Friday, January 18, 2013

i am one Gil Pender

When i think of that day, a few days before 14th Jan i feel that it was one lucky day for me and had i wished more i would have got it all. Someone who was listening really warmed me up on that extremely bone rattling winter morning.

The temperature had dropped to something nearing one degree Celsius and we were huddled next to the radiator discussing, cursing, sympathizing and last but not the least counting our blessings.

The topic was mostly related to extremes of weather that Delhi has and i was beginning to yawn. Then it shifted to comforters. My mother in law was appreciating the new comforter and the warmth it had despite it being so light in weight. She had to go on and on about the texture, the color...
Perhaps she was expecting me to be more vocal in my appreciation and not just give wordless nods.
The comforter was actually a gift. Given to me by my brother in law when i was moving from Chennai to Delhi.
Comforters today and Razai yesterday...that was how the warming up by the radiator conversation went on...
i was not participating vocally as my thoughts were locked rather glued elsewhere and i was nodding to some familiar words, sights and sounds...

My mind was transported to that television less era when winter Sundays were very special.
i was seeing images in bits and pieces. Of the roads and homes bustling with activities so typical of a holiday when everybody seemed relaxed and had different from other day agendas so far as home and hearth was concerned.
Uncles and aunties in the colony happily comparing notes with each others of their respective well beings...
Roads bustling with excited shopping of special foods for the day...Jalebi, Kachori,Samosa... for the Sunday breakfast, also Mutton , fish, chicken... for the Sunday special lunch.

We've just had a nice cup of mutton leg soup...
i am playing with my friends in the colony... i can hear shrills of thrills...
i see aunties knitting sweaters on the terrace...some on another terrace busy with pickling of the season's excesses...carrots, cauliflower, turnip...
Uncles having conversations about all. Politics, health, family, work and last but not the least about the weather and it's impact on the crops...
And Oh! i also see THEM...

i haven't seen THEM for ages now and i miss the almost like a folk instrument sound associated with the bow that they carried.
Twang twang twang...i was jolted out of my reverie.

i am sitting near the radiator. My in laws have finished their breakfast/ tea and are asking me something.
i am still oblivious to their question because my day dream feels more real and most indulging.

So i asked my in laws if by any chance they get to see THEM or just like so many of our times they too have gone extinct.
My heart was warmed with their affirmative answer and heaven alone knows why but i felt not only happy but warm too.
Finally felt the warmth spreading from my toes to the corners of my ears, face , cheeks and my ice cold nose.
Then, erupted a go to that small town of mine and see THEM once again. Hear their music and watch the entire procedure with some respect.
Appreciate THEM with this new eyes of mine and oh so eager -to- hear- twang- twang ears of mine.

Don't know yet if my longing was sincere or someone heard my longing laced sighs that wallah !! i turn the pages of my favorite 'The Hindu' and i saw THEM.

Thank you Genie for giving me something to look forward to not only for today but also when i visit my small hometown soon. And it better be this winter. If at all i want to hear the music once again. The music that heralded THEIR presence in the street and later some different tune that enticed us join in as enthusiastic spectators anxious to see the fluffy and soft end product of that music.
i'd better get back home soon or i'll miss the sight of the instrument and the music maker forever.

i ought to hurry or later i'll have to make do with sepia tainted images like this. yes they might endure. But what about the rhythmic sounds associated with those pictures. As if the sounds of sil batta chiseling was not enough. How many more on my list now...???

There was a dialogue in the movie Midnight in Paris where the pedantic and somewhat always bragging out aloud about his intellect character called Paul says,  "Nostalgia is denial - denial of the painful present... the name for this denial is golden age thinking - the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one ones living in - its a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present. "

i won't say i am finding it difficult to cope with the present but yes i do seem to be going down memory lane quite often. i do seem to be missing a few and wanting them back for instance the flavors, aromas, sights and the sounds associated with those sights. 
i am also grateful for today. i am grateful for all the comforts that today has got me but that does not stop me from missing what i found comfortable and most enjoyable few years back.

