Thursday, February 21, 2013

'Where the land ends and sea begins' and I got caught in between.

See and imagine the sound of atlantic 

'Where the land ends and sea begins' and I got caught in between’

Where it all happened:
"Breathe, take a deep one and come up. You can either come or get lost here. There's no other way around. ", compassionate or not, those words were the only flicker of hope for me when I was stuck at the bottom of the cliff at the western most tip of Europe,Cabo Da Roca, in Lisbon, Portugal.

Commotion in my mind:
Because apart from those words, there was no hint of living beings (or perhaps there were a few in the North Atlantic Ocean, had I waited and stuck around for a meeting). And the water was lashing out loud against the shores. But it didn't sound life threatening when I had climbed down there. It was one of the most exotic natural settings I had seen. I closed my eyes and told my friend to shut up.  My mind spoke out loud inside me at that instant, “You have to live a long life to see such miracles of the world again and again. This is no big feat.” Believe me, for the fat me, it was. It's a different thing to tuck your tummy in and not breathe for a few seconds when you get photographed. Yes, even then one thinks of the life ahead and the pictures you have to live with and answer for. But this one was different; I wanted to live to see more of life.

The thought of why the hell did I follow my friend down there. He was lean and agile, things I can totally not relate to. Everybody else had stayed up the cliff, taking in the serenity of the scenery around them. What madness had wrecked my mind? After every 10 steps I climbed down, I was sure I couldn't do it further. In a rotten and fearful tone, I used to lash out at him every time, “I CANT DO THIS!”, and he retorted, "Tum fattu ho, world's biggest one" (In a humble translation, it would mean: I am a loser, big time). I sincerely believe you shouldn't take such mockery seriously like I do.

But I did and invited all the misery that followed.

An hour ago: Ranting and bickering, I had climbed down real close to the shore. I could hear the sound of the cascading spring by the side, but couldn't see it. The view, curtained up by the rocks around, was playing with my curiosity. I had to make a final dash down to the bottom. When you re that close, you do get enticed into taking another leap. But this one was tricky, I could have managed to jump down but coming up from the shore leading to the narrow opening beside the spring was surely going to be a pain for me, I knew it. And yes, that was where I was stuck for that moment: An hour later.

Right in the moment:
Back to the deep breath: I kept my eyes closed, didn't look up or down. Sized up the distance I had to hop and latch onto the next rock. Tucked in my tummy (while not being photographed, this time around). With a countdown in my head, in those dark, blacked out seconds, I was there, latched onto the next rock, still precarious, yet happy to have made the move. Life seemed simpler in that moment. Even though my favorite kohl and what not dropped out of my bag, while I was avoiding to see anything and care for anything in that one- make it or miss it moment- of hop!(Yes, I cared for carrying a side bag full of belongings for a trek. I am just amazing).

That one hop buzzed in Neil Armstrong’s words loud in my ears (adapted to my situation): One single hop for me, was one giant leap to live on for the next many years!

However it went, thanks to the experience, I got to see the best ever place I have been to. Thinking of those gushes of water pounding at the shores, making roars and escaping out from the arch of the rock in the midst of the ocean, I feel Wow! I have the answer to the most adventurous thing I have done till now. 

P.S. On climbing up, which I did a lot faster than climbing down, I found out that I had seen something down there, about which I hadn’t enquired about at that time. I was too busy scrambling for my life. It was a stick tied down to the rocks with a message floating in the air. Later a localite informed me that it was in the memory of a Norwegian pianist who had perhaps slipped and died there in Cabo Da Roca last year. Bless his soul. Numb yet taken aback, I felt lucky to have escaped that fate.

Sharing with you a few of those moments captured on  a phone cam:

This is a step away from where I got stuck. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dilli! I figure !?

