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The Enchanting Trains

There is something magical about train journeys. The charm starts from the railway station itself. The moment you step inside a railway platform, you are ushered to the concept of secular India. You will find people from all walks of lives, all religions, caste and creed waiting patiently on platforms. Some sipping tea, some listening to music, some talking loudly on phone and some simply absorbed in their meditations. Some rich, some poor, some upper middle class, some lower upper class.

Some coolies dressed in smart red attire, carrying name tags and tons of luggage with ease, sharing useful information with anyone in need. Sometimes within minutes,  a crowd of ebullient people would gather and discuss the current political scenario, usually near a tea stall, sipping cups of hot sweet tea over a couple of rusk biscuits.

Now in times of uncertain pandemic situations, people are dutifully maintaining distance and masks which limit uncharted conversations. But behind the stoic silence of masked faces, you can find eyes searching and staring into some what familiar and some what faraway faces.

At times, the whole place is filled with excited chatter of children mixed with anxious cries of worried parents. But as soon as you are settled in your respective coaches and berths, the nervousness settles in and makes way for a relaxed long comfortable commute to your loving places.

I would love train journeys and as a kid there were innumerable fun games that me and my sis played while on our numerous trips from our home to our Didun’s bari, Nani’s house. I would really long to these long rides to my ancestral place. And from there, I think a sort of loyalty has seeped in to my attachment to the train adventure.

However, I envy those who sleep peacefully at train and busy stations and bus rides. And no matter, my love for train journeys I always resist an overnight ride because sleep is more precious to me than my day plans. But this time, my husband convinced me for an over night journey to a beloved destination with my two children and parents.

Sleep was definitely lost, but I gained a wholesome experience of Incredible India. As the train passed through the hilly terrain, the early morning rising Sun was all out in his Majestic glory. Crisscrossing in between dark tunnels, terraced fields and tea plantations, the train chook chooked away, swishing like a snake.

As the landscape change when we leave behind cities and cross miles in quick hours, we meet tinned roof houses, with mud walls in all colors and sizes. The houses have a small bamboo fenced courtyard and you are enthralled by beauty of its simplicity. The children of the village can be seen playing around a big tree and green paddy farms and ducks waddling in small ponds pass you by.

The flora changes from wild forests with dense bamboos to single straight lines of supari, coconut and banana trees. Looking at these simple sites gives you a sort of unexpected relief.

The railway platforms in these quaint locations are neat and clean and almost exotic looking. The small railway cottages along side some big platforms, add to the mystique of your travel. In your dreams, perhaps you will revisit them and spend your time looking at trains traveling by with all its fascinating glory. Your tongue will linger for the taste of hot fresh poori- aloo bhaji prepared and served by smiling simple vendors at such platforms.

All in all, travel time will bring you closer towards Indian essence. The secular and social fabric of this great nation is strengthened by all its people, all regions, all cultures, all art forms. We cannot miss out on anyone or anything. Inclusion for all, growth for all is an inherent message of Indian railways.

This ethereal experience would remain etched eternally in my heart. Share your favorite train journey’s experiences.

Featured

Soaking in the Sun

Soaking in the bliss. The most wonderful aspect of winters is basking in the Sun, with a cup of coffee and peanuts by your side. Taking in the glowing warmth, a million other indescribable sounds and pleasing your eyes with mindless gazing.

Sun is the most positive affirmation on this Earth. When we feed our body on this marvelous energy, it sort of re-energizes and reboots our entire system.

There is so much that we take for granted. In lush green fields, or high rising buildings, Sun shine is must and mandatory for well being of every person, every natural or man made thing, every home.

But look at the indomitable human spirit, there are scientists or extraordinary humans living in higher up regions of latitude, with minimal or very little Sun. It is only because of sheer grit and determination that those people thrive. That brings to us fascinating insights to the human will. Anything is possible. Nothing is impossible. That is the only important thing. Human spirit is wonderful and the more I think of it , the more awesome I feel. There are infinite incredible unexplored possibilities for all of us. We can all be divine!

Over some decades, there was technological advancement, but human spirit was depraved. In all walks of life, in all professions some murky attitudes had lurked in. Dishonesty, jealousy, greed. Every day the Sun rises, it is an opportunity for us to begin a fresh start. To embrace positive attitudes. To make sense of our senseless existence. To survive the dark night and wait for the day to shine through, just like the Sun.

To be persistent in our struggles. Just like the Sun. Once or twice, dark clouds might cause us to falter, but let’s never fall and let’s shine again. The shine might be weaker at some days, but still shine through. The nights might get longer, but still work through. We will all ultimately succeed.

Sending positive affirmations to anyone and everyone. Aum Shanti! Shanti! Shanti!

Enjoying the Sunshine Sundays

Decisions…

We, as a family, are on threshold of something very important. At a very critical juncture.

Am I being too dramatic πŸ€” ?

We are actually buying a new car. It is a big investment for us. A major money matter for us.

Our dear decade old car was beginning to disappoint us at times. She had supported us a lot. Ridden us to mighty mountain peaks and hot blazing desert 🏜! After years and months of repair and service, she was showing signs of definite aging.

We had been mentally calculating our budgets, trimming out the indulgences, going through bare minimums to save for a better car, for almost a year now. As we have two young children, safety features were paramount for us.

We were first venturing into buying a seven seater for our infrequent needs to make the grandparents comfortable with us on long adventure filled journeys. Both of us feel, that it is imperative for grandkids to be around grand parents. But the costs and future maintenance costs were totally spiraling out of our budgets. Spending way too much on car seems to be counter productive with so many cab apps and zoom car options nowadays. So we narrowed it down to five seater with good engine horsepower and safety. For our basic needs, in and around the city.

After we enrolled ourselves to visiting and inspecting so many showrooms and tiring ourselves by the incessant test drives, my husband has finally zeroed in on one. I am at peace. It fits in our budget.