And i am not in any denial rather i am glad i have known  and experienced some of that which no longer exists. i just feel happy about that.
True it is what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder.
Also about the sil me on this. No Chutney can ever match the flavor of that which is done on the sil batta. And that holds for freshly ground spices too and all the dishes made using those spices.
My olfactory system knows the aroma and i feel on top of the world about that.

Thanks to i could hear the familiar click clack tap and did not have to pine for long.

i have to get back to the deliberations of the day now but need i pat my back for this routine of mine. For turning the pages of the newspaper even when apparently it may seem there's not much there that could warm you for more in those chilly winter mornings.
Need i express how grateful i feel to The Hindu for remaining thus and giving me some warm surprises to look forward to everyday.

Yeah i have to get moving now but haven't i thanked you enough Dear Genie...Thank You again not only for this time and also for all those other times when You heard me and fulfilled my wishes.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A letter to my son

Dear Son,
i am in a hurry and have to tell u a lot. My memory fails me and i can't recall if i have familiarized u with many of our own. i am in hurry because a lot many is going out with the wind and there is this intense urge to preserve. What best than to remind u.

Oh! this maniac Monday and it's frenetic pace, oh! the alien land and although they call it a melting pot i'm sure u would have none to remind u in ur work place of the significance of January 14th.
i wonder if u r missing Chennai a tad bit more today. i wonder if u can recall 'PONGAL O' PONGAL'.
i wonder if u can recall the palm leaf toranams (decoration for the doors), rangoli ( floor decoration with rice powder)  and all the works...

Pls Pls when u r back from the office and when u are surfing that toy of urs will u go through
i just want u to do nothing then after the post is read. Just chill on that bed of urs and give a few moments to remember what is urs.

i know u were not too fond of Dahi Chooda but one day u would miss it. It happens to all of us. There will be a phase in ur life when u shall be recounting the benefits of the healthy combination of Dahi chooda as a breakfast meal to ur own kids. i know u will be telling them how their Granddad would prefer to eat this BIHARI breakfast everyday with relish and would never want anything else.
You would then remember ur mom's mimicry and perhaps smile inwardly about all that ur Mom felt about Biharis.
i know by now u would have understood that it was never Dahi chooda per se that cheesed me off.
i know ur maturity would make u look beyond the mimicry and remind u of ur roots.
Think about ur roots with some kindness and with most pride.
Why did i feel this urge to tell you this today?
Talk to me when u r free...anytime...mmm...maybe during the weekend and ask me.
Yes ask me pls for the less important mundane news might take precedence in our talks and i might miss letting u know yet again.
i am reeling under what they used to say in our village, " Jey beta pardes gail, dev pitar sab se gail ''.
Yeah SURE the Saharsa Maithili dialect meaning thereby that the son who goes abroad is bereft of the holidays, rituals and with his ancestral roots.
And i don't want this. i'd rather beta pardes gail tahiyo dev pitar se nai gail. ( Son gone abroad but is still nurturing faith in his roots, his Gods and his ancestors ).

Will it be possible for u to get hold of some sweet that contains sesame seeds?
Alas! if u had just shown some interest in that Gajak/ tilkoot ( a dry sweet made with sesame seeds)  that i had got u last time from the famous vijaykumarajaykumargarg gajjak wale Delhi. Then i would not be asking u this.

i have this intense urge to have u here right in front of me and asking u to spread ur outstretched palms towards me. Onto which i could put a bit of sesame seeds with jaggery and ask, Tiley Tiley Bahava Na ???
Sesame seeds of all the seeds and why?
All that i have learnt i wish u convey to u. That just like the sesame seeds i wish ur life to be healthy and that in ur journey u too ought to exchange tenderness and love. Not that u don't but this ritual that i want to perform is just a reminder. A mom's way of blessing her son and reminding all the time of all that is intrinsic and our very own.
God Bless you beta and although i miss sharing the Sankranti specials with u i would love to wish u a very realized and different Makar Sankranti, Happy Pongal and last but not the very least a very blessed from all of us here which includes ur own GRANDPARENTS a very new  TILASANKRANTI.

