Thursday Photo Challenge : Coiled


Thursday theme for this time is “CURVED” (Bent, Rippled, Coiled, Spiraling, Twisted,…)

Snakes have always fascinated me and when to my amazement and joy I saw my elder one also handling them with as much ease and passion that I do it make me swell with pride. We have a lot of misconceptions about these enigmatic creatures. They  have been unnecessarily labeled with bad reputation due to misconceptions arising from superstitions and religious dogmas. Majority of these opinions are formed out of fear and sheer ignorance. Snakes have been misunderstood for too long, and their role in nature is too little appreciated.
Due to lack of proper information, disbelieves and fears, many important species of snakes have become rare and are threatened with extinction; so, disturbing the natural cycle of coexistence.The Wild Life Protection Act of 1972 passed by the Government of India has included all Indian snakes in the list of animals to be protected from being killed. The Act also bans sale of items made from snake skin. Exceptional import licenses are issued, but strictly for scientific purposes.

you need to be free of that  instinctive fear of reptiles to embrace them and enjoy their beauty

This is a rat snake also called jalebi snake.It is also called Dhaman.  These snakes are non venomous. The one Adi is holding is called banded racer , one of many varieties of rat snakes found in India. They feed on rats, frogs etc and are often found near rice fields and human habitations.

 

This one is the Indian Rock Python. One of our favorites. These snakes are beauties and are second largest and heaviest of Indian snakes. Called Ajgar in Hindi they have glossy skins and flat heads.They feed on mammals. Live prey are constricted and killed. One or two coils are thrown around the prey, holding it in a tight grip. The prey, unable to breathe, succumbs and is swallowed head first.

The population of Rock Python has depleted alarmingly during the last 50 yeas on account of heavy commercial exploitation of its skin and their products, which are in high demand in the world market. It is an endangered species and yet we are losing many of these gorgeous creatures due to common misbeliefs.

I have yet to handle a snake in the wild. Though I have seen some while visiting wild life sanctuaries. The ones we are holding come from the snake-charmers and normally don’t have poison. The practice of snake charming—catching snakes, keeping them in captivity for extended periods, and training them to perform—has traditionally been passed from one generation to another. For generations, it has provided a critical means of support for many Indian families but now due to wild life acts and growing knowledge on snakes these people are losing their livelihood. It is rare to find a snake charmer even in villages. Once an icon of Indian culture snake-charmers are struggling to survive these days.

I hope these beautiful and harmless creatures find a safe home and people shed their fears and treat them with the love and respect they deserve.

 

From Darkness to Dawn : Let’s fill their lives with colors


Please watch the video before reading the post 

This post has been written for HP Laserjet Take Flight With Colour Contest in association with Indiblogger .Do check their site to know more about HP.

A visually impaired person’s  life is full of darkness devoid of light and colors. It’s not even black and white .

The statistics are devastating.

Of the 45 million people worldwide who are blind, around 1.4 million are children under 16. The majority of childhood blindness happens before the age of five – a period when 75 per cent of learning is through sight. Childhood blindness in India is around 2 million and only 2% receive education. They never enjoy the simple pleasure of  discovering the colorful world of pictures .  Something that touched our hearts when our children were little.

When we talk of dreams in Technicolor, of nature’s enchanting hues that take our breath away, of filling colors in everything B&W and of taking a flight with colors Do we EVER think of these children of the lesser God for whom the basic B&W also does not exist? 

Corneal blindness is one of the most common causes of blindness in India. India shoulders the largest burden of global blindness, about 3.5 million across the country with 30000 new cases being added each year. To combat this 30,000 corneas are needed every year and hardly 150,000 are received.

There is a dire need for eye donation to bring color into the lives of these people  who can not see , to lead them from darkness to dawn.

Unfortunately India is home to world’s largest number of blind people, approximately 15 million . If the trend continues the magnitude of blindness will increase  from 15 million to 18 million and more by the year 2020. Are we going to give rise to a colorless world , are we going to turn a blind eye to this very pressing situation?

In many lives the colors dissolve to darkness due to some illness or accident. They have seen the wine spilled skies and emerald waters , they have let their imagination take flight with a box a crayons or played Holi with every shade of red, blue and green and yet they live in perpetual colorless existence just because the gift of sight is so rare.

“We go about the world taking things for granted. Things that we are able to see. Colors . No one thinks what if they wake up one day and there is no sunrise . We blindly go through life as a routine until the darkness envelops us  and then life has no color but BLACK ” said a blind friend.