My husband did most of the planning, scheduled all test rides,watched YouTube videos of various cars and models and did a lot of research. It wouldn’t have been possible without his meticulous methods. We owe him a lot of credit. I would just lose grasp of the thing after a couple of seconds and would excuse myself. This planning and deep discussion was just not my cup of tea. He has his friends as advisors, for such serious decisions and that works well for both of us.

But the problem started with delivery. Due to the ongoing war, there is de-escalation in growth of ? semi conductor chips! I am not sure, but something like that. And hence all deliveries were delayed by months and some even by half a year. We are still waiting for our new one!

After what happened to Cyrus Mistry, it is a moment of truth for all of us. Life is very fragile. He had the best car but you can just die anywhere anytime. That is probably why life should be spent in a more beautiful fulfilling way because every moment is precious.

Stop worrying. Things should not worry you anymore. Become light hearted and full of joy. As you do it, you encounter more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicity. And it accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous. That is manifestation.

Anticipation, excitement and exaltation! Isn’t this what life is all about.

I have a lot of patience and profound trust in God’s plan. Something great is coming up. Something that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.

Happy Autumn to everyone.

Happy festive season to everyone!

Happy Navratri, Pongal and Durga Puja to all my Indian brothers and sisters.

Manifest positive thoughts

As the tiresome day ends
The fog rolls by
The winds whisper
And remind you to
Say your gratitude
To those who mean the most.

As you lie on your bed
And close your eyes
Beneath the dark skies
And shining stars
And you thank Thee
For the calmness they bestow.

And in the morning
Chirping birds and morning dew
Sing afresh a song so new
And you count your blessings.

And far away
Where a waterfall falls
Fair and tall
And rainbow meets the pristine sky

And all the mysteries of the world
With the deep secrets underneath
All have a purpose, they serve.

Amidst all calmness and chaos
Amidst all true beauty and false farce
I close my eyes, take a deep breath and thank Thee!

Frustrations of parenting!

I am not a natural homemaker. πŸ˜’ I get all upset when I see these excellent influencers on Instagram or YouTube putting these fabulous videos, making it all look so simple. Feeding their children veggies. Doing fun activities and looking so glam and so chill about it. I know it is tons of hardwork, patience and years of practice for them and I have no sensible reason to be mortified.

Everyone has a different skill set, different aspirations and different circumstances. But still….

How on earth do they find time to record, post and then respond to all the social courteously to all media handles. πŸ€” The only time once when I tried to use phone during my spare time in loo, I ended up dropping it there and it was a big disaster.

I love that mothers nowadays are so talented and ready to share all they know with noobies like me, but it is overwhelming. I feel guilty in my heart that I do not try enough. It breaks my heart when my child easily catches cold when the weather suddenly changes. It is infuriating for me to find them addictive to unhealthy items, and not take a liking to the daily homely items.

I understand that for kids now variety is the key, but should that be so paramount? I wish times were simpler and easier. As material things have become easier and convenient and economical, time on the other has become so costly.

I love my kids. But the kids of social media are so full of etiquette and right mannerisms, that they put my babies to shame. These other children are not advertisements, that we can discard as fake or tutored. There are no fake filters of behaviors. My boys look like obnoxious mean devils 😈 in front of them. But they will get there, slowly or atleast that’s the hope.

I am not much of a disciplinarian either.And I love being idle, I guess. I have so many flaws that sometimes I feel I am letting everyone down. But I try and recharge myself and try my best every day. Even if I have no practical skills, I try to have an everyday attitude of courage, frankness and good cheer.

Even if it seems that I am losing control, I pray for positive reinforcements. Sooner or later, I will get the hang of it. Sooner or later, I will devise ways to deal with with their deliberate manipulations. Sooner or later, my kids will be happy and content with whatever little they have.

I had the blues because I had no shoes, Until upon the street I met a man who had no feet.

Nevertheless, I love these evergreen courageous mommies. They say, mothers always know what is right for their children. I may not know it all the time. But I know that in my heart I am sincerely trying. My utmost priority is that my children learn to have gratitude, learn to brave hardships, survive the struggle and appreciate the beauty that is life.

The educational and competitive criteria now are insane. I don’t know how they are practical or realistic. The constant academics of logical reasoning and analytical thinking are beyond me! Is there a science behind the level of activities and hours of homework that we get. After all, science is a collection of successful recipes. Is it not? Schools and their stress is maddening.

I know this parenting rant is agonizing! I hope I get strength to not dwell on my flaws. I hope I continue to learn from this amazing community. I pray that God watches over all of us, especially all our kids and keeps them safe and helps them cultivate good values and morals.

What is your take on parenting? Do most of you found it natural and instinctive. Or do you consciously work on it ? Do you also compare and worry yourself to death?

Or are we all flawsome yet awesome?

Sickness Strategy

I have been having a hard couple of weeks. First I got sick, took barely no off and carried on. But now my children are sick. And that becomes very exhausting!

I need high octane energy to drive myself, to feed them and to wipe their noses and put them to bed.

Also, myself and my husband always get into small trifles and fights when my boys are sick. I try and be as patient as I can. But sometimes, I fall short.

Sometimes, I want to curl up on the sofa and just binge watch a tacky show or read a good book. My husband also definitely needs a break.

Our motivation mantra has been this. We are relentless in our pursuits. We will overcome all obstacles. We are fighting fit. We are children of God. And no harm will ever fall upon us.

Good day to everyone.

Musings..

Sunday morning musings.

Yet, children remain exuberant and boisterous.

When the heartless Sun has sullied all your adult spirit and the humid stiff air has suffocated your adult desires.

It leads me to ponder – were we all this dexterous to begin with? and slowly over the years as we accumulated more wisdom and poise, we lost out on our resilience.

