Wednesday, December 29, 2010

That Walk Down My College

3rd December, 2010
0730 hours
Temperature: many degrees below normal

On this day, at that time and temperature, my ritualistic walk down the Jose de San Martin Marg was made a bit different. Mist was thin, not as blinding as it is at present. Breathing in the tender vapors floating around in the fog, I started walking. The sand bag bunker had always been there on the footpath- may be since the time Obama came to stay in a hotel right on the parallel road, or since the time of the glorious Commonwealth Games- I had never cared to as much as cast a second glance at it. With the concerns of VIP security eased, the bunker now sat as a perfunctory accessory on the footpath; someone had also taken away the upper few layers of sand bags. I did ponder for sometime what use stealing sand might serve. Still, it stood there as a vandalized, inutile accessory. Not quite. Someone was using it today. 

Cold is my nemesis. Yet, I like playing with it. That day, I was wearing four layers of clothes, including my dad's favorite sweater (I had fought for it in the morning), and my mother's overcoat. I had my hair open, pulled to cover my ears adequately, topped by a thick muffler, muffling my sense of smell and sound- it covered nearly three quarters of my face. My juniors, sometimes, fancifully tag me as a 'polar bear' because of my attire. Yet, a peculiarity was, I was wearing slippers. Only slippers, sans any socks. It was my style statement. I shiver and shudder in cold, my teeth clatter, and I scare people with my convulsive behavior. Yet, I don't wear socks. I hate wearing them. It defies all logic. My body is sensitive to cold in extreme amounts, and yet, i refuse to protect the most cold-sensitive part of my body. Ma says, half (or more) of my quivering would cease if I cover my feet adequately. But, there are certain things/practices, which one is senselessly, obdurately a follower of. 'Bad habits' we call them. Not wearing socks is not as bad a habit as picking one's nose, but in Delhi's torturous chill, subjecting my feet to that amount of chill, because of which they turn dry, and almost white with cold rashes, is definitely criminal.

Feeling the prickly chill attack my almost bare feet, I quickened my steps, only to be slowed down at the sight of that bunker. Very astonishingly, a human form manifested inside it. A huddled human form. It was a male. I could only see his back; his face was pressed between his knees. What I saw, made my heart sink for a moment. The only thing covering, or trying to cover his body was a plastic sheet. More appropriately, it was an assembly of see-through polythene bags, the ones now banned by our State Government, quite resourcefully tied together to cover some parts of his upper torso. Most of his lower back was bare- thats how far I could see. His form was shivering. I was shivering too, not of cold though. My effectively protected face might not have been able to feel the blowing winds; part of me had till now been enjoying them. He, definitely could not escape the agony inflicted by those very winds- the polythene bags waged a futile battle against them.

I slowed down, but I did not stop. My gaze fixed on that form, I moved past it. The last vision I have of him did not help. It would have been okay to remember having seen his back, to have remembered him as a faceless memory. If only he would have crouched a little longer, I would have been a lot more peaceful today. But he looked up, looked around. He looked scared. Or may be his expression only depicted his hapless and helpless state against the winter. I am not good with other descriptions, but I did have a brief eye contact with him. A very normal set of eyes. A slightly watery set of eyes. A needy set of eyes. 

I averted my gaze and walked on. I was trying to revive my numb mind. Honestly, I felt dumb. My human instinct told me, I should help. My mind questioned, 'how?'. Am I silly? How? I was wearing a burdensome weight of winter clothing, and I did not know 'how' to help? I stopped some twenty steps ahead. I thought again- what can I give him? I searched for newspapers in my bag-dunno for what reason- but I had none, no piece of stationary in fact.

I knew both my pieces of winter clothing were very expensive- prized by my mother and father. Were they more expensive than his well being? I could not answer. I did not know what to answer at home; how to answer at home. And so, on that lazy, sleepy winter morning, I walked ahead, with little tears in my eyes. Never have I been more annoyed with my tears- because today they did not depict helplessness. Today they projected uselessness, and shamelessness.

Throughout my first lecture at college, I kept praying for someone to help him out. Honestly, did I even have a right to pray? Or what chance did my prayer stand of being answered when I had acted so dumb? We cannot just shirk our responsibilities as a member of the society, or the planet to say the least, and then hope that God will take care of all.

Next day, along with a group of IEEE volunteers, I had to go to the UN house to give a presentation on Millennium Development Goals. I was supposed to speak on the first MDG- eradication of hunger and poverty. More specifically, 'reducing by half the proportion of people living below the global poverty line and suffering from hunger'. We gave a mighty good presentation. I was cherubic, and interactive and convincing in what I said there. 

But, when I came back home, I felt a tad hollow. That was because, in the morning, the footpath had been cleared of that bunker, which had just found a new purpose for existing there. The swiftness of it's removal was fantastic. I like to believe that the man hiding within it was relocated to one of the many shelters that the Delhi government has built for the destitutes. That does seem logical enough. The people who came to remove him could not have simply driven the barely clad man away. No way. He would have been safely moved to a shelter, given a blanket, some morsels to eat, and would have slept soundly. Or, would it have been otherwise? Would it have been the way I feared?

That spectacle still haunts me. Rightly so. At least in future I would know how to be quicker and more austere in my decision making. 

One more thing I wish for. When we look at the state of affairs around us, we , the moral ascetics, are dejected, often frustrated, ask questions, demand solutions. I wish, that really soon in life, I find myself in a position to crossover to the other side, and be the provider of 'answers'-an appreciator of good questions, but capable of providing better solutions.


PS- I have started wearing socks. It is amazing. I shiver less. I am able to enjoy the winter more now.

The Conference at UN House on 4th December, 2010, to mark the International Volunteer day.
Seen in the picture above is a team of IEEE volunteers giving a presentation on UN MDGs.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

An Engagement- Mills & Boon Style!

(It happened in Delhi, roughly a year ago. Part fiction, part reality)


She waited anxiously for the clock to strike twelve. "Today, I will reserve him for myself"- she thought to herself. She ran her fingers over the smooth, lustrous surface of the silver band, and conjured up happy images of the day to follow.


She clandestinely tip toed up the stairs. There he stood, his frame slightly blurred by the thin layer of fog which wafted through the distance between them. She moved closer, beguiled by the casual, easy manner in which he was reclining against the terrace railing. She gave him a gentle smile, which almost immediately conveyed a soft "happy birthday". He smiled back, acknowledging her wishes. It was then that her heart skipped a beat. His smile. Ethereal. His eyes. Dazzling. His sharp features. Irresistible. And his fair face. Resplendent in the soft glow of the moon.

She motioned closer, firmly locking her eyes on him. He slipped his arm in one swift moment around her waist, and pulled her closer. She let out a sigh. She was bare-feet. He pulled her up, made her climb on his shoes; he promised to protect her from everything that hurt her- cold definitely was one of them.  With one hand pressed on his chest, she slipped her other hand in his warm clasp. He could feel the ice-cold metal band pressed between their palms. Before he could inquire, she strengthened her grip on his hand, and pressed her cheek on his.

It was time now for him to let out a sigh. His grip on her waist tightened. The inquisitiveness evaporated in the fog, protecting them from any prying eyes. She withdrew, replacing the softness of her cheeks, with that of her lips. It was only a moment that she pressed her lips on his cheeks that she heard a faint sound coming from somewhere near. She broke free from his arms as a reflex. The chill felt unbearable as she once again touched the cold floor with her bare feet. She ran back downstairs, not looking back a moment. The craving in his eyes would have weakened her.

She closed the door of her room behind her. She was safely back; but the pace at which her heart was beating, it was definitely running back to him. She left the silver band with him. She had conveyed what she intended to. Had he understood?


She woke up rubbing her eyes. The smile on her face was instinctive. In that state of semi-consciousness, she knew something big was in store today, something was going to change; but what, she did not quite know. She let the pleasant disorder persist. She closed her eyes. She lived those memories again.

She had known him since she was sixteen- at the threshold of womanhood. A tryst on an enchanting evening, and that one defining moment when she, without a care in the world held his hand and danced, changed a lot for her. She had been bold and protected; she now wanted to expose her weaknesses to him. She had always led in life; she now simply wished to follow. She had been afraid of all these feelings, she now wanted to risk the lethal.

