Wednesday, October 14, 2015


January 2016...New year

Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.
                         Rabindranath Tagore

Painda for Chotee Chotee Bhook

i am looking for quick healthy snacks all the time. Something that is not completely dry. And something that is juicy, chew able, which is also full of flavors with some raw freshness added in.

i know and make salads and in that my all time favorite is the sprouts salad into which i keep adding and subtracting ingredients when i get fed up of a particular taste or flavor. But last time on my trip to Mukteshwar (Nainital) i came upon this. Thought then that through my blog i must share not only the recipe but also save the recipe lest my fickle mind forgets it. Besides other subjects might also take precedence. i mean the talker in me might want to talk of other stuff and forget entirely about this simple yet tasty snack for chotee chotee bhook .

Mr Manoj thank God he beckoned me with his lovely smile and the warmest call that i can ever remember to try it when disgusted with all that garbage and muck at that spot which supposedly was one great scenic spot of that area i was returning quite upset. Cursing within myself as to when my country folks will ever learn to keep their surroundings clean. Animatedly telling my husband if the 'Swachata Abhiyaan' ( Cleanliness Drive) will ever take off in a major way. As if my poor soul of a husband was responsible for the stench and the garbage that was there. Yeah i was going on and on. "... Has it really taken off if at all or is it restricted to those biggies sweeping the already clean roads with a brand new broom and their photos flashed in the dailies...''

Mr Manoj stopped me and my ranting with his gentle call..."Madam jee naraaz mat ho,  aao Painda khaa lo..."
i at once my walk and my angry talk...
Looked at that face with the neat hair cut who had pleasantly asked me to quit being cross and just eat his snack. Was surprised too how my facial expressions must've conveyed so much for him to make that passing observation, 'Cross' if at all it was one or did he understand every word i was saying to my husband. Oh God was i that loud !.
i bet that i would've been. Family members have often reminded me time and again to speak softly.
Painda. Pronounced not as the D in English but that which we have in Hindi Devnagri script. In fact we have a proper word 'painda' in Hindi which means bottom or base of anything. For example the base of a vessel or anything. We also have a proverb too ' bin painde ka lota ' which translated would mean a small round pot with a round bottom...the application thus suitably would be a person who is of highly unreliable character or has varying conduct. A chameleon character maybe.
So Painda with that D...

Then because my mood was rotten...i glanced at that offering dismissing it perfunctorily as, " Oh no...not another Chana Chaat is it..." .
Then looked at that colorful basket with the lovely fresh greens and reds and the shining in the sun goldens. 
 Okay this potpourri looked slightly different. This must surely be different to those i have had in Patna my native place or in Delhi where i am residing now. 
 i chided myself inwardly for being so miss- know- it- all. But could i help myself for being so. After all Chana Chaat or Bengal Gram Savory Snack Vendors are there everywhere in India aren't they ...
i must confess...the entire looked not only appetizing but there was a faint delectable aroma too...a tangy spicy aroma and the sight of those perfectly chopped fine pieces of fresh cucumber, tomatoes, coriander started it's tricks on my tongue which instead of wagging and making sounds was moistening by now and i felt that quietening down deep inside. What then caught my attention apart from the boiled gram was the deep fried Bengal gram lentil glistening golden and looking very fresh and crispy too. Was that to be added to the preparation or was there an entire different preparation with that one ? i was mulling over the idea of asking the vendor man to do one of that too if it was another.
i waited and watched with fascination the entire procedure as the hands set to work the moment i placed my order for three 'Paindas'.
So then, my curiosity was taken care of when i saw that the deep fried daal ( Bengal gram lentil) also went into it plus that secret spice and finally a dash of fresh lime juice.
 The three of husband, our taxi driver and me hardly talked but chewed on to this sheer simple tasty delight which had it's juices, the crunchy freshness and took care of that chotee bhook which had actually made me more irritable than i normally would've been. i finished mine and went back to drop those paper cups in the makeshift cardboard bin that Mr Manoj jee had kept by the side of his little vending hand basket. It was then i thanked him for introducing me to this lovely snack and then happily i asked him about that area and talked to him for a while. Came to a deeper understanding about the garbage and the stench too which was primarily because of those horses there that took the tourists uphill.
 But in all this talking i forgot to ask him if the word ' Painda' was it a local word for the chat he served...
And i now am left wondering if it was Garhwaali or Kumaoni... 
i cannot quit before explaining what Chotee Bhook is... 
It is not so much of a hunger but that intense desire to munch on to something in between meals, movies, tv programmes, get-togethers or even just like that. Period.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Blessed are the Meek for They Shall Inherit

i have through these years of my life come up with many theories of my own. Eerily some that family members can remember have been proved to be true. Not just like that but in a complex manner like those theorems in geometry. i know this comparison too sounds strange but just like those equations had to be first learnt in order to know how triangles are congruent or non congruent or for that matter any of those eleven or more maybe one more theorem we did in high school. So did we live to see my theories getting those proofs.

Theories that i propound have been built up with years of simple observation and sample analysis of very many kinds the disclosure of which might rather sound rude and is not really required nor important. What matters is my theories have received acknowledgement if not from the world forum but from those who matter to me. And for me that's more than enough.
And yes i have used the word eerily because many of these known people get afraid nowadays when i say things because they immediately react with words like, " Don't utter, because however strange and illogical you might apparently sound your words come out to be the long run".
Kaali Zubaan (someone whose words are like premonitions) that's how they might prefer to say it in our mother tongue but for the love of me refrain from using the harsh and negative word. But the mere consternation and restlessness conveys what they mean.
Poor pathetic superstitious souls, sigh ! they will never learn. Sigh !
i mumble within myself and thus continue quite unperturbed with what their reaction is or how they might think but nevertheless continue assimilating my theories based upon my own personal experiences and observations of facts as and when situations have happened to me .
These situations also have within their gamut all the five senses mind you...sight, sound, taste, hearing and most importantly smell.

Taking time out and seriously acting on my son's advise i think it is time now i ought to save these theories. What better way than to do it in my blog.  One by one as they come to me.
So here it is.
Theory # 1:
Today's theory is about taste and smell. This time relating to FOOD and thus it's aroma.