As adults, we get busy scheduling joy into our lives, whereas the children live in an ever joyous state!

We do not want them to waste time. We want our children to value time, study hard and compete in this complex world.

For them time is priceless and spending time in rain or shine, with friends or foes is what counts.

Life is made of simple joys like spoiling clothes and a box of toys.

We dream of buying plots and cars, they are happy to build blocks and have fake wars.

We strive to secure a future so great.

But present becomes a misery, and then it gets too late.

Should we all not learn a lesson or two. Learn from our kids, rather than telling them what to do.

We call them vulnerable and immature, and still they are are the only ones who enjoy the precious gift called life and for the moment, they care.

Candid Conversations

Me and my better half are busy working parents and when we end up talking, it is usually to discuss chores, or timelines or stuff about boys or rarely office. It seems as if the time has just drowned in the din of the day. He is currently away on a work trip. And I miss him. 😒

Who else misses spirited conversations or few nice genuine people to interact with. Or is it just me!

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a party person or someone who enjoys going out and dressing up for it! I am supremely lazy for that chore! Nevertheless I do enjoy having meaningful relaxing conversations.

I do realize that- it is wrong. One must be happy and content with what you have on the inside. But that is one luxury that I really wish for. Once you grow up and change cities, it becomes really hard to find and make friends again. I am in touch with my college besties, but now that we all are busy mothers with working lives, it is really a task to just stay in touch.

I have a difficult time just nodding endlessly to same material based conversations that one comes across at workplace, parties, parks or gym. I sigh inwards and put a pretend smile outwards.

I am not saying that I am very bright for everyone around me. Rather, it is just the opposite. I am pretty dumb regarding most basic things in life. For instance, I am not very good or adventurous in cooking. My home decor skills are nonexistential. My makeup skills are negative. I have zero interest in property, car or discussing or worrying about children’s future. I am not very good at conflict resolution. Gossips disgust me. My small talks are screwed!

When you invite clown into your home/ palace, he doesn’t become the king. Your home becomes the circus. So be careful, whom you invite into home.

Anonymous

I find looking at scenery much more fascinating. A blooming red jaba flower plant in an overgrown garden, a kind looking dog, an old peepal tree trunk with its magnificent branches reaching up to the sky, sweet roses with thorns, green fresh trees against the dark grey sky, some birds flying nowhere.

When we walk close to nature, we come to a better understanding of life; for, it is from natural world that we first emerged and to which we still belong.

Ruskin Bond

I sort of live with the philosophy of God determining all my actions. Sometimes, although very rarely, terrible things do happen so that I may learn a valuable lesson. It is all a part of his plan. I just need to give my best every day.

The warmth of summer is sweetened by the bitter cold of winter.

Que Sara Sara Whatever will be will be, the future is not for us to see.

Insist on yourself, never imitate.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I wait for my boys to leave for school and enjoy my coffee with a book by my side. And that solitude is serene and so perfect. But sometimes, just sometimes I wish to chat with someone who enjoys the same things that I do. I miss that someone who can understand your silence.

P.S. – My husband has gone away for a work trip. Dear husband, I miss you. Please come back soon.

A failed adventure?

On my Twitter timeline someone some where mentioned a remarkable book of this century – Scott Adam’s How to succeed after failing for 1000 times. The book is about non-conventional ideas πŸ’‘ of success.

I got interested as I am a genuine fan of his comic strip -Dilbert and I look forward to reading it in the newspaper every day.

Now coming to the point. πŸ‘‰

We had a long awaited trip planned to Shillong, Cherrapunji and other exotic exquisite locations. After a period of rigorous training, and tenous summer we were all very excited about this. And were really looking forward to it. Bookings were done well in advance. We had an elaborate itinerary planned researching meticulously from various travel blogs and YouTube videos. We were depending on the blessings of the weather God for a beautiful experience.

Cherrapunji- here we come

Meghalaya was called such ‘ Abode of clouds’ by Nobel awardee Shri Rabindra Nath Tagore. The mystical clouds floating across the dense bamboo, supari trees lined highway give you an immense feeling of going away to an enchanted place. Perhaps a meditative trip for some. But myself and my children had been reading Harry Potter over the summer holidays and Hogwarts is where we thought we were going. Our hotel was no less than a castle. And magic was just about to begun. Or so we thought.

Man proposes God disposes!

Cherrapunji is famous for it’s magnificent water falls and we went to one such longest waterfall. The luscious fall, the streams of diamond πŸ’Ž water petals splashing across your face, the clouds fleeting across alternatively with the pleasant Sun. The sound of pristine flowing water, the chattering of loud lucid insects, over looking vast panoramic view of Bangladesh and no other buildings or hotels in sight. No modern architecture around Kym-rein falls to disturb the natural scenery. We could only bow at the enormity of the cascading water falls. The scene was even more picturesque with dark clouds ☁️ surrounding the top most hill.

Only two man-made structures were here in this natural abode. One, this beautiful man made road that brought us to this heaven.

And secondly, our most trusted man made companion. Our family car. This car was one of the first purchases that we as a couple did, and were extremely proud of it. We had a lot of cherished memories with our prized possession. It had taken us to the cold towering peaks of Ranikhet and arid dry areas of Jodhpur. It had been handled with love and care for a decade now. There were minor issues here and there. But it was family. And you forgive such tiny mistakes in family.

We were all taken aback when it suddenly stopped. It came to an abrupt end in the middle of nowhere. Truly nowhere.

This is how it happened. We were all coming back happy and excited from our exhilarating view of the falls. Next stop was caves. And then lunch.