P.S. i need not remind u of course that it's essential to have a bath today which i presume that a hygiene conscious boy that u r u would have.

Special thanks for :-
1) The image of Toranam
Courtesy :
2) The image of Rangoli

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cama Cama Chamellia

i am most fascinated by this particular profusion of beauty only thing that i don't get to see these in our gardens. The most well kept gardens have similar looking roses. i  often wonder why. i had last seen it in a resort in Manali . Probably it's got to do with the soil and climatic conditions.
i wonder if this happens with others too. There is no silence inside, but apart from pure admiration and words as common as crows flooding the thoughts a parody of another kind starts happening.
Any song vaguely matching to what i see starts happening. Funny isn't it? Feels just like Bollywood movies. Mundane happenings and then suddenly some music erupting from nowhere.
This instance when i chanced upon the Chamellia and not one but the entire bush laden with blossoms, clusters  
proclaiming bountiful of health and prosperity music happened. i heard this happening inside...Cama, Cama, Cama, come and go, you come and go...OH OH OH ...loving would be easy if your colors were like my dreams, red, gold and green, red gold and green...

Now i know for sure that the colors for this Chamellia is always in the white-pink-red range except for a small group of southern Chinese and Vietnamese species that have pale yellow to bronze-yellow flowers ( Thanks to my BOTANICA The Illustrated A-Z of over 10,000 Garden Plants and How to Cultivate them) nevertheless thank heavens i heard just music and was not sensing any loss of words, rather was flooded with lovely thoughts... words that made sense.
"... Every day is like survival (sur-vi-val),
                                                 You're my lover (you're my lover), not my rival.
                                                 Every day is like survival (sur-vi-val),
                                                 You're my lover (you're my lover), not my rival..."

Although when Culture Club and the lead singer Boy George sang this he definitely meant something , yet thanks to Chamellia i was listening/ hearing him. Deep within again some realization was taking roots. And even though i was copy pasting stanzas, it all made sense today. i mean the song of the 80's which was my favorite to sing for school excursions made real sense today.

In an interview, Culture Club frontman Boy George explained: "The song is about the terrible fear of alienation that people have, the fear of standing up for one thing. It's about trying to suck up to everybody. Basically, if you aren't true, if you don't act like you feel, then you get Karma-justice, that's nature's way of paying you back."

It's strange but that's how it is. The more we are in nature, the more enlightenment we receive. 
Whichever way it happens. This instance for example. i know of these beauties by name today Chamellia, lovely to say the name itself what to talk of their glorious beauty. But i had danced to the  # 1 for quite sometime song before. And i am left pleasantly wondering as to how this enlightenment happened. 
Had i not chanced upon the flowering shrub, i would be bereft of the music and the essence.
Thank You Chamellia for reminding me to be true and to stand up for my convictions and Thank you Boy George for Karma Chameleon. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Every Leaf a Poem

When i took these pictures the exercise was merely an excited pursuit of trying skills of photography through the newly acquired Nikon DSLR. Not that i was not attracted to foliage of all kinds before but the fact that  i was in possession of something which would help me remember them as vividly as i had seen them was enough enzyme to be a catalyst in my pursuit for happiness. 
So as i went along in my happy and playful endeavor feeling somewhat like an amateur photographer it was just a matter of time when my gadget seemed trivial and the heart started singing a different tune set to some kind of poetry we had learnt in school. 
The mind started recalling notes...singular leaves, compound leaves, pinnate, bi pinnate, parallel , palmate...there were many more we had learnt. i wished i could go back and learn them all over again and this time not for any grades but for my own satisfaction and delight.  i was looking towards the edges, shape, color, texture and last but not the least the venation too indulging my own sense of joy in discovering more and more patterns. Strange but overwhelmed with such panorama i was sensing space and peace instead of some uneasy restless excitement. Needless to say then, how refreshing and relaxed i felt even when the mind was not at rest.