What thou deny/ reject today is what thou would crave or seek tomorrow and shall never receive nor obtain.
This again is one which experience and years of observation has taught me.
On my own i try not to disregard food whichever way it is offered to me. No matter how not up to my liking it is. Because i am terrified of this imaginary concept of 'HUNGER'.  i have been by the Divine Grace never had that unfortunate moment ever in my life when i was hungry and never got anything to eat.
i wonder however then being born in the land of plenty and then having been forever there why then do i still have this fear of being without food just like i have many other fears and insecurities. Which thus leads me to propound another theory but then i'd rather not spill that one here. That for laters.

So then there was this time i denied food.  And it rained on me.
My own thundered...striking me with full force and lightening. Making me feel wet, homeless and pathetic...
Here i was sitting tired and hungry...alone on the terrace remembering those hot rotis offered to me with a gentle and loving smile. Some kind soul had asked me to break bread with them one fine day and i had refused.

How i craved and wanted to eat nothing but that particular sweet- smelling- like- roasted- flour rotis when i knew very well that those rotis no longer existed. They were just in my memory. Making my stomach ache with one unknown to me knotty gnawing pain. i had not cooked. Did not get the time to cook. The kitchen downstairs maybe had other dry snacks and some fruits that i could go to and eat but just like the pregnant lady gets a serious craving during which she wants nothing but that particular food so did my mind, mouth, saliva, stomach every part related to the process of digestion seem to scream for one and one particular item only.
"i want to have that haath sey thapak key bani huee meethee meethhee khushboo waali garam garam roti..." ( hand made fresh bread smelling sweet and hot, one that is not rolled but patted by hands...)
The one i had denied which was once offered to me.
Now as you read this story of mine think of your own experience and compare. Do let me know if it has happened with you too. Have you ever denied and later regretted ?
As for the rest...let my pictures do the can see which roti then i am talking about.

Not a single day goes by when the hand hoe that i got from the lovely, kind lady does not remind me of her rotis and her warm loving smile. But if only i could just get to eat her rotis if only i could know how to get to her somehow...i know definitely this time shamelessly i might ask to be fed.

i would have to go find her first along the highway to Mukteshwar where by the side of the road i had found her. Maybe pitching her tent for sometime to perhaps have that lunch and then perhaps move on. 
Meanwhile i am making do with my own insipid rolled on with the help of a rolling pin and thin rotis but her hand hoe is doing wonders making my job so much easier than i had ever imagined. God alone knows how i was managing with a khurpi ( garden hand shovel) all these days while when actually to work on a caked with dryness mound of earth on the terrace you actually need a hand hoe. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Book Review : The Wedding Trousseau

i was a tad bit late in doing what primarily i could've done even in my washroom...that is to read a simple small book possessing 129 of very readable pages that had arrived two or maybe three months back.
Yeah it is funny and for some people sacrilegious. This reading in the toilet part. But i guess the habit had developed from school days when i would be cramming stuff while attending to nature's call.
The fact of the matter being that 'The Wedding Trousseau' the book, a collection of short stories was delivered by post to me and inside those words that book had apart from short stories was a responsibility...a serious one. To write a review.

And now after having read those 128 plus one page i feel relieved but the anxiety is still what i possess.
Will i be doing my review to a labor of love for writing.
Writing which in itself is complicated but that which also gives joy to the writer. Joy for a labor of the love of expressing in black and white the swamp of ocean like emotions that clutter our thought process the moment we start expressing.
i sure am a bit nervous too.

The least i can do in order to rid myself of the anxiety is to try. And i am trying for this actually is my first book review.
Holding the book in my hand and looking at the covers trying to take in the designing and what the back cover had of the book just ruffling through those comfortable fonts of those pages i felt at once that Ankita Sharma the author of those short stories is a neat, uncomplicated and a sensitive human being. i love the font size. It is so important for a bespectacled me.

i admired the book first for the design and the comfortable font size that it had. The mind shifting from the mundane act of just leafing through to reverence at the page where we find the dedication.
i couldn't help but bow my head in reverence to whom the book was dedicated to.
Shiva the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer, the Supreme Yogi " The Auspicious One " and Shakti the active feminine energy of Shiva " The Great Divine Mother " who represents the primordial cosmic energy that sustains the entire universe according to that which is rather a way of life.

Since the days of " Call no man a foe, but never love a stranger" from ' A Stone for Danny Fisher' i love reading the preface of the book. (That really was also the first book which made me cry a river.)
Don't know if others do it too cause i really never have asked any voracious reader if they do what i do while reading the preface.
i sometimes nod in acknowledgement and other times feel as surprised as a mouth- opened in wonder wide- eyed child who was just shown a new magic trick.

Here too while reading the preface i smiled and nodded as if in acknowledgement. Seemed like Ankita is speaking to me only with all her honesty and simplicity.
Those simple words what i would use when and if i come out with a book of my own.
i felt instantaneously that i was about to read experiences that probably have had but lacked the necessary consistency required to turn experiences into neat and straight forward stories.

The contents page then informed me why the book is called The Wedding Trousseau. i must confess though that the urge to read the sixth story aka the title of the book was suppressed by the frivolous mind and i started out with the first story ' The Pink Card' with little less enthusiasm than i should have had.
The Pink Card saw me feeling pink with realization. First for my needlessly abated excitement and then of the reality of the story. It hit me straight for i cannot deny not having witnessed such scenarios.
i have been a privy to situations such as those depicted in the story. A facade of self righteousness that we keep donning all the time when we have to condemn the weak and the not so privileged poor beings who assist us in our daily lives. And i wonder why do we do that. What is there to gain in being narrow- minded ly moralistic.
Then shamelessly go on with our lives having no regrets as to those useless words uttered and damage done mostly of our own. Words bombarded over nothing at all. And finally who then has the last laugh...after all is done and said. Can we get rid of the hypocrisy mixed with superiority ever i just wonder.