And all this when she did not even know the spelling of his name!
A month and ten days later, she risked the question. At that time, she could not recall his physical image to brain. Today, three and half years later, she can recognize him by his smell.

Today, she will take care of the remaining fears she had in her heart. "We can't be together for long", she mulled, "But our own commitment, we'll make firmer". She wanted to cement their bond till a point of no return. She believed in rituals; and so she selected the simplest, and more meaningful to assert- "I'm here to stay. I'm your's for life".

They met in the heart of the city, and this time could exchange hugs and wishes more openly. He had a curious smile on his lips, and she knew what he meant when he said-"It's my birthday, and I want to buy you a gift". He dragged her into a shop selling silver, and after trying several, bought that one ring, which made her humble fingers look royal. She could not contain her smile. She wondered what the passers-by must be thinking; but she knew her smile made her look pretty. So, hand-in-hand, away they went.

It was now time for rituals.
Rings: Selected, bought.
Dress Code: Winter Casuals.
Witnesses: Not required.
Venue: Big Problem! Where? No idea. What to do? They walked, and mulled, and walked, and mulled, and eventually got tired. They were treading on the grandest road in the capital, connecting the India Gate with the magnificent President's House. Lutyen's architecture is a beholder's delight! Finally, when they could walk no more, they sat down on a foot path, right in front of India Gate. Cars were whizzing past at brilliant speeds. "This is it!" -she exclaimed. "What can be a better place to engrave in our memories forever?" True. They were against the most majestic backdrop that this city could provide- Grandiose architectural wonders; almost invisible sun, its balmy rays cascading down the layers of mist, right in their direction; and the two of them, lost amid a crowd of pedestrians and vehicles, yet secure in their place beneath the sun.

Now was the time to solemnize. They prepared to slip the rings. Wait. Ring finger, but which hand? They shared a moment of humor when they both took out their handsets, and tried to understand tradition from the point of view of technology. With 'engagement+rituals' as the key words, they went through numerous search results, all in contradiction to each other. They looked at each other, shared a hearty laugh, and then, decided to trust their instincts.

First she, then him.

Holding hands had never been more special.

They headed home in an auto, a luxurious ride, given their humble backgrounds. She chatted incessantly. He, like always, was the patient listener. Their clasp did not break for a second. Yes, they did spend a moment or two just looking at those intertwined hands, wondering how long will this dream last. Then, they averted their gaze. In their hearts was a brief fear. This fear, they refused to share with each other.

May be nothing had changed. May be, a lot had.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Little Guzaarish

It's after ages I have gotten back to writing. I kept my habit of scribbling diary daily, but my computer broke down around a month back, and so, I was bereft of even the sight of my blog. I missed it. Even if I don't write pretty, at least the blog does look pretty, and I missed it for that. I missed it for the familiar warmth I feel when I go through all the previous entries, see all my mistakes, but am only too lazy to correct them. I just like enjoying the feel of those moments life once bestowed on me, now archived here, which made me so glad to have been alive and living them.

There is nothing I have on my mind that I may write about; but I feel like writing. The only apt thing seems to be a synopsis of what my life was like this past month that I was away. There was a lot that I could have written about. The past month, I experienced few of the most hurtful and sad moments ever- the sadder thought was, when I looked around, I could find no one, who might have been in a position to elevate me from the lows that I was traversing. Every one seemed at a distance. When I tried to pour out my heart's grief, everyone seemed to be alien. People held my hand, people understood, but the next day when I expected them to be around without me calling out, they were absent.

These were people I called friends. My loved friends. My best friends. These were the very people whose moods I had tolerated, but who could not tolerate mine. I felt like throwing tantrums, acting insensible, but was flat denied. I cried at night, I wailed silently, muffling my own voice, lest my parents hear. I had too much to cope up with, and I could cope up with nothing.

A week back, I was overtaken with extreme fatigue. I wanted to give up everything, everyone. I still wanted to have that one person who could understand me unconditionally, and love me without any questions; yet at the same time I wanted to bury myself somewhere out of everyone's sight. I wanted to hide just beneath my bed, where I knew everything was in reach, but I was elusive. I did for once want to escape. I wanted to make people feel my loss. Then I was scared. What if no one did feel any loss? What if everyone continued the way they always did? What if I was simply a nobody in everyone's life?

I sank back a moment. I kept my phone away, not wanting to expect any angel's call any longer. I looked at the sky. I looked at the darkness around me. I looked at my hands, the contours faintly tangible in the darkness. I forced myself to smile. What came out was a contemptuous half laughter.

I had no one to talk to. There were few just a phone call away, but these were the people almost on the verge of exhaustion- there own lives were too much to handle. I have no idea what caused the metamorphosis, but in some time, I realized,  I started reflecting on all the happy, rich, successful moments from the past month. The vicissitudes of life I was never able to cope up with, and was used to giving into the easiest emotion accessible to me. The pain, the cauterization, in that context, I reckon, was necessary. It is, for everyone.

Today, I am even. Not just calm, but happy. I know not till when will this excitement, this smile at seeing little things bloom around me last, but am living it. The very people, whom I had made morose a few days back, are smiling at my antics today. They are very much with me, beside me. My silence they might not have been able to understand, but they sing with me, they laugh with me, they dance with me, they rejoice with me- life becomes a party full of mirth.

Not caring a dime for the reviews, around three weeks back, I went ahead to see Guzaarish. For free! Contacts with the manager helped. May be thats where it started. To me, it was a more than amazing movie. The whole of second half I cried, when the director had succeeded in firmly establishing a relationship between the protagonist and the audience. But that is not relevant. What is relevant is a subtle transformation I underwent during the course of the movie. This is what I wrote in my diary the same day-

"From the very beginning, I wanted to be Sofia's (Aishwarya's) character- a lover who loves, cares, gives selflessly. Her intrepid dedication inspired me. Then, one scene changed it all. Sofia, all battered (by her husband), but finally triumphant (in breaking free from the shackles imposed by a drunkard, abusive husband), returns to her job- returns to take care of Ethan, her employer. It is in this state, when she is visibly bruised- devastated- she offers Ethan his last escape. She could simply not think of anything, but to take care of her master, who she knows can give nothing to her. It was at that moment, I wanted to be the 'loved', and not the 'lover'. 
A few moonlit moments when you are made to feel special, selflessly loved are okay. In a long standing relationship, it is endurance, perseverance and keeping the innocence alive that matters. Also, what matters is exercising rights and fulfilling unspoken duties. Sofia was an embodiment of all these. Yes, she looked stunning, but more stunning were the easy, palpable emotions she essayed. I would have wanted to be her; but I am tired."
The crux is- I wanted to be pampered. For no reason. I was sick of being what I always am. My closest friend in college has given me one of the best compliments in life- " Saumya, I know when I have no one left in this world, I can simply fall back on you. Thats the most amazing thing about having you as a friend." This statement of hers further saddened me, for I could not find anyone who could fit this description for me. I wanted to be pampered till I got sick of being pampered, but no one seemed to be willing to do it.

So finally, I gave up. I often quote-" To be stupid, selfish and healthy are the three requirements of happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost". Ha! Today I am back to being the happy, ever smiling girl I used to be a month or two back. I don't just feel happy on surface- my smiles and laughs are not accessories to display to others. I genuinely feel happy at heart. Sometimes I feel demented for the way i locate secret smiles in the most sad and bitter moments, and spread them to everyone in my vicinity. Then my confabulations yield to me that dementia is obviously a by product of the state I am dragging myself into.