Yet, in the middle of nowhere, the car broke down. It gave up on us. We tried and remedied and nice driver bhaiyas of other cars stopped by to help. But..No more dhakkas or anything else would do. No Ford repair mechanics or engineer were present in nearby 300 kms. Only tow to Shillong or Guwahati remained a last working feasible option. After being utterly dejected for 3 -3.5 hours, the logistics were worked out. All this was even more difficult, because the mobile signals were fleeting and only Airtel out of the 4 other mobile πŸ“± signals we had was available for call, only call..not internet connectivity.

But in all this hell, there was a silver lining…

Our car had stopped at a beautiful location. It was still noon time when we had this unexpected halt. A village Lattireyi was just a kilometer away from where our car had stopped. It had a small tuck shop for our tea, chips and water based needs. The kids thankfully slept through half that time and were as cooperative in the other half as you could expect a 6 and a 4 year old to be. The quiet village atmosphere, a running nala and nice weather with no Sun or rain and just heavenly clouds were perfect. Had it rained, we would all have been miserably holed up in the car or below our umbrellas. Had it been hot and humid, again we would have been uncomfortable and possibly nauseous. But by grace of God Almighty, we were comfortable.

There is a lot of beauty in ordinary things. There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth.

Leo Tolstoy

It was a day where we learnt that such small incidents can happen at any time of the day with all prior precautions and planning. And the best you can do is be calm, keep faith and look for next more suitable options.

Children enjoying the nala!

I am not very sound on technical matters, but it was something to do with the diesel injector, which as we read now is something that quite commonly happens to diesel cars after long standing.

To put it in a simpler perspective, the car had stood in the garage for a period of 70 days during our training session in some other city. After coming back, a full detailed service and a lot of other changes like battery etc were changed as required and mentioned by specialists. We had given full attention to get it prepared for this coming trip. But these things still happen! Again, I am no technical expert.

Neither is this a travel blog. It is a blog about faith in God, his circumstances and his people. When we stopped in the middle of nowhere, we had no idea that all cars would stop by and heartily enquire and help. The fundamental human spirit of compassion came together. This encounter reminded me that rather than visiting more touristy places, it is more important to imbibe value of courage and patience in your children. Rather than enjoying pleasurable situations only, they should be able to attend to difficult situations with similar calm and composure. They should be able to enjoy and find meaning in these coincidences and be more synchronous with inner human spirit.

Some old fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat. –

Laura Ingalis Wilder.

The best part of our day was when my children sitting in a humble taxi got excited about the rotating head showpiece on the car’s dash board. We saw a magnificent rainbow 🌈 on our way back. My youngest was so happy with that, he couldn’t stop talking about it. Although we were tired and worried for added and uncertain expenses and situations, but our hearts were full of joy due to experiencing such varied challenges and emotions on a single day.

Yesterday is just a memory, tomorrow is never what it is supposed to be.

Bob Dylan

So living in the present is what it needs to be. There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment, every failure and remember time waits for no one.

So in short, for me despite its shortcomings the trip was awesome. The next day of the trip was spent in multiple visits to workshops and incessant worrying. But it was an experience in itself. Our main goal was to reach our home sweet home with the car and that we all did – safe and sound. 🏑

Coming back to the point. πŸ‘‰

The real secret of success is enthusiasm. Success is not built on success. It is built on failure, frustration and sometimes even catastrophe. Your positive action combined with positive thinking results in success.

The trip was a success! Yes, it was filled with uncertainties and poor circumstances, if you call them so. But it brought the foremost human values forth. It taught me that- courage, hope, conviction are the strongest qualities that one must have to feel cheerful in any situation, any day!

Happiness is a matter of temperament, rather than circumstance. It is upon a person’s power of holding fast to such undimmed beauty that his inner hopefulness depends.

Ruskin Bond

Non – Mundane life ?

Life is never mundane. It is Ubuntu. We are all connected, interrelated and intertwined together. We have accepted the war and nonsense destruction in Ukraine. The world has a turned a blind eye to the ruthless carnage of Afghanistan. The heat πŸ”₯ is soaring in North India and in some places, in East and South India the rain is unrelentingly unpardonable.

And yet sometimes, curled in your bed you are far removed from all the apparent realities and you make your own palaces in your dream like state. You need nothing to dream. You can be rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, fat or thin, tall or short but in your dreams you can become anything. πŸ˜‰

The thing is there is no firm line between our dreams and awake state. Only if we dream of higher hopes and beautiful places, we’ll be motivated to reach higher destinations in our awake state. So our awareness in a sense is always there. And every waking or dreaming state should work towards generating a higher positive affirmations and awareness.

Newspaper

Nothing comes close to beating the charm of newspapers πŸ“°. My day is almost incomplete if I do not go through a newspaper. Even if incredibly busy, I make it a point to scurry through all pages.

Editorials, comic strip, quotes and quotations, advertisements, horoscopes- they all act as fuel to my brain to start my day. I try and get up early to read newsletters and drink my tea in peace, before the morning madness takes over. It is a tad disappointing for me that more and more people, including my better half are opting out of the hardcopy of newspapers to read a digital e- copy. The benefits are mostly eco -friendly sustenance and being less time consuming and more tailored to your particular needs and wants.

But does that ever come close to reading a newspaper with your eyes in the morning light and holding it with your own hands. For me reading newspapers is a treasured experience. When idle, I like to highlight some lines or some words that I particularly liked, with my favorite colored pens and would later carry it over to my personal space.

Is the same thing possible for digital reads? Can you really go over all pictures in detail. Can you ponder over your e- quick reads. Can you just experience the calm of scouring all headlines and finding something catchy to read and explore later?

With more and more technological advancement, rather than having more time to do things we please, we are being tutored to do more stuff according to technology. We are obsessed with Instagram images and fanciful Facebook and troulesome Twitter. It is easy to have an opinion but difficult to properly research and complement your thoughts. It is easy to abuse or shame someone, but difficult to find forgiveness and true acceptance.