i carried on suspecting the least that the second story might be something i have known too, maybe condemned inwardly but on being aware having done nothing about it actually.  'One More Bite' and the pink was seeping into the ears making it feel hot with shame and embarrassment. i felt bitten and stung with another about our own kids who turn eventually into brats. Who then is responsible for propagating shallow values devoid of any sensitivity, empathy or pathos ? The tantrum throwing brats are not born spoilt are they ?
As parents what kind of Sanskaar are we imparting to our children? By humiliating another tortured and abused starved child and exploiting his poverty as cheap labor to do kitchen work or any kind of domestic odd jobs !. What values are we inculcating in our own PRECIOUS ones. One More Bite was just more than a single for the aftertaste kept me grumpy and sullen for sometime as i proceeded. For not only was the truth bitter but also the story lashed out. The disdain we have and our own callousness in imparting true but substantial meaningful values to our own kids. The values which should sustain and not get dissipated by the tides of time. And these kids today will be the insufferable society tomorrow.

i certainly felt a faint smile wanting to turn into a full- throat laughter in ' Leaves' the next story. But why did the laughter not emerge. Because the truth in this story felt stranger than the fiction it was built upon. What caught my fancy was the dream of the poor protagonist young boy.  In the story he had probably seen aliens and nobody believed his sighting instead the girl friend even assumed he was doing drugs and hence had hallucinated. And when in slumber he has a dream. The dream felt more real than the aliens that he had seen at that knoll. So much of literacy, education and all kinds of empowerment but we still have strange beliefs and myths. The strangest one rather stranger than having even seen UFO or aliens is the belief of most Indians about marriage. That marriage is some cosmic panacea of all evils. All evils that plague the youth starting with "...haywire hormones'' and many others including "...bad Karma".
i feel compelled to use Ankita's words (used in a different context) myself simply because it fits.  My own thoughts about marriage thus, "...patterns on the sooty walls...cocooned minds.''

Then while ' Curse ' dealt with the same unctuousness in which a mother is consoling her drunk good for nothing incorrigible son whose wife has just left him and gone for good ; ' Courtesy' dealt with the snobbish behavior of  the upper middle class. Nowadays they are here, there and everywhere thanks to the so called development. Development yes but not much growth. These who have neither the time nor the inclination to hone their own soft skills rather prefer to gloat and swim in their own fake and shallow waters of development over stuff and objects for hours or even days. What is worse is the fact that this class apart from being snobbish are opportunists to the core who believe strongly in worshiping as spineless sycophants all those that they deem to be the rising sun / suns. Courtesy's family is also very well known to me and i hope my analysis is not trashed as an exaggerated statement of facts.

i thus arrive at The Wedding Trousseau somewhat fully aware of what i am about to view from behind the descriptive stacks of expensive silks, chiffons, pashminas and those shimmering beads of the lehnga. i saw what i knew i was about to see and felt deeply for the girl who fussed over her wedding trousseau just to realize after the wedding that dreams die first and a man with money is just a bonus not a ladder to upgrade. i wandered in the "blank silence'' which one roams with having a cow of a husband for company. For money can't buy happiness but it can buy a cow which is pretty much the same thing. i got reminded of that one by Coco Chanel, " The best things in life are free; the second best are expensive."

The next story 'The Site Visit' gave me some goose pimples when i questioned myself after finishing the story as to how i would react if i had to visit such a flat for renting. The kind in which a gory homicidal murder had taken place after which the murderer had hanged himself. Tell you the truth i would not be able to run away as my legs would freeze and all i could possibly do would be to scream in horror my guts out if i found a somebody behind me standing in a room which was erstwhile locked and supposedly vacant.

' The Fresh Stock' made me think of the strict adoption laws that i have been seeing while watching Hollywood movies but i really am not sure how orphanages in India operate. Do they bother even to check the credentials of the ready for adoption parents?  What are the questions that need to be answered substantially by the willing to adopt a child couple? Who then certifies that the adopting parents are mentally healthy enough to be qualified as fit to adopt and take care of the child like it was one of their own?  For those who see orphans or castaway children as ' Stocks' should strictly be dealt with some punitive measures. Pathetic is the word that comes to the mind for such moneyed people who in the garb of doing sincere charity donate handsome sums to orphanages and then treat children as objects/ commodities. Like a flash of lightening it struck me about the possibilities if it were possible that is. That if it could be possible they would further want manufactured beautiful babies...those that have fair skin, blue eyes, pink chubby cheeks probably a dimpled smile and to top it all definitely those curly like maggi noodles soft lustrous hair....
What was best about this story was that despite everything that seems to be going wrong in our upwardly mobile society in which childless couples are seen living in condos and gated communities having no time to chill out what to talk of thinking about starting a family with kids and all that jazz that goes with it, the story still ends with a fresh hope of bringing in the so very much desired rather needed positive change.

Having to deal with a loss of a dear departed one is quite painful and it takes time. The loss is irreparable and i guess it comes naturally to people who come to console you to say that in time you should be able to overcome the loss. The fact of the matter being we console ourselves in ways we can to deal with the loss although the absence of the dear one is never ever dealt with. The absence stays and keeps resurfacing from time to time. Guilt about having to lose maybe because of one's own bad karma and other dissecting theories/ analysis keep haunting from time to time. Also the hopelessness of the unknowable fact if the loss could have been prevented. Those what if's never completely go away.
'The Solitary Mound' deals with such a loss where a mother talks to her dead child sitting next to the mound where the infant is buried. i was very much enlightened myself by the thoughtful and sensible explanation that the husband of the grieving mother had to deliver to those who thought that the poor lady perhaps needed psychiatric help.
The acid test of any relationship is loss; a body part or a dear member of the family or even an infant child...
Who do we turn to, whom to trust. And here was in this story an entity...ever understanding, all forgiving, non-judgmental. The husband of the grieving woman.
It is hurtful rather painful to be in that world which behaves oddly itself when one is in mourning and grieving. The world is too much with us and does not give us enough space even to grieve in peace.