Oblivious to the ground realities of life, lived a girl in the capital of Punjab. The beautiful and wide lanes with greenery all around and everything put perfectly in its place, Chandigarh is a poet’s dreamy delight.
Brimming with hopes , I packed my bags for Delhi to join a postgraduate course in Jamia. Reflecting on the days passed in Chandigarh , I thought of the days ahead. I could draw no parallel between the two cities as Chandigarh ,the city I dwelt in for my graduation days, was serene and dreamlike and Delhi was the unknown certain destination for the next two years of my life.
 Expressing oblivion with regard to the national capital sounds dumb. Yes, everybody knows about the national capital. It’s the city which gets maximum coverage in all the mediums of mass communication. But I wanted to have my own experiences, so I went ahead with a clear mind , holding no prior notions about Dilli.
Two weeks down my stay , here is what I have to say!
Speak the five letter word “WATER” and everybody says water war is the next thing on the conflict list of the world. On a micro level , I saw water’s significance in a quaint way. The moment Shatabdi pulled inside the Delhi station, I jumped up from my seat to collect the truck loads of luggage to move out of the train as soon as it halted. In those fugitive moments , I caught this sight which shook me inside out.
Picture this: An ape entering inside the compartment , climbing from the seats by the door side to the seats in the middle in flashes of seconds. It almost felt, he was made for the job. He picked up all the used and unused bisleri bottles served to the passengers and clutched them in his armpits and tucked a few under his shirt. He swooshed away without being noticed by the staff on the train. And as it all got over , in the dazed state , I carried my luggage and managed to move out with the incident being replayed in my mind over and over again. His dark skin and tattered clothes with the swift movement of his limbs gave me an impression that he was more of an ape by the first appearance ( no derogatory connotations implied). He sold them to the retailers or filled them to sell on his own or maybe something else , what exactly he did with the bottles , I still cant figure out.

The next event in the row goes like this: Standing opposite to Escorts hospital while waiting for the bus to Saket, I saw another side of human beings which I had never experienced in person. An autorickshaw loaded with seemingly a lower middle class family pulled in from one end of the road. At the same time , a car came in from the other side and veered off its track which could possibly lead to a collision with the autorickshaw. The moment passed and the mishap didn’t occur. Watching them from a distance , I heaved a sigh. I saw the man in the car stepping out , he looked like somebody in his mid 60’s , with grey hair and back little hunched. He went over to call the autorichshaw driver names!! That was the limit for me to witness. I still cant believe that people can avoid their share of responsibility by putting the badge of guilt on others and walk out of it , without any remorse.

The last of the ‘chosen three’ incidents on my list was the bus ride experience. Riding in buses is fun. With the choice of three buses(the blueline,green and red one) to chose from , you certainly feel lucky. I have not dared to take a blueline till now. It seems a daunting challenge everytime I think of taking it as it is always filled from one end to another and stops by my stand to cram in more people than it can possibly accommodate. The other one’s seem agreeably accommodating. But the scenario turns upside down , when it rains , the buses flood up with the crowd of humanity boarding in , one after another and one on another as well. The limits of decency and even casual human respect get lost in its midst.
By the time , you move out , it seems you should have better stayed home as you find yourself greasy , with crumpled clothes and an experience of being hit for a count of times which you forget in the distress.
I still hold an amorphous opinion of Delhi , still figuring out what it is. Help Delhiites!

Friday, May 14, 2010

WE the BIASed people

To be a part of the nation

To call your nation a united one , standing tall with its diversity

And then be looked upon as a traitor

How humiliating a form of discrimination can get?

Sir John Strachey , a member of the Governor General’s council who helped in the establishment of British Raj in India expounded in his lectures that ‘India’ was merely a label of convenience , ‘a name which we give to a great region including a multitude of different countries’. Besides, there is not , and never was an India , or even any country of India possessing , according to any European ideas , any sort of unity –physical, political,social or religious.

His lectures were studied by those who worked in India after coming down from Cambridge.

However provoked we may feel as Indian citizens but how much do we do to counter the deep seated bias in ourselves? Why don’t we learn lessons out of history when we were divided to rule?