It is traumatic to go from millions of colors and sights each day to pitch black.  Let us fill their lives with colors again. 

I am a proud eye donor .

I have pledged to bring color and light  into at least two lives, Have you ?  

All Stats from WHO reports

Moonbeams and Sunshine : Chapter 4 Prelude to the psalm of life


Continued from Chapter 3. Tara  

Orgasmic, that’s the first word that came to Tara’s mind when she saw the spectacular view of Pattaya for the first time. The gauzy cloud curtain had lifted and the long stretches of curvy beaches along the bay on the Gulf of Thailand’s east coast took her breath away.

The flight landed on time and a taxi was waiting to take her to Naklua Beach where the 10 writers were given accommodation. She had got an invite from a friend who worked with Luna e Sol Literary Society. The workshop was part of a reading and writing festival. Tara was mainly lured by the star attraction of the fest. Asma Khan the literary diva was going to do a reading and question session on her new novel.  She was one of the most celebrated and controversial authors of her time and Tara worshiped her.

Ron met her at the reception and introduced to two other visiting writers. She was the youngest member of the group. After a sumptuous dinner she retired to her luxurious room facing the picturesque beach. For a long time she stood in the balcony mesmerized by the moonbeams floating upon the waves letting the Zen moment seep into her.

The romantic couples enjoying the night on the beach sent a flush of memories through her. Neither Keshav nor she had called since she left. She wondered if at all this physical separation would ultimately bridge the distances of the hearts.

Mine is the night with all its stars” she whispered and closed her eyes. Sleep was a bridge between despair and hope and she had a long day ahead.

Tara woke up as the first glow of the dawn lit the sky.  Mornings were the best time to commune with the ocean. She witnessed the most electrifying sunrise streaked with colors she never associated with sunrises or sunsets. Wrapped in timeless serenity she stood at the beach in complete silence. Everything ceased to exist around her.

“Every moment is an irreplaceable miracle here. Exquisite and unforgettable” Ron’s voice brought her back to reality.

“The Fest begins at nine. I hate to call it a workshop. Takes all the romance out of it.” He winked.

“I’ll be there.” She gave him a bright smile.

She had attended literary festivals before but never on an international level and the excitement was making her nervous. Sitting under the shades of emerald-green palms writers joined together to celebrate creativity, to encourage new talents and to discuss their works. There was a different kind of intensity and devotion and a special kind of bonding. It almost felt like a spiritual quest to her. These fests provided insights that she couldn’t have found elsewhere. ‘An open platform for all to share their work’ was a fantastic idea and Ron had done a wonderful job.

Asma arrived late in the evening. Tara was in the lobby gazing at the intricate design on the walls when she saw her walk in, elegant, graceful and extremely attractive in her simplicity. Completely unfazed by the turbulence her latest book had caused. Her life was drenched with rumors, hoaxes and that’s what made her real. Asma was a strong woman and the only one who had mastered the art of writing crime noir, cult fiction and her bold take on sexuality always kept her in headlines. Beneath Asma’s sensuous exterior burned a fire that flowed like molten lava in her works. She led a bizarre life. Lived on her terms and strongly voiced her thoughts about social evils that were eating the very foundation of humanity. You could draw life from her words. Awed by her presence Tara watched her till she vanished in the dimly lit corridor. She took a deep breath to calm her unruly heart.

They met at dinner. Ron introduced Asma to the group. Many had met her before and it seemed like a little reunion. She sure was an enigma. Tara kicked herself for being an introvert. Stupefied she watched the animated group from a distance. They were all hustling for attention something she still hadn’t learned. Dinner was a chatty affair and it was only during the coffee session that Asma came to her.

“You are Tara, right? Angel of the evening,”

Tara felt the blood rush to her cheeks. “I admire you a lot, rather worship you.” She finally found her voice.

“I am no goddess sweetheart, it’s women like you who need to be worshiped for their relentless desire to learn and excel. Your passion for writing is very evident in your work. “She smiled warmly.

“No one ever said that to me. Thank you, I would love to be your student.”

“We are all students Tara, learning is an eternal process. We are all here to communicate, to express. Relax, enjoy your stay here. I am around if you need me.”  The warmth brought tears in Tara’s eyes but she managed to keep them buried. Asma patted her cheek and said a quick goodnight.