There are bosses and then there are those Hari Sadu type of painful bosses. And Mr. Kapoor is one such boss in the story ' I Forgive You'. True it is then there are dire situations when you face conundrum. How to deliver oneself from the evil that calls you ' beti ' and yet continues to harass you at the drop of a hat. One has no choice then but to stay put and forgive the poor pathetic Hari Sadu soul. The survival kit of a woman who has lost her husband in this not so easy on widow world has tons and tons of forgiveness for everyone. The relentless boss being just one on whom this great virtue is lavished.

The eleventh and the final story is all about this perfect mania fever that keeps gripping us from time to time. As if perfect couple, skin, body, family and even home or gardens is not enough now we even want perfect pets. When Ankita writes about perfection in her story i am reminded of Robert Mugabe's speech on racism. This speech of which i really haven't done any Google search appeals to me and i am really not very sure if it was delivered by President Mugabe either. i am reminded of the speech because it has enthusiastically been doing rounds on social media. Be it on Facebook or Whatts App. Thus after completing it's rounds it arrives to me as a new poster once in a while. This one...
1. Racism will never end as long as white cars are still using black tires.
2. Racism Will never end as long as we still wash first white clothes, then other colors later.
3. Racism will never end if people still use black to symbolize bad luck and WHITE
for peace.
4. Racism will never end if people still wear white clothes at weddings and black clothes at funerals
5. Racism will never end as long as those who don’t pay their bills are blacklisted not White listed.

6. Even when playing the pool (snooker), you haven’t won until you sink the black ball, and the white ball must remain on the field.  
Ankita has thus rightly said in her story as the voice of Rahul who apparently is the only sensible/ sensitive and genuinely kind person in that particular family to adopt an abused- badly- dog as a pet from an NGO. 
" Perfection keeps shifting like a mirage. We are obsessed with anything that is perfect but the standards shift every minute: they are not fixed. We refuse to accept and agree with anything that fails to fit inside our moulds of excellence. If fair is beautiful, everything having a dark surface, be it a dog or a human, will be ruthlessly tagged ugly. If X is considered nice, anything different from X will be ugly: this list is virtually endless."
And i totally agree with the author when through her story she tries to convey that love and acceptance has no relation to the concept called ' PERFECT'. Love surpasses every criteria set for perfection.
i kept wishing if the whole world becomes like Rahul what a wonderful world it would be then. 
i kept weaving Utopian fantasy threads in my thoughts for sometime. What if no one was considered 'fat' or 'dark' or 'short' or ...
Actually how would we all be if that word ' UGLY' is erased from our hearts and minds. Won't then ' PERFECT' also cease to exist... 

Eleven short stories that show us what we really don't want to see or if we do see them the best that we do is to turn a blinds eye.

i appreciate the joy of compiling experiences into short stories. And i am sure Ankita has expressed herself well in the best possible way that she could. Barring a couple of stories that sounded like leisurely story telling over a cup of coffee between friends i could feel the urgent whispers in the rest. And the Keep it Simple language makes the deciphering of those whispers all the more easy. Each story shows us our own particular side because we ourselves are so wily, with shifting loyalties that in the end we are what we call people.
To me her collection was like a mirror. Revealing the slightest scars that we deceitfully hide. And for showing us this mirror all i can say is that i am grateful indeed to the writer for giving me this opportunity to know more of the unknowable and wary of others ME THE PEOPLE.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Chaltey Chaltey

Well the words translated in English should mean, While i walked...and walked...
Chaltey Chaltey a transliteration would be Walking Walking.
This post will be flooded with pics and yes words but some lines from a famous song. Nah...not from the movie of the same name but rather from the another classic Bollywood movie... Meena Kumari's last.  ' Pakeezah' it sure is and thus the famous Mujra song...

Chaltey chaltey, chaltey chaltey
Yunhee koi mil gayaa thaa
Sarey raah chaltey chaltey
Vahin thamke reh gayee hai
Meri raat dhaltey dhaltey...

These lines should mean ' While i was walking i chanced to meet someone. While i was walking on the road. Since that chance meet my night has come to a standstill and there seems to be no dawn'..., Something quite similar i feel...a poetic way perhaps of saying that my mind is stuck...' There where i met someone.' And often i have these urges to go and just be there and keep looking till i myself get fed up. But the point is. Can i ever get fed up. Can one get fed up of LOVE?
The only difference being about the song and me is that my chance meeting happened in broad daylight whereas the song lyrically expresses about one such encounter which took place at night.

And contrary to the song...the meetings just kept happening. As i went along with my daily chores. Sometimes while walking and other times i would catch a glimpse through the window of my car.
Sometimes in the middle of a nursery i was visiting to buy saplings, other times on buildings. Then in one place it was the entire roof of a room or rather a cute looking cottage where the security guards wait and watch. My walking gave me amazing encounters of the same Koi...
Against the green foliage of all hues...young bright neon as well as dark deep olive green. Against the concrete, distempered / plastered...grey, white, as well as that of ochre walls.
i would be transfixed staring at my Koi...viewing it from a distance. And if possible even going near enough to catch the beauty and grace against the bleached in the mid afternoon sun blue sky. Yeah going bonkers enough to stare shamelessly as to how it appeared with or without the clouds as the backdrop.

i kept seeing and my heart would beat to some magical rhythm i cannot really explain. 
As of now this but i don't know how i will find them next. My heart and mind just keeps humming Chaltey Chaltey Yuheen Koi Mil Gayaa Tha Sarey Raah Chaltey Chaltey...

It happened in the movie...One day she sang of her admiration and anticipation and how she was stuck with that Koi she met Chaltey Chaltey.  But as the story moved Mr Koi and she come to meet in person and know each other. Love had already happened even without seeing.
So did i get to know finally. But in my case love happened even without smelling
Yeah such was my predicament a note wouldn't have worked. i had to first smell it first.

 In the movie the Koi had not seen her face just her feet and left a note for her which said, " Aapkey paon dekhey, bahut haseen hain. Eenhain zameen par mat utaareeyayga, mailey ho jayengay. "  ( Saw your feet, they are very beautiful. Do not put them on the ground, they will get dirty.) 

i had to sniff and smell like a dog first. One elimination was easy...definitely not Wisteria.
Then all that chase began...first the gardener at a local nursery who mumbled something which was neither English nor vernacular but definitely enough to give me a clue for the great Google search. Bholubilis was what i heard and remembered. So that's how i was led to volubilis and from there to
Petrea volubilis.
Purple wreath, Queen's wreath, Sandpaper Vine and in Hindi Neelmani Lata.
Ahem! Neelmani Lata. Lata meaning vine...a climber. Neel meaning Blue and Mani meaning Jewel.