Anyway. Some of my friends reprimand me for being the way I am. Some are plain irritated of me. Some of them, at least a minimum few, are in love with me for being myself. I'll continue being this way for some more time at least (this one is specially for you Mittal), for just when I had planned to give up, I read this in the newspaper-

"You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you."- John Wooden

Saturday, October 2, 2010


My flair for writing is profoundly known to any and every person who is a part of the world which I inhabit. There are a few, who feel my strong affinity towards penning down my thoughts, trivial or consequential, is nothing but a madness- the sort that in due course of time might lead me towards schizophrenia. I write extensively. I write here, on Nascent Emissions, I write for magazines, I write articles for friends (which do get published under their names), I write speeches (my best friends in college literally 'use' me for this, 'cuz they promise a pay, and forget the payment), I often scribble short stories, I sometimes try my hand at poetry- All these and more! However, the one aspect of my writing which I am intensely, miserable attached to is writing my diary, or journal, or by whatever name you may know it.

Humans, as per me, are the most artistic creations of God. My English teacher, while reflecting on the same once remarked in laconic terms, "Man is only next to God in divine hierarchy." May be that is why when He made us, He endowed us with aspects that were His' exclusive domains. He is, veritably, the Supreme Artist, one, who painted spectacular, breathtaking images on a blank, imperceptible canvass. He, while creating us, blessed us with emotions and expressions, and a divine right to Create- create a habitat exclusive for our sustenance within the larger ecosystems which come as a part of our natural earthly endowments.

Besides, He hid within us all an artist- an artist exclusive to all, yet common to all.

Caught up in the maze of our mundane, hectic, competitive lives, many of us lamely deny the existence of any such thing as an 'artist' within us. However, this artist is latent only till we allow it to be latent. The moment we close our eyes, keep our hand on our heart, and feel its existence, it materializes and communicates with us. We only need to understand the language it wants to speak in. The manifestations of this artist are many, but the purpose of the manifestations is the same- to express, to put on display the wide array of thoughts which inhabit our inner being.

In my perspective, the most fortunate among these artists are those who articulate through brush strokes, those who paint and draw to put in front of the world what lies in their heart. These for me are the elite class of artists, who at a whim can become absolutely lucid in depiction of their state of mind, and at other times, can symbolize their thoughts in a manner so magical, that despite the creation being in front of all, the absolute meaning remains elusive to most. A private rendezvous is always be on between its creator and itself. Its as if they wink at each other for perplexing and mesmerizing the others, while perfectly communication with each other.

Of the myriad varieties of artists, the second on my list are the people who create musical notes to convey expressions of anger, bliss, hate, lust, grief, alacrity and many others, which can't be worded, just purely felt. Why I respect these artists is simply because of their indomitable skill at touching the very strings of the hearts of the listeners which gave birth to that music piece the heart of the creator in the first place. These artists never make their expressions explicitly public- they pave indirect, subtle (but sublime) paths for their emotions to flow in the air around.

I am convinced I am missing out on many, but the last type of artists on my list are the people who simply, humbly, express through words. Given that words are the most direct tool for revealing innate ideas and feelings, it is still, by no means, an easy task to make words your instrument of expression. Mastering language, at times, takes an eternity. One remains a student of this art, for that matter any art, for more than just a lifetime. For those not born in the silver class of literary elites, it does sometimes become an extremely arduous undertaking, to give voice to the simplest of thought. Yes! This is where I think the catch is- giving shape, words to the most uncomplicated thoughts in such a manner that the reader not only understands what is in front of him in black and white, but also relates to the emotions caught in between lines. (Here is where I fail miserably)

So, it must have become unambiguous that I ascribe to this last modest category of expressions. Besides the numerous things I advocate passionately, writing (in particular diaries) is one which falls topmost on my list. I romance words and phrases and sentences and am ever thankful for making my own thoughts transparent to me. I love documenting my life. I love flipping through the history of my existence. I love learning from my own (and no one else's) experiences. I have had amazing friends in life, but my most consistent, reliable, and endearing confidante have, indisputably, been my diaries, now around seven in number, scribbled around the last few years of my life.

Writing was not a hobby I was born with. I cultivated it after numerous reprimands and black stars of my report card in the 'writing skills' column. Writing diaries was my means of improvement, coerced at first, but gradually my fondness increased so much that today, none of my diaries last beyond three-four months. The only gifts I got on my last birthday were diaries- a total of six! As queer as it may sound, I give names to my diaries- they then become like a compilation of short stories, running with a common theme, the essence of which is encapsulated in that name. This name is also symbolic characteristic of that particular phase in my life.

From those seven, I'd like to quote two as examples-

  • IBTIDA- After having gone through some major upheavals, and having been shattered over again and again, I resolved to start afresh. Naming my diary as 'Ibtida'- a beginning, I started scribbling the details of my daily rituals in a manner which kept reinforcing the objective I had set for myself- to get over the past and make this new beginning as fruitful for me as possible. Revisiting the positive pages of that diary, with words written in my then dainty handwriting, my heart warms us, is encouraged, inspired, and I smile 'cuz of the deluge of memories that simply take me over. 
  • SEARCH- This is what my current diary is called. I settled on in two nights ago. The present time in my life is pretty satisfied and stable. However, I find myself at an enormously crucial stage in life, one that shall be pivotal in determining if the dream I dreamt forever will actually come true or not. Not knowing where my life is headed, at times I search for a clarity in my dreamworld, which can make my destination clear to me. When the destination sparks before my eyes, I start searching for the path I must embark upon to reach there. When I glimpse the path, I search for (and must find) the focus I need so as not to swerve from it.
It is a neat chronicle of my life, at least the recent bits of it, which I value as my most precious possession. For those who ever enquired would now know the perfect cause behind my near obsession with writing. Better worded, it is a passion- not an obsession. It is my love. Something, that elevates me when my mood is low, calms me when I feel hyper and reinforces my happiness when I don't have another soul to share my smiles with. It is a guardian of even those infinitesimally small thoughts that I can't discuss with anyone.

If you write, I can guarantee, this is one habit that will never disappoint you. In fact, it will give you a chance to know yourself more closely, understand yourself better. A 'search' for the beautiful person that resides within you is definitely an onerous task, but it is a journey worth undertaking.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


There is no reason why I should be blogging at this point of time. I am dead tired. My eyes are not just heavy, they are almost shut. My back is aching bad. My bones are creaking. BUT, I can't help it. A few minutes back in my mail, I recieved the sweetest little (expected) surprize.

Let me clear the mist surrounding the above quoted oxymoron. For the past some weeks, me, my department President, and my other department members have literally been going nuts preparing for the Annual Festival of Economics Association, Jesus and Mary College. Our fest, proudly titled, ECOVANTAGE '10, literally became a cause of a consistent, evil headache, which only worsened as the days progressed. However, every single experience we had, good or bad, has definitely gotten engraved in my memory bank. I, having been given the onus of organizing our main event for the fest, MODEL G20 SUMMIT, tried to add little masala to the procedure by initiating, training and setting up the paparazzi- the International Press- imagined as a team of little devils, salivating after gossip. However, given it was the first time, I did not keep my expectations too high.  What I was working with were (wrongly presumed) group of diffident girls, whom I was trying hard to propel towards a confident foray in to the world of cultural activities in the ever effervescent JMC campus.

Our newsletter was named VANTAGE MEMOIRS, and as work began on it, my apprehension increased.All my apprehensions proved to be utterly futile when I received the first completed draft of the newsletter. The sort of commitment, hard work, and results which my IP team has shown me, has not only left me stupefied, but also touched. I am not trying to magnify the very humble product that we have come out with; but, having been most closely associated with the plan, preparation and finalization of the content, pictures and layout of Vantage Memoirs, my elation at the finished compilation which has come my way is absolutely justified. The credit for it goes to the amazing, precocious, eager-to-learn-and-deliver juniors (first years) that I have been blessed with. Although everyone has contributed in a ridiculously endearing manner for this mini project, I still have to mention the name of Akriti Gupta- the smartly attired female who put everything together, whose resourcefulness and focus has convinced me that we can take our initiative at least four levels higher from where it is right now, in a span of two days (for that is all I have).
Alright...when I go senti...I just go on and on, blabbering, trying to give words to every single emotion jumping (literally) inside me. However, I have a huge day tomorrow, and I need to sleep in order to make my committee function in a manner I conjure in my dreams.
(Hey, IP! 'Dreams' remind me of a masala feature that all of you could do, 'cuz most of the seniors are having hilarious nightmares these days- the stress of the fest doing this to them. Please contact me for all inside gossip)

I will end here, but will copy and paste the introduction of the IP, written by my talented junior, Srishti.

