Small

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The “I” in us is just too big for us to be able to give anything else as much importance. ‘I’ in Hindu mythology stands for ‘ego’. I am the central figure in my life. Everything is about me, revolves around me. Each of us, we see only our lives. In this time and space, I cannot see what is happening with my husband or child (if they are away) or my parents living in another city. We each experience the world through our own small window.

In Hindu mythology it is said, God can see all living beings together at any given point of time and wherever they are (akin to us viewing a board game laid out in front). God knows how we are inter-connected, because he sees us all together. I don’t know if that’s true. But this thought stayed with me. If you ever want to remind yourself that while you matter, you are only a small tiny part of this endless universe, stand on the shore of the vast ocean and look out.

Written in response to Sue Vincent’s prompt ‘small’ and photo prompt #writephoto

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An uneasy life

My stomach was full and I was ready to crawl into bed. But it was not to be I knew.  I surfaced breathless after my 1000th dive and saw Paula swimming next to me. She seemed beat as well. The water today had felt heavy on the body, not refreshing and cool as it did at this time of the year. I’m sure it was at least 2 degrees above normal. “Time to make the dash home”, she said as I looked up at the darkening skies. The sky was a deep dark blue, with the last rays of the sun showing us the cloud pattern – today it looked like a giant fluffy pillow. Oh how I longed for my bed. We waded the last mile together. Mikhail and Mouryi joined us too. They’d just relocated to Australia, citing cold weather conditions back home. Wonder what they thought of these waters? Today was their first day out with the lot.  The twins never seemed to tire of each other. Funny that I couldn’t stand my sister for more than a minute.

As our feet touched the sandy ground, my trained mind dispelled all thought. We silently flattened our stomachs and crawled forward in the darkness. The riskiest part of the day with fatal consequences was upon us. We had our tasks cut out. I looked up at the sky peering into the darkness trying to spot any movement at all. They usually attacked from above. Mikhail & Mouryi looked forward and Paula took up the right flank as we slowly proceeded one silent step at a time. ” Make a dash for it now”! I gave the command and we scampered forward madly blindly. 

Suddenly out of the darkness, came a loud cheer and the front line froze. I barged right into Mouryi and she almost screamed as she whispered, ” RETREAT’, or was that possible at all. She was already retreating with Mikhail walking backwards, and our line fell back into the water. A hasty conference ensued, and having understood what had happened, exasperated and at the end of my patience, I pushed out of the water, wading first and leading charge. It seemed like suicide to the twins. Another cheer went up – but this time I held firm onto Mikhail. After all, it was his first day here. It was a tough life here as a penguin. Forget the kites, Eagles, dogs and other predators, we had a human audience lined up at the beach every night to watch us go home – apparently we were a sight to watch! ‘Damn these humans, making exhibits of us’!, I muttered as I marched home crossing the beach!

Written on behalf of the penguins of Phillip Island, Australia where humans line up everyday to watch them go home! Wonder if the Penguins enjoy it or grudge us?

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Mumbai meri jaan!

I’m no Mumbai lover, but I love the spirit of its people. I’ve lived here almost all my life, but honestly I don’t think that time spent is a good reason to love anything. People make a place and Mumbai is no different. During my numerous travels, my best experiences have been where the locals have been friendly, welcoming and warm. Malaysia rates higher for the same reason as compared to the highly livable ‘Singapore’ where I found people rather curt and business like. In Europe France has been a big disappointment while Germany felt warm and friendly.

Back to Mumbai. During a couple of my visits to Crawford market which requires a train to be taken from Kandivali (a suburb in Mumbai) and then a taxi into the crowded by-lanes of the market. I took a shared cab as it waited for people for the train to disembark. And it was super. We were a mix of people, the Gujarati business men in the front couple of seats and 3 women including myself in the last row. The women were from UP and over middle age and presumably rural.

