Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Visit to Naresh's Farm

Me at the farmhouse top

Naresh, me and Anjali
Naresha!! Always brings a smile to my face. One of the top three people in the world who I always look forward to laugh with. I think that is what our relationship has been based on - cracking completely inane jokes that no one else seems to understand and laughing at them like it was the funniest thing in the world. Its a frequency that often goes out of range for others but always within for us. Maybe God gave us each other to laugh at!
We met during our Intermediate days, 1983, both of us scrawny, lanky and tall adolescents. And sometime during those two years, whilst studying MPC under those dangerous hay roofs which were a fire hazard, we discovered one another. Possibly because we were stuck at the back of the class because of our height. We had absolutely nothing in common or so I thought. He came with a bunch of friends from Padmarao Nagar with a life and culture of their own, while I was some kind of a loner who played cricket a lot and looked doped out on life. Not the guy your average 'good' boys mingled with I should think while he represented all that the 'good' boy was, rode his TVS, spectacles and all, looked the part of the boy next door with nice manners, well dressed and all set to study well and settle down in life. The stuff Mom's like their sons to hang out with (actually they are the most potent stuff I realised later, the next door guys).
I was pretty much like what my Principal said 'I will take a bet you will not clear this second year or go anywhere in cricket or in life.' I think he folded up his school, I cleared my Inter, did okay with both cricket and am doing well with my life. When someone laughs at you or pulls you down, I think you are on to great stuff.
Anyway, I used to go on my bicycle to college those days. Sometimes the bus. Nothing made much sense to me. All the boys buzzing with Maths, Physics and Chemistry and plans of engineering and stuff. I would shut off the buzz and dream of cricket which was doing pretty nicely, especially in the second year, western music which I found was wonderful and movies which were another great escape. On every occasion when I went on tour I would save up enough money to buy at least one cassette of western music from Madras and Bangalore where we had most of our cricket tours (that year I made tours with the HCA Under 19, Under 22, Under 22 South Zone, Under 25 teams, each a 15 day tour). Most of my waking hours went that way with music, movies and maybe books.
I think that is where Naresh and I clicked because, he certainly understood nothing of cricket. We started talking music. And then we liked the fact that we could laugh with each other. And the fact that we could watch movies like 'All that Jazz' together. So we would go to Sangeet on his TVS make-believing that it had a turbo charger, watch a movie maybe and go to his wonderful house which I love visiting, where Aunty, Uncle and Ashwini always welcomed me as one of their own right since those days, watched music videos which was an awesome experience for me because we never had a video player at home nor access to music videos, listened to new music on his huge AKAI deck. I remember listening to 'Beat it' to my hearts content on that system, being introduced with lots of love to new songs by Naresha 'Arre, yeh sun' -'Eye of the tiger', or 'On and On' or even a few years later when we were engineering students or beyond 'I just died in your arms tonight' and so many more. Or singing 'Def Leppard' loudly under that crazy fan with a huge nut with both he and Anu, or even serenading the night singing Peter Cetera passionately by the roadside at Paradise well into the night - 'Glory of love'. So many songs remind me of the times we spent - always laughing ofcourse.
We'd actually spend hours and hours discussing music on the phone! And the one thing he wanted to share so badly with me the last time he was here, when Anu was in hospital briefly recovering from a procedure, was his lifetime collection of music which he carried with so much care and love and transferred to my laptop. Thanks Naresha, that was really nice and i really appreciate it. I don't know what it is but as I write but eyes well up.
After our junior college I lost touch for a couple of years - and then we bumped into each other. Now a handsome young man, a motorcross winner and a real charmer, I was a just inducted first class cricketer and we picked up the thread as easily, and never let go again. So much happened since its almost like a dream, death, marriage, children, careers etc but in a way nothing changed - we still laughed exactly the same way when I met him last week before he went back to the US. It is also deeply satisfying to share our friendship with such wonderful people as Anu who has far more depth, wisdom and compassion than most, Shobha who brings a whole new perspective to our lives in her own way and a lot of unconditional love, Raoul who I think is very creative and a very original thinker and someone I see myself drinking chai and talking of life not too far from today and ofcourse Anjali who is busy making space for herself in this world as I write.
It is also a different kind of relationship in that we have the space to share much with the same amount of confidentiality and seriousness and know it would be understood, so we talk of almost everything that goes on in our lives, something I find I cannot do with so many others. And then we don't meet so often actually, maybe once year, though we try to, and then that one meeting makes up for the time we don't. Actually, that's the way it works I guess with us.
So when Naresha was in town for 7 weeks, announcing his itinerary, and sending out detailed mails as to when he will be free and when we should meet him (and then doing nothing on schedule of course which is one reason why I don't take his itinerary seriously), mainly for Uncle's 75th birthday celebrations, I was certainly planning on spending some good times with him. I could not meet him much at the birthday which was a fabulous affair where all his family and friends from his Dad's time came and Naresh was busy with them. Anjali had a great time on the swings though and I enjoyed talking with Uncle, Ashwini, Anil, Sujata and the others.
Time started flying and weeks rolled on so when Naresh said, I am gong to the farm tomorrow would you want to go, I said yes. the farm is about two hours away atleast near Pragnapur on the Karimnagar route, but I knew I would get a chance to spend sometime with him and so next day I carried my laptop to do some work while Naresha did his farmer act. We caught up at Secunderabad club and drove off, he playing me new songs, catching up on life, buying food, talking philosophy and maybe even singing a couple of songs including his current favourite 'Bangaru kodi petta' from Magadheera. We spent the whole day at the farm, met some agriculture officers, he got his bore repaired and then at 6 in the evening we headed back with some delicious custard apples stopped at Nanking, picked up some wonderful Chinese to top off the day and went home deeply satisfied. I am so glad I made that trip because we could catch up peacefully.
Naresh loves his farm act. He loves his farm actually. I think he practically spent all his time going up and down. It's a really nice looking farm in the sense that it's not yet a full grown orchard and actually has a kind of a hill where the farmhouse is located. So one has views of farmlands rolling of on all sides from the top of the farmhouse which is a well appointed on with all basics taken care of. We planned a night out there but that will happen later ofcourse. Bore, yield, clearing out, crops, subsidies, drip irrigation, manure, soil - these words fly off my friend's tongue easily these days and short of wearing a dhothi he fits the part. I have not yet seen him getting down and putting his hands in the mud yet, but I believe he must be doing it secretly. So when Naresha says, 'Man, I am loving this,' I know he will come back here for sure. I have never seen him say something with so much contentment and finality.
I met him once again before he left and that was wonderful too. Music again and it was intoxicating, the old memories - Pinkfloyd, ABBA, Carpenters hmm. And then to top it all, Naresh, starts playing Kishore Kumar and actually sings a few lines. I drop off the floor. Mr. English, listening to Kishore Kumar. The farmer has arrived and I am sure he will be back soon - Kishore Kumar would be perfect on the night out.
Well done Anu, you have finally done it - you brought out the Indian in Naresha! And I am looking forward to singing Hindi songs with him now. That's a promise Naresha and it already sounds delicious!

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