"Enough of yawns and naps, we, the International Press of the G-20 Summit here in JMC hereby promise you that the next 2 days you are going to be under the heavy scrutiny of all of us. Behind us is the masala mastermind- Saumya Kulshreshtha- our Editor. Now you know who you have to sue if we publish pics of yours while you were blissfully unaware (Grin!). Both our Sub-editors- Ishani and Riya are equally sharp to pick the best pieces of entertainment which you might provide us while we’re snooping and hiding and creeping behind your backs…so beware! Our team has us- the babies (Smirk) looking for news! Just in case you want to run away when we approach you with our endless questions- note our names:
Srishti Chauhan, Saumya Mathur, Sakshi Kapur, Ritika Goel, Akansha Puri, Kanika Gupta, Aakriti, Niharika and Rohini Gauba!
Here is hoping that what we present to you has you in splits by the time you finish with it! Cheerio!
P.S- We take no guarantee about the stuff that is going to be recorded. Anything and everything you say WILL be used against you….no mercy applications please!"

(I have not edited this article, and am too lazy now to do it. Hopefully one of my diligent IP members will do it. AND, the two beautiful sketches accompanying my post have been made by my angel-in-disguise, Akriti Gupta)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Five Must Reads!

I am no connoisseur of literature. I am just an hapless addict, who is forever beguiled by the rich, commanding, resplendent world that books (novels in particular) offer. My own cute way of referring to the books is not to call them 'my best friends', rather, 'my intoxicants', the only ones capable of elevating me above my surroundings, and drawing me into another galaxy. Mentioned below are five books from my own mini library, which according to me are a must read for every single person belonging to my environment. A curious fact about these books is that they are all authored by Indians, but then, that is how I am prejudiced as far as literature is concerned.

1. 'My Experiments With Truth' by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi Every Indian, irrespective of caste, creed, age, religion must read this book. It is, for me, one of those books which can be termed as a life changer (and has proven to be for a few people I know). The lesser said about this book, the better, but I would advise everyone to at least attempt to take a peek into the life of that man, who has veritably contributed the most in the making of modern, Independent India.

2. 'Train To Pakistan' by Khushwant Singh
 In my view, Khushwant Singh is the greatest storyteller ever to have been born on the soil of India. His first novel, the Train to Pakistan makes nothing short of an compelling, invigorating, and satisfying read. With one of the most vivid and poignant portrayals of India's bloodbath during partition, this book is written such that at no point will the reader feel detached from the narrative; rather, if the reader is like me, he would end up crying more than once, for the pangs of partition would be too much to bear even for him.

3. 'The Broken Nest'/ 'The Home and The World' by Rabindranath TagoreI've always rued the fact that I can't read Bengali, for Bengali literature is touted as one of the finest and richest in India; but thanks to the translations, I've been able to go through the writings of someone who should ideally be called the Father of Modern Indian Literature - Rabindranath Tagore. These two books make for an excellent starter if you want to delve into the wealth of Bangla literature

4. 'Our Trees Still Grow In Dehra and other stories' by Ruskin Bond         
He is an author for all seasons, for all ages. He looks at India the way no Indian can. He can make you feel attached to the Indian soil the way you yourself might never be able to. The magic of this collection of short stories can be felt only if you read them; my only guarantee would be that Mr. Ruskin Bond absolutely does not know how to leave his readers dissatisfied.

5. 'Ramayana'/ 'Mahabharata' by C. Rajagopalachari
 Although attributed to their original authors, Valmiki and Ved Vyasa respectively, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have many versions in different languages of India. This version, published by Bhavan's books, has been penned down by Rajaji, the first Indian Governor General of independent India, and has been written in a style that despite assimilating the facts of all the different versions, is striking in its originality and beauty.

The Immortals of Meluha- A Review

Who is God? It is not often that I ponder over a question like this. It was especially not until I lay my hands on this one-of-its kind book, called The Immortals of Meluha, authored by Amish. A book that borrows heavily from the royal pages of Indian mythology, The Immortals of Meluha weaves together myths and legends and modern sensibilities with remarkable ease.

The book cover was immediately intriguing- the back of the mighty Shiva, with deep scars over a shoulder and an arm; long, majestic tresses falling over his back; a trident elegantly positioned at the very centre of his form; and the backdrop comprising of Indus and the magnificent Mountains of the North. This was easily a book I would have wanted to read, and as it did turn out, it was a book I simply could not keep down once I started on. The first of a series of three (called the Shiva Trilogy), this book tells the story of Shiva, the Destroyer, a much hailed and praised God from the Hindu Trinity of Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh. One of the boldest attempts in the Indian fantasy fiction genres, this book lays down the hypothesis that Shiva was never actually a God. More so, he did not even belong to India (the Saptasindhu, as mentioned in the book). Blasphemy you would say, but so long as we consider this book to remain within the realm of fiction, it is actually amazing how the author has carved out a story with Shiva as a War Hero, firmly supported by accurate facts and descriptions, giving strong evidence of the author's deep knowledge and research of the subject.

The book is set in the Indus Valley Civilization, referred in this book as Meluha (It was only later that my History teacher informed me about the Indus Valley Civilization being called as 'Meluha' by the Sumerians and the Mesopotamians). This civilization was one of the finest the world has ever been testimony to, and is often hailed as the birthplace of men of greatness, because the things they did have not been imitated anywhere, anytime in the world. Before beginning the book, the author makes three claims, the fundamental premise on which his book is based-

I believe that the Hindu gods were not mythical beings or a figment of a rich imagination.
I believe that they were creatures of flesh and blood, like you and me.
I believe that they achieved godhood through their karma, their deeds.
The story begins with an elaborate depiction of Shiva, who is not a God, not even an extraordinary human, but the head of a simple tribe of cattle herders, somewhere in the foot of the Himalayas, ridden with fatigue due to incessant struggles for existence being fought with the other tribes. His assistant, comrade and best pal, curiously, is a fellow tribesman called Nandi. Due to the course of events, Shiva and his tribe migrate to Meluha, the land of Suryavanshis, the descendants of the illustrious Lord Rama. The land of the Suryavanshis is plagued with many evils, and is under threat from the opposite race, the Chandravanshis. To add to their already cup-full of woes, the Chandravanshis have employed the despicable, sinister Nagas, an ostracized caste, to spread terror in the land of Meluhans.

It is from these terrors that the Meluhans seek respite. According to the Meluhan legend, it will be 'Neelkanth', the one whose neck will turn blue on drinking their nectar, Somaras, who will be their Savior. Thus is defined the character and course of the protagonist, Shiva, who after drinking the Somaras is hailed by the hapless people as their Lord, the one who will alleviate all evils from their land. What then ensues is the journey of Shiva through the land of Meluhans, during which, he establishes himself as a warrior of unparalleled might and war skills. At most places during the narrative, Shiva is shown to be spellbound by the superior technology and infrastructure possessed by the inhabitants of the magnificent land of Meluha. Also, as an undercurrent, laced into the narrative is the love story of our indomitable hero and the demure, chaste and skilled Parvati, incidentally the daughter of Maharaja Dasya, King of Meluha.

The narrative of the story is contemporary, not in the least archaic, as one would expect the tone of any of our mythological tales to be. This book attempts to clear the mist around the concept of Mahadev we have grown up with. While reading about this book, I came across interesting facts, such as, long back, in the ancient times, there was no concept of India. The only concept then that has left its traces to be felt in the contemporary times is that of the Aryans, the greatest race on the Earth. What is particularly curious about Shiva is that he is the only non-Aryan entity in the Trinity of Hindu Gods. In the book too, he conforms to what have been his features otherwise- easy to please, free of deceit and trickery (Bholenath), unabashed in his display of emotions (anger in particular- Tandav), passionate lover, substance addiction...and the list can go on.

