Here I was in Chandigarh in monsoon and everything was green, rainy and very pleasant. Thanks to Pankaj, he had spoken to Babubhai about accommodation for a night there.
Babubhai’s son-in-law had a company guest house and I could stay there for the night. There was his son-in-law’s younger brother and his family staying there too. I knew Babubhai very well but no one else and understanding the customs of a Kutchi Jain family, I decided to have some grub, grab a beer and then go later in the evening.
I searched Google maps, got a brewery (Chandigarh is full of them) sat down and relaxed. The atmosphere was lovely, very cosmopolitan crowd, all were in the throes of the World Cup fever then and it was nice to see women on their own drinking and getting out for a smoke with no leers or stares. This was bliss. I was by my own enjoying Beer with Paneer and soaking it all in.
Finally it was time to go so I took a cab to their place. The lady of the house was not in, but their housekeeper let me in and gave me hot chai and snacks. It was a family home filled with toys and things for a 4 year old girl. A purely residential area.
I dozed off until the lady woke me up to say Hi. I went and introduced myself to her husband and others and went right back to sleep. I am awkward at social niceties so I really didn’t know what to chat with people I never met in my life with nothing in common so the only thing I could do was to thank them profusely for letting me stay over for the night and I truly meant that. Here was a stranger whom they never met and they accommodated me.
The next morning I woke up early. It was 6 am and there was no way I was gonna miss getting out for a walk in this beautiful place. It was raining so I took out my umbrella and walked to the nearest park. This one was called ‘Garden of Fragrance’ and it was one. Filled with firangipani and lush greenery, my heart felt light.
Let me tell you Chandigarh is really enchanting during monsoon. It has so many parks and so well planned, it reminded me of Pune but more calmer. The people had a serene sense of being about them. As I was walking in the rains I saw hard core runners doing their rounds notwithstanding the rains to women walking fast.
After an hour or so I could see that most of them had left except the obsessed runners so I took shelter in a gazebo. Just as I got in, the rains started pounding. It was so magical I tell you, to be there and be in it. Just then a much older Sardar and his wife walked in, smiled and said Hi.
I still remember that elegant lady spreading her arms wide with a big happy smile and saying ‘ Isn’t it beautiful? The rains here? I nodded a smiling Yes. After sometime she asked if it’s ok if she clapped hard, she didn’t want to disturb me. I told her to go ahead. And for 15 minutes she started a series of clapping exercises, I asked her about it.
Both she and her husband endorsed it saying they did this at their laughter club and the many benefits it had. It got me curious. Then she said Why don’t you join me now? And like that with the pounding rains, the couple and I did a clapping therapy class! I felt pretty light and invigorating after that honestly, there was something to it.
We took in the after effects of the clapping therapy, the rains, the greenery with a smile. There was bliss written all over us. The couple asked me where I stayed, if I came in a car and if not, they could drop me there. Such random acts of kindness is a rarity isn’t it? I thanked them saying that I would like to walk back in the rain.
The lady smiled and said Chandigarh was the most beautiful in monsoon and she was right. Rains conjure up something in you when you are an Indian. It’s not just rains, it’s an emotion. For the rest of the world it’s just another season.
After some time I got up said goodbye to the couple and made my way back. After having breakfast I informed the lady of the house I wouldn’t stay for lunch and I would catch up with my friend, he would be arriving at noon time, so I would leave. It didn’t make sense to ask my friend Bhim to come here. It was better we would meet up for lunch and of course beer and decide the next course of action.
I was dying to get out of the house so I packed up, took a cab and went back to the same brewery I hung out yesterday. The excitement was palpable. I ordered only food and was waiting for my mate to have the first of what we hoped many beers together in this journey. Cheering and gearing ourselves up for this adventure!
I was restlessly tapping my fingers, checking my phone and just for a minute when I looked up towards the TV screen, I felt a tap behind on my shoulder, Bhim with his backpack! 😊
To be continued..