Monday, January 20, 2014

Words, and Me

They linger, haunt, inspire, cajole

They fight, embrace, depress, console

They flow and ebb and flow some more

They merge, emerge, and adorn the shore

Of mind and heart, of love left bare

Of nonsense picked up from here and there

They’re words, just words, 

But beyond what you see

They’re words, of course
But at core, they’re me.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Picture Perfect - January

This year did not start for me on a particularly good note, but that is the subject of an altogether different post. Here, I want to introduce you all to the point where it turned around, where I figured that blessings currently in my life are such that any and all hurdles can be overcome, must be overcome. Random elation greeted me on an excited phonecall when a dear friend, confidante, elder, mentor (and so much more), told me he had made my portrait! The element of surprise did not end here; it heightened when I realized that the portrait is actually a magazine collage - and a trusted expert told me this activity requires both - skill and time. I still shiver with excitement when I look at it - and its the perfect picture with which I am resuming my monthly picture perfect posts. Here, have a look. Isn't it completely incredible?

The happiness continued, when upon my whatsapp window, knocked another artistic genius - another portrait, this time made out of tea leaves! Now. I won't say anything, but let you all have a look at it.

I am a happy girl. Narcissistic, yes, but happy too. Any words of gratitude for this grand gesture are too less. So I will shut up. And go to sleep. And bring to mind yet again all those factors which count as blessings in life. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

To You, and the Awesome Road Ahead


To the basic first - you are awesome. Okay. You're more. You're a redefinition of awesomeness. People could call it vanity on my part, but then, between you and me, I can always say these things. You know its not vanity as much as disbelief, fondness, and then, some legitimate parental pride. With those love-filled, keen eyes, I am witnessing your growth - and when we last met, you left me speechless with all the grandeur. 
That's you, that's us

It had been long since you and I met. While writing this, I realized something funny, and strange. In your world, the serious can coexist with funny, the dull can coexist with bright, the silence can coexist with noise. Basically, you permit it all. And so, the funny thing I realized is, you feel like a kid, and a beloved, all at the same time. And you can, you totally can coexist in my head as both those entities. Its fun to see you grow each time we meet. Its fun to see me fall for you all those times, over and over again. You're plain awesome. Oh, but I already told you that. 
The 13th invite

Among the new things that I have to tell you, there is none. Except the fact that in our thirteenth tryst, you overshadowed all your previous manifestations. That's something you do. This time, however, was slightly different, for you led us to a time warp, within walls which echoed the most personal and priceless sentiments of a human heart. We met in a place where the bustle of city comes to rest, where the walls entice you to detach yourself from ordinary, hectic life,  and spends moments of intimacy with yourself. For me, personally, Ugrasen Ki Baoli is a place where I have seen melodies of life and relationships play out. In that sense, and in every other, this was a perfect venue for our rendezvous. 
The enchanting venue

When we arrived here, I and this other person who is equally fascinated and proud of you, but doesn't say it that often,  had already spent a beautiful morning in the company of Delhi's own genius poet, Mirza Ghalib. Having traversed the winding alleyways of Ballimaran and Kucha Pati Ram Gali, our poetic day began with the most traditional flavours greeting and refreshing us. Heritage and poetry often hold hands while walking. That morning, in a green-tinged haveli, I understood why. Urdu poetry, penned by the mighty quill of Ghalib himself, being read out in the space which was originally his, was an absolute treat for the senses. In the tiny metro ride from Chawdi Bazar to Rajiv Chowk, I mumbled this to myself - "Ragon mein daudte phirne ke hum nahi kaayal/ Jab aankh hi se na gira toh phir lahu kya hai". Essentially, I was carrying a little bit of Ghalib with myself, PACH - and so glad am I that he and his stories came to meet you too. 

Our start was slow, remember? It was like a perfect winter morning waiting to come to life, but fighting to retain the lazy romance which is its ultimate marker of beauty. In no time, however, you attracted enough people to leave my forehead slightly creased. I remember exchanging that amused - not worried - glance with Anup, where we were basically puzzled to see so many of them climbing down the stairs of the stepwell to us, some perched on bliss, others on curiosity. It was a flock coming together, or what Neha Bawa prefers to call her tribe. 
Same emotions, different expressions. 
Facing our poets, who double up as the audience. 

She was one of the earlier ones to open up, with two poems letting out stifled emotions. I was moved enough to share my own. Somewhere in this rush of poetic energy, a few new, yet recognizable faces greeted us - and they added a greater hue of grandeur to our last poetic tryst. A short introduction to Parveen Shakir and to feminism in Urdu poetry was given to us by Rana Safvi - a shayra herself. In her tone, she carried authority as well as the affection of an elder. I could've gone on listening to her. Asif Khan Dehlvi, the master storyteller from Delhi Karavan, was waiting in the wings, to regale the gathering with anecdotes about Zauq and Ghalib's rivalry. Vikramjit sir's presence, coupled with DJ's much awaited entry to the PACH scene - it all added up beautifully to kickstart the last mehfil of 2013. 
Asif, in full flow
Rana ma'am - adding the feminist touch