To conclude my assessment of the book, I can say, it was a compelling read. It was not anything like the other tales of our three crore plus Gods and Goddesses I have read or heard about. Very few authors have touched this particular genre with such marvellous ease, making the reader more and more intrigued by the vivid and precise description of the events which form this story. Worthy of not less than four stars on five, it is one of those books which all of us should pick up, especially if we feel detached from our rich mythological heritage, with a promise that if one begins with this book, he would only be lured deeper and deeper into the mystical world of our tales and legends and myths. Highly recommended!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


It's after long that I have gotten down to blogging. The reason for that, simply, have been the rains. I have already published blogs about rains, and still, the most prominent source of inspiration as far as writing is concerned , has only been 'rains'. Today as well, it is no different. Rains definitely form the back drop of my narrative, but, the perspective has altered. The joy associated with raindrops touching my skin has long disappeared. Now, there is a shadow of gloom forever marking my face.

The rains have continued for far too long. Or may be, it is the first time I am perceiving them that way. Hindrances to already delayed constructions works, traffic snarls, puddles, difficulty in commutation- if you(the reader) think these are the sources of the absent enthusiasm in my heart, then you are highly mistaken. These are the things that I laugh at. Then what is it that is letting this tangible, yet incomprehensible melancholy fill my being?

A single peek of sun from behind the clouds makes my eyes shine with alacrity; but this revelry is rare to visit my door. I was sitting today for really long in CP, by a huge window, which gave me the most spectacular view of mud hills lining the roadsides, cars of every color and brand stuck in an unending ennui, white colored Victorian buildings damp and their paints chipping, and a grey, almost-black canvas of a huge cupola of clouds, which seems to have sworn sun-protection to all citizens of Delhi for quite some time now. I was sitting and sketching the scene in front of me. Not that i am good at drawing, but i was just trying my hand at being a bit destructive (of the beauty of the scene), a bit disappointing (of my famous sketching abilities) and a bit disgusting ( to my companion who himself is acclaimed at wielding magic as he draws).

Anyway, point was, i was doing it, and in a very sudden, or rather, unnoticeable manner, an unmistakable feeling of grief started springing inside me. I tried to fight it, but i sensed my mind submitting to it. As a natural reflex, the first thing i did was to figure out reasons. My jejune brain first held Ghalib culpable for my condition. Yes, you are right, the same, old, Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib. Why, i will tell later. I was almost about to take punitive measures against his long deceased soul, when i was held back by an expeditious onset of slumber. It was in that sleep i found answers to my heart's unease. It was a dream...a dream which made things lucid to me...dream-

"I was sitting on a hillside. My favorite hillside. The air was damp. Sun nowhere in sight. The valley was green; it's depth not calculable. Cottony fluffs of clouds were rising from deep down. My side of the hills were iridescent with flowers of variegated hues smiling from both corners of my eyes. I was sitting quietly looking blankly at everything around. Only my eyes were peculiar. Water was running down my cheeks. I am not sure if it were tears, because my heart was devoid of emotions. I felt no stabs of sadness. I only cried. Suddenly, a divine person came into the picture. Filled with clemency, benevolence, and sure 'answers' to my discomfort, he came and sat by my side quietly. I said nothing, just stole a sideways glance at him. He was dressed in casuals- green T-shirt and denims. He had a white, perfectly chiseled face. His hair and eyes were unnaturally black. His lips were pink, with a cleft which could be missed sans close scrutiny. He started gazing straight ahead, where the view of the opposite hills was being blocked by the nascent clouds. He sat observing the clouds. With no warning, he raised his fingers as if a seasoned pianist is preparing his agile fingers for a concert. His fingers started moving in incongruous patterns in the air. I was about to ask him, but he shushed me even before i could utter a word. Gave me a glance which conveyed- "patience". After about fifteen minutes of this queer activity, he gave himself a satisfactory smile. Then, he kept one hand over my head. He said, in his soft, echoing, almost a chime-like voice- "Clouds are my most formless creations, but when I make these clouds my canvas, and my fingers the paintbrushes, my mind can picture them in a thousand different shapes and forms and meanings. I gave these clouds nothing. I gave them a transient existence. But then never complain. They utilize their short life giving shade and hope to the others. When they die, they weep- the only, and the final expression of their grief. But, even as they weep, they lend smiles to many. People are glad for the water, relief, rain, respite but no one cares for the very clouds who carry these droplets safely till they are delivered at their destination. But, they carry on, continue, persevere." His gaze pierced through me as he said the last word."

I did not even see this divine creature walk away. I was woken up as we were getting late. I saw the unfinished sketch lying in front of me. I raised my head for a final gaze, intending to finish my sketch, but the only detailing i added to it were the grey, almost black clouds in the background.

Mr. Ghalib, aptly, can find his mention here. He writes the most beautiful lines, and has this uncanny, unmistakable ability to stimulate that corner of my heart which hitherto was latent. This time, the lines were as follows-
"Dil hi toh hai, na sang-o-khisht, dard se bhar na aaye kyun?
Royenge hum, hazaar baar, koi humein sataaye kyun?"
(It is only a heart, not stone or mortar, why should it not fill with grief?
We will wail a thousand times, why should anyone torment us?)

For me, a better translation of the above lines is- The heart is heart, it will weep. Why should anyone be critical of my grief?

I walked down the footpaths of CP, trying to fathom my dream. May be I did. May be the Almighty was fed up of the incessant tussles i have with him, and wanted to talk about the many basics that i ignore while censuring him for my mundane problems. May be he was genuinely concerned with my listlessness about where to head as i found myself without support, care, concern, love and understanding from anyone i hold dear. And then, he sent me this quote in my Gmail inbox-"You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering"

Whatever it meant. Whatever it was. One thing I will surely laud Him for is the medium he chose to communicate with me. This one voice, i can never ignore. Never.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My Happiness Pill

It was one of those days again. Exactly one of those days. Grey days. Blue days. Whatever they are called. Days, when i ask myself too many questions. Or may be one single question. I let the question(s) take root in my mind, become a part of my subconscious self, assimilate information and experience required to arrive at an answer...and then, answer blossoms in my mind even before i know it.

However, what i was thinking, rather, asking myself today, was both, unwelcome and perplexing. To add another word, the specific time i chose to reflect and concoct answers, also made this question ironical.

"Why do friends become so important to us in life, that after a point, it starts hurting?"
(In case the paradox is not ostensible, it is the first Sunday of August today, which the world celebrates as Friendship Day)

I woke up in the morning, and cast a half open glance at the slightly ajar door of my balcony. Hardly any light was coming in. It was dark, overcast, I could make out. I pulled my knees close to my chest, tightly wound my hands around my bosom, and gave myself the warmest hug I could, to counter the effects of the chilly air flowing into the room, and then sprang out of bed. With eye lids refusing to cooperate, i somehow managed to locate my slippers, but accidentally placed my feet on the icy floor. Within a matter of seconds, a current of chill ran up my legs, and my spine, hit my head, and culminated into a smile. The same, old, faint, silly- my favorite smile. Thus i proceeded on my 'arduous' walk to the balcony, ten heavy steps....

I collapsed on the cold balcony floor, in an attempt to embrace what nature was offering. It was colder than inside the room, so i brought myself closer together, once again pulled my knees to my chest, and started imagining the aroma of coffee beans. Had only been a second, when my 'pet' tree, right across my balcony, broke out into a dance- gracefully swaying side to side first, and then going wild, mad, to the tune of the flowing breeze. My tree was welcoming me to become a part of this private celebration of nature, whatever was left of it amid the chaos of brick and mortar which we call our 'habitat'. Having performed the invocation, my tree invited all the other trees, and birds, and clouds, and winds, and rains, to join in this mad revelry, and they all gladly acceded.

What then ensued in front of me is not in my capacity to describe. Any other person would have described it as a heavy, torrential shower. But, was it just that? There were people down in the street, scurrying in all directions to look for a shelter. Hapless people. The more fortunate of us homo sapiens were the half naked street kids, splashing in the puddles, laughing, shouting, dancing....being purified, washed clean directly by the heavens. I broke into a subtle laughter at their sight, and started enjoying the raindrops being tossed in my direction after hitting the balcony railing. I was happy. Innately happy. Infinitely happy. These weren't just rains. This was the most basic and personalized invite that the heavens sent to all of us, to, for once, abandon our synthetic existence, and befriend nature. I did.