[Native to Central America, Purple Wreath is a very lovely small climber with drooping long racemes of delicate violet-purple star-like flowers. It is a semi-shrub and semi-climber and the small wooden trunk develops artistic curves over the years. It looks as if an Ikebana expert has shaped it for his floral arrangement. It grows best in sunshine. It flowers in spring and in some areas also in November. The flowers come in raceme reaching over 1 foot long. The true flower, which is purple, lasts a couple of days but the blue bracts remain much longer, slowly turning gray.]

As i had seen met with another of the same just like this Chaltey Chaltey in my last visit to Manali i knew by smelling it that it definitely is not Wisteria. 
i had to smell it because of various reasons. Pollution of mid morning traffic being my main concern apart from the structure of the cluster blooms and others. The Wisteria blooms were fragrant in so much that just by standing near it i was getting their lovely perfume but sometimes like the glorious yellow clusters of Laburnum blooms one can get the fragrance only in the early mornings before sunrise or before the mad traffic hogs all the fine smell away and thus all you can get is the dazzling like gold everywhere sight. That is if you you get to meet somewhere during mid morning when the sun is right overhead and it is getting just too warm for one to feel really very comfortable to be outdoors. So it is with many of such...

Yeah stuck like this bee...i am there...
Around me my folks are fed up and they talk of me like i am raved. Like i have nothing else there to talk about...

[The thoughts that I could never voice
Are on everybody's lips
A tale
This chance encounter of mine
Has been stretched into a tale
I chanced to meet someone
While I was walking down the road...]

Jo kahi gayi na mujhse

Voh zamaana keh rahaa hai

Ke fasaana

Ke fasaana ban gayee hai
Meri baat chaltey chaltey
Yunheen koi mil gayaa tthaa
Sare raah chaltey chaltey...

Koi- Someone
Fasaana- Tale
Zamaana- it means people of the world
Yuheen- Just by chance
Raah- road
Sare Raah- on the road

Monday, March 30, 2015

When The Stars Appear On Roads

Yeah and during the day...have a look

Starry starry road is fine but i lack in my prowess to show how the starry starry sky appeared during the early morning walk and what drew me towards the tree which i passed daily but never cared to linger upon had it not been for its starry starry blooms.

i went close to the tree just close enough to feel if the profuse stars emitted any fragrance if at all of any kind but did not get any hint of any perfume nevertheless the flowers fascinated me and hence i looked here and there for branches hanging close to the ground so that i could take clearer shots of the blooms.
i found one lone one which was a little above my five foot one but surely i can manage i mumbled within myself and proceeded but not without taking a long distance shot as a practice exercise to see if i can take one clear one. i know i need to improve upon that but really don't mind putting it here.
A few steps closer and another shot of the same.
Not much of a difference though but i managed a wee bit of what in photographic jargon they i suppose call 'Bokeh' . Those lights that looks like diffused balls of light...i guess...hmmm...

Okay flowers...the starry flowers...they have to be all their splendor and beauty. So i carried on. Forgetting where i was...the time or the place...
For when i started it had not yet shone but while returning home i remember feeling the need of shades.

First the single among the lot...uff it is so difficult to select that one so i just aimed my focus on a random central one...maybe because i liked the way the buds were positioned next to it. All in a row, from sizes large to the smallest clinging neatly to the stalk that arched gracefuly. The pinnacle of which had a pagoda/dome shaped green yet to be a bud, bud...

And not only did i catch the bee but i have like a miracle managed a fairly good shot of a mature flower which perhaps had lived it's life and had just dislodged itself from the parent stalk to lay quietly down below and decorate the road with a rangoli of sorts to make it look like how it looked...starry starry. (Rangoli-flower arrangement on the floor with real flowers).
i am so fond of this but had i known about this magical moment perhaps i would've focused much better. i know not. What i do know is that perhaps photography is just like how life is. Before you know it the moment has already passed you by. Nevertheless i have no regrets about this shot. i like this suspended in the air starry flower with a neat hole in the center. i was wondering if i could collect some of this and string it into a mala a garland and perhaps decorate my Shiva Linga with it. Laters before i leave.
Two other interesting happenings worth mentioning before i quit. 

As i wanted to look up again to see the starry starry sky i found the Mr Cute monkey silently watching my proceedings without disturbing me. Perched up high on that huge Peepal tree. Yeah Ficus religiosa tree or the Buddha tree.
i was alone with this cute Simian when i started out but was unawares of Mr Cute but by the time i had finished i was hands and hearts full. The good couple that stayed in that bungalow next to the tree the blooms of which i was engrossed taking a picture of had perhaps walked out of their gate to see to some repair work being done. We didn't know each other but Mrs and Mr Jamshed invited me in and between exchanging introductions and pleasantries i was offered one of the most amazing ginger ale i've ever had in years now.
It's been two years that i've been in this colony and this was my first great Indian hospitality comeback . Despite my invitation to my own abode i don't know what reasons prevent people from making those warm connections again but whenever i have approached even my neighbors i am sort of interviewed by a peon who answers the door. One who informs about his madam/ sir either being busy or not being home.
 So this ' Starry Day  ' also became a Ginger Ale' day. Thus a memorable chapter in the history of my stay in this colony where i am residing now. Mrs and Mr Jamshed have already carved an indelible imprint in my heart. Words will fail to do justice.
No wonder then i am always a very optimistic person. Kyunki har din naya din for me. (Meaning each day is a new day).

i am also blessed that i have on me this wonderful book by Mr Pradeep Kishen. Which means this time i did not have to trouble Mr Google at all. 
In his book ' Trees Of Delhi A Field Guide ' he explains in all details all the names and characteristics about this 'Starry' tree. 
CHAMROD. Yeah that's what he gives it as with " No English common name...".
Chamrod aka Ehretia laevis.
i read in the field guide all there was to it. But there is no mention of the flowers having any fragrance. Therefore i have decided to take a night walk too. Just to find out for myself if the blooms are nocturnal. For in nature many trees like Alistonia scholaris aka the Blackboard tree/ Indian Devil tree emit fragrance in the evenings or night and not during the day. 
Also i promise myself to be regular in my walks because Mr Pradip Krishen talks about the fruits too,
And i really would love to take a picture of the bright orange berries which are slightly larger than the peppercorns.
i remember seeing those berries and boy! am i glad i actually took a picture of one with the berries too. They were small and green. Have a look...