Brimming with respect and gratitude Tara turned to get another coffee and saw Ron watching her.

“I see, so it was you? What have you told her Ron?” She asked.

“Nothing much but enough to make sure that you get what you came for.” His deep voice tugged at her heart. Ron was around fifty. He had helped her get many assignments in the past and treated her like a daughter. She hugged him gently. Her dark liquid eyes said all that her lips couldn’t

“Sleep well; we have two hectic days ahead. Work by day play by night “, he gave a mischievous smile. She laughed and wished him ‘night.

Tara felt a thousand different sensations as she watched the night sky’s reflection in the ocean.

Asma had called her an evening star. She remembered Blake’s lines.

Thou fair-haired angel of the evening,

Now, whilst the sun rests on the mountains, light

Thy bright torch of love; thy radiant crown

Put on, and smile upon our evening bed

Her eyes caught her own reflection in the mirror and she realized how long it had been since she had seen what her body looked like. She dropped the gown and stood gazing at herself as the cool breeze flirted with her raven hair. She was young, good-looking, intelligent and had an open heart and mind. She had a whole new world to explore. Picking up her gown she went to take a shower. Under the jets of cold water she let all the stress, all the pain wash away. Water always healed her, sort of renewal for her to start afresh. It was the first time in many years she felt complete. Guess it was a good sign. Saturated with prayers and dreams she closed her eyes and murmured

“And if tonight my soul may find her peace
in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.”

-D.H. Lawrence

 It was a prelude to the psalm of life. A time for the heart’s petals to open, time to blossom, to let the breeze carry her fragrance and she was ready.



Quiet Flows The Ganges: Will Nigamanand’s Sacrifice Go Waste ?


The environment activist brave enough to stand up against the corrupt administration and the stone quarrying and mining nexus died an unsung death while the media and politicians drooled over a ‘high flying’ Baba Ramdev.

Swami Nigamananda, 34, had been fasting for 115 days in Haridwar. On April 27, Nigamanand’s  health started deteriorating and the authorities admitted him at the district hospital. He went into coma and had to be admitted in a very critical condition to the Jolly Grant Hospital in Dehradun on April 27, 2011. Since then he lay there unnoticed by media, authorities and rest of the nation. The case of his death in under investigation as traces of  high toxins were found in his blood.

Was he murdered by the land mafia?

Why didn’t the “saviors of Hinduism”, the state government , the center and  NGO’s do anything to support his cause while he was alive?

While political parties trade charges over the sear’s death  it has exposed the sensitive issue of  destruction of the fragile ecology of Ganga. A river which is not only considered Holy but also nourishes the areas where it quietly flows mourning its brave  crusader’s death. Nigamanand was a member of Matri Sadan  which  has struggled to save Ganga from illegal mining for the past 12 years. Swami Nigamanand  had earlier done fast from Jan 20, 2008 till April 1, 2008 after which Stone mining was banned but soon after some months it started again and then another activist Dayanand did 30 days fast in March 2009 to shun the illegal mining  from February 19 this year. Matri Sadan never gave up its struggle. Another member, Dayanand started his Satyagrah from 15th October 2009 which lasted for 163 days.

The official website of Matri sadan tells how for the last ten years  Himalayan Stone Crusher has indulged in extensive rampant stone quarrying and sand  mining in full co-operation with the administration. The river bed is plundered by cranes and trucks as government issues permits and the mafia digs deeper and deeper into areas which are restricted for mining all along the 80-km Ganga stretch from Muni ki Reti to Rishikesh in Tehri district and further up to Laksar town in Haridwar. There was hardly any official supervision. This kind of destruction leads to flooding . Due to the illegal blockades and obstructions my the mining mafia the river has shifted its original course by 500meters and can spell havoc for the flora and fauna in the areas nearby and for the people who stay there. Thousands of acres of agricultural land has been rendered barren.

It is not just the area near Haridwar but also in areas near Roorkee  where the river beds have developed crevices as deep as 40 feet, polluted water and depletion in fish catch  is visible here. Forest reserve like Rajaji National park is also bearing the burnt of mining posing a threat to the local ecology. The center and the state allots millions of rupees for saving  the Ganges but nothing effective emerges out of that. It is ironical that the state is losing crores of rupees due to illegal mining and yet it continues to thrive under the very nose of the district administration.

