Humour: Bucket list of a realist
“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by,” said everybody’s favourite literary hitchhiker, Douglas Adams. He could well have been describing the sound new year’s resolutions make once the zeal of January and good sense of February make way for the ruthless summer. But we humans are doomed to our lists and plans. (I’m always amused by those compilations that scream: ‘500 movies to see before you die’. Imagine the opposite: ‘500 movies to see after you die.’) Emboldened by these list-makers, I’ve crafted my own off-beat yet heartfelt list of things to do before I die.
Art & Culture
A bucket list demands ambition. And what could be more inspiring than the 20th century’s most widely regarded novel: Ulysses? Often have I tried to pick up the tome and plunge myself into the consciousnesses of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom. I want to roam the streets of Dublin and end with the affirmation – “and yes I said yes I will Yes.” To pinch a line from a metaphysical poet: ‘But at my back I always
hear / Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near.’ Is one lifetime enough to intercept the novel’s polyphonous marvels? The copy I received from a friend 19 birthdays ago remains untouched, like the token hara bhara kebab in a meat-eater’s buffet. Every now and then, I encourage myself by looking at pictures of Marilyn Monroe browsing the book in a famous photo shoot from 1955. Someday, I too shall rejoyce.
Now this is where I’m more likely to succeed. I aspire to become that person who ends a walk with sweat beads dripping in a steady stream. The one whose faces contorts in a sublime discomfort, torso bent at the waist, muscles loosening in relief. To see athletes at their fitness regimes – running, training, playing a sport – makes me envious; but to see them relax after their routine is positively awe-inspiring. That holier-than-thou feeling that propels you to the shower and thence into the world outside, giving you the confidence to pop a deep-fried snack or make a scathing remark with impunity. The puffing, the panting, the Fitbit bragging. I shall have it all.
Hampi’s geology. Paris’ sexiness. Cape Town’s charm. Singapore’s gluttony. I’ve been a lucky traveller, with thoughtful companions. But for my bucket list, I have another kind of travel in mind. The kind that one neglects simply because it’s so close and attainable. As a lifelong Mumbai resident, I’m ashamed of never having been to Elephanta Caves. (Someone once said to me there are no loos there, and I blocked the site from memory like a clogged drain.) On a recent trip to Delhi, I finally made it to Humayun’s Tomb and was duly enchanted. I think the time has come to visit Haji Ali too. (I’ve only ever visited once as a child.) And now with the exquisite Ma Hajiani dargah close by restored, the trip is doubly compelling.
My bucket list meal is a feast. I imagine myself cooking it without breaking a sweat, and serving it while wearing a light silk sari with an anti-gravity pallu. It begins with shami kebabs and a pomelo salad, the meatiness of the former complemented by the juicy kick of the fruit. Then comes the biryani – layered, complex, sublime – eggs and potatoes flaunting its proud Mumbai vintage. A conscience placating saag would be paired with phulkas fresh off my steaming tawa. The meal would end with a cake born of chocolate and sin, obviating the need for an alcoholic beverage. I would invite everyone who’s ever complained about my dishwater tea and character-building atta Maggi. Oh, how sorry you’ll be!
Watching U2 live. (I went for the Mumbai concert in December 2019, but catching the bottom of Bono’s chin every 8.5 minutes while jumping up and down doesn’t count.) Braving the crowds at Café Madras in Matunga on a Sunday morning. Clearing up space in my overcrowded email inbox and phone gallery. Learning how to play chess. Trying a cure for migraine that actually works. Understanding GST. Devising an expression to conceal my disappointment upon meeting beloved artistes who turn out to be underwhelming. I think I’m going to need a bigger bucket.
From HT Brunch, February 16, 2020
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