It is sad that nowadays, most of us are living at a sensory level- feeding instant impulses. Giving superficial opinions and not deeply caring for a thing in the world. In my opinion, a regular habit of newspaper reading makes us more balanced, more discriminating. We build up our capacity for clear steady thinking. The heated newsroom debates on the idiot box, however, do the opposite.

What do you people think about it? Do share your views. Am I the only one religiously glued to newspapers?

Truth of life

It is such a conflicted feeling to be back in your ancestral place. At one hand you feel nostalgia and past emotions come rushing back to you. On the other hand, the once big palatial house of your memories is now crumbled and falling apart. The once strong hands that fed you and caressed you, are now trembling and unsure.

The voices full of endearing wisdom, compassion, eager questions and lots of blessings are silenced now. Maybe you should have listened more then. Maybe you should have answered more questions patiently. Maybe nothing needs to change. Death is afterall a definite consequence of life. One day, you too will die and perish in this earth. Your spirit will then resolve unanswered queries of your existence.

The same houses, the same color palette and same display pic amaze you. It is as if they have not aged a minute. Like a black and white picture from your memory. However, dust creeps in and settles in known and unknown space. Spider webs as big as showpiece themselves stare at you from every corner. Frail bones and crumpled skin look at you with tender eyes. There is no solution to aging. And I guess there is no solution to problems growing manifold at every stage of life.

There are so many memories of those you lost. So many moments stored in treasure trove of your journey, you never knew they existed. They surprise you, they tease you. Maybe you could have done more. Who knows. Who can say?

Life becomes an entangled state of affairs with a tedious cycle of education, job, children and then children’s education. One after another. Sometimes you are just moving aimlessly in circles. It is as if you have boarded a train with no destination in mind. You keep looking at different yet similar scenarios.

As you sit in your courtyard, and stare at the patterned walls, the flashbacks of laughter and love of the younger you come back to embrace you. Your mama would sit on his rocking chair and would spoil you with zillions of toffees, chips and sweet candies and you would smile gleefully and hide them in old drawers of his room, lest your mommy would find and scold you. He would chew his paan and would speak hindi in his most delightful bengali accent,and you would roll with laughter.

Your mesho would bring bengali rosogullas and you couldn’t dare resist them even on a full stomach. Your jethu would keep the sweetest of the pineapples for you to taste. Your jethi would cook sumptuous prawn malai curry and it would taste like dollops of heaven. More than the pineapples and prawns, you would enjoy their love and blessings abound.

These courtyard are now empty. The rocking chair is where it always was. It’s occupant now rocking away in baikuntha loka.

You remember the aachar made by your sweet nani and the way she lovingly fed you. That love comes back in her lost eyes fleetingly as she recognizes you for a tiny moment. And then again she disappears into her own memory realm. She calls out to people no more present between us. Her eyes have now run dry. Her once neat and tidy bed sometimes becomes damp at night. You don’t know what you wish for more. For her to remember you or forget you. For her to say your name or for her to erase you out.

Your once cheerful masi stands like a solid rock with stoic silence in her attitude. She slowly collects the pieces of her broken home. She gracefully lays down your lunch plate and serves your childhood favorites. She takes care to mash your rice, but does that serve its purpose now? Does the cold curry fulfill your intents or has it sensed your cold attitude. Has your taste evolved or have you purposefully moved away from her less spicy but more tangy tomato chutney. Would you rather prefer a junk loaded burger for your stomach with Netflix for your eyes and selfishness for your souls.

Your carefree big brother, the apple of everyone’s eyes, your childhood hero, has now sunk in slumbers of alcoholism. Your once darling and beautiful Bhabhi has moved on. Was their love a farce? You wonder. The dream wedding that you lovingly participated in, all a crude joke to end like this.

Your mami, your jethis slowly endure this life. They live with uncertain hopes for future and with past memories of their loved ones deep inside. Their dainty lives revolve around their puja homes and television sets. No more distant dreams. All done and dusted.

Your past stirs up unknown emotions in you. Was it sheer coincidence or you were lucky to move away from your birth town to a town of dreams and possibilities? Had you stayed back, this uncertainity would have been your fate? Once long back, time used to fly by quickly and vacations would be over in a jiffy. But now, time stands still till eternity. Till all your loved ones are dissolved in the shadows of death.

Jai Ma Saraswati

A day of prayer and devotion

A day of inner meditations

A day of merriment and joy

And a welcome break from routine commotion!

Happy Basant Panchami to all!

Oh Devi Saraswati! Endow us with knowledge and wisdom.

We bow to you with utmost emotion.

Oh mother! Take me from

Darkness to light

Ignorance to knowledge

Bondage to freedom.

Oh Ma! Remove my egotism

And let me feel your blessings in all things beautiful around me.

The Sun, the moon, the stars

All things endearing- near and far.

The butterfly, the bees, the birds

Sing thy glory to me in their own sweet way.

It is all a circle of life.

And you Ma- the creator, the preserver the destroyer.

May you bless us all with true wisdom, health and peace.

Aum Shanti! Shanti! Shanti!

Saraswati Puja at home

Jungle safari

It was a day well spent. A day spent in cradle of Mother nature. Pobitora is a wildlife sanctuary, around 30 kms from Guwahati. It is approximately one and a half hour drive by car. As you move away from the hustle and bustle of city, the simple small dhabas meet your eye, and tempt your taste buds.

The ambience in these dhabas is nice and natural. There is no pretense whatsoever. The service is slow and unhurried. You can feel your time slowly ticking away in the humdrum of this quiet village life. The girl with oiled hair, local attire and an exceedingly sweet smile greets you, and you are withheld in the charms of this rustic rural life. The food is simple and sumptuous.

My husband, who hails from Haryana enjoying the simple traditional Assamese thali.