I sent a 'thank you' in the direction of my 'pet' tree, which has been my friend ever since i shifted to my current accommodation. Initially frightened by it's eerie silhouettes in the dark of the night, it soon became my companion for the solitary moments i spent in the open, often understanding and sharing my thoughts. Today as well it was listening, as i asked myself a question, and then quickly rubbished it. This very question had caused an immeasurable disarray in my interiors about a day or two back, but today, it was inconsequential. There was a reason to it. And i want that reason to know that it was the reason for the calm and balance i expreience right now.

I met a friend yesterday. A friend, who has forever been a friend, a close friend, but separated by large distances. When i felt cold today, i remembered the warm hug my friend gave me yesterday. When the damp weather's chicanery was coercing me to become gloomy, I rememberd this friend's laughter and his concern for my happiness. When strange thoughts were complicating my routines, i rememberd his simple ways and his humble eyes. I was elated, elevated, and infinitely comforted.

At first, I could not recognize him. He appeared from amid a crowd, his bag hung over one of his shoulders. I knew he was coming, that is why i was waiting for him, yet, the first glimpse i caught of him was laced with disbelief. I was still not humble to the fact that i would, finally, be getting to spend time, in person, with him. He looked better, smarter than ever i had known him to be. He in no way looked dapper, all his charm emanating from the casual, easy way in which he carried himself. His manner was courteous, yet not even a feeble measure of formality streaked his demeanor. His smile was contagious- i call him my own brand of "happiness pill". The best thing about him- he made me feel at home.

He made me realize that dubious questions, such as the one quoted in the beginning, are nothing, but a travesty of the word 'friendship'.

Sitting diagonally across me, with a hot cup of Mocha in his hands, (and a semi alcoholic Irish Coffee in mine), he incited me into self dialogue as to why such a special friend is to be separated by such long distances. We jabbered incessantly about everything that came to mind. We took short, reflective breaks to understand and absorb the importance of the time being spent together. We gave each other little gifts, for this is the only time of the year we could meet, but those gifts in no way could amount to even an approximate measure of how loved we wanted to make each other feel. "The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people." The artist inside me was failing me. I had wanted to tell him so much more, hear so much more, share so many thoughts, tears, laughter....

Time for departure was too quick to come. I was sad. Little. I was happier to have met him. He has a little thing about him, which revives my faith in everything good and positive around me. I live for my friends; but when it starts getting too much, he inspires me to perfect the balancing act, and not sway to the extremes. The people i love, and begin to hate because of unfulfilled expectations, suddenly become blame free, and i give myself a slight rebuff for letting negativity brew in my head. The good part is, despite being benevolent and magnanimous, he never makes me feel indebted. He says its mutual, and i comfort him as much as he comforts me. I like to believe it. Its so easy to be friends this way. He holds infinite respect for me, as i for him, and while respecting each other, we learn to respect every other good thing/person in our life which deserves to be respected.

My tree still stands there. It has noticed the droplets forcing their way out of my eyes. In its reckoning, i was infinitely happy, so why the droplets? I don't know. May be i am sad for not having been able to give him a last, warm hug as he disembarked from the metro at Rajiv Chowk, and mumble an apology. May be i am happy (mushy-happy), and i have been happy for so long that it can no  longer be contained inside me. May be i am both. One thing for certain- this friend will remain with me, even when that tree dies down. If ever he goes away, I will understand that there must be a reason for it. This season, and the next, and the next...i'll remember to smile whenever the rain fed weather's beauty is beyond description, for it is on one such day, i spent the most marvellous moments of my life with you.

Keep my faith breathing....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Last First Day....

It is happening....

It had to happen, but, now, it really is happening.

My last year in college has finally begun. Today was my first day in college. The campus, which till only yesterday was deserted, quiet, and so-not-like-JMC today was teeming with energy. The fuchchas looked apprehensive, inquisitive and excited, and i looked back at my very first day in this very campus. I had still not resigned to the fact that i am fated to remain in this 'all girls' college for the next three years. Coming from a school where i had only (mostly) male friends, it was disconcerting to the eyes to see only female and feminine figures around. I felt irritated to the core when after searching frantically for a 'girls' washroom, it dawned on me that in this campus, there are ONLY girls' washrooms. It felt creepy, and it took time to adjust, and today, the situation is such, that the thought of not being a student of this college exactly one year from this date wreaks havoc with my system each time i set foot in the college.

Me and my emotional attachments are deplorable- i know. However, i cant help it. JMC being the cleanest, greenest and the bestest campus in the whole of Delhi University, it is so easy to fall in love with..umm... the lawns, the canteen, the basement, the amphi, the audi, the library....and the whole college itself.

My friends have taunted me, and have requested me to abstain from any 'emotional atyachar', which they knew was going to be inflicted on them, while i  soliloquised about how a year down the line, we would no longer be permanent residents of this place. The fact is- this hits me really bad. So bad, that keeping my thoughts only to myself is not an option. And since my friends are the package-deal i got from this college, they have little option save listening to my melodramatic monologues.

I'll miss this place, but that will come later. A year later. As of now the thing that i know will no longer come back in my life is the thrill of coming to JMC for the 'first' day of the new academic session, soaking in the beauty of the amazing campus we have, and feeling proud for being a part of this very, very prestigious institution. I will miss coming to college, congratulating others for their grossly, flagitiously, overbearingly good results while mine, in accordance with the custom, were too modest even to be called modest. I will miss taking a college tour, passing new, fresh smiles to everyone. I will miss peeping inside the staffroom to catch a glimpse of all my favorite teachers. I will miss the yearly pledges- "I HAVE to do well this year"- and ruining them even before i could put my first 'strategy to do well' in effect.

But, most of all, what i will miss are the desperately longed for, cozy hugs of my friends, and the smile that instantly lights up my face when i see all of them after so long, and the comfort that my heart silently experiences when it realizes that yes, those people are still with you, around you. I will miss the rigmarole that subsequently ensues. I will miss the first, long hug that Kapoor gives me, the first amazingly captivating smile that Jagga gives me, and the first beautiful gaze that Sanchi's bewitching eyes cast on me.

Two years earlier, when i set foot here, i was not prepared to accept the fact that it is from this crowd i have to find friends who will help me survive for the next three years. Today the condition is such, that survival without these friends is very nearly unimaginable. My next year in college, i want to see pass as a montage of precious, priceless moments, that if i can't freeze into pictures, can at least be safely tucked away in some part of my mind. Will happen. Definitely. Me, my college, my teachers, my friends- we still have one year to revel in our attachments, and then......we'll at least promise to stay in touch.

As for me, it was in ninth standard (five years back), that i first heard this line-
"Hum toh dariya hain, humein apna hunar maloom hai.
Jis taraf bhi chal padenge, raasta ho jaayega"

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Table For Two...

He said:

And the thought crosses my mind
If I never wake up in the morning
Would she ever doubt the way I feel
About her in my heart
If tomorrow never comes
Will she know how much I loved her
Did I try in every way
To show her every day
That she's my only one
And if my time on earth were through
And she must face this world without me
Is the love I gave her in the past
Gonna be enough to last
If tomorrow never comes...

She replied:

Yes. You made me cry
Through what you said
My lips are dry
My heart unwell.

A dream of glory
Wishing to hope
Nervous to hope
Nonetheless, I hope.
We'll wade through, we'll cope.

A tomorrow will dawn
So what if we stand apart.
He'll watch over, he'll guard.
He'll see us from the same rampart.

One Sun- We'll bathe in its rays bright
One Moon- Will dispel pain, the dark fright
One Sky- Where desires'll seek flight
One Heart- Binding us in divine light
One Soul- Our stanchion of immense might

We'll loosen the ropes of worldly control
We'll persevere, we'll not lose hope

If not in this world
then in the Parallel Universe
We'll experience Grace
Be absolved of the curse.

Providence shall murmur
not cruel, but words sweet
"The ordeal is over, go fulfil
Your need to be complete."