My reflective thought on my way back was a Serbian proverb as i returned home...hands and heart full thinking about the tree...the stars it had, Mr Cute on the other tree and last but not the very least Mrs Farhat Jamshed and Mr Jamshed in that bungalow next to the 'Starry Tree' , " Be humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of stars." 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Its okay if you Walk Into But know Just when to Walk Away

i lost the message which came to me one day...rather i remember having deliberately deleted it after the words were all absorbed in. The phone becoming crowded with pics and messages and sadly some great messages have to go making space for new. But i remember the words. " Sometimes walking away has nothing to do with strength. We walk away not because we want others to realize our worth and value but because we finally realize our own. "
Life is a journey and this journey is filled with people and thus experiences relating to all. Each a lesson to be learnt. Everyone and each one is there for a purpose and having met and known so many we come to realize that the journey feels more enjoyable if we learn to travel light. The sooner it is done the more happy this wonderful journey feels.

True it is that the journey is more enjoyable if you hear a friend's footsteps beside you but then not all you meet in your life are really your friends. Especially those who just use you as a resource and then never turn to think about you. These special category of friends set rules that suit their convenience, are not only pretentious, bragging about their initiatives, endeavors and socializing but also have a chameleon like character. Donning appearances that hoodwink people into thinking about them as being helpful when they are not because inside they might be nurturing some hidden agenda. Some motive. And for me i have been rather unfortunate because i can't seem to think of any ' Friend' who has helped me. But i am blessed that the Divine gave me enough to help all that i met in my journey. Friend, acquaintances, strangers even and i hope no amount of what anyone does to me will take that away from me. i was manufactured that way. Nothing of my own here. i am what i am because that was how i was born.

So then if life is a journey and if by chance you get to meet some and get tricked into believing that this special category is your friend then no need to be baffled later when you learn during this journey that you have been conned all along. There you were in your naivety thinking of someone to be a philosopher's stone which turns anything that it touches into gold and while you traveled you were enlightened with the truth that there is no such thing as philosopher's stone. It was just a silly conjured up notion of your own childish heart which perhaps wanted to know one.
Philosopher's stone the legendary lapis philosophorum capable of turning base metals like lead into gold. Paras Pathhar that's what we call this legendary stone in Hindi.
There is a beautiful Kabir doha about this legendary stone too and i got reminded of it.
Meaning: Just as any tree that grows near Sandal, acquires the same fragrance; just as a dirty rivulet takes refuge in the Ganges and acquires its vast form, just as copper becomes gold by coming in contact with the touch-stone(Paras), Kabir jee says that he (man) becomes merged with God by coming in contact with the saints.

The milestone approaches and you rest for a while and think about that word you coined. For her the one you considered a friend... 'Paras' Hindi for Philosopher's Stone. You laugh out loud at you own silly nomenclature and question why !?
What did she do...what did she touch...what did she turn to gold ?
Can anything which originally was gold be turned to gold again...and you laugh out loud.

Yeah. Life is a journey and not all you walk with are meant to stay. The journey is happier and full of smiles if one learns to travel light. And sometimes you have to take that walk. The ' Walk Away' one if you have to make your baggage lighter.

Now this came to me just two days back and i thought about posting my blog today.

Such is life. We are so biased in our way of thinking. Whosoever hangs out with us for whatever reason we call them friends. This woman i called ' Paras' in college hung out with me simply because she needed not me but my vehicle. Every single day i would go out of my way to drop her home which was quite far away into the other part of the expanding town. No one in class knew much about her because she was from out of town. Was in the same college and same class to do her graduation in the same subject. She then did not know many of us who had done schooling together and belonged to the same home turf. i was definitely more popular than her for not only as the 'apt conversationalist' which the school magazine once described me but more so for being the class joker too which most of my friends considered me to be. i did not deliberately put up an act but my honesty and forthrightness made me one such. And then there was this an additional plus point in that so far as academics was concerned i was fairly among the top three and quite a regular with all my class notes which i had no qualms about sharing with one and all. Graduation over we both got married and went our ways. Me loving and believing that she was a friend who is gone far away. But there was no reason to be be badly missing her because i was riding my own romantic wave of a new happily married life. Was knee deep in love with my own six foot IITian. There was absolutely no reason to miss a friend who did not do much but just hung around perhaps providing me companionship at times but not contributing much. Besides there were many other lovely and warm friends to keep me satisfied, happy and busy.

i was the first one to establish contact through STD phone when i was in Chennai when i learnt that she along with her family has shifted to Delhi from US. (San Francisco was where she had gone with her hubby after she got married). Had received the number of her land line through email.

Even after having experiences that were not so forthcoming so far as long lost friends were concerned i never once thought that this time too i shall be left in the lurch. After my phone call there was not much reciprocity barring some bare minimal mails now and then .
Then major news of her came to me in a mail from her which i received when i was in Chennai. ' Breast Cancer' she wrote, and my heart went out for this ' Paras' of mine. i rushed from Chennai. Lodged at Ginger Hotels Delhi Railway Station just to have a look at her. Saw her all dolled up to meet me in a pretty white blouse, bandana and a skirt and felt good to see her thus compared to a shriveled image i had conjured of her sick with all that  chemo and radio therapy self.
During the same time certain aspects were revealed which i found strikingly odd but i let it pass and continued in my friendly fervor.

After that onward it is a sad pathetic story of my journey. i am not ashamed because while i was busy making mistakes mistakes were making me. Journey's are supposed to do that.

