I'm going from pillar to post trying to solve a problem and it's been so long since I havn't found a solution. There is this nagging feeling I have that despite all my gregariousness and my need to surround myself with people, that I'm a loner within.
Why do I long for those moments when I can be homing in, dive into my room, lunge for my chair that makes me turn my back to the whole world, and look into a screen that plummets me into a universe which is so huge and filled with information and people.
The virtual world, which sucks me into itself and makes me want to stay there forever, securing me from the threats of the real world, where I know that almost everyone else I know, is also hiding.
I spend almost all my time in it, realizing that this is really the only place where everyone finds their freedom. Where I, as well as all those who I see appear, express themselves freely. Where the convenience of visiting every place your heart leads you to is made so easy.
I spent the whole afternoon writing a part of a script while listening to music chosen from You Tube. So while I wrote scenes, I went through the files and chose each and every song I could recall, and heard it. From Steely Dan to CSNY and Steve Winwood to David Bowie, I heard them all and emerged from the exhausting session feeling complete and satiated.
Meanwhile Facebook kept buzzing as well, with new updates to messages from friends popping up every now and then. My mail kept me alert every 60 seconds on an average, and oftentimes, I needed to attend to it almost immediately. Then there was no way that I could've resisted checking my horoscope and reading some articles as well.
And by the time I realized that I was tired, and I should put the script I'm writing away, 6 hours had passed and I was astounded with my productivity. I had achieved quite a lot.
Gosh, I forgot about my phone. The buzzer kept going with message alerts and phone calls, as often as my mail.
The only thing not so nice about this fulfilling experience is that I had met not a soul in flesh and blood.
Did that really matter? Did it really make a difference?
As I sat back and relaxed afterwards, my mind jogged back in time, and I began to think about how different times were just about 20 years ago, when I had first arrived in Mumbai and started working here.
One of the places I lived in alone was a one room kitchen appartment, in a Sindhi Society in JVPD Scheme, which was on the ground floor with the society's temple right next to one of the windows, which I don't think I ever opened. I didn't have a phone, no TV, no radio, no gas, no furniture. I had one cupboard which was rented and mattresses, floor cushions and rugs. I had a heater and a kettle with a couple of plates, knives, forks, glasses and mugs, which comprised my kitchen, and buckets, mugs and wrought iron shelves for my kitchen and bathroom.
My most precious pocession was a tape recorder and player, and a suitcase loaded with cassettes filled with songs I loved.
This was about convenience. I would have to move every 11 months, unless I was lucky to get an extension on my lease, and it took two rounds in a cab for me to shift bag and baggage.
Most people living in the society would watch me walk in and out, sometimes at odd hours, and want to know more about who I was. Their curiosity was triggered by my visitors who were TV stars of those days. Guys and gals working in the Mahabharat, Khandaan, Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi and other popular serials and films of the time. Soon they got to know that I was an assistant director on some of the shows which were popular. I also used to do theatre in those days with Ekjute and hang out at Prithvi Theatre almost every evening after work.
There was, and I think there still is, a public phone booth, next to the counter of the Prithvi Cafe. It had a number which I had given to eveybody, and there was a system there that all calls were taken and messages kept for most of us who were living and working like I was, and given to us, as and when we walked in and out of the theatre.
I would make all my calls at the end of each working day after collecting my messages and that is how I remained in touch with my professional as well as personal world.
It was here at Prithvi Theatre where actors, technicians, writers, singers, lyricists and various other talent hung out every evening, waiting to be picked up by casting directors, directors and assistant directors for a days work or a break of a lifetime.
As one series or film that I was working on would come to a close, I would almost always find myself my next job here.
Everyone was familiar with each other, and one knew that one could meet the entire industry in a cycle of one week. In the day, we crossed paths with each other at the studios, where most shootings would be taking place, while from the evening till a little past midnight was spent here.
We had accounts at the Cafe and got subsidized meals as well. The guys would carry their quaters and some beers for the girls and we would walk down to the beach and sit on the benches belonging to one of the wada pao and cold drinks walas who would be closing down for the day, and who would oblige us by giving us glasses and ice, as well as permit us to keep our beers chilled along with their cold drinks in their ice boxes.
Then we would call it a day, and a little past midnight head back to our respective homes, and crash out while another day of hard work awaited us. There are so many people that I would rather not mention just a few, who are famous today, and who lived past this time and space with me.
I find almost everybody on Facebook today, relating and reconnecting with each other and feeling the warmth of those days all over again. There was a period of time in between, with no tecnology to bind us together, while our lives ventured out on seperate journeys, that scattered everybody and flung us all away from each other.
While the whole Sindhi Society would congregate at the temple, every Sunday morning at 9am to watch the Mahabharat on a single TV which belonged to the Society, I would cover my head with my pillow and try desperately to catch a few more winks of sleep, but the sound of the voices of so many of my friends, mouthing lines from the mythological would wake me up and make me think of all the stories that they would tell us each evening, about what went on behind the scenes.
Even then, my Ollivetti typewriter, a blessed gift from my journalist aunt was a part of my life, and I would run away form the madding crowds and home in, closing myself from the chaos of my life to write. I would find myself a couple of hours a day, which were mine, and spend them with myself, until one friend or another would knock on my door and peep in saying, "Chai pilade na".