Quote from Acts of Faith, Erich Segal
"Deborah, do you want to know my definition of an adult? It's someone who wakes us one morning, and says to himself, 'I no longer care what my parents think'. To me that's the real, psychological bar mitzvah."
(Dr. Barnea to Deborah)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Strange....but real...surreal...

Strange things happen to us in life. We do strange things in life. I did a very strange thing once in life. I have done many strange things in life, but this one was outrageously strange. Though I did it in words, and not on paper, it was strange nevertheless.However, I am extremely happy I did this strange thing, that strange day, over that strange phone call.

I was eighteen, when i adopted a seventeen and a half year old girl as my daughter.

I should have put an exclamation after the above sentence. I did not, because it is not something funny. At least i don't find it funny. Although, I can't put a leash on myself when in moments of anguish, as well as moments filled with her 'cute' charms, she calls me 'mumma', calling her 'kid', 'baby', 'bachcha' and everything of the ilk had been natural since a very early age. I don't just say it, I always meant it.

She is my earliest memory of a friend, a friend who depended on my for nearly everything. I read somewhere- "Like cars in amusement parks, our direction is often determined through collisions". I don't remember when i collided with her, i was in kindergarten, but she became my only object of love. Then came a time, when i lost her; but when i found her back, after a hiatus of nearly 6 years, it was a renewed relationship that started maturing between us. We were nothing close to the proverbial 'joined at the hip' friends, we never stood as a paradigm of ideal friendship, we did not come across as the 'oh so in love, inseparable' friends; but, we were there. We were always there with each other, though not many realized the depth of our bond, till much later.

She sat demurely in class,  her long black hair tied neatly in a ponytail. She was the fairest among them all, had the most beautiful eyes. She was unassuming, at times even a little scared, of the reckless, impudent and insolent demeanor of the others towards her. She loved limitlessly, but faced betrayal. She never hurt anyone, but God hurt her right where it pained the most. She wanted to spread smiles, but was a victim of tears. She, who could never think wrong of anyone was misunderstood and disregarded by many.

And then she found me, and i found her. I tried to be there with her, but was blocked by her 'well-wishers'. It was only a matter of time, that I triumphed over all of them, and today, this precious, little gem is mine to possess. 

She is strong, but gullible. Her heart is of gold, but melts at the slightest display of emotions. She has seen much in life; I've tried to be her bulwark. Whenever i looked into her tear filled eyes, I felt responsible to bring her smile back. Whenever i saw her anguish-ridden face, i felt responsible to put her heart at ease. When she got hurt, I HAD to make life better for her.

I've fought with her, fussed over her, taught her, watched her, protected her, cared for her, loved her- I've done everything in my capacity that under the facade of a friend i could. In my heart, this bond was always more than friendship. She was my family. A family away from home. I've cared for her for so long, that now not caring for her does not seem an option. She was sad, and angry, and dejected the day i 'adopted' her over a late night phone call, and she instantly brightened up. It remained a joke for some days, it still is. However, it is not she, or anyone else who can undermine the motherly (euphemism-sisterly) love i have always held in my heart for her.

I only want her to know one thing. When  life is dark, and no respite in on its way, you can pose blind trust in me- I'll be somewhere around. My hugs for you would never end. My warmth for you would never cease. I'll always be around. Always.

Before i thank you for writing that wonderful post about me, i must share a secret. Every time i have pulled you out of your bed, ruining your compulsive habit to sleep late in the day, i have always spent a moment or gazing at your face..your serene and calm features, and the little smile behind your's a sight which makes me smile. And then I simply sigh, and shout "Charu! Wake up or i leave!!!"  - that's my 'daughter's' blog

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

'Tis The Season....

Delhi has never been more beautiful. Not in my immediate memory at least. It is raining, and raining real heavy. The roads are wet, washed clean. The trees are dripping, with the green of their leaves accentuated and absolutely pleasing to the eyes. Summer is seeming like history, and a chilly breeze is constantly caressing my cheeks. The best part- scent of the wet earth. Taking in the fragrance of soil made wet, immediately after rains is easily one of those pleasures i would never get over. Everything is at its pristine best, despite the concrete jungle that forms my immediate habitation. With this little, random, silly smile on my face, am looking at the raindrops lashing against my room's window, reminiscing my best spent moments with life. Moments that touched my heart, moments that i can romanticize forever.

And what such a weather does to me is anyone's guess. "Hopeless Romantic"- I don't know who tagged me this, but whoever it was, was a very sensible man/woman. Just about a few days back, summer was at its peak, and so was my temper, and irritability, and stress levels. It was hot, and sweltering, and nothing seemed to be in order, and fatigue and discomfort seemed to creep into my existence from all sides. However, for the past three days, things have themselves fallen into order. I am calm. I am finding time to even do things not originally in my schedule. I am happy. I am lost. And the same, silly, faint smile is forever accessorizing my face.

And I am thinking about things. About a lot of things. Things, which have one thing in common- They all make me inexplicably happy. It may be people, situations, incidents- everything that left even a faint impact on me, and is still lurking in the penumbra of that part of my memory, which i associate with pure, unadultrated bliss. Let me quote a few examples-

~Somewhere during last week, when i struggled my way up the metro stairs ('cuz the lift was ready to explode with the number of people trying to squeeze in), taking the kanchenjunga exit from Barakhamba Road Metro Station, I saw a couple who would remain etched in my memory for a really long time to come. They were in their middle ages- the female far more graceful than any I have known, and the male, very dignified, with his slightly greying hair at the temples adding to his charm- and visibly, very much in love. However, why I remember them, is not for their looks, but for something different. The couple, both of them i presume, had not been blessed with speech and hearing. They were carrying on an animated discussion, with their hands flying in all directions. It was only a moment i stole a glance at them, and then averted my eyes, slightly conscious by the fact that i was invading their privacy. However, when i looked around, i realized, in India, not many people are blessed with scruples of conscience, and they continued gawking at the two of them, even sharing totally contemptible laughs among themselves. I climbed out of the metro station, stole a last look at them over my shoulders, and whispered to my heart-"bless them"

~I do late night studies, often keeping up till early hours of the morning. Generally, the curtains of my room are drawn, to prohibit early rays of sunlight from entering my territory, and depriving me of slumber- a much coveted, scarce commodity for me. However, today morning, i clearly noticed the sky changing color through my huge window, with no curtains to disposses me of such a magical view. I ambled into the balcony, and I don't know for how many minutes i stood there, immobilized, my eyes soaking in every little detail of the alluring scene in front of me. It was unnervingly quiet, for most people were still snug within the blanket of sleep, but i was glad for not being one amongst them. I was glad for being blessed with a private rendezvous with the most stunning part of the day, the sky over my head being cast in layers of at least three different colors....

~" Sometimes i feel everything in the world is so beautiful and simple. Quite contrary to what I think. But its nice. :)" My friend Saurabh, practically out of nowhere, and 2:17 am at night on 5th July, sent me this message. I had been trying hard to fight out the hideous images of Statistics' formulae and diagram which had been annoying me for past couple of days, when I recieved this, and smiled another of my silly smiles at the mobile screen. Firstly, 'cuz, there are fewer things that can give you more happiness while you are caught in your mundane chores than the name of your favorite friend flashing on your mobile screen. And secondly, the content of the message was so random, abstract, yet enough so effective in transforming my virulence into gladness, and the sms chit-chat which followed for nearly and hour or two after that, one of the fondest i've had in a long time.

While I was pondering over these very things, flipping through the pages of my diary, when i came across a few lines i scribbled as a reaction to a 'Spiritual Solutions' article in
HT, on June 15, '10-
"Love is a phenominally understated, grossly misunderstood, and supremely assaulted emotion; but, it possesses a remarkable resilience. It keeps coming back in the lives of all those, most often without their cognizance, who at some point or the other have desecrated this divine object, this blessing than God gave us to directly be connected with Him."

Quite honestly, I did not believe i had written this. But then, I guess I had. I guess something had bothered me so much, that rather than stain the pages of my diary with long, lachrymose content, i simply expressed my anguish in these words.

