“Bangalore is putting up its best show for you, Deepika!” said Soul Muser. When she observed that, it was drizzling and slightly cold. A much deserved respite for me from Chennai’s scorchers.
The clouds were hollering since the afternoon that they were going to pour their hearts out. It was the kind of rain in which we couldn’t be drenched completely. It was the kind of rain that allowed us to stroll, pay attention to the little things on the road, and have a hearty conversation. I wished the roads could be longer, the night younger, and we could walk into eternity.
I stumbled upon Soul Muser’s website two months ago. Her blogs spoke to me so much that I wanted to be in her life. Her book spoke to me so much that I mustered the courage to embrace the travel bug that bit me. After having spent a lot of time online with her, I decided to take a bus to Bangalore. Just to meet her.
I boarded the bus and asked myself, “Are you sure? What will she think of you? You have known her for only two months.” I had to dismiss the thought, for she has been gently steering me toward discovering a self, whom I didn’t know existed in me. I also remembered what she told me during many of our enlightening conversations — “Longevity doesn’t matter in friendship.”
Soul Muser was not a wee bit different from the person whom I met online. Warm, thoughtful, kind, and inspiring. I spent about two days with her, goofing around, seeing a small yet beautiful part of Bangalore, stuffing my face with food, and listening to her stories. It was one of the best times of my life.
And, the Internet proved again that it is replete with strangers who would become my close friends.
While I think the entire weekend was memorable, quite a few things happened for the first time in my life; I am recording them here, as ever, for posterity.
• I went to another city to meet a friend.
• I took a day bus and dozed off often. Whenever I woke up, I was in a different place. I was reminded of this quote from Fight Club — “If I could wake up in a different place, at a different time, could I wake up as a different person?”
• Many a time, I woke up to see rocky mountains. Innocent-looking cattle. Placid lakes. Tiny huts. Busy farmers. Green fields. Serpentine roads. Mischievous monkeys. I opened my eyes, captured the vignettes, and closed my eyes, as though safely locking up the pictures in a trunk.
• Soul Muser and I walked around her neighbourhood, clicking pictures of the sky and flowers.
• She took me to a restaurant called The Fatty Bao. Its walls were adorned with paintings of PANDAS. SO MANY OF THEM. SO MANY. 😀
• She surprised me by ordering the dessert first. So, we started the dinner by having the dessert.
• And then, I had Bao and Ramen. Heavenly!
• The Bell Jar was the first book Soul Muser and I read together. We paid tribute to Plath by having Warm Fig for the dessert we had after the meal, because the fruit is one of the literary devices employed in the book. She helped me to read a couple of articles on allusions, when we read. We discussed it more while attacking the dessert and we both agreed that The Bell Jar has been growing on us although we didn’t enjoy the book much when we read.
• We spoke and spoke and spoke till 3 AM. We filled her room with dark secrets and silly jokes.
• I jumped for joy, when she made tea and a bowl of Wai Wai Noodles and Maggi Noodles for breakfast. And, and, she allowed me to have breakfast in bed. Too much pampering!
• We drove around Bangalore for a while before lunch. I couldn’t stop saying ‘How beautiful!’ for the roads were bordered by Gulmohar trees. She walked me through her life by showing the houses where she lived, the college where she studied, the places where she worked. It was a unique tour.
• We went to a restaurant called Kamat Bugle Rock for lunch. A group of unassuming musicians played classical songs on their harmonium, violin, and mridangam. We listened to the mellifluous tunes and didn’t mind waiting to get our seats.
• We savoured the traditional North Karnataka Meals — Jowar Roti. I am still drooling.
• She clicked this picture of yours truly at Blossoms — one of the popular bookstores in Bangalore, where she also got me a copy of her favourite book, Jack Kerouac’s On The Road.
• We went to a pub, where I tried hookah, as I listened to the pitter-patter of the rain. Some moments can’t come back.
The weekend was special for another reason too. It was my first travel after the breakup.
I travelled, but carried no baggage.
(Thank you, Soul Muser, for being a wonderful ‘host’! And please tell me how many lakes are there in Bangalore now?) 😉