Nigamanand’s death raises yet another very grave question about the illegal mining of river beds across the nation and the nexus between the administration and the mining mafia. It is the same nexus which is involved in deforesting the forests and many such issues.  Gavel and sand is needed to meet the growing demand of raw material by the contractors for booming construction business and  riverbeds are the source for that. Supreme court and the district courts  have issued order to prevent illegal mining and they have been openly flaunted all along. These miners are mostly  influential people with a political clout and plunder the river openly. The result is nothing but suicidal.

Indiscriminate mining is posing a great thread to the river ecology across the country. Many of us can not foresee how this lack of governance and unchecked mining will affect us in future.This mindless, unrestrained and unregulated activity is posing threats of widespread depletion of water resources which will ultimately lead to unavoidable food shortages and hardships for the people. Unscrupulous contractors and corrupt government officials  are more than willing to ravage all the major rivers across the country. They are merrily excavating sand from the rivers generally disregarding all environmental regulations.

Country’s precious natural resources are being purloined in a big way, its forests are being clean-felled, land degraded and its rivers threatened with extinction and yet no one is taking strict measures. In a country where the media houses, government agencies, politicians everyone is solely focused on their own personal agenda who cares if an environmental activist dies  fighting for a cause ?

Why aren’t there strict measures to erase this nexus from the roots ?

What is the solution then ?

Will the battle started by Nigamanand slowly fade to the last page of the newspaper  and will the investigation of his death end the Arushi way?

Will the nation wake up and realize that  Nigamanand died for a serious cause and he was not a mass entertainer like Ramdev ?

Whysuch low priority given to the Ganga  matter where black money issue steals all the attention ?

Isn’t it worth pondering that no one had heard of Swami Nigamanand until today until the  news surfaced that he had died following a four-month fast against illegal mining on the banks of the Ganga?

We know that the state government and the officials lend a helping hand for the loot ? Why isn’t it checked  ?

Why  isn’t there an environmental clearance before any such permits are issued ?

Will Nigamanand’s sacrifice go waste or will it change the fate of Ganga  and maybe all the other rivers of our country ?

Do leave your views. 

(Images from Matri Sadan blog  and downtoearth.org.in , facts from web)

Moonbeams and Sunshine : Chapter 3.Tara


Continued from 2:  Kite strings  

Chapter 3. TARA  

She gazed at the wine spilled western sky. The soft breeze played with her curls and occasionally a stray curl rested briefly on her face. She loved these summer pool side parties, the colorful people who fluttered like butterflies, the wine, gorgeous variety of food, the music and most of all the man behind all this fun. He had met Keshav during his Piano performance at the rest o bar he owned.  He wasn’t a looker by the society’s beauty standards but he was certainly a charmer.  He still remembered their first meeting and the deep voice that almost made her swoon.

“You must get close to him Tara. I know he has his eyes on you for some time. Go get him babes”. Shona whispered from behind her smoke rings.

“Oh stop it. He is good but not my kind and I am just twenty-six.” She did not sound convincing.

“Really”, Shona winked and drifted away to get another drink.

At the other side of the pool Keshav was entertaining a group of women with his unending supply of jokes.  She wanted to know more about this fascinating young man. A warm flush rushed inside her body and suddenly she was conscious of Shona staring at her.

“Not your kind, eh? “, she smiled.

The bird orchestra on the trees was getting louder and the strains of clarinet were barely audible. She loved his taste in music.  She knew he was an art connoisseur . She had seen some exquisite art pieces collected from across the globe.

“Are you a loner or is it that I haven’t been a gracious host?” His voice made her jump.

Turning a deep shade of red she mumbled some alien words while her eyes searched urgently for Shona. She was buried in the arms of one of her producers. Liquor, food, gossip, favors, deals and sex, these made the base line for all such parties. Everyone fake till the very core.

“ Shonali seems to be enjoying herself. Would you like to see the library?  He was standing so close that she could smell the faint fragrance of aftershave. Her body turned liquid.

“Are you alright? Come let’s go.” He held her hand and she sailed like a breeze along with him. Her heart was beating like the red Ferrari which was parked in the porch.

He held her hand firmly and she was aware of the warmth seeping through. The library and study were the most beautiful areas of the house.  The fireplace,  collection of books and music CDs, piano and the lovely rugs thrown around the room were simply breathtaking. Suddenly she was filled with life.

“Wow, this is amazing. Do you ever find time to read these?” she asked.

