Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Random Sadness

Returning home yesterday night from a party, I saw this Tempo carrier in front of our car. It was piled high with drums, trumpets, bagpipes, and other band equipment. The person sitting at the back looked tired, while the instruments looked sad. Their moment of glory had come to an end, so they seemed to me. Probably I was equating it to my feelings of emptiness. Emptiness, I knew not why. Was it the fear of losing something precious? There was a premonition in the air. I sensed it coming. I had sensed it coming for quite some time now. I had told myself that I was unnecessarily worried. I had shied away from the obvious, hoping that by being oblivious I would succeed in avoiding the obvious. Life is so unpredictable; one day it puts you on the crest and one day you hit the pit. I had, I can look back and see now, been preparing myself for this day.
My balcony has a ledge; sitting on the ledge, one can see the lighted twists and turns of the highway, cutting across the darkness of the night. The traffic, threads of light, gets blurred and bind in a strange pattern of yellow and blue. They create a silently noisy BG for my vacant mind, while it wanders through eons of pensiveness. It’s a bit risky, sitting there on the 3rd floor ledge, particularly with a body mass that has the potential to tilt the CG eternally.
We chase dreams, we walk those miles towards our goals, in joy and in sorrow, we live life. We chart routes, we plan days, we play safe, we take risks, we live life. On judgment day, what do we have in hand? We came with a soul, we leave with a soul. The last bit of thread that we acquired, we give back. Actually there is nothing achieved. Just as there is no work done, without any displacement. The net result of life is zero. We live life, as being born, we are left with no other option. We love, as being human, we are left with no choice. We lose, as with life that’s what is fair and square. The party gets over one day, the band packs and leaves, the threads of light blurs across the highway.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Through the Looking Glass

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Relationship Lifecycle

It was a usual Saturday night party. We were slowly getting drunk, not necessarily on alcohol. Bad conversation, silly jokes, uninvited innuendoes, surprisingly can make your senses go inert, giving a heady feeling close to drunkenness. The difference is that this drunkenness leaves an instant after taste, bad and irritating. I was sitting isolated in a crowd, laughter floating all around. Brilliant people all; talent overflowing. The company could get no better. There was definitely something wrong with me. Even a few months back these parties would have been marked with anticipation. The kick was waning off.
Relationships are like fragile saplings. They need to be nurtured. Even the closest of them cannot be left to take their course. They need steering, they need that wind in the sail, and they need commitment. Surprisingly, even with all these, there are times when relations just live out their lives. Every person comes into our lives for a time; from a lifetime to a splitting second. I call this the relationship lifecycle. There is a certain pattern, predictable and uniform. A start, a growth, a peak, and a table. Sometimes relations freeze on the table-top stage. At other times, they slowly die. All our best efforts may be able to extend the table-top period, but rarely does it revive a falling curve.There are also the cases of table-top comfort zones, secure and uneventful. Thinking it over, I would rather prefer the entire curve, see a death, start with a new curve, and experience the relationship lifecycle to the end.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Walking That Extra Mile

In a country like India, where human woes are too great to tackle, animals often do not qualify to be considered within the limited resources.

This was last year; it was the end of March. Nagpur was getting ready for another hot summer. In the lane adjacent to our house, we noticed this little fellow. He was of indeterminate age; that he was no longer a puppy was clear, however, so small and thin was he that he hardly looked bigger than a puppy. He was of indeterminate sex, and could well have been a ‘she.’ He was suffering from some skin disease, which had led to a loss of his coat and left the entire skin exposed. Every few minutes he would roll on the ground in a desperate attempt to soothe the itching. He was miserably thin and whenever we went to the provision store, on that lane, we would buy a packet of biscuits for him. He was perennially hungry and the biscuits vanished before you could say, ‘slow down fella!’ However, this was not a regular ritual, as we went to the store at irregular intervals.

Slowly we graduated to feeding him daily, at night. He would be waiting and the moment he spotted us, he would come running, his thin body and long tapering tail moving in abundance. However, as March rolled into April and the Sun shone brighter, one day we saw that his entire body was covered with self-inflicted wounds. Rolling on the hot asphalt, he had scrapped his skin, and the bleeding wounds were now exposed to the heat and dirt and this caused more irritation. The situation could no longer be ignored. This was just not a hungry dog anymore. We just couldn’t let him die without some attempt to make him well. We consulted the local vet, who suggested a tablet that had to be given for three consecutive days. We started the treatment and after three days there was a noticeable change; he was visibly less irritated and because the scratching had lessened, his wounds had lost their raw look. The next week we were supposed to start with a medicated bath that the doctor had advised, as the second phase of treatment. We were away for the weekend and returning on Sunday night, I was too tired to venture out with Kalua’s food (he had been christened by then, the name a tribute to his muddy black colour). Thinking that the store-keeper would have already given him a packet of biscuits, for which I had left some money with him, I went to bed.