My husband got a promotion, i shifted to Delhi and thus began my real learning of facts. She started her reign over me. Setting rules. Ordering this commanding me not to do that. Yeah rules and so many boundaries. It hit me then but then i just brushed it aside thinking about her illness. But there was more and slowly i started feeling unhappy just at the mere thought of her.
Illness she got out of but then she was not the same or rather my journey was showing me her true colors only now.
Never willing to be a friend, rather always using me as a resource. For her outings, her social obligations. All as per her convenience. Bragging about her endeavors, she never ever invited me home. But whenever she would meet me of course by self inviting herself into my home at any time that would suit her she would talk about the lunches or dinners she threw for some friends of hers. i started getting suspicious at first and was provoked to form my own logical conclusions. Maybe through her bragging she was covering up for some complex she was suffering with. But then i tried to forgive and forget and took my first step. Ignore and just let things be.
i started avoiding and not thinking about her and got busy managing my own affairs. Took to my hobbies and not really bothering about her companionship which i would've desired had i not discovered her new complex weird side but then she would not let me be.
As is typical of an ailment that relapses she would hibernate for days and reappear suddenly. She would be around the corner while i would be maybe washing clothes or attending to some chores barely giving me any time to even have a proper wash and call. Then reappear at my door in say anywhere between less than a 10-15 mts sharp. Or else would call me and command me to be ready in 20 minutes sharp like Hitler would be commanding his army to be ready. As i narrate i am seething more with anger at myself than having any sourness for her. Why in Heaven's name was i succumbing to all that?
Why was i hell bent on pleasing a self centered, rude personality who was having no respect for me?
Pressure was building up at her coming and going and yet thinking something is better than nothing i continued to tag along hoping she would show me places of interest. Which she actually did on one rare occasion when she took me to Khan Market the first time and i am grateful for that. But then it could have felt nicer and warmer if it was done in a normal mutually friendly manner. Not like a Hitler commanding and a soldier following. i wish it was a bit mutual and more easy going.
i remember trying to be overtly nice. Hugging her when saying goodbyes hoping she would feel what i am trying to give her, convey to her and come around but...
In order to make her realize that in everybody's life there are major upheavals i have shared my sad/ tragic moments with her and have kept nothing hidden from her.
And yet time and again she has insulted my friendship by saying it rudely to me, " Some of my problems are very personal Shivani, i can't share with you. I have someone i can share with but i don't want to with you."
i often wonder then why did she seek me out then in the first place. First when she had that Cancer...then while tending to her, her mother passed away. Then again she texted me. Why did she in heaven's name seek me out then.
But she instead used my own moments, my tragic stories to insult me later.

Slowly and steadily i started seeing the more ugly side of hers. She was game for all fun which were free but at other's cost. But strangely that free at other's cost fun too again at MADAM'S convenience.
About her cancer well i sure am happy she came out of it but what kind of a person uses an illness as an excuse to do what she kept doing. Sitting in my living room just to talk her stuff rather brag about herself barely having time to listen to me. Then eat, drink and leave.
There was so much i wanted to know...share...
If by chance i would talk about the book i was reading, or something i was into she would want to hang up or else make a statement which would sound not only rude but like she is trying to cut me off.

Often she would entice me with an eat out option which experience taught me to stay away from. Initially i was game but as truth started to unfold i thought it better to avoid because of the following reasons.
a) Acting like she is no less than Ms Nigella herself she would dominate that part too.                           Giving instructions to the waiter about the dish questioning the procedure. Ordering an expensive expensive wine to go along with it which eventually i learnt through experience that i will land up paying for.
 b) She would never ever be willing to pay and rarely went dutch.
c) Most of the places that she would like to take me to would be expensive joints...where
 i would offer to pay just to feel falsely good about myself and she would happily agree.
How utterly foolish i was being then.               

But when she wanted to get regular and make it a once a month affair i had my alert guard on of the mental crisis that loomed ahead and declined such outings by making excuses. Not that i did not want to go and eat out with a friend. It was unnerving to feel foolish and regret later just for some momentary vague sense of false pride. Paying for someone who neither loved or respected your time nor companionship what to talk of the value of each penny being spent from your own pocket.

There has to be other dignified ways of having fun than just by using foolish friends. Especially by using those who in time learn of the unclean intentions and still are being nice to you. One cannot be so insensitive not to understand why some nice people are still pretending to be foolish and hanging on to game you continue to play.

She did not help me one bit after i shifted to Delhi...not even something as simple as sharing the address of a tailor or even a recipe that she kept bragging she made it.
Sometimes i even doubt if she really cooked or just got stuff from somewhere. Because i have no problems ranting off in a jiffy if anyone asks me how i cooked what i just served.

Aren't friends supposed to do a lot more. Okay that she was sick is understood but when she could gallivant the entire city eating at all the expensive joints how difficult would it be to give the address of a tailor if one can't find time to introduce a newly- shifted- to-city friend to one. Or even share a recipe?  How difficult is that?
Rather sharing gives the ultimate joy.
And that's what friends are actually supposed to do.
Not what which she enjoyed doing with me.
What she was doing i consider it to be evil.

Just the other day i had gone to Dilli Haat and i saw her with someone. She seemed to be roaming around fine but whenever she has to speak to me or i have something to ask her always some lame excuse...or else clamping of rules. Some examples given below.
This time i rest.
i am conducting this workshop/ that class...
Tomorrow i have a lunch get-together...
Yesterday i had a bad headache...
Last week i had therapy...
i was a little low in my spirits...
My Sister in law is ill...i am cooking food to take to hospital
i have relatives at home...
You name it excuses come raining a plenty and now knowing her seriously i think while talking to me she was making it all up.
Because when she has to come she would not ask me anything but just call me and say in her typical condescending tone, " Wednesday suits me i shall be at Khan Market by 11.30..."
i am more angry at myself for yessing to her and going to Khan Market. Hell i could have always said , Sure go ahead but sorry i am not that much in a mood. God alone knows why i didn't.