“That’s one thing I don’t do but I aim to please especially writers like you.”  His gaze held her captive. She smiled when all she wanted to do was throw her arms around him.

“Feel at home Tara, come over anytime even if I am not there. “ He said warmly.” I know you are more passionate about the books than the men”.

“I will and I think you should change your source of information about me.” Now she loved the teasing and wished they could spend the entire night together.

They met regularly and slowly Keshav became a part of her.  She married him within a year.  The private wedding at Mukteshwar, a long leisurely honeymoon and then life was back to normal.

Within a year the rainbow began to fade. She was alone most of the time as he toured and ran his business. The parties became less and slowly the laughter and fun faded like the colors of evening sky.  She became a recluse. Shonali married her producer lover and went abroad so there was no one except the silence and the books to give her company during the endlessly long days. The nights were even worse.  Keshav came home in the wee hours of the morning and love-making became just another ritual. Sometimes for days or months she burned and hungered for him while he traveled for business.

She burned night after night for that passion, that warmth, that touch.  The very house that had earlier bewitched her now became her prison. She had everything but still there was a vacuüm.  Keshav too felt it and compensated it with all that he thought she would love but that made things worse. She wanted him and he had no time. Business had increased many folds and he ran two more clubs now.

He went for parties just as a compulsion. She had stopped accompanying him long back.

It was their fourth wedding anniversary and opening of his Piano night when she told him about the Writer’s workshop in Pattaya. A friend had emailed her and she desperately wanted to go. It was a lifetime opportunity for her as a writer.

“When do you leave?” He asked without a trace of emotion.

“Day after tomorrow“, she had replied without giving any more information. These days they spoke only what was essential.

“Alright, whatever makes you happy.” Start packing I will arrange the other things. “He left early for the opening while she cleared the kitchen and trashed all the food she had cooked for their anniversary dinner.

This time tears stayed buried in her deep black eyes.  She was thrilled about the workshop not just because it was important to her as an aspiring writer but also because it was her passport to freedom.  An escape from this museum she called home.  It would give time to both of them to reflect upon their lives, she thought. She loved him and longed for those good old days.

Keshav stayed home on the day of her leaving. They had a candle light dinner and sat huddled on the rug in front of the fireplace, together still far away. Each had million things to say but  silence stood between them like a sentinel.

“One of the deepest truths about the cry of the human heart is that it is so often muted, so often a cry that is never uttered. To be sure there are needs and feelings that we express quite openly; lying deeper are emotions we share only with loved ones, and deeper still the things we tell no one….It is strange that members of a species renowned for communicative gifts should leave unexpressed some of their deepest yearnings”

The flight took off on time. They had hugged awkwardly and Keshav had left for a meeting immediately.  With mixed emotions she bid farewell to him wondering where their fate with take them.

Beneath her in were soft fluffy cloud castles and right outside her window was God’s illuminated promise, a magnificent rainbow. She remembered the lines by Byron;

Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.

Her life was about to change forever. Air borne she felt an ethereal feeling sweep through her. A whole new world lay in front of her and she was ready to take it on.

to be continued ….

Moonbeams and Sunshine


Continued from I. Like a river flowing 

Chapter 2.  Kite strings 

Rejection had been a constant companion to her.  ” This isn’t love,  this is business”, someone had told her.

The package had arrived by morning mail. The editor, a silver-haired man she admired, had said in his letter that she had potential but not ripe enough to be published with them as yet. “You are emerging. I’m proud to be a part of your blossoming. No limits. Just stay with it. Endurance is 90% of the art. I sense a good heart–and I know a good mind. Keep your faith and your discipline. I really hope for your success–and your happiness. An ally here.”  She admired the man. At least he has not discarded her like many.

She sighed and looked at the autumn sky full of kites. Her perspective about kites had changed over the years. She was more balanced now. The swing swayed slowly with the breeze and she closed her eyes.

She had a love hate relationship with kites as a girl. Her heart took a leap and sailed with the kites as she sat enviously watching the boys flying them. It seemed like a long time back but the sting of humiliation still made her cringe. She was determined to learn kite flying despite of all the hooting from boys but could never get it up in the sky. Her brother had taken pity on her plight and allowed her to manage his favorite kite for  a little while . She had been ecstatic to have the control in her hands but controlling was not instilled in her and the kite went wild with the shifting winds sending the boy hysteric. Before he could do anything it released itself from the string and vanished in the vastness of the gray-blue sky. Fuming with rage he jumped on her and slapped, pulled her hair ,abused in full view of friends and neighbors until their father separated them.

