushing from one place to another; even the vendors seems more busier every day! :-)

Smita said...

Lazily stretching out after an overslept Sunday morning. Aha Zindagi!

Loved the fat cat :)

Anil P said...

Shantanu: Upto each one of us to occasionally slow time down :)

Smita: :)

bluemountainmama said...

if i believed in reincarnation, i would hope to come back as a cat... one of my family's cats, to be precise, b/c they are treated as the kings and queens they think themselves to be.....

IdeaSmith said...

This post was featured in Hindustan Times, did you know?

- http://ideasmithy.wordpress.com

Shantanu said...

@anil p: I guess you are right! Before our lil one was born, my idea of a vacation -thankfully shared by the wife too - was to go to a peaceful place (jungle, beach, etc.) and just lie back with a book and a drink. Which is one way to make time stop. :-)

Anil P said...

Ideasmith: Nope, I did not know of Hindustan Times running this piece 'Aha Zindagi'.

Thanks for latting me know of its publication. I checked their Nov 28issue and saw the cat at it 'Aha Zindagi'.

How do I tell this to the cat now that it is a celebrity? :)

Shantanu: :)

IdeaSmith said...

Hi again,

I don't have the issue with me anymore, but I'd estimate this was last Tuesday. The day before, one of my posts was featured in the same section. And no, they didn't ask me either...I don't believe the media thinks they need to. Well, for what it's worth, they at least credited it back to the source in your case while mine doubled back to Mumbai metblogs (and not even to the post's link!)

~IdeaSmith~

http://ideasmithy.wordpress.com

backpakker said...

I always look at my inlaws pet cat and feel the same..it doesnt even have to hunt for food ! just snuggles up and sleeps all the time - Kya Zindagi !

Anil P said...

Ideasmith: Thanks, I got the issue, and was glad to see the Cat in regal glory :)

Bakpakker: There's something about cats that gets people to treat them regally. And it takes more than fur and a tail for that to happen :)