Another trip down the nostalgia street-
Patna in the monsoons….flooded streets…flooded playgrounds…flooded school campuses…at least for the first few days of the water-logging, we used to love it…till the water would start to rot and stink. heavy rain in the morning meant, low attendance in the class and many teachers being absent. Best day to be at school
. No assemblies as the school ground would be an artificial pond…so all the prayers would be sung in the class. No teachers present…so full blown chatting went on till the teacher from the adjoining class would come and scold us. There would be days when walking back from school, we got caught in the rain…an even though the option was there to get shelter, we don’t exercise it and reach home, fully drenched…Mom would first dry us up…then the moment when your innocent childhood comes face to face with the cruel truth of the real world…how misplaced was your confidence in the words ‘100% Water-Proof’ on your school bag…and how stupid you feel now for using the fancy ‘Chinese’ ink pen for all your important subjects. While walking back from school, we would reach a point where we had two options…we knew one of the paths would take us home with just a few puddles, here and there…other path…was basically a small scale model of the primordial shallow ocean which existed between the Indian and Asian tectonic plates. The adventurous spirit in you decides to wade in the knee deep water…shoes in hand…making waves…you become one with nature…as you see cows…dogs…buffaloes…sharing that water body with you…the spiritual journey gets complete when you come out on dry land and find a leech sticking to your ankle and then you DANCE. All this while, the streets of Patna would get converted into extreme driving circuits…if we found a expensive vehicle stuck in the mud…we would all snigger at it and mockingly laugh…’jyada tez banne chale the’…the small lane which led to our school ‘Tiwari Bechar lane’..was like a black hole for trucks…every month we would find a big truck stuck in one of the three massive ‘plot-holes’ (to call them pot-holes would be insulting to them). We would admire the tenacity and skill of the driver whose truck would get stuck in the last ditch. Patna Municipal corporation also left many sewage man-hole open for allowing Patnaites to enjoy the thrills of a water-park slide…free of cost…and then, it also allowed the poor rickshaw-walas to make a killing by charging hefty amount to the folks who needed to catch a train etc…this showcased the social justice angle of the water-logging phenomenon…maybe that’s why its still not fixed completely.
Then, there were paper-boats…i never learnt how to make one…but once they were set free, we would push them deeper into the flooded playground…then the bombarding will start…using the ‘gitti’ and ‘inta’ which our future neighbour had left strewn in our narrow lane, while the construction on his home was held due to rain. The one to sink maximum number of boats was the winner and got nothing as a reward. Another competition was how many ‘tappas’ can your pebble make over the water surface when thrown across the water like the way Malinga bowls…maybe that’s how he learnt to bowl those yorkers. All this went on, till someone tried too hard and his skillful shot ended on the other side of the playground and hit a parked car. We would disperse like a group of ants which was disturbed while it was nibbling at a piece of candy.
We had a big guava tree at our house and monsoon was when the fruit would ripen and be ready to be plucked off…me and my friends would climb up with bags and come down only when the bags were full or there was an unexpected attack of red ants. Once, we had a nice crow couple who decided to make the tree their home…obviously without any formal paper-work or approvals…then you learnt, that crows could dive-bomb the shi$% out of you…but the guavas plucked with all that effort and danger, tasted more sweeter.
We were told not to eat street-food, but then, you took all such restrictions as a challenge…till you fell sick with typhoid or diarrhea..or the the worst Jaundice…Jaundice at one time was so rampant…all the Aqua guard sales men had bought an apartment in Noida and a green ‘Cielo’ with the commissions they made. ‘Gol-Gappas’ , ‘sugarcane juice’ and other street food having water as an ingredient was a strict no-no still Durga-pooja. That left us with ice-cream…and chiniya-badam (peanuts)…kudos to them for bringing those delicacies to our doorsteps through all the mud, water and filth. I hear now that the water logging is not as prolonged as it used to be earlier…which is a good news. I hope it stays that way. Quoting some wonderful words from my 8th class hindi teacher ‘Vinami’ which I always thought was relevant in case of Patna- ‘Badariya tham-tham kar jhar ri….badariya Tham-tham kar jhar ri…sagar par kyun mare abhagin…gagar ko bhar ri’.
Another trip down the nostalgia street-