In the morning I woke up with a terrible dream; I saw Kalua running towards me, at his usual jet speed. Just as he was about to fling himself on me, I moved away. I woke up, feeling extremely guilty. I would have allowed him to do this, had he not been ill. I got up, got dressed and went out with some bread and milk. As I neared his usual hideout, I called out to him. When he did not appear, even after calling several times, the dream felt like a premonition. The store was not yet open, and I wondered around aimlessly, calling out at intervals, though I could feel that he was not around anymore. I started going through the list of possible options; he could have been run-over by the numerous speeding vehicles, he could have succumbed to the disease, he could have… I could think no more. By this time, the store was putting its shutters up and I rushed towards it. “Have you seen the dog?” I asked, taking the man by surprise. He looked at me for a few seconds and seemed to collect his thoughts, then as clarity manifested itself, he said, “oh, han madam; wow kutta na? society walo ne complain kiya aur muncipalty wale use uthake le gaye.” I was aghast. Where had they taken him, how will I ever find out? He was on the verge of getting well. If they terminated him, because of the disease! The tears swelled up in my eyes. I stood there helplessly.

I came home dejected. Why did I have to go away, I thought irrationally. The first few days were bad, as the dream played on intermittently. I tried to console myself in various ways. However, as clich├ęd it may sound, ‘time is really the best of healers,’ and soon I was showering love and food on the ubiquitously present deserving canines on Indian streets.

It’s been over a year. Kalua was history. I had not remembered him even once in the last few months. A few days back, out on my regular walk, the evening hot and balmy, I saw this exceedingly thin creature scampering towards me. He braked to a halt, inches away from me; a tiny face, black glistering eyes, a dirty fawn coat, the only thing that stopped him from being mistaken for a deer was the lack of stubs on his head. As I bend down to pat him, he moved back hurriedly and started his mad prance, all around me. Was this Kalua? No, it could not be. He was almost the same size. Surely, if this was Kalua, he would have grown, would he not? Suddenly the questions were not relevant anymore. I rushed home to get him some food.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Each House has a tale to Tell – Script your Own

Have you ever wondered why is it that you fall in love with certain houses while others do not appeal? Why is it that while passing through a particular stretch of road in your city, you look out for a certain house, just for the pleasure of seeing it? This is because each house is a visualization of your imagination – a story that you want to tell.
We were in Delhi then; a decade back. On bus route 481, I would wait for a certain stretch of tree-fringed avenue, looking out for a red-tiled house with huge Gulmohur trees that burst out in orange flames. The house reflected a joie de voir, which I, a stranger, passing by, could sense. How nice it would be if our homes could reflect that joy of living?
A friend, as good fortune would have it, owned a rubber plantation in Changanassery, down south. The one-storey wooden house, atop the hillock, surrounded on all sides by the plantation, was in a world of its own. The nearest neighbour, in daytime was not visible; at night a distant light on another hill-top let you know that you were not alone in this world. That house had tales that ranged from the funny to the scary. During Christmas, when the family congregated, the children often got lost in the surrounding woods, so vast was the estate. The huge teak-wood table, marked over the years by names of cousins, bore stories of noisy meal times. How ‘chachi’ ran all over the courtyard to catch the chicken for lunch became stories that got recounted over the years. The house had tales of its own and the people who lived in it.
When we moved into this city, I was keen on staying in a bungalow, an option that was not achievable in the metros. Our otherwise nondescript house became famous as ‘palm tree-wala makan.’ This was, however, not planned. When we rang in for home delivery, food or otherwise, we initially used landmarks such as known shops, nursing homes and the ubiquitous tutorials of the city. However, over a time, as we became ‘regular,’ the person at the other end of the line would invariable say, “woh palm tree-wala makan?” and we would eagerly agree, thankful that no more explanations were needed. Those seven palm-trees in the small patch of garden, struggled with each other for scarce water and sunlight, made us walk warily under them with the danger of a dry branch breaking off, but gave an identity to the 20-year old weather beaten house and to us, who occupied it for sometime.
Would it not be nice if your dream home came to be identified with your choice and liking, the fern in your garden, the splash of colour from the Bougainville that curled round your balcony, the ornate gate and Victorian lamp posts that adorn your garden?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Live with Human Connect – Create Happiness

