Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Kirmich Road

NIT-Kurukshetra Main Building
NIT-Kurukshetra Main Building (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bangor. Maine. USA. A radio ad. A surprising radio ad. I let my attention drift from the speeding traffic coursing down I-95 S towards Boston. Dangerous. I grip the steering wheel tighter and look to the road again. Memories.
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"Mahindra Tractors... now in New England!" the ad said. I grew up in an industrialized small town in south Gujarat. I have no childhood memories of farms and farm machinery. That name though... has special resonance.
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Kurukshetra. Haryana. India. Land of the Mahabharata and not much else after. Scratch that. Everything. It was everything and a little bit more. For 4 years. Tucked away in a corner of a sprawling university campus, bordered by wheat fields is an engineering college. Or as it seemed to us then, a universe... our universe.
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A narrow road. Used only occasionally by tempos and Mahindra tractors. The borderline between our world and theirs. Offering easy access to two critical facilities - khokhas for rescue from the tyranny of hostel mess food and thekas for the times when the food wasn't enough of an escape.
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Kirmich Road. Home to khokhaas Akloo, Harish, Meghnath and the only so called 'restaurant', the James Bond inspired Golden Eye. Not for the culinary aesthete, it must be said, given the buffaloes tied alongside their shed like structures and the buzzing flies around them but for a certain group of young adults, the best in the world. Host also to the entrepreneur from Kerala who set up his roadside idli-dosa stall, here in rural Haryana, as far away from home as he could possibly be, brave and undeterred in his mission of serving quality South Indian fare. 
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The road of terror and darkness in the first year. Beyond which lay the naked yellow bulbs under which seniors were free to do, in their own ominous words, 'whatever they want' after they had spirited away the freshers from the stifling confines of their hostel/jail in the middle of the night. The jokes and the humour were crude but the anda chow-mein on some nights was compensation enough.
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 The road of freedom thereafter. Birthday and job treats, recuperating cultural/technical fest committees, farewells, reunion parties - all had a way spilling onto Kirmich Road, a bone chilling walk on a winter night and respite from baking hostel rooms in the summer. Akloo's half-fry Maggi and a steaming glass of patti at midnight was a treat hunter's 'mission complete'. Meghnath's parathas too with their mysterious green chutney, which gave salvation to some and jaundice to others, warmed many a soul in a Haryana winter. 
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Unlikely friendships - making a mockery of the conventional ideas of common ground and background - were formed here, unrequited love - the most common ailment of any young boy's life - was analyzed and criticized here i.e. until it struck the criticizers themselves and understanding silences - over shared cigarettes - covered those golden periods when words seemed superfluous, here in this nondescript road by the wheat fields. 
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A cancelled lecture's magnificent happy hour saw the tides of students wash over Kirmich Road's shores. Late night debates, whose origins could never be traced beyond the vast lands of a country called Boredom fed by the river called Alcohol, reached their garbled crescendo here. This narrow rectangular strip of pitch and tar was a stage... a canvas for all those emotions inseparable from the adventure called student life.
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No wonder then, that half a world away, 8 years since I had even thought about it, Kirmich Road sprung back to life in an instant. Nostalgia tends to smoothen the edges of reality and even to periods of darkness provides a noir like cool. 
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In an idealized tableau, I can always see it, my feet propped up on an empty chair and a glass of patti in my hand, accompanied by a changeable cast of friends - a noisy tractor bouncing past leaving behind a trail of the faint but unmistakable tinny notes of a Punjabi song's ektara
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Just another ordinary... but never quite ordinary day on Kirmich Road.
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[http://virtual-inksanity.blogspot.in/2015/09/kirmich-road.html]

6 comments:

Kumar Bibek said...

Aree.. Sab yaad dila diya yaar.. Ab ek ghanta mera gaya. :)

Roy said...

@Psych: He he! Objective achieved!

hiitzsdg said...

Kya baat hai Bhai... Sab kichu mne pore gelo... Sei sob purano din'er smriti... Darun write up... Missed "Anda Tor Phor"...

Gaurav Sharma said...

Nailed it!

Made me remember Akloo, and his teenage son who didn't want to follow in his dad's footsteps and wanted more from life, while a bunch of kids thought nothing was better than a day well wasted at his khokha.

Roy said...

@Ganguly: Thanks. I focused on my favourites like Maggi half-fry.

@Sharma: Thanks. Yes, Akloo's son was also overly fond of playing Snake on my 'rental' Nokia 1100.

hedonist said...

Amazing