Once you reach the sanctuary and begin your jeep safari you are transported to another world. The dusty path carved in between the wilderness of the elephant grass, the trees and wild exorbitant bushes cast a magic spell on you.

You see the wild big black boars disappearing as soon as they make an appearance. You spot their young cubs, their bodies striped and snouts pouting following soon behind. The idyllic elephant stands far away in the distance. You can barely make out the ginormous outline of the gentle giant in the hazy fog of the winter day.

But the one that holds maximum adoration in these forests and grasslands of Assam is the great Indian one horned rhinoceros. These majestic creatures have a coat so thick that they seem invulnerable. They are near sighted, but with an extremely sharp sense of smell.

It seems as if they are accustomed to excited spectators in swishing jeeps, because they hardly take any notice of us. They go on enjoying their drill of a lazy day. Eat, sleep and repeat. No competition, no ownership, only positive growth and simple survival.

There is a strong silence that devours this entire experience. The silence and stillness of the jungle. The silence of the eloquence of the animals. They are all there, essentially existing; but they know that careless chatter amounts to nothing. The whole atmosphere is meditative.

All smiles for the camera πŸ“· πŸ˜€

Next you pass a vast expanse of lake and see over a thousand migratory birds resting, taking flight, chirping and enjoying their stay. It is as if sounds of excitement and laughter fill up the sky. The hazy sun reflects through the sparkling clean waters of the lake. The whole place is lighted from a soft sallow exuberance of the afternoon sun.

All these moments are like small treasures to be captured and kept in the deeper realms of your mind. Moments of everlasting peace and tranquility. You wish to leave a part of your soul behind just to remind yourself every day, that – you are just a miniscule creation of the beautiful loving God who made so much more.

While on my way back, I bought beautiful bamboo sculptures of the animals made by local artisans. They now adorn the showcase of my living room and remind me of this day well spent.

Now the facts. The rhino poaching has significantly reduced a lot over the years, with all credit to the forest rangers. Also, Pobitaro wildlife sanctuary has the maximum density of rhinos, across Assam. In our one hour jeep ride, we came across 10 of these magnificent beings. But this increased animal density has also given rise to some man animal conflict in the region.

This was my third visit to the same sanctuary and this time it was hard not to miss the growing scale of industrialization around the area. Most prominent was a brick kiln established just within 5 kms of the gate of the sanctuary.

Ofcourse the people living in vicinity need livelihood and sources of income. I am no expert. But maybe some better alternatives can be thought of, instead of releasing tons of black smoke in the pristine clear environment? πŸ€”

I grew up on stories and adventures of the English man Jim Corbet. More than his hunting skills, I was enamored by his astute description of the forest area. He was also one amongst the first to recognize the man animal conflict. He also pointed out how we erode and destroy our forests for leisure. He was the first to speak up against hunting for leisure during British Raj of India. It was to commemorate his efforts that we have Jim Corbet National Park in Uttarakhand. I have been there. And the thrill of watching a tiger in its natural setting is an indescribable experience.

So maybe we need less mindless development and more environmentally sustainable growth. This is not only a question for the future developers and innovators and politicians. It is of paramount importance to all of us. What goes around comes around. How we treat nature and other living beings, will one day come back to us.

The harsh realities of snow blizzard is chillingly dangerous. Let us all wake up and realize the truth before it is too late. We can all be environmentally sensitive, in many small insignificant ways, in every thing we do around us. Let us pledge. Together we can restore the relationship and the harmony of man, animal and earth.

How siblings fight?

How siblings fight!

And then again unite..

How they build imaginary castles 🏰

And wear superhero capes! ❀

And play together with no mistakes.

Mommy picks up a book to read,

And brews hot coffee β˜• for her to drink.

The boys jump and dance.

Aha! She says – That’s my chance!

The boys bang and bounce

And within no time, they pounce,

At each other’s head and chest,

With bruises and punches πŸ‘Š

Can a mom never rest?

Amidst tears and scratches,Β 

A mother’s heart watches.

How siblings fight,

And then again unite!

Her coffee gets cold, her book lies unread,

And again she makes an effort to distract the monkey heads!

Does this happen with all the other moms around too? πŸ€”

Monkey Masti!

Hey I am Vanu. I am a monkeyπŸ’. And all my life I have been spent around these homes and trees scavenging for food. My Nana has told me tales about a luscious thick forest🌳🌳 where he used to live and hide from top predators. Not any more! Here, I seem to be the top predator. I bare my teeth at unruly boys. 🐡

I see a girl, as sweet as a butterfly πŸ¦‹, who looks at me with awe when I swing from one branch to another. I see her clapping in delight.πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈ Her jubilation encourages me. I try and show my benevolent skills. I approach cautiously maintaining my discretion and distance. But then her stout caretaker approaches and mouths few words that I do not like or know. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ™‰

Why does she despise me? My momma says that humans think we are unpredictable and dangerous because we do not speak their language. πŸ˜’ Ain’t love a Universal language? I am confused! πŸ˜• πŸ™ˆ

Am I really unpredictable? I think the humans around me are so! I see a man swishing in his luxury car to a swanky place, full of big machines, where he goes and jumps and sweats and makes funny faces.πŸ‹ He runs at a steady spot πŸƒand tries and does the same tricks that I do on a pole.🀸 Ofcourse, I do them better. πŸ™Š

But after this man comes home, he slouches his buttocks down on his big fat couch and orders everyone around. He doesn’t even move a finger, except for the one which is continously on that small little thing forever in his pocket and by his bedside. Something that works like a torch also. Highly advanced.πŸ“² Maybe he is somewhat like my big Nana. No! my Nana is strong and wise and gives me ample counsel and time. He hardly gives any time to his children.