There was once a bumblebee; he went on a long journey to find a mythical flower that would bring happiness to all. He met the ant, busy with work, unaware of the world passing by; he met the spider, waiting patiently in his web, he knew not for what. Then he met the butterfly; happy with every flower that it sat on. Why are you so happy? asked the bee to the butterfly. Because, with every flower I am celebrating life, said the butterfly.
Life is a journey and to enjoy this journey without thinking of the destination is what gives a sense of fulfillment, vital to happiness. Along this journey, every point is a small destination that you arrive at, a small goal that you achieve. The first bud of the rose plant that you had planted, the joy on a face when you say, “and how are you today, my dear?”; all are small goals in the journey of life, bringing you dollops of happiness that collect to form that ocean of peace and tranquility inside you. And this is what will make you a successful and prosperous person; one who has the ability to give.
To build our happiness quotient, it is important to build human connect. Community life has several positives, which in our present nuclear existence we have lost out on. Our home is just not the best ‘brick and mortar’ structure that money can buy. Our home is also the people who live within that structure – our family; the people who live outside that structure – our friends and neighbours. How nice it would be, if the environment outside the four walls of our house was as inviting?
The more we let the human connect grow, the richer we get in terms of our relationships, which at the end of the day is all we accumulate. And to let relationships grow, we need to come out of our personal spaces, our confined existences and extend ourselves to others.We are like this bumblebee; we are searching for a magical but illusive thing; some call it success, some call it prosperity and some others call it happiness. However, it is within us that lies the power to make the most of what life has to offer. Go for it now, build the human connect that is the ultimate quotient of happiness.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Age is Still a Number

Age, they say is a state of the mind. Till, which number is what I ask? For however young you may be at heart, the numbers do catch up with you, in one form or the other.

Two years back, in Bombay, gingerly crossing over to the new right-side of forty, I harboured the desire to sport a nerdy pair of glasses, which would also contribute to the allure of my age. I went to the doctor, who examined me (rather my eyes) and declared that my god-gifted natural pair would last me another two years. True to his word, on the gong of 42, I realised that I was holding my books at an arm’s length, literally not proverbially. I immediately took the steps to acquire the long desired pair of sexy, nerdy glasses and started wearing them with an air of importance, not uncommon to unimportant people.

The strands of grey hair appeared next. They came in the most un-orderly fashion, instigating unorthodox comments from the most orthodox people. I was not motivated enough to take the initiative of going to a doc; however, if I had, I am sure he would not have assured me that the state of things can continue for some more time.

Apart from these two signals, most things were fine. I was pulling along as bravely as a forty-plus Indian woman can hope to, reassuring myself that I was not to appear for the ‘Yummy Mummy Contest’; in which case the extra efforts would have been justified. But then Sandra Bullock made a mess of things. Seeing her in ‘Proposal’, I was ashamed to face the mirror. I loathed myself for being lazy. I urged myself to visit the parlour.

Now, normal men and women will not be able to understand my inordinate fear of a beauty parlour. I actually become a bundle of nerves, as I enter the parlour. Totally vulnerable and insecure, I have all sorts of deadly insects fluttering not only in my stomach but in every mentionable organ that exists.

But for Bullock, this visit would not have been possible. As, I mutter and stammer at the reception and manage to convey that I need to have a facial and a hair-cut, the constant urge is to backtrack through the door. The very helpful attendant provides me with a catalogue and asks me to choose form an array of confusingly named facials. From ‘fruit punch’ to ‘honey’ , ‘herbal’ to ‘fresh dew’, the choices do not remotely give me an idea of what I am getting into. However, the prices do. I decide to go the tame way, my feet already waiting in the vain hope that it can carry my body against my wish. I ask the very helpful girl. She enquires about my skin type. Though I am not very confident, I tell her that I have a dry skin, feebly adding that I have never had pimples. She smiles with great patience and lead me to the room, where for the next two hours she does everything, stopping short of a scrub with a wire scrubber. All the time she makes these sorrowful clucking noises that implies a range of emotions; horror, disbelief, anguish, remorse, and frustration. The stubborn black heads refuse to leave the sanctuary of my nose, and hard though she tried, she managed to dislodge the apex of my olfactory organ but not the black heads. I stopped short of screaming, primarily because it was my fault that the black heads were permanent residents. She massaged successive layers of packs on my face; some smelled like strawberry and I had to restrain the urge to lick around my lips. Some tasted like a Bong concoction known as ‘sinni’, which we usually make, as an offering during a puja at home. Some titillated the senses with the earthy smell of wet soil and was erotic to say the least. Each time she would apply a mask and disappear for eternity, or so it seemed with my eyes protectively closed with wet cotton, against the harsh reality of the world outside. The piano chords that drifted in, was so soft that more than once it lulled me to sleep. Then the scrubbing started. Lying there, having surrendered to the process, I dreamt of a new ‘me’ surfacing from this rigorous effort. After almost what seemed like an eternity and when I had practically given up hope of respite, she declared that I was done. Collecting the pieces of my cramped body, I tentatively peered into the mirror. What a shock! It was the same old me, only redder and more harassed, that started back. I was as surprised to see myself as my image was to see my surprise. What had I expected? Sandra Bullock waving at me?

So, though I laugh a lot, love a lot, and cry a lot, I still need my dentist, my glasses, and a monthly ritual at the dresser to make me ‘look’ young and not just ‘feel’ it.