So, the conclusion. Despite disdain flowing in copious amounts from all sides from the more sensible and pragmatic male friends of mine, the sort who look down on females who are mushy, senti, easily attached to the most silly things in the world, I will continue doing the following things-

~I will read the Twilight series as many times as I desire (in fact, thats what i am doing in my free time at present), despite the fact that i have seen the movie like a zillion times, and read all the four books twice over already;
~I will collect money and buy myself a copy of the classics Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, even though I've read them emough times now to know the lines by heart;
~I will keep watching movies like A Walk to Remember, Autumn In New York, Notebook, Titanic, and keep shedding bucketful of tears, even long after the movie is over;
~I will totally refuse to give up my obsession with Katherine Heigl, and James Marsden starrer, 27 Dresses, and see it as many times as Star Movies thinks it fit to air it;
~I will continue sleeping with my copy copy of "I Too Had A Love Story" hugged tight to my bossom on those dark days of my life, when things would be awry, and genuinely feel remorse for the author of this cute, little book;
~I will continue going to movies like "I Hate Luv Stories" despite enough warnings from the media and the disappointment, scorn, and incessant protests of my companion, whose definition of 'paisa vasool' for such movies is to avail the benefits of air conditioning and simply sleep. And after trying for the sixth time to wake him up, i would simply give up, and enjoy the movie;
~And here comes the big one-I will continue hoping, in the labelled 'nonsensical' fashion, that my boyfriend came with a vampire bite scar somewhere on his neck, making him an exact replica of EDWARD CULLEN, blessing me with a kismet akin to that of Bella's

Some supremely intelligent individual has quoted-
'Love makes uncomplicated, earnest idiots of us all" (-Tim Dowling). I would like to agree with him, and state furthermore, that it is this specific idiocy, which can grant us those precious few moments, which will flicker in front of our eye lids, when we approach the evening of life. The crepuscular being i am, i firmly believe in the concept of dawn after dusk, and can't leave this post to end on a note with a slight melancholic undertone to it. With nothing left to write, I'd just end with a quote from Acts of Faith, an awesome novel from the magical spinner of Love Stories, Erich Segal-

"It was one of the Jewish legends of the mystics- that when the soul descends from Heaven, it has two parts, one male, the other female. They separate and enter different bodies. But if these people then lead righteous lives, the Father of the Universe will reunite them as a couple."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ravana Revisited

Is it strange that I have not been perturbed by any sort of intrigue about the much hyped, recently released Aishwarya and Abhishek starrer RAAVAN? Well, at least my cousin thinks so as he gives me those incredulous looks when I tell him I don’t care about the ‘hot new looks’ of the stars or the scenic locations or the great direction of Mani Ratnam which has surely made this movie a masterpiece. Frankly, I am glad the film has bombed at the box office (1 and ½ star rating by HT), a befitting answer to all those die heard Abhishek fans, eagerly awaiting the release of the epic film, hailed as a ‘landmark’ in his career. It may still turn out to be just that, but for me, the hullabaloo surrounding it has been consistently incomprehensible.

What I am glad for, though, is the fact that due to this movie, the media and the intellectuals have been compelled to undertake a debate on the conceptualization of ‘villain’ in our society, in our films, for once trying to give their characters their due respect. This is most aptly stated in the following lines- “Every story needs a villain. The Jain Chronicles are very clear about this. For every Vasudeva, they say, there must be a Prati-Vasudeva. Ag
ainst Rama stands Ravana, against Krishna stands Kansa. In fact, the villain comes first, justifying the existence of the hero. The villain’s villainy props up the hero’s heroism, justifies the adoration and worship.” (-Devdutt Patnaik, mythologist, and author of The Pregnant King)

A particular source of fascination for me has been the obsession of print and electronic media with revisiting the much celebrate, legendary villain-Ravana- straight out of the epic Ramayana, composed by Valimiki. He is the iconic villain- one whom we love to hate!

Having my mother as a Sanskrit teacher has its own advantages. I dunno how small was I when my innocent tongue started chanting these lines-

Chakaarchandtaandavam tanotuna shivashivam”

I never understood their meaning - I still don’t. I was merely overtaken by the rhythm and vigor that emanated while chanting the initial part of these lines. What I do know today is the fact that these lines constitute the second part of the first verse of the 16 verse long Shiva Tandava Stotram, composed by the Asura king Ravana himself. When the fact that Ravana was a staunch devotee of Shiva, so much so that he composed this Stotram to appease the Lord from his petrifying anger, was first revealed to me, I stood in disbelief. Ravana was the sinister demon king who abducted Sita leading to his own destruction at the hands of Rama- how could someone like him be then related to a figure of a deeply religious and learned king, I failed to fathom.

Ravana is a symbol of evil”- has it not been fed into our system since the time we were toddlers, and were still learning to identify figures, and used to sing alphabets along with other nursery rhymes? We couldn’t boast of any worldly wisdom at that time when our grandmother taught us that evil always gets defeated at the hands of good, as is the case of Ravana, during one of her bedtime story sessions. Such are the common, conventional and delusional wisdoms imparted to us through the oral transmissions of our mythologically rich heritage. Did anyone tell us that the immoral son of sage Vishravas and Kaikesi was actually a learned Brahmin and a great scholar of his time? Did anyone bother to tell us that he is ascribed as the author of Ravansamhita, the most powerful treatise on astrological investigations derived from our Vedic texts? Did anyone tell us that there exist communities in unknown interiors of our country, for whom, Ravana is the only deity they’ve ever worshipped? Did anyone tell us that there is a Jain temple dedicated to the mighty king Ravana near Alwar? Perhaps no one told us because they themselves are not aware. I myself was not, till I saw and was captivated by a documentary on NDTV India this weekend, my eyes glued to the TV screen as I stared at an idol of “lord” Ravana- perhaps for the first time witnessing a serene, and ‘vinamra’ expression on his face, as against the ‘raudra’ image as is commonly perceived in our society.

So today, Ravana stands for me not as the widely professed super-villain, but as an ambivalent figure- part daitya and part Brahmin. His ten heads would not so much frighten me as they did when I was a kid, for today I know his ten heads are symbolic of profound knowledge of four Vedas, and six Upanishads. I will recall him to mind as the composer of the hypnotic Shiva Tandava Stotram, whose hubris was karmically fated to be subdued by Rama. The next time I see Ravana go up in flames on Dussehra, the biggest celebration of triumph of good over evil as witnessed in India, I will for once bow my head humbly to the great and glorious demon king, who has ‘clearly fallen victim to the distinction drawn in Ramayana by Valmiki between a good human guided by moral ethics and marital bonding, and the Rakshasa Jati- the race of demons and illusionists who practice profligate living.’ (HT, 20/06/10).

While I do read in my Indian Culture readings about Samudragupta, the scion of illustrious Gupta dynasty, famously called the ‘Indian Napolean’ by V.A. Smith, as being a prolific veena-vaadak, it has been little in my cognizance, as of most around me that Ravana himself was an unparalleled player of the Veena- the instrument most profoundly associated with the image of the goddess of learning, Saraswati, herself.

The next time I go through the much simpler and abridged version of my copy of C. Rajagopalachari’s Ramayana, I will be in a position to give much more thought to the fact that Ravana is not simply a figure who should be used as an instrument to establish the good a
nd astute image of maryadapushottam Rama year and year again in our highly saffronized society as his effigy goes up in flames during Dussehra; he is a legend in himself, capable of imparting much wisdom to all of us. As I rue the way the good and the evil forces were balanced inside Ravana, I remember the following quote I read in HT’s Saturday Editorial, written by Gopalkrishna Gandhi, former Governor, West Bengal- “While I too believe in Gods, I don’t believe that God concerns himself with the fates and actions of individual human beings- in their daily chores, in their pettinesses and quarrels, in their moments of joy and sorrow… As a Zoroastrian, I believe that good an evil exist as separate forces and that the world we live in is a battlefield.” – Fali Nariman

With Ramayana having already attained its much exaggerated place amongst us, I am eagerly waiting to grab my copy of the ‘Ravanayana’. ‘Ravana’ definitely is the flavor of the season!