i can't call her when i want to. i can't send her sms's because she does not like forwarded stuff. She likes original stuff but will never read my blogs. She wants to eat at expensive joints but will refrain from footing the bill. Because according to her if the other party is happy paying the bill she is quite comfortable with that.
In her own language, sniggering like she is mocking all fools including me who had paid for her she had said '' If people have lots of money and they are willing to pay for me i have absolutely no hang ups about that. " 
That was the day i had decided it was time to take leave.
This was the worst shock i had received. i can still picture her saying this...reclining on my bed where i lay recuperating from a knee surgery.

i watched her at a friends reunion once which she had arranged at the posh DLF Emporio. She seemed to be fine then. Pitching in her share smiling well without sermonizing anyone about anything. She kept smiling charmingly and at one point even lied within her teeth and i was like what's that!!
And at the reunion it was not about her definitely. Yeah strangely she never talked about herself. Around me it is as if she is Ms Me Me Me.
i like to take my food this way...
i love to have wine...
i don't watch tv it gives me headaches...
i am on to a project....

And as if her domineering ways are not enough the worst part is how she flutters her eye lids like she is closing her eyes for deep meditation and is in a perpetual sermonizing mode. For anything that i say or utter.
It's like sau sau chuhay khaa key billi haz ko chali. ( Meaning pretending to be innocent after committing so many sins.)
i thought i have only helped her...all this while. What possibly could i have done. Why is she nurturing complexes?  Why now?
Her cancer or whatever problems she is facing is not my doing. She is out of cancer and things seem to be working fine now for her.
She knows my life ain't a bed of roses either. i had traumatic experiences too. i had terrible tragedies/irreparable losses too.
She knows all of it then why?

i was so excited when i shifted to Delhi. Hoping i could go to Heritage walks with plays with her...catch all the Oscar movies with her in the best PVR at Gurgaon but...

i tried talking it out to her...told her that. Also expressed my need for companionship to her. Once over the phone i told her about her coming, talking and going, leaving me in the lurch. That once in a while she can plan and together we can do stuff. She obliged but i had to make arrangements for picking her up and we went to Surajkund Crafts Fair. As usual she made that too her own ball game...did her buying of Bhagalpuri silk stuff, ate what she wanted to making her illness an excuse and wanted to leave. i would've loved to sit for a while and watch the folk artists perform. Had taken my camera along to click a few pics but in retrospect i regret asking...rather begging the companionship for one such outing, it certainly would've worked out better alone but more than that i am angry at myself for towing in to all her whims and fancies.
i am angry with myself for even asking her of all the people in the first place. Wasn't her actions screaming for me to stop right there and then.

She continued her style. Hibernating-reappearing at my door even when i am out of station- disturbing my next door neighbor- then my son who was studying boxing him with questions. And my son had last seen her years ago when he was barely a toddler. Did not even know her name. He actually did not know what to do but to offer her a glass of water and probably some fruit juice. And while he goes about it calls me, '' Ma Guess who is here.... "
Sonna is smart for he did not want this 'Aunty' to feel bad that he did not know her name so he played it rather extra cool and very smart.

Although i had no intentions of getting in touch with her yet i had to text her to thank her when i returned to base. Because in order to appear seemingly good the other day she took my son and treated him in a nearby cafe. Which was really not required. She put the most awkward question to my son, her style you see and i don't blame him, i had not told him anything about her. " Surely you don't study all day, so maybe we can go to Khan Market and grab some bite..."
My son could not refuse because he was in the loo and was already feeling embarrassed to keep her waiting as she had pressed the bell. That the neighbor was roped in was a double whammy so he suggested a nearby cafe close to home.
Later we were all having a good laugh that this time she eventually did land up paying but all for a business card she had come to distribute. Perhaps she wanted to spread the news in my colony of her newly started business.
When i asked her if i could talk to her in ease and maybe together we could go visiting an Aunty who is battling uterine cancer, pat came the excuse once again after some pretentious statements and i must not miss out to mention that
 " ....long phone conversations are not good for me you see..."
But she did not miss out to preach me do's and don'ts about visiting cancer patients and also that she has visited Aunty quite often and that she takes her own cooked stuff for Aunty. Something that is very appropriate for her as a terminally ill cancer patient.

Long conversations on #$% !!!

What kind of a friend uses sickness or personal problems to behave in a manner which is not only rude, self centered. lacking in courteousness but highly insensitive too ?
i guess it's the kind one needs to walk away from. Maybe they never were friends in the first place.
The journey maybe will be full of smiles if one is able to walk away from such.

The Sunday Times Of India had a very wonderful article. And i think it answered many of the questions that were pricking me. Would like to quote some lines from ' Are Nice People Losers' by Vinita Dawra Nangia.

Who says to be good is to be a victim or a pushover? Today goodness is adaptive, neither absolute, nor inflexible. Dharma as a concept has evolved over thousands of years through adaptation and being contested at various levels. As Gurcharan Das says while quoting the philosopher S. Radhakrishnan in his book, ‘The Difficulty of Being Good,’ “A person who follows dharma realizes the ideal of his own character and manifests the eternal lawfulness unto himself.”
And truly the good and bad all live within us…our free choice determines the direction we wish to sway towards. The difference is that along with goodness, comes a responsibility for the evil too. You may be the epitome of goodness, but you still have to take responsibility for the bad around you. Either do something to change it, or ensure you are equipped to fight it. Closing your eyes to evil is as good as accepting that it has a right to exist!
Blaming others for what befalls you — and in some cases the bad that hits you repeatedly– is not an option. It just perpetuates the problem. Losers never own up; winners take responsibility not just for what happens to them, but also for what happens in the world around! These are the ones who then have the gumption and the awareness to change the world! ''
For the entire article please click the link

My story is neither a crib story nor a sob story because i am still happy i took this journey. i wonder how many of us are out there hanging on to relationships that has no meaning. i wonder how many have finally managed to do what i did. i am glad and thank the Almighty for giving me the opportunity to recognize the real paras and providing me with answers that irked me and disturbed my mental peace creating upheavals that affected all. My family members and in that including my 300 and more babies on the terrace.
How else would i know what light travelling really means and how marvelous feeling free really feels.
Let there be light and hope all get light...