I see the mother, fierce yet loving, caring and strong. I see her bathing her children tenderly. Just like my mama removes the lice from my head and scratches me. She doesn’t like me near her children and sometimes I sneak inside her kitchen and take her goodies away. She doesn’t even know I am there. I do not make any noise. And I also wipe my feet with the curtains on her window when I jump in. Once I took my friend in too, but alas he was noisy. He was also smart. He opened a big white cooling machine and spilled the mushy liquid maybe daal on the floor. We were exposed. We ran away. I felt bad for the mess. Now, she has become very cautious. Getting back in has become difficult.

Food is in ample here, I do not mind. Some well meaning gentleman has developed a nice vegetable patch. And even though it is well guarded by his best friend- the dog πŸ• my arch enemy. But we young monkeys, work as a smart team. We use distractions as a ploy.

There are a lot of wild berriers growing around me in abundance. πŸ‡But, I have more chances of finding food in a big green blue container. It is maintained with utter disregard by humans here. And sometimes contain baby excrete like smell and products. There is one miscreant like substance in all shapes and sizes and colors. It has a tendency to stick and cause problems for us. 🀒My Nana, since long has taught me to sniff the good stuff out and to use my hands and sharp nails to carefully pick my desired product. I eat what sustains me in one go and carefully pack and leave the rest for later.

The jungles are day by day reducing and my Nana tells me that we have to get used to this new ecosystem of living around humans. He says it is safer to live in and around their campuses. 🏑Jungles are few and far away. Usually on the outskirts, and sometimes near industries spewing black smoke into the air. Living here in city campus is more sustainable. All it needs is getting used to unruly crowds of young boys who sometimes use stones to drive us away. They miss all there throws.

Unfortunately, one day a stone stuck the smallest amongst us and he died after blood loss. That was a sad day for our community. No one ate. There was no chatter. We were all sad and were looking for ways to get back at miscreants. But my Nana said it is best to move on. I could not sleep properly for many nights later.

But life goes on. And I am back to being the chirpy charmer that I am. I beleive there is no life without a little mischief! And I will carry on, with elan, with my folks on this adventure called life!πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’

Ruins of past

One Sunday we visited Hajo, a place known as amalgamation of pilgrimage sites, near Guwahati. It has a picturesque location, atop a small hill. We stood in a line for more than 2 hours to get Darshan. It has a beautiful divine image of Lord Vishnu or Madhav. The sculptures on surrounding temple walls and pillars are beautiful. The craftsmanship is so fine and delicate.

But it is really painful to see lack of maintenance. Utter disregard for any cleanliness. Goats and monkeys run around and do their shit all over the place.

Similar was the situation at another ancient Bashistha temple, said to be the abode of Saptrishi Bashistha. The floors and staircase outside seemed as if they had not been wiped or mopped for days. Locals could be seen washing clothes and utensils in and around a holy river flowing right besides the temple.

I wish we all Indians, understand that there is no substitute to the old saying ‘ cleanliness is next to Godliness’. It is not enough to only keep our heart and homes clean. It is important to maintain all heritage sites well so that our children may know properly about our glorious past.

To create new heritage and preserve old heritage, both are equally important. It is of paramount importance to preserve the old structures with due diligence. And it is not only the work of government. Local people must preserve the sanctity of their neighborhood. If our surroundings are uncluttered and clean, similar effects it would create on our minds and body.

I know many people who maintain beautiful lawns and admirable aesthetic outside of their house. I know it is not easy. It requires time, patience, ideas of innovation and certain amount of expenditure on their part. It cannot be done by all. But nevertheless, a thing of beauty is joy forever. 😊

The cycle of life.

Old age is cruel. Very hard and cold. Winters become synonymous with chill- dead soul shattering silence of the night. Summer stands for tiring endless light of the day. There is no respite. Years trickle by, and yet for the old time stands still.

The most images or reels or posts I like on social media are of old people doing fun activities. Or younger generation dancing with them or honoring them. They always bring a smile to my face. It cheers me to no end when young people appreciate the ones who cheered them the most when they were just beginning the cycle of their lives. The old cycles have now run their course. Their tyres have worn out on this lengthy journey. It remains a wonderful blessing to share and learn from their wonderful adventures.

I love my Nani a lot. I don’t think she knows that. I don’t think I can tell her that. I don’t think she will ever know how much she means to all of us. And neither is it important any more.

My dearest Nani is just a bundle of bones now. Her flesh is feeble. Her skin has withered away. And her once so strong hands, that made ample pickles for one and all, now search meaninglessly in the empty space around her.

Once so affectionate and full of endearing wisdom, now she lies on her damp bed with no sounds whatsoever. Her senses have long left her. Her dear sons have died, before her eyes. Her eyes and ears are no use now. Her memories are spinning their own tales. It breaks our hearts to see her like this.

Her younger years were very hard. She became a young widow with five children to look after. She toiled hard, lived and worked amidst ruthless relatives and provided a basic living for her children.My masi, her second eldest daughter was and still remains my Nani’s biggest support. Once she came of age,Β  educated, smart and bright,she helped sustain her younger brothers and sisters. When my Masi married, she had only one condition- that she continues to provide for her younger brothers and sisters.

My Nani’s eldest son died in his fifties. Despite the world being so rough with him, he managed  to grow into a jovial, kind hearted man but his addictions got better of him. I remember going around the town on his shoulders. He was my own personal tonga rickshaw of my childhood. He died before we became adults. For us, he is forever our dearest bado Mama who would spoil us with all the junk bhujiya from local markets.

My majho mama, Nani’s middle son deserted her for some petty property feuds. Family ties broken in a hearbeat, shattered her heart. But she was a brave woman of strong moral character and righteousness. She endured all.

Her biggest jolt was sudden death of her youngest son due to hypertensive stroke. That loss left her devastated. It’s been a year since his demise but we have all been unable to cope with his ever warm and caring presence not being around. He was a gem of a son and ensured all that he could possibly do to take excellent care of my Nani. He was jovial, fun loving and so full of enthusiasm and energy. He had toiled hard in his life to earn decent money plus lots of respect. His sudden loss left an irreparable void.