The term discrimination, whenever read in the Indian context mentioned in our textbooks was always related to the derogatory behaviour of Britishers towards us in the pre independence era , the class divide in India where the lower castes are still facing the scorn of the society and the trend has been on since time immemorial(dating back to inception of the classes)… There are many such prejudices which our society nurtures. One of the lot is the racial profiling of muslims in India. How easy has it become for us to think of a terrorist only as a muslim, making the two words sound synonymous to the ears. The nonchalance with which its exclaimed makes matters worse.

Every attack in the Indian subcontinent is followed with discussions from parliament to the streets of India about the terrorists , Islam , jehad and muslims. If its alright to question the tenets of Islam for the activities of the terror groups and treat muslims contemptuously accompanied with irrational detention of muslim youth then it should be equally right to push all the people behind the bars who created mayhem in Ayodhya over Ram Janam Bhumi issue and destroyed Babri masjid. If not terror then what was it? Like always, all of us should gear up our bias instincts towards all the hindus who were involved in the gory incident.Should not we?

Remember Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam? Surely , everybody does but the question wasn’t asked to check your memory , it was to remind his visionary ideas , scientific accomplishments and above all his position of an ex first citizen of India- The President. Was it just a token attempt to represent India as a secular power at the worldstage?

Racial profiling is one out of the sea of issues which divide us . Bias is the only irrational answer to these problems.

Why cannot we think of progressing as India , why cannot we nullify Strachey’s thinking, why cannot we think of people as human beings, why do caste , language ,religion , class , gender take the better of us ?Why? On a lighter note , it looks like we were not designed to live together by almighty ( Found another irrational excuse to the entire problem).

P.S.  This time around  I have got published in college magazine . The first piece in the english section it is. The info is for those of you who have an access to MCMz college magazine. This piece was not considered worth it ..guess I should have worked a little more on it or probably its too radical for them to publish it in a college journal but thats how I feel and thanks to blogger, I can make a handful of people read this either on their own or forcibly :)

Food , FOOD, fOOd!!!

May 7..(they say it’s a lucky number..I doubt)..the day I departed from City Beautiful carrying along a deluge of memories ..of ‘3’ years of unstoppable action. Of all the three years , given a choice , I would pick year three, for the ‘sheikh chilli’ style of living we had back then and for the weird bunch of friends I made.

Reliving a usual day at Mr. AKz pg

We hardly cared for the sunrise or sunset…we had our own customized version of the day which started at 8 am in the morning ( at the earliest or three four hours later :P). Who cared for the sunrise anyway , it was sun’s job and none of our business. By 11, rubbing off our eyes , we looked at each other with hungry eyes ( no such connotations , don’t take it otherwise) and everyone uttered the regular refrain ,“ Bahut bhookh lag rhi hai yaar” , knowing the fact that we had eaten every edible thing available around in the night.Then , began the hunt for food , by knocking other room’s doors , with pleading eyes for any , I repeat ANY sort of food available with them . Did I mention , there were some people who used to get their morning paranthas , and do I need to mention that if they didn’t offer us , we hated it and our animalish quotient for food multiplied manifold!

Okay , there came the vendor and in no time , one of us used to dash to the street to grab our share of veggies and the other animalish fella threw down 10 bucks (for 3 pyaz , 3 tamatar, 1 shimlamirch and dher sari free mirchi).Later, we gathered for discussion round, what to have?...porridge , poha , maggieeee , top ramen etc etc were the options back then and we used to have NoNE Of the basic materials required .Thereafter , we used to begin staring at each other for finding the innocent lamb who would deck up and take Baawna’z(H missin :d) super Activa ( did I say bhawnaz? It hardly belonged to her. She just used it for getting it refueled for the pg …how so generous!) to get something from the confectionary store. Meanwhile all of us , huddled and worked together as if we were making a super grand breakfast for the entire colony. And on one of those lazy days , we used to settle for aloo ka paranthas from Kumar Rasoi!


At around 1.30pm , our eyes headed towards the balcony with a glum expression on our face as if we were starving since ages( Okay , the breakfast we took at 12 was not so satisfying , a meager meal it was!..poor we!). Thanks to mummy’s lunch service , we didn’t miss our mummies that hard! The food used to be real scrumptious and we used to gulp it down in no time while dirtying around Uchikaz bed all the time ( what a wonderful host she was).And later, for the dessert part , thanks to our jijuz ,we always had unlimited supply of chocolates. This part of the day was always delighting till my buddies moved to the land of nod keeping me aloof most of the time.