Stunning tones ranging from bright yellow to orange , russet to brown, vivid red, deep purple, 
florescent green ...each one unique...each one special not only in their color but also their texture and form. There were so many shapes i had never seen before. And i had never seen such a dark shade of green that looked almost black. 

All surprising kinds...mottled, sprayed, painted, frayed...  

i hopelessly wished i owned the brilliance of words that a poet has. Stringing compositions that could convey the grace and the beauty with words and rhythm so apt.
 i was sensing Zen as my breathing felt relaxed in spite of  the excitement on seeing something of great beauty and rarity. 
Some wisdom too dawned upon me. 
Leaves are just like us...each one unique. Sometimes they look playful  and wild. Other times they seem to portray serenity and calmness. Just like us they unfurl to life, mature and finally wither and die. But each one singularly unique.
Could not help remembering also how when i was a kid i loved walking barefoot not only on live dewy grass but enjoyed the crunchy carpet of the dried leaves too. loved the sound that it made. That sound always made me feel hungry. Or maybe it was that late roaming among the rich foliage that made me hungry...whatever... but the rustling sound, the crunchy sound was fun...and a great appetizer.
Then some Hindi paudhey, ye pattey, ye phool ye hawaaain, dil ko churayein, mujh ko lubhayain haai, mann kahey main jhoomoon, jhoomoon main gaaoon...( the plants,the leaves, the flowers, the air, the heart feels lost in these and i feel like singing and dancing...) Remembered this song and hummed within myself of all that i could remember of the song.
How i kept wishing i was a poet. Thought about my favorite Gulzar Sahaab. Wondered what he could have composed...
Also thought about my naturalist blog pal Mr Karthik as to what more he would've made me see and feel ... Surely he would've reminded me of the gadget  and it's magic...
But all thoughts as they rained on me took me finally back to childhood. The happiness of just being and enjoying life with all  the carefree innocence that one could have. The leaves reminded me of that worry free era of the bygone days. Maybe just like children these leaves live in harmony, spreading bountiful of fresh air and joy and with their just being there also conveying to us  the right amount of optimism without any hesitation about the cycle of life.
 Also that seasons may come and go, and that they may mature, lose color, become crunchy and get mixed with the earth but life goes on and on and not the tiniest one really dies.
Reborn again from the loamy soil that they enriched the earth with,  they show their cheerful faces again. 
Immortal aren't you!!
i am remembering Robert Frost and his ' Gathering Leaves' and wish someone to read it out to me.
i think i have someone here...


Monday, January 7, 2013

Wishful Thinking

Sometimes i feel i indulge in a lot of wishful thinking and among these i pendulate between archaic to novel. But how does something like changing the world sound? Stereotyped maybe, maybe cliched but that does not stop me because i believe that though i may be a small dust in this huge constellation i have my own very important role and if executed neatly i may be a part of the changed world. So what i'm trying to say is that the beginning should come from me.

Just the other day while strolling in the 'Healing Garden' created by a known samaritan and discussing and comparing notes with another friend of mine about our lives, we came to a conclusion as to why we are what we are. Of course nature vesus nuture theory did come up but also came the realisation that mostly we fall prey to our experiences in life and instead of turning into a healers we become predators. That is to say we fail to be true to our experiences.

There is this Greek myth about a centaur (half man-half horse) which perhaps will be helpful here to catch my drift. Chiron was a kind and gentle centaur unlike others who were rowdy and indulgent drinkers. Once he got wounded by the poisoned arrow of Hercules's bow and he got no respite from the excruciating pain in the form of death as he was immortal. So suffering his pain he became a recluse and withdrew to the mountainside to tend to his wound. Though he was unable to cure himself he became wise in the knowledge of all forms of herbs. His pain became his master and he grew compassionate to the suffering of others. He welcomed, treated and brought comfort to all who suffered in any way. In fact the French word 'chirungie' is derived from Chiron which means 'surgery' in English.