Six paragraphs down, I am still at the kickstarting phase. We're both crazy when we talk to each other, and I am crazy about the craziness you are. Each new face which came in went back feeling they've known us for long. There were rockstar performance by Anup and Kamal - their poems having become a part of the very fabric of PACH. Vaibhav combined Chemistry and Poetry into a product where each couplet led to applauses. Rohit developed a single innuendo to persuasively propose to you, PACH - because for him (as for me) meeting you was akin to falling in love. Amrit left us a little stunned when he recited and recounted numbers in his poem written over a train journey. Aaqib's shayari worked backwards, but still found the perfect route to enter our hearts. Himadri's nervousness made her endearing, but I kept wondering why would a poet as sensitive and sensible as her would be scared to share her creations with us. Taru recollected a painful friendship; so did Vaishali. Anirudh, the videshi-chhora, came back to take us through realizations which hit a person in the process of growing up, or becoming a man. Sonalika di spoke for womanhood, spoke for compassion. Archana asked for Neha's voice to express what was personal and sacred, and painful too. Nabila, Rudra, Dipali, Karan, Shiva, Varun, Akhil - so many names and faces shared so much with us that it is impossible to recollect it all here. Still, PACH, do you know why I take out time to share it all, minute by minute, feel by feel with you? Well, its my way of prolonging the best time life sends my way. I am that kind of a romantic, you see. 
We were much more than what you see here
Someone called us the convenors of all this madness. We're a little mad ourselves, you see. 

My favourite moment from the last meet was when sir (whom we know as Aastha di's sir) took out time to introduce us to God and his mysterious ways, which are incomprehensible to a mortal's brain. He also, then, introduced us to the magic that Aastha di herself is. I did tell you I love her, right? And also that she is the most precious gift PACH, you, have brought for me? Well, after the poem I wrote and recited for her, you would know! She knows, but its the kind of love which I wanted the world to know of. Again, thats precisely the kind of romantic I am, you see. You're grand, that you let me be. 
Aastha di and sir

Lines just rhyme these days. Music is what you hear in Yogesh ji's poetry, which chugs amidst the mundane faces found in a metro. Melody is what is encased in Pratibha's poetry - who decorates you with words which cause my heart to well up. A marriage of music and melody is what it is like to see Pratibha and Yogesh descend the stairs with gorgeous smiles on their faces. Music, which is soft and lilting, is what you are, PACH. Harmony is when all the diverse voice which make you come together to celebrate poetry, and to celebrate life.  
The official, first PACH couple

Having told you this much, I am far from being done. We paused for a bit, bidding adieu to the beauty that had hosted us, only to huddle on the roadside to lend our ears to the remaining poets. Huddling and cuddling were on our agenda the entire wintry afternoon, if you remember. It was happyfying to hear an elated Sudhanshu, admitting to have found inspiration in his own verses. A cute Aavika, with usual reluctance, poured love in our hearts with her soft lyrics. Shruti, more than anything, left me flabbergasted with her vocabulary, and the dexterity with which she juggles words. Navin ji, the master performer, displayed yet again why he is multiple leagues above us all. Anurag, hmm, is a kid who overwhelms me so much that I often forget his words - thats just my connect with him. Ekansha chose Faiz above her own words - and I was glad that after Parveen Shakir and Mirza Ghalib, another Urdu poet became a part of our gathering. My own, personal, favourite surprise was when Supriya (whom I like calling #DilliKiBilli) decided to share an old piece of poetry with us. More prized, however, were her reactions to the other poets, which are what led to multiple, enthusiastic discussions about you in Kunzum. You, PACH, are just hitting it off big with people. Take my word. 
The written word
Aunty, with Aafreen!

In the most comfortable embrace, I recited and ended our journey through 2013, with sparkling hopes in my heart to see 2014 become an even more liberating, surprising, elevating celebration of poetry and life. Did I already say that earlier? Well, again, it fits. You, and I, have come to a happy place. You, and I, and all of us together. You are among the most satisfying of my experiences. You infuse pride, sure, but then, you're humbling too. When I look back at this one-day-over-half-a-year we've spent together, nurturing and caring for each other, I feel a certain amount of nostalgia. Why nostalgia? Because you are the best thing to have happened to me in a long time. Years and years hence, I shall be talking about you to my grandchildren, with sketchy details, perhaps, but all the correct emotions. You are a toddler, whose pace of growth, honestly, is a little scary. But then, we're in it, together. I'm writing to you, but will you mind terribly if through this letter, I also thank each single person who has ever supported us in the smallest of manners? You're grand, and innocent. I think you would want to be with me in thanking them all. 
Happy 'half year old' PACH!

Its a flood of fond emotions, but its just the beginning. And when I mention beginning, I instinctively thank Anup. He conceived you, you know - so you technically began in his head. But about these endless words of gratitude, he knows much now. 
Happiness and hope

And so, dear PACH, I wish you a happy, fulfilling and thrilling New Year. You flow in my head right now like a mesmerizing background melody. You set me free. In your own, unique, magical way. As a last confession - you've made me grow fonder of myself - and this, I value, beyond everything else associated with you. 

Much love.
All the awesome people!

PS - I am so full of you, and you're coming back, so soon? Oh, PACH. You just know how I like being loved best :) We meet again, Sunday, 12th January.
In my happy zone