After gedi’s in the evening and having spent all our time in the markets , we used to discover at night, "oopz! we dont have anything for dinner". Then began the usual beggary to which we had gotten accustomed to. Anyway, our pgmates were generous during this time of the day and Pooji and Suhaan always prepared brobdingnagian meals as if out of love for mankind ( and yes , for us too), be it pulao , upma etc. to satiate our ever growing hunger for food. And who can forget those ‘ halwa’ treats we used to give to ourselves! Yum , Yum!

Well that’s not the end , late in the night , we used to mutually beg for maggies and there were those cold coffee parties too with one packet of fat free milk to fill in so many tummies!

I am sure , I am successful in casting an impression that we were not just foodies but animals. I have just thrown light on the food part of the day , there’s lot more that we did but food being the necessity and common concern bound us bigtime! Love them all ! People always say there’s nothing like mothermade food , with due respect to my mother’s cooking skills , I feel food shared with friends when everybody is dying out of hunger and wants to devour the maximum share, when there’s nothing edible to eat and friends join up to make something out of nothing….and a lot more stuff like it…that is where you find the real pleasure in eating!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

We are blessed! What about THEM?

A day back, my friend’s mother passed away.It triggered a train of thought in my mind and connected a many instances in life when I felt annoyed with life for not giving me what I wanted , when I envied others for what they had …but the most striking thoughts were those when I felt blessed for being born and brought up the way I am but still a little discontented with life for no good reasons at all.

Just wanted to share a few of those encounters!

The dilemma still persists!

The first year of college, the na├»ve me , and a whole lot of new things to think about! I was traveling by bus from Jalandhar to Chandigarh and came across this guy(almost my age) who played an instrument , more like a violin ( am still unaware of what it is called actually). With the rickety PRTC bus pacing at it best speed on Punjab’s not so smooth roads , this guy had this rugged look and continued playing his ‘violin’ while singing a Punjabi folk song. And I was struck big-time because I was told since childhood , “begging is not a good thing and you should never give money to beggars because it does more bad than good for them”. But my mind wondered , “C’mon , he is trying to sing in the most non conducive environment and look at him , he’s your age! Have you ever put in so much of hard work to earn anything in your life?” So , I gave him a 10 rupee note but felt disgusted even after that . Would a 10 rupee note make any difference to his life? And who am I to pay somebody ..I am my self a nobody!

The cherub ‘Roshni’!

If you have been to Chandigarh and have visited 35 main market then you would know whom I am talking about. When the Diwali fervor was full on and the nooks and corners of Chandigarh illuminated with beautiful hues, we found the tangible version of light – “Roshni” , a little girl in the vicinity .She’s so small that she can barely talk but manages to deliver her message in her own style. We found her in 35 main market , the beaming cherub in torn off dirty clothes , walking the aisle barefooted and carrying out a practice which disturbs my mind – “beggary”. We couldn’t say a no to her, she charmed us into forgetting all those principles we imposed on ourselves. We asked her what she wanted and she pointed towards the ‘juicewallah’. When she got her glass of juice , she refused to drink it unless we got the same for her brother(who translates her expression to us). And we were touched! When they gulped down their share of drinks , the gleam of joy reflected from their eyes gave us a sense of satisfaction. But a glass of juice or food that people offer them by being lured by Roshni’s innocence hasn’t changed their life one bit. The other day , I saw a video in my friend’s mobile covering Roshni and her ineffable charm .So ,I found out that she had been illuminating a many lives with her charming existence but who would come to illuminate the life of “Roshni”?

And she left me dumbfounded!

I like visiting Mansa Devi temple with friends. It is located around IT park Chandigarh. More than faith , the ‘kadi chawal’ served in their ‘pandal’ drive me towards the place. The other day, when we were coming out of the temple, we had an unusual nasty conversation with an almost 7-8 year old girl and I was left dumbfounded. It wasn’t anger that I felt, it was a question that hammered my head , “who teaches them all that?”

