Leicester Square

An atom consists of a heavy nucleus and light electrons revolving around it and spinning at the same time-much like the solar system, or the Milky Way, or any system in the cosmos. What a brilliant craftsman is God! From the atom to the cosmos, everything is same yet everything is different. The world is made up of many worlds, and Leicester square is made up of many, many worlds.

In the crowded square, a guy is kissing his girlfriend-not a passionate, desperate kiss but a deep yet tender kiss, soft as a song, as if the world revolved around these two. A girl who is drunk as a fish has her hands around the neck of the guy with her and is singing at the top of her voice-all guards down, she has probably never looked prettier than she does at the moment. A group of young Arab girls and boys is freaking out, drinking, smoking, and laughing. And a small town girl is looking at them and all the lights as if a frog has come out of the well. What could she be thinking? Maybe this-that things that were so difficult for her, if they were not so easy for others, life wouldn’t be so much fun. It is good that life is unfair and if that is good, then ‘why me’ is a very bad question.

Gosh, that sure is one long kiss. The guy has gently made his drunk girl sit near a telephone booth, maybe to fetch water or something. She is attracting a few disapproving frowns, but I say, what do these people know? What is the point in drinking if you are not getting drunk? Tomorrow morning when she wakes up with a headache, she will have sweet memories-of being drunk and of being taken care of when she was drunk. The guy has finally stopped kissing her and is whispering in her ears, surely the sweetest words, though of course I can’t hear them, nor do I want to. Being different is almost an obsession with me, but really, isn’t love the only idea anyone could possibly talk about-love of another person, love of life, absence of love, joy of love, pain of love?

A group of ISKCON members is chanting ‘Hare Rama, Hare Krishna’ on the streets of London, in the alleys of Leicester Square, where one practically breaths whiskey and beer. What drives these men and women? There is so much that I don’t understand-would books tell me all that I need to or want to know? I think yes. What is driving these men on this freezing, wet night? Maybe each of them, like me, is trying to make sense of this ‘crazy dream called life’.

An English lady in a saree with the most beatific smile on her face is asking the by-standers to join the group in the dance. Some of the people are contemptuous, some are puzzled, some are plain amused. But none of this matters to her. Her life is a never ending party and everyone is welcome to dance-the more, the merrier. The sight of a cycle rickshaw in London is a pleasure, almost comical-like the red light area of old Lucknow transported as is to Leicester square. The driver wants to make sure the passengers get their money’s worth and riding straight is the last thing on his mind.

A drunken teenager is pushed by his girl-friend in the middle of the group of dancing Krishna devotees. He is dancing as if he were in a discotheque and I am laughing my head off. He doesn’t even know he has made my day. Some people said that the universe is filled with ether-something no can see or smell or feel or weigh, but which was present in every inch of space where something else was not. I don’t think they were entirely wrong. There is something which ties us together, in ways beyond our comprehension or imagination. His pretty girl friend in a short skirt-short as short can be-joins him. It’s a scene straight from a Hollywood blockbuster. The frog from the well is watching enraptured. Funny thing is, neither this girl in the mini skirt nor this wide-eyed girl could ever imagine what the other is thinking. If I were the girl dancing on the streets, I’d be thinking of how I would narrate this incident to my friends tomorrow morning. And if not her, I would be thinking, I wish I could dance like her. Maybe I am bit of both, a bit if everyone on this square.

The group is passing through a Chinese dominated area-the Chinaland of London. Everywhere I turn my eyes I see people and more people, living miles away from home. Is it hope that has driven them out so far, or is it lack of hope? The old men smoking pipe and yacking away to glory seem to have all the time in the world. So often people say ‘memories came rushing’ but memories never come rushing-we always invite them, because everyone likes to live the memories.

A girl in the restaurant is sitting with her friend, quietly crying in her handkerchief. Why do I find even this beautiful? Why does this ugly, crowded square thrill me as much as the starry sky above? May be the alcohol has got to my head. Or maybe, I am not drunk-just high on life and on hope.

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