True it is that experiences in life mold us in many ways and when we are true to these experiences we can be healers and then it is already a changed world.

i just realised that while growing up and all this while, i kept promising myself that i will never hurt anyone the way i was hurt but i know that i have not really been true. i know of instances which i cannot count where i gave back what i got because i kept thinking that was the right way.

But now that this realisation has dawned upon me i hope that i shall play my part well to bring about this change. Realisation is the start and the follow up will not be a piece of cake but at least i can try.

Realisation-"We need to stay mindful of the fact that as wounded healers, we become transformed when we understand that our wound may be completely personal and uniquely our own, it simulteneously is a shared, universal non-personal process. We heal ourselves and others from our wound.''

Image courtesy:


Sometimes it is possible to overlook that which is extraordinary. Not unless the designer is smart enough to guide your eyes to the entire lot in a manner that is gradual, rhythmic and harmonious.

It so happened with me just the other day which i happily chronicle as an eventful day. What attracted me first was that which looked like exotic buds/ fruits of some exotic tree.
And just like how the eyes should travel from the focal point, to the color scheme, to the object d' art so did the Master craftsman guide me to that which i found to be the most extraordinary. So much so that i had to single it out to admire the craftsmanship. No jump and start business but just the movement of the eyes. left, right, center. From roots to the tip... . No sizing up here just pure admiration.
Cutwork in nature i muttered and while i marveled those famous words rang inside, " Every leaf a miracle". Awestruck i wondered about The Who, The Artist and naturally the eyes again traveled towards the clear latticed sky to view the glory, that rich spectacle of color and form.
Thank you Master Craftsman for making me see something extraordinary. That which i could have easily overlooked had it not been for your superb designing skills.Thank you very much indeed !!

Sunday, January 6, 2013


i grew up seeing these everyday. My friends who came home called it Makhmal ke pattey ( Velvet leaves) and each had at least one or many such sitting snugly in their various text books. This woolly creeper covered the entire grill boundary of my home Sujan Bhawan in Patna where i had spent the best part of my formative years. As a kid i had seen strangers walk inside and request for a bunch of Makhmal ke pattey.  Had no idea then why and for what. i presumed then that perhaps they too like my friends wanted to keep some and distribute the rest amongst their own friends/relatives.

Would still be under the same impression of this being just one of the many ornamental creepers had i not noticed that eventful day that this creeper also blossomed.
 For me it was just one of the many eureka moments that nature has bestowed upon me oft and on as i admired first the bud which would blossom, then wondered what the blossom would look like... finally analyzing with whatever i have known, the reason for it not having blossoms at Sujan Bhawan. It goes without saying then that apart from nostalgic memories i was also flooded with enormous delight at my own discovery.

Thanks to technology  i am not only relieved of my anxiety for not having enough time to see the bud flower into my favorite color bloom but today i also have some answers to the unquestioned fact (then when i was a kid) why strangers wanted a bunch of Makhmal ke pattey on a regular basis at Sujan Bhawan.
Before i quit and go along with my other chores i would grab this opportunity in wishing all...those who  meander on my page and also those who don't.. a very healthy, peaceful and purposeful New Year.
Also would like to conclude by quoting what sums up my purpose of the day.
It seems that it is in mans nature to live a spiritual lifestyle. We need very much to live a meaningful life and therefore we look to find purpose in our lives. Religion is simply a system devised to live your life according to the meaning that you have envisioned for your life. Others find the structure of organized religion to be stifling. They find that going into nature is the best way to get in touch with the spirit. It seems that the trees, and the grass and flowers never lose sight of their purpose. In the same way, nature helps us get in touch with our inner spirit that never forgets.

Source: Spiritual Nature Poems