As a regular affair, there were beggars soliciting for money outside the temple. We offered them Prasad as usual and as usual they wanted something more than that. But what happened after it was what I call utterly bizarre. This little girl came running to us asking for money,while asking for it ,she showered a million blessings on us, particularly that I would get married soon with the love of my life and I shall have wonderful kids. Now, why I mentioned this very blessing is important to know because when we refused to give any money , what she retorted follows : “ May you have kids before your marriage and you never get married after that”. Now,what kind of terrorism is that ? and who puts it into the nascent mind of a little girl baffles me more than her curses.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Deep seated imagination!

A tinsel town it is…the place my mind wanders in….wherever may I rambles in the lanes of the world of imagination…talks to an indefinite identity who is non existent for the outside world…finds its solace just in that identity wherever be it lost.

It always thought that world’s a bubble and so is the reality of all the creations crammed in it.

Bye the bye , it found an outlet in the real world…in the form of a soul who could make it laugh , cry , shriek and shout for him. It thought he was true , unlike the bubbles elsewhere , he considered it his best friend and poured out his heart all the time. It melted for him , it started thinking of itself a bit like other humans do. But gradually he found his soulmate and it became next to nothing for him. It was always there when he needed…but he left it nowhere! Anyway, all the best to him for life!

Then it met another He , He was a spark of hope so bright , making it almost fall for him . Yes , it eventually fell for him and He treaded on and crushed it , paying no heed to it who had almost transformed from it to a human being because of his liveliness in its life.

Ah poor it! How “affectionlorn” could one feel! Not a problem , it knew how to move on! And wished him a farewell which couldn’t be more polite J !

On goes the journey of our it, oh ! this time it starts metamorphosing into a worldly creature…yes , humans call it “She”…God ! full on she became a bollywoodish heroine…deeply in love with the new HE in life…God…HE had the wits to charm…not just her but all the bubbles around. HEz how she would best describe life…a dream in heart and a great vision in mind..HEz someone anybody would idolize and worship every day and night. And yes therez more to say as HE is an epitome of all whats right and disapproves of all whats left! She devoutly dreams and desires to be with HE cuz it seems the indefinite indentity has finally materialized into the best creation of the world.BISES POUR HE!!!

Long live HE!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What a unique blend!

Early Mornings! Were these always as beautiful as these are??

Waking up late was an unwritten norm of my life,

To experience dawn was a far cry…..

Couldn’t imagine dawns to be that bright,

Till Roza and Sonali walked in my life.

They painted my mornings with their ‘R’ed ‘S’heen,

Just like sunrays in the early morning sky beam…

Filling up my life with strokes of delightful hues

Metamorphosised my mornings n took away all blues!

Luck by chance , we met in Alliance Francaise .Don’t know whom to thank but I cant thank enough the moment while walking in the land of nod , I happened to follow Sonali (a 22 years old Chandigarh resident)and Roza (28, Iranian student doing PhD in law from PU) (C’mon its not that easy to wake up so early for any damn class in the world).

On being followed , Sonali offered me to come along casually and I did J.Thereafter commenced the magnetic bonding amongst the three of us in the airy and splendid ambience of Notty Bhaiyas Cafeteria in Alliance Francaise. Having three cups of chai , maggi and sandwiches has become a routine of a sort while we talk our hearts out making a ‘khichdi’ of Hindi , Punjabi , Persian , French (as we just have a smattering of all these lingoz now) with English as a common link. Now, Sonali and I thank people by saying ‘Tashakor’ and Roza prefers ‘ Dhanyawaad’. J Roza’s chuckles and her cute hindi accent with Sonali’s mellifluous songs make my day !Our friendship stands as a great example of the collabaration of three cultures – Indian , Iranian and French(coutesy Alliance Francaise)

P.S.- A part of it got published in the indian express on frienship day...if they cudnt publish our whole story...hw does it matter....i can!! :)