Monday, March 26, 2012

The Vijaynagar Connection


The world is well and truly a small place. I am a believer in this motto for quite some time now. I can recollect many instances where people who I have never met before know me-either by reading my nonsense written on this blog, or through mutual friends.  Most of the times-the latter. Sometimes, you come to know people, become friends with them, and when you add them on social networking sites, you are surprised to see that they know a few people who you too know, and are left clueless to the question “How on earth do they know each other!”(Especially if the two people are living in different cities, and sometimes even in different countries.) The world certainly seems a small place- and quite often, owing to its smallness, throws quite a few surprises at you. 

People tend to observe other people on public transport systems, especially in foreign countries, to look out for people who speak same language as them, or are from the same city as them. I'm a Marathi manoos, so it is but obvious that I tend to seek Marathi speaking people on the train, and if I come across one, I do make a point of going and talking with them. The most interesting thing about such interactions is usually the “common link” that connects the two of us. The following incident, was of such random “common link” seeking action total brought upon me the sheer awesomeness and respect that Vijaynagar/Chandrashekhar society in Mumbai commands, and undoubtedly, the fame my mama and aai have in that society.

I had had an awesome Chindian (Chinese Indian) dinner at the city center in Singapore, and was on my way home. I jumped into the MRT that connects City Hall to Boon Lay, and engaged myself in playing cricket on my mobile phone. God damn cricket is so addictive-as a topic to view, chat and play on grounds as well as on mobiles and PCs. Anyway, I was going well, a 10 over match between India and Pakistan, where my Indian batsmen were thrashing the Pakistani bowlers at a run rate of over 24 runs an over. Then suddenly, I heard something that made me lose the wicket of my well settled opener- people conversing in Marathi. I turned around and saw that a couple were in the train right next to me and speaking in Marathi- and immediately, I could conclude that they were from Mumbai(Me alelo-finish!) I decided to complete my innings- only 2 overs were remaining, and go and greet them. So, with a greater urgency, I thrashed those virtual Pakistani bowlers for 50 runs in 2 overs, saved the game and went to have a chat with my Marathi co-passengers.

I greeted them in customary way you greet unknown Marathi people here. “Tumhala Marathi boltana aikla” then introduced me, and what I do here. The couple also introduced themselves, and we got talking about how we so seldom meet Marathi people here, although now that is changing. Then we got to the topic of where we live. Me being a true Punekars, the first response was “Sadashiv Peth” instead of Jurong West, which was probably the expected answer. They also said that they were actually from Mumbai, but have been living here since before I was out of school. So the focus now shifted to where in Mumbai, since I had already closed the loop from my end by stating Sadashiv Peth. I guess that identity must have been enough for them to remember me, although I must admit my physical characteristics and typical Pethi mannerisms leave a more vivid an lasting image. Anyway, so the focus was now on where in Mumbai. Since I have lived in that place- and that too in a society like Vijaynagar Colony, I thought that I had enough ammunition with me to prove a point that even in knowing Mumbai, Punekars are better! 

My co-passenger told me the location of his suburb in Mumbai, and I also got talking I used to live in Andheri before I came here(Somehow i relate Andheri East-Vile Parle =Sadashiv Peth of Mumbai). His wife seemed to take particular interest when I said Andheri, and enquired further about where in Andheri. I don’t need second invitations to declare my ties with Mumbai through Vijaynagar/Chandrashekhar, and promptly replied, “Chandrashekhar Society!” And Behold! The person who I was talking with for more than 10 minutes had grown up and lived in Vijaynagar Society till 1988. Once the Vijaynagar link is established, a special kind of bond is created I guess. I don’t know why, how much I curse Mumbai, I simply cannot fault this place. It’s unique. The people there are unique. We got talking about the society and how it has changed now and how it was much better before. I have fortunately witnessed both-but for me it’s still the same, for a place is known by the mentality of the people there- not the buildings. 

The comparison which gets me recognized at the unlikeliest of places!
(Left: Me, right: Mama)

While the discussion on Chandrashekhar redevelopment was going on, he asked me whether I was related to Shirish Chaphekar (my Mama), since him though I looked a bit like him and Chaphekar kaka (My grandfather) and my Mom. Lots of people have told me this thing; I do admit I bear a great deal of resemblance with my Mama. I'm regular subject of this comparison in Pune and Mumbai( sometimes my mother calls me as “Shirish” by mistake! ), but I had barely expected this comparison anywhere outside these two places- let alone on a train in Singapore. To say I was a little bit surprised would be an understatement. This is the unique kind of thing that probably happens because of the affinity all people from the colony have about each other and the social programs that happen over there, which brings everyone together.  After talking for a while, I came to know that he knew my Mama, my Mom, my Mavshis, and he used to sometimes come and take tuitions from my grandfather. When I told him Im Shubhadas son, there was a smile and a shaking of head follwed by "vatlach mala".

Time flew by as we were talking about the colony and life over there and how everyone, especially some old aaji-ajobas are doing, and how many of them are still alive. Finally, his station came. We bid goodbyes to each other, and no doubt will definitely meet sometime soon- for a Vijaynagar Bond has been established. But the incident left me in sheer awe of the society. I had a brief stay of about 6 months over there, but those six months were enough to provide me with memories which can be cherished for a lifetime, and unexpected surprises such as the one just narrated. I do really miss this place.

[Anyone from society if you are reading this, please click a nice photo of the society and email it to me, so I can attach it here]
[Im deliebrately not mentioning the name of the person I met. Creates more mystery. Plus, on previous occasions ive been told off for doing so. Anyway, the gentleman from Vijaynagar used to live in the old number 5, and was 2 years my Mamas junior and a classmate of Medha Mavshi] 

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