She never forgot the insult and the very next day shredded and set fire to all his trophy kites which he had chased and collected. The reels were given away to friends and it marked the end of kite flying in her house. The siblings never spoke to each other after that. Ever.

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back .” It was 25 years since someone mentioned kites to her. She looked in the eyes of her beloved. She smiled.

“Have you ever known what it is like to be on the brink of freedom and not taste it? Like a kite that flies in the blue skies but cannot escape because of the string that tugs it down? To be held down? To be controlled?  To be cut down by another ruthless kite before you  fall to the ground gracelessly?  I do. ”

He loved her but never understood her eccentricities, the fire that burned inside her and her disquiet. She was talented, had potential but was extremely unpredictable. Playful and child like on one hand wistful and dejected on the other. Full of contradiction and yet  balanced in her unique way.

He understood her viewpoint, felt for her , wanted to escape his own prejudices and  limitations and soar with her dreams but  could not for various reasons.

They were like two parallel rivers flowing but in different directions.  It was fate that had thrown them together.  In his interaction with her a vein had slit open and he wasn’t able to control the gush that poured out of him. It left him weak at times, he wasn’t ready for it. She was a string-less kite wandering aimlessly in merciless sky. He wanted to catch her, give her direction,  the flight of freedom she needed and yet hold the strings in his hands if she began to lose herself or is caught in a ruthless battle for survival.

There was a conflict. Inner as well as outer.  In her heart and his .

The cacophony of birds on the flaming Gulmohar tree woke her up. A tear had silently escaped her eye and ended on her lips. The sky was saturated with colors. She collected the fluttering papers , the empty coffee mug , her new spectacles and reluctantly went indoors.

The fridge held  remnant of yesterday. She was too listless to eat. The events of last two days had drained her.  With a bowl full of ice-cream she tugged herself in bed and began to read.

The new spectacles had helped her look at the world and herself in a different light.

Somewhere a nightingale sang a soulful song.

to be continued ……

Moonbeams and Sunshine – A Lost and Found Love Story


I. Like a river flowing 

“Meeting you was fate, becoming your friend was a choice, but falling in love with you I had no control over.”

Summer longings and a listless heart who gets into trouble by falling in love with  strangers.

Strangers like You,  a mirage, a distant dream untouchable & beyond reach. From your dusk to my dawn I wait for the sign but the rainbow dissolves in thin air.

Staring spaces hold me captive as I sit at the edge of desire. Silent vacant spaces where your thoughts like evening shadows slowly draw close and tug at my heart.

The mind is amused. It rejoices in the heart’s agony coaxing the heart to have conversation.  Mind is a patient listener, logical, practical like you but is crafty. It wanders off ignoring the mind trap.

“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain.”Neil Gaiman

“Go with the flow, don’t ask rhetorical question for I have no answers. Why should you seek answers? Where will it get you? Will it change the way you feel? what are you seeking? Why are you seeking? where are we going? Why? what? I don’t know. Just be there.”

Questions and counter questions.

I look at you in silence, feel the pang .  I see a child like soul trapped in a tired over worked body wanting to escape. You deny. It’s a conscious choice – good bad whatever. ” Is it all worth it?” , I ask. you don’t want to go there.

I watch tears, smiles, frowns, happy, sad faces  pop up. Emoticon expressions. You share and I share and we move on.

A million thoughts leading nowhere ..I search and search and search .. more questions and more answers leading to more questions. Life has suddenly become a mathematical technical problem or maybe a philosophical one, I don’t know.

We just go with the flow. Dreaming, yearning, passionately longing . Sometimes like a magical mysterious placid underwater river with no source  no destination and at others like a mountain brook revealing itself and all its magnificence as it turns into a gorgeous river unmindful of where its going.

The laid back underwater river sometimes losing its sense of time and it loses the will and strength to cut its way through the obstructions. You have become like that.

One day the hidden river discovered light through a gap. It saw  the way to freedom but the effort to cut through the formidable stone walls was too taxing. It waited, craving to be free, looking for some lift and found me. love happens at strange places in stranger circumstances.  We took a dive . I to explore the unknown deep mystery and you to reach out and escape to freedom.

Being dormant for years creates conflict and the mind thrives on it. It loves to throw the heart in whirlpools and watch it burn and gasp.

