We are on top of the Koules Fortress ( or Castello a Mare, “Fort on the Sea” in Italian, says Wikipedia) in Crete. The place is surrounded by a high wall with large window like structures, the kind you see on castles? Some of these face the Aegean sea. The breeze from the sea is unbelievable, extremely strong, so strong it is not a breeze, it is wind. You don’t feel it because of the wall. But when you go to these windows, it pushes you so hard, so hard, you have to make an attempt to stand straight. Or even breathe. It is not easy. So I put my hands out and stand there. Zo stands next to me, her tiny body finding it even tougher to fight against the wind. We don’t fight. We stand. The Dude takes a picture from behind us. If I were to tell you about happiness, I would talk of this moment.
We are in this very shady room in a very shady hotel in this tiny place called Ramtek. The room has bright pink walls. The tubelight is dim, almost flickering and is reminiscent of the old days where we had ‘power fluctuations’. The flush in the bathroom doesn’t function, and the bathroom doesn’t lock either. It is not nice. So we take out the Bacardi we have brought along (or Vodka? I think Bacardi). We order a couple of cokes (which come in the old glass bottles of yore), and something called ‘Lasun fry’ (fried garlic, we were curious), which turned out to be exactly that – garlic cloves fried and sprinkled with salt and chili. We eat, we drink, and we forget about the dingy hotel room and sleep comfortably till the next morning, when we continue our drive to Pench. Turns out I didn’t seem to think this was anything fascinating back then, but now, if I were to talk of all the fun times I have had, I wouldn’t forget to mention this.
We drive down to Goa, starting early and make it there post noon. We check-in, dump our stuff, change into shorts, and head to the shack on the beach. Zo has just turned 2 a month ago. I am here for my 31st. We settle down, order a couple of beers, a plate of prawns. Zo sits next to my chair and gets busy with the sand, thrilled beyond belief, because now that I think of it, it is her first visit to a sandy beach where she is allowed to play in sand. The afternoon is bright, but doesn’t hurt. The sea breeze is brilliant. There is no where to rush to, nothing to do, everything seems just right. If I were to talk of content, what I felt at that moment would describe it best.
It is pouring heavily, the roads are flooded, but we have been made to go to school. My sister and I, in raincoats, hers pink, mine blue, are in a near empty school bus. We reach school, and it is closed. ‘School closed due to heavy rain’, a board outside says. The bus turns back, only it takes a relatively longer route. To escape water-logging, maybe? But I am not sure. The few of us in the bus are thrilled. It’s like a picnic! A couple of more daring boys stand near the door. We remain seated. The bus goes over puddles splashing water everywhere, water’s spraying us through the windows, and it is amazing. Sometime on ride back, we open our tiffin boxes and eat, expecting to take much longer to reach home. We are home in another 10 minutes. But if I were to tell you of the adventures I have had, I would tell you this story too.
There is this movie we want to see, and it is playing at Apsara theatre, which we checked in the Dainik Jagaran borrowed from our neighbours. The four of us reach there early, so that we can get tickets. We do, quite fast, and there is still an hour to the movie. ‘Let’s go eat Kulfi Falooda‘, my dad says. I don’t know what it is, but I am quite thrilled. We walk to this famous place near Ghanta Ghar, and my dad orders four plates. They are massive chunks of kulfi, covered with dollops of falooda. We dig in greedily. It is delicious. Halfway through, I realise that this is going to take long. And I wonder if there is enough time to finish, and then walk back to theatre before the movie starts. My parents tell me not to worry, they would take care of everything. I feel better, and concentrate on my eating. If I were to tell you about how amazingly simple childhood is, this is a tale I would recount.
I sit for more than a week, wondering why there seems to be nothing I can talk about. I try my hand at funny, I try my hand at venting, even general rambling, but nothing works. I give up. I stop stressing. I stop thinking about writing anything at all. And then, as I am reading through my feed, I come across this blog post. It is talking about seagulls. I remember this one day, when I saw this one seagull and I comment about it on her post. And a flood of memories from that day come rushing to me. And I start writing this post. If I were to tell you, that all it takes is one memory, one thought, to counter your writer’s block, I would be darn well telling you the truth.