First off, yes, I know soliloquies are not dialogues with someone else. I haven't quite forgotten what I studied in college yet.
As always, it's been a while since my last post, and I feel searing guilt because of that. Something compelled me to write again today. What? A soliloquy with a stranger.
As a part of my work, I'm currently on a gruelling internship stint with a production house on a daily soap. Those experiences by themselves could fill a book, but it'll be a book that I'm not sure if you or I would like to read. Long story short, I'm sleepwalking through a crazy schedule, because shoots happen 24x7. Yes, Sundays are no longer a thing for me. So the point is, every free moment I get, and there aren't a lot, I cherish. Like a bloody gift. The problem, however, of being on your own in a new city with very few friends is that that you don't quite know what to do with a free minute, if at all you have the energy to do something.
One evening like this, while leaving my editing studio, on a whim I asked an auto driver, "Bhaiiya, Prithvi Theatre yahaan se kitna dur hai?" Turns out, it was 5 kms, 58 rupees away. Now, if you know me, you know that I'm not the kind who can even cross a road on my own. So going to a theatre by myself was alien Plutonian territory. None the less, I reached. The next show (The Glass Menagerie) was four hours away, and I didn't have the luxury of waiting till then. So a trip to the Prithvi cafe would have to do. I'd heard a lot about its Irish Coffee, and I ordered, but I couldn't find an empty table to plonk myself down on.
I looked around, and in front of me was a table, with three seats, and just one man sitting on it.
"Do you mind if I sit here?"
I drank my coffee in peace, feeling the Irish bit of the coffee settling quite smoothly in me.
Another twenty minutes flew by.
"If you're here for the invitees only show, it'll start in five minutes", he said.
I wasn't, I told him. I got a smile in return, followed by "So you're just sitting by yourself?"
And that was the beginning. I spent the next forty-five minutes talking to an actual stranger about life and Bombay and theatre and English grammar. I discovered that he was a producer, and in just as desperate need of time just to himself as I. He assured me that I work at a good company, and that I'm in the right place at the right point in my life, and I'll learn a lot from my struggles. We also spoke about truck drivers and PHDs, and the quickest way to get to Vile Parle Station (which is a 25 minutes walk crossing Amitabh Bacchan's bungalow).
What fascinates me is that in this entire conversation, the only thing we exchanged were smiles and first names. Nothing more, nothing less. In effect, it was one conversation with a stranger, but it was one large vent. It was my soliloquy, and his answering soliloquy.
It took nearly two and a half months in this city before I walked into a place and spoke to a stranger who reassured me against so many of my doubts without even knowing any of them, without any ulterior motive. This, and a quick trip to the Prithvi book store, and suddenly, the sun was shining through the clouds as I walked towards Vile Parle, which as it turns out, did take 25 minutes, and Amitabh Bachan's bungalow doesn't shine like gold, in case you expected it as I did, for some reason.)
That evening, the hour long train journey home wasn't any trouble at all. In fact, I might have scared the woman sitting across from me because I was smiling to myself, staring out of the window humming to the music from my earphones. I might have scared her even more because this filmy display was followed by fifteen minutes of furious typing on my phone- the first half of this post.
To a whole lot of you who are reading this, my experience will be nothing out of the ordinary. For me, video game boxes are jumping in my head:
Achievement Level- Grown Up; Unlocked.