It creates disillusionment, spins you, makes you dive deep and resurface breathless and baffled.

Enchanted and enamored  you went headlong and landed in a whirlpool of emotional upheavals conflicting with your chosen placid life. You began to  see and the light blinded you. You began to retreat. Courage doesn’t come easy.

I stood watching , helpless .

Happens when you fall in love with an image, wanting to own, to possess an illusion. Wanting a hostage for a season and then the pretensions fall to the ground. The fairy tale ends. The rainbow dissolves.

It happened too quickly. The want, the need all there but there  also a void.

The feeling of Having it all having nothing

Something you got to experience and explore to make the change that you desire and that has found its way to you.

You placed a boulder and shut out the light .  You shut me out but I have watched to peeping through those chinks and it gladden my heart.  I see another rainbow beginning to form. You are a wizard . You saw through it and cemented the opening firmly.

I smiled. Nothing can hold a surging river especially a dormant one.

I have an insatiable urge to grasp the unknown treasures, to taste things that are so wondrous when teasingly obscure, to get lost in the pathless dreamland away from the madding crowd.

Being in love gives meaning to life. It complete the circle of life. Even if it is a dream.  Luminous, delicate, ethereal dream arising out of a smoky mist an image slowly defining itself and me I love the shadow of the moon staring hungrily, ravenously longingly. I love the rich night sky with all its hues and changing patterns, I love wild daisies, the butterflies and furry bunnies , I love the fragrant roses , the rain shower, the cherry trees .

Reminds me of the poem by Pablo Neruda what spring does to a cherry tree 

I love to share it all with you knowing my footsteps don’t echo with mine. I still want to walk along just in case you terribly feel the need to open your heart and embrace life. The walls are too high to scale but I try with skinned knees and bleeding heart. Distance, time engulfs me in a misty robe turning me into water .. I flow.

Seduced by your songs, your laughter, your whiskey voice, your warmth. It fills me crosses all barriers of universe. I wanted to be wanted and universe fulfilled my wish. So I go with the flow. Sometimes like a gurgling stream or an untamed passionate mountain river at others serene silently flowing at leisure. Unpredictable yet contained.

Sometimes I get the feeling that all this is lost to you.

Beneath the quiet calm flow I burn.

My heart flies to you while my soul awaits. I, a thing of rags and patches, with twigs and flowers in my ruffled hair. I, with dreams in my eyes and fire in my heart. I, whom creator made and threw the mold. Who needs such romantic fools anyway.

And you, with a shell around you , a king with in the four walls of your self-created  kingdom. Shutting out all that would create an upheaval it your nicely manicured space. Taming the river that flows in you. How can who tell me to flow with you when you have created dams at every curves?

You forgot that over a period barriers begin to develop chinks and when they do you won’t be able to control the surge of a captive river.

Try, keep blocking.

Fill those chinks, those cracks but hey will widen with time crumbling to dust in front of the passion called life. I saw a gap and with quivering heart I stepped into the realms unseen unknown. The universe awaits.

You scorn and laugh. You moved into my mind space and now it leaves you troubled and yet strangely contended and me too in that process.

You close your eyes , bury your head in the sand  pretend it doesn’t exists but love moves in mysterious ways, in silence. So do thoughts.

Watch me burn in my own flames but remember I’m  a phoenix  I will rise again but your eyes will just see the ashes of love . They will search for something in those smoky remnants as the scent of jasmine riding on air-back  will flood your heart. Your grief will bleed inwardly for your soul has no rainbow and your eyes no tears.

You either enrich a life or you don’t.  There is no middle path.

to be continues …….

Tikuli – Yes, it is my real name and also a vanishing craft of India


The Name 

Tikuli, that’s unusual name . Oh , it is your nick name , right?

NO it is my proper name and please pronounce it properly. ( Ti- ku- li ) . Got it ?  .

It is not teekooleee , tipkali, tikli, tukli, kulti, takli , tikali, tiklu, chikuli, tiks , Tea Coolie for heavens sake or anything similar .

Yes I shortened it to Tiku because I got fed up of people across the globe pronouncing my name wrong. I loath to have my name spoken, read, or imagined incorrectly.

When you are born you are given an identity without your consent then you are stuck with it for all your life. These days many people change their names for just one reason that is it too long, too difficult to write or pronounce.