Typical to Mumbai, without speaking a word, the person next to the driver’s seat, automatically assumed the role of the collector of fare. Notes were handed to him from us as well as the seat in front. He patiently collected the fare, adjusted the change and passed the money to the driver. A note was torn, which was passed again from the women at the back to the front via the man in the middle seat who had been busy all through acting as the conduit. Despite having to move around quite a bit in the crowded cab, he seemed to take to his role, rather happily. At the destination about 20 mins away, the driver stopped the cab and we all filed away not speaking another word. The taxi for ready for a return trip. Super efficiency, what would you say? No time wasted and quick turn-arounds. It happens only in ‘Mumbai’.

Would love to hear more about your Mumbai travels or at any other place in the world – any such implicit understanding you see/notice among fellow human beings, that tickles you & makes life easier for all of us. 🙂

Who’s dearest of them all?

“But, please! Don’t take her away!! I promise to keep her silent so she’ll disturb no one”, we all looked up from our ‘mountain pose’ when we heard this heart breaking plea. One would think this came from a mother who’s little child was being asked to sit away while she attended class; but surprise, it came from a lady whose mobile phone was taken away from her during our yoga class.

It brought to my mind the famous Bollywood dialogue ‘ Ek bacche ko apni maa se alag karna paap hai’ (It’s a sin to separate a child from his/her mother). I vouch for all, when I say the Yoga teacher went from most loved to most hated – one action marring all the good he’d done so far!

Just earlier that morning while reading the paper, I felt sympathetic towards the lady who boarded the flight and accidentally left her baby behind in the boarding area. She was possibly attending to her phone.

We cannot, just cannot stay away from our phones, even for a second. The very thought of physical separation brings on an anxiety attack and triggers withdrawal symptoms. We become nervous, unsettled and restless. Our eyes shift constantly to the screen from afar to check for flickers of notifications, one positive is that our hearing becomes honed to pick up even the slightest beep. And if it rings, it’s no short of an emergency that requires dropping everything you’re doing to attend to it. It’s dearer than the child, for sure. Hence, physical proximity is essential at all times. We’ll survive the night without the dear husband, but not the phone. If the children bawl, I’ll silence them; but I’m sorry can’t silence the phone.

And why should that be so difficult to understand?

My phone informs me of happenings around the world, how effectively chowkidar mama is guarding our society, what’s happening in school – and why the dance teacher took leave on Thursday, our extended families and even my own house. We’ve started exchanging Whatsapp messages now to inform one another (if we’re in separate rooms) of our requirements. ‘I’d like to have a cup of tea’, or ‘time to pick up the child from the stop’, is so much easier to type in, than holler in the corridor or get up and communicate.

I’m so much more informed about my rights now. I’m an activist & can influence so many of my friends AND others. I feel such power and so good about myself. I forward everything to do with saving rivers, complaining and petitioning against statues, helping others know more about our armed forces, climate change etc. I can now hold my own about most current topics for at least 5-10 mins, a far cry from Emanuel Macron’s 19 Mar 2019, record of 8 hours and 10 minutes on France’s future; but good enough still.

My phone is my training and gyming partner, tells me the time, reminds me of my beauty appointments, is my e-book, can sing to me, humour me with movies.  I get to know when exactly Priyanka Chopra changed her name officially to Jonas, what Alia Bhatt wore last night, how she looks in her pajamas, Kareena in workout clothes and so many others in no clothes at all.

Wait, there’s more – drama and emotion. A relative discovered he’d not been invited to another close relative’s son’s private wedding after seeing pictures on his phone, he was livid of course. One friend commented on another friend’s wife’s picture and we all got such a lovely and free dose of entertainment. Such time pass I tell you.

But here’s what seals the deal for me – I do big business on my phone AND my phone does what my husband couldn’t do in 2 decades of being together – taking great pictures and making me look fabulous even at 40!

And so, I un-apologetically swear by it. It’s my best and constant companion. With it near me, who needs a friend? I think the only other person who comes close to being so dear and irreplaceable is my dear maid Salma.

