Thursday, 13 November 2014

A City Autumn

The pumpkins are dozing in the sun.

Princess Jasmine is chasing Snow White and Cinderella (or is it Anna from Frozen, Princesses are so hard to tell apart). Iron Man and Captain America are hanging upside down from the monkey bars. The school playground seems to be holding a symposium of Princesses and Superheroes– the genders neatly set apart. The pediatric dentistry nearby is handing out free candy. It is good for business, I suppose. Little plastic pumpkin buckets overflow with high fructose corn syrup wrapped in crinkle.

The dogs are out on the walk of shame: the Terrier is wearing a pink tutu and the Bulldog is a pirate. The Chihuahua with the playboy bunny ears is hiding behind the trash bags. The non-costumed Retriever looks at me, I look at the costumed humans around me, and smile back in sympathy.

Oh Halloween! How you’ve become the least loved of all occasions for the glorification of the two dreadful S’s– sexism and sugar (the new cocaine, the opiate of the masses). 

One day I step out of the house as usual and come upon this. How unexpected is autumn’s advance. How soon it peaks. And sooner still it is gone.
Even that street reluctantly trudged through during summer now seems almost inviting. Almost. As Ghalib said,

Hum ko maaloom hai jannat ki haqeeqat, lekin
Dil ko khush rakhne ko Ghalib yeh khayaal achcha hai

(Roughly translated: We know the realities of paradise, but/ to keep the heart happy Ghalib this is a good thought)
The light bounces. It is a fact and the unintended consequence of skyscrapers with glass windows. It isn’t just the sun’s trajectory across the sky that determines where there will be light, and where the shadows will fall. The light now received is offered back. Places that once resided in shadows, host startling light projections.

A city park at any time of the year is paradise within reach, unequivocally. Especially, the less frequented parts. I think even Ghalib would have agreed.

“Next stop is 14th Street.” Booms the voice through the air vents on the sidewalk and the subway rumbles on under my feet. Yes, yes, I too could have been on that train and there in the next 4 minutes. But for Sumac’s blazing glory. A sight definitely worth hundreds of footsteps, if not air miles.

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