Soul curry from Mumbai to Shimla


By: Vivek Mohan

Few years ago I had to invest and shift to our nearby weekend home-cum-office due to personal and professional reasons. The place was still developing with high-rises and more and more coming up in the hillock at the time when I was feeling low. . . but still struggling, surviving to take on the not-so-fair world around me. I recollected all the articles and quotes I had grown up on, reading RD. ‘This shall too pass’. Nothing lasts forever. Not even the pain. This one lasted much longer than I had calculated. But then life is not simple arithmetic. Sometimes it is 2+2=4 sometimes it is 3 or 5! But mine became a complex, multi-layered math.

I’m a very disciplined person but my circumstances gave me all the reasons to go haywire. Somehow I still held tight beginning the day with my regular suryanamaskars, sit-ups, push-ups, chin-ups, etc to start fresh and have a good night’s sleep (mostly) after a hard day’s efforts whatever and whenever fruit it might bear sooner or later. It became a daily monotonous routine but still somehow the enthusiasm of a ‘new day’ held me together.

Included in this ‘daily monotonous routine’ was the irritating sight of a labourer woman with her two small daughters going for their morning ablutions on the road before my room window when I exercised. Both events coincided with military precision. The family without their man escorting came out of a hutment adjacent to the not-yet-complete high-rise. My compassion ended with the only thought that one day when the tower is complete, the poor dailywagers will shift to another similar location and ‘irritate’ someone else with their ‘daily monotonous routine’ and be an eyesore.

Then one evening while gazing out from the same window I saw the same girls but playing, frolicking, giggling and I decided to keep looking instead of surfing channels. They looked happier and cleaner than the morning ‘shift’ being almost dragged by the frail mother, hair unkempt and eyes still almost shut and they were not readying for any school bus, but…

The sight and thought struck me real hard. It woke me up from inside. Trying to be a James Bond in the trying times, I was both shaken and stirred.


It was because before the sun rose and day became brighter the young and the very very young ladies had to go out before the male gaze embarrasses them. And I had the luxury of a rest room next door in my studio apartment. Who was living a better painful life?!

I remember a plastic plaque on wood given to my psychiatrist dad by his patient which said, “Do the best you can with what you have” still hung in his makeshift office at home in Shimla. From then onwards my better life was even better, even though the world around me kept crashing. And ever since I’m on a ‘high’ – a lot different than what Richard Gere told the Pretty Woman!

(The writer is a Mumbai-based film-maker from Himachal)

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  1. I had been playing a game with myself for 10 years by making things difficult for myself and now I realize it was meant to be that way with or without the game. I am none the wiser and not a penny richer. We are dealt cards and best we can do is play our hand well. Empathy act as a bandage and love and giving as cure for the chasm we feel is HIGH than deep.

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