Like a river

I flow, not because I know where to go,
I flow because I need to flow.
I’m restless when I’m bound,
I need to find my rhythm, my life’s very own sound. 

Maybe I know where to go, but I’ll also go where the path takes me perhaps,
To explore some newness, an adventure maybe as I run down that steep valley,
and then take the curve to dance, to take the longer way home, to meet someone by chance?

Sometimes through a shady nook, as I slow down to rest;
the forest embraces me, we spend some time and she sighs, “oh stay”
I laugh, gurgle, and I say with zest,
“See those  boulders, rocks, and grassy patches beyond?;
they’ve been calling out to me all day”.

And so I continue through jungles and flat lands,
to smoothen out a rough stone, to water out that young plant,
to touch your life the way only I can.

 

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The only way to experience life in totality is to be open to experiences and to welcome them.

Small moments of happiness #2

Small moments of happiness #2 – At Raju’s cottage, Gushaini, HP

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The other day I looked outside the window, still lying on the bed – to find the early morning sun peeping through the pear trees in the orchard right outside the house. The wind gently whooshed about teasing the leaves and making them dance gently to its tune. It was a cool April in the hills of Gushaini and seemed like the perfect day to go for our planned trek. My son all of 9, lay in bed, deep in sleep, blissfully secure and oblivious to the beauty around. I took a moment to analyse my feelings. Was it the beauty outside that made me feel so elated and happy or was it watching his innocent face deep in sleep. I couldn’t bring myself to wake him up. Wouldn’t these moments be soon gone? Wasn’t it just yesterday ( or 7 years ago) when I cradled him and he looked up at me with twinkling eyes, his mouth wide open in a rabbit toothed grin? As I held him close and looked out of the window content, I decided that the trek would have to wait.

P.S – Raju’s cottage is a homestay at the bank’s of the Beas river in Gushaini, Himachal Pradesh, India. It’s fairly popular and you’re sure to find information online. If you are planning a trip, do be sure to book in advance as they are perpetually booked. 🙂

Small moments of happiness #1 – At home in Mumbai

I lie warm in my bed, listening to the wind outside. Its winter now and the mornings have a slight chill. The mist is knocking on the windows asking to be let in before the sun rays make it disappear. I smile slowly and curl further into my quilt.  The biggest reason for happiness in my life, my little daughter breathes softly and deeply next to me. Her form rising and falling gently. I could watch her endlessly I feel.  These moments of peace and happiness are fleeting, and light,  yet so complete and incomparable.

My love that follows no rituals

In India, there are many traditional rituals centred around the well-being of husbands. Wives on these designated days, fast from dawn to dusk without consuming even a drop of water. They spend the day praying for the good health and prosperity of their husband.
The region I come from also has this ritual, but I have never celebrated this day in 17 years of my married life. My husband has never once questioned me. Not that I would do it if questioned, but somewhere its credit to him that he has not had the expectation neither felt the need for it.
Love is a feeling that evolves, or rather has its phases. Some days I love him more than most, other days I could be upset and unhappy with him.
I’ve often thought about my love for him and questioned myself especially on this day (almost every year) as to whether I should follow it? Would it make my love for him greater? Would it make it lesser? Would he like it? Does it even make sense? Will I resent it later? Does it prove a point? I’ve only wondered so far, hence I’m thinking maybe I should just try it the coming year. What do you say? 😉
Here’s something I wrote this ‘Karvachauth’ – the designated day this year –
I’ve often wondered why I don’t fast for you,
Is it because I don’t love you as much as other wives their husbands do? 
But I pray for your well being and happiness all year through.
Your friendship gives me strength, takes away my worries, and I have much less to fear.
Our talks, plans of travel and little celebrations, make the mundaneness of life, a lot easier to bear.
Our challenges, our achievements and limitations, with a little compromise we overcome all of it together.
We may not be perfect, but we understand one another,
I accept you as you do me,
I don’t say it often and neither do you, 
But we know the love we share is true.
We walk together through life – literally and figuratively. The feature image is a picture of us trekking together in Nepal.