Eventually after years of hardships and struggle, financially there are no limitations, but mentally and physically, she is limited and lost. And only God can provide her solace now.

Although my sweet choti Mami and her very affectionate grand son do take care of her to the best of their abilities. It is just not the same without Choto Mama. She stays in her bed all day long, wears diapers and forgets everything. Taking her to bathroom has become a  slow tedious task. I recall, perhaps once or twice she has had a slip and a fall and has sustained quite a few wounds and broken bones. The hands which rocked my cradle are broken now.

I remember with tears in my eyes, how she would fan us with her hand made fans when electricity would be erratic all day and night. How she would spend all day in kitchen cooking our fav meals. How she would stoop over and slowly cook her limited vegetarian food separately in a tiny space. How she would cuddle my first born and bless my husband when we visited her, back home after marriage.

In all her years of existence in the quaint city of Agartala, she has only been outside just twice, that to Chandigarh, to visit my mum. One was about 32 years ago when my younger sis was born. And another was about 12 years ago, in happier times.

I am her grand daughter from her youngest daughter. My mum is 60 now. Moderately healthy with mild hypertension. However, the present situations, the family responsibilities, the dreadful Corona makes it impossible for my mum to be there for her own mother now. What a devilish way of life.

My professional responsibilities stop me from visiting her. I cannot fathom this terrible tragedy of not being able to do anything despite being not very far from her. Her words were always full of compassion, to do honest good work, to work for others,  to be hard working, to not give up. To be good to others, to do good to others.

Why God has to put her through so much? So much loss, suffering and pain. Maybe there are no answers.

Sounds of life!

I was detected Covid positive with mild symptoms a day after Christmas. The entire family πŸ‘ͺ that is, my two children, my husband and myself were all positive and we did our mandatory isolation in all seriousness. We worked around the house, did our share of laundry, utensils, cooking, cleaning and recovered well. I will admit it was a lot more work than I had imagined, but we managed to have fun. It was almost a welcome break from the daily rigorous routine of going to work.

But yesterday, our isolation got over and we wanted to treat our taste buds to enjoy hot steaming momos after this break. So admist rising number of cases, we headed out for a drive in our car,  πŸš— to catch street side steaming momos and to order some pizza πŸ• on the go for the boys. Masks on, drive mode on, fun mode starts!

We parked in a nook of the parking and hubby got our orders. From where we were parked, I could see people young and old, all dressed up, enjoying and celebrating Bihu. Some stereos were playing local traditional Bihu songs. Now this is a foreign language to us, the lyrics were indistinguishable. But the melody and mood was celebratory! Despite not being able to understand a word, I was able to somehow understand the spirit. It was a song of joy, a song of beauty, a song of exultation that can be shared across cultures and languages.

I was reminded of similar delightful songs and customs of North India. Across India, cultures are different and yet so similar. During my childhood days, all the children in the colony would gather and sings songs and collect Lohri money πŸ’° and then buy peanuts, gajak etc and build a big fire πŸ”₯ for the evening. All neighbors would gather together, pray and dance. After this festival, the harsh winter weather would recede, slowly giving way to the bloom of spring.

Coming back to sounds and their impact on our lives. We are all conditioned to enjoy certain sounds. And even though it is nice to get a break sometimes. But we long to come back to the same experience. It could be bells in the temple, or Pooja dhak, shankha sounds or even the sounds of your favorite machine mixing your coffee well.

Sounds of singing carols together. Sounds of school assembly. Sounds of singing mehndi songs together. Sounds of antakshri. Sounds of melodius music as opposed to technology created artificial cacophony.

Sounds of laughter, sounds of greetings, sounds of humming and whizzing and gossips at hairdresser’s! Sounds of shouting for passing on, when the local dhaba takes your order. Sounds of a vegetable vendor announcing his arrival, sounds of a local fish seller enticing you to buy his fresh catch!

Sounds of repair man, sounds of ber man, sounds of crackers and sounds of excitement when the barratis are dancing. Sounds of parade, sounds of glory when the nation stands tall together. The sounds of commentators excited pitch and the stadiums erupting in joy.

Sounds of hearing that exhausting frequency setting in the radio and waiting patiently for your favorite song to come on air. Or sounds of the furious type writter of yesteryears. Sounds of the Nokia handset. The ringing bell of the landline. Sounds of akashvani.

With the e-commerce industry gaining virtual space, you can slowly find these sounds perishing. The world is ruled by click of our thumbs and every experience is changing in our life times.

But some sounds will always remain the same just like the sounds of pitter patter rain, booming thunder, gushing river and the deep ocean waves and chirping birds. Sounds of your mother singing her melody to lift your spirits, banging utensils to purposefully wake you up from your slumber, clapping hands in applause to cheer you up. Sound of your baby cooing, saying their first words, speaking ridiculous tongue twisters and cracking you up.

What are the sounds that you miss the most? Please share.

Aum Shanti! Shanti! Shanti!

Aum peace! Peace! Peace!!!!!

5 point summary

Ingredients for a lousy day

1. Stay in bed

2. Cuddle with your phone.

3. Ignore your kids, let them watch uninterrupted mindless cartoons.

4. Ignore your work.

5. Ignore self care and somehow justify laziness.

Ingredients for a great day

1. Today I will improve. Positive affirmations.

2. I realize my faults.

3. I can work on them. I can get better.

4. Dance around. Talk to loved ones.

5. Stay away from phone or delete useless apps.

RUMI ….

I will fly I am born with potential

I am born with goodness and trust

I am born with ideas and dreams

I am born with greatness

I am born with confidence

I am born with wings

So, I am not meant for crawling,

I have wings,

I will fly I will fly and fly.