I did not. Actually I like the uniqueness of my name. It’s the people who need to know the magnificence of it.

It just became a pain to explain, repeat the name, the meaning and why the hell I was given this extraordinary, complex, unusual name.

My friends, teachers, relatives, neighbours all found it a tongue twister to say it and always wrote it wrong.

Today I read a post on WP about mispronouncing the name and thought I should explain a few things to the world about this historical name of mine.

Now that you have learned how to pronounce it right let us know what it means and why my parents especially my dad thought it was THE right name for me.

The vanishing craft 

Tikuli is a rare and unique piece of hand painting, more than 800 years old and has its origin in Patna, an ancient town of eastern India. Tikuli is derived from the word “Tikli” or “Bindi”- the dot like embellishment with glass base and gold foil leaves in variety of designs adorning the forehead of most women in India.

It  involves melting glass, blowing it into a thin sheet and making and adding traced pattern in natural colors and afterwards embellishing it with gold foil and jewels. Tikulis were mainly adorned by Queens and Aristocrats women of yore. Jewels were put on gold leaves according to the status of the women in the society and these beautiful hand crafted Bindis were a proud possession of women in India.

The craft, however, became victim of rapid industrialization with machine produced “bindis” invading the market and  got lost in corridors of industrialization.

Patna-based Ashok Kumar Biswas has almost single-handedly revived this craft.

He has fused the tikuli craft with another art form of Bihar, Madhubani, to make decorative wall plates, coasters, table mats, wall hangings, trays, pen stands and other utility items.

After being in oblivion for decades, the art of making tikuli is showing signs of resurrection — as an art as well as a good business proposition for poor families of Bihar villages. Only difference now is that instead of embellishing foreheads of Indian women, tikulis are adorning drawing-room walls and tables not only in various parts of India but countries across the globe.

This photograph is sourced from the internet and the credit goes to the rightful owner. 

This painting is done on the glazed surface of hard board plates. The process of making these paintings is a very tedious and time-consuming. From cutting the hard board in different sizes to painting sharp black lines in one stroke for smoothness and fineness, the process involves 15 stages. Fine brushes and enamel paints are used to make these paintings. These paintings are available in different sizes and shapes and are heat proof and water proof and are used for interior decorations like wall hangings and utility items like table mats and coasters.

An ancient craft of the Mughal times, it is truly beautiful.

I feel happy that there are people who are investing their time and  money to revive the beautiful Indian crafts and art forms.

I also found that Tikuli is one of the main themes for Nepali and Bhojpuri folk songs.In many of the Hindi literature books it has been used as a symbol of happy wedded life, an identity of a married woman.  Tikuli is still the part of tribal jewelry worn by the Santhal tribe of Bihar.

Patna and Harihans cities are famous for manufacturing of Tikuli craft. The chief markets of Tikuli are Banaras, Patna and Calcutta.

The glass tikuli/tikuli used as bindi are sometimes found in village fairs. I have searched everywhere for them but not  found a single piece till now.

The reason dad chose this name for me 

I was born nine years after my brother . My parents were longing for a girl child and dad said it gave him immense joy to see his wish fulfilled. tikuli is considered auspicious in Hindu culture and the bride’s bindi is also symbolic of the “Anu”, the point of beginning of all creation and hence of the infinite potential of the women as is signified by the concept of Shakti, the cosmic female element. It is worn on the forehead between the eyebrows , a place known to be source of power and balance , the sixth chakra or the third eye.

It is mostly used as a decorative accessory  in modern times.

Dad always told me that every human being is unique and has tremendous source of inner energy and hence my name.  He said I was the pride and symbol of love and female creator in his eyes. Mom and dad felt that my birth was fulfillment of their wish for a new source of creation on earth.

My parents respected that uniqueness in me and so do I as a mother to my children.

Do We Need Sur-Names or Family Names? 

One thing I am unable to understand is the need to add a family name, mom’s last name or dad’s last name . Why is it so important ? As a teenager I remember an argument I had with my basketball coach during a selection session. 

“What’s your name “

“Tikuli”

” Huh? Tiku what ?”

“T.I.K.U.L.I. Nothing.” (I had dropped my surname as dad and I felt my name was my identity and there was no need to add anything to it. This conversation proved Why?)

” You must be having a surname. It is essential to write it in this form”

“WTF, WHY?”

‘Rules” 

“Varma”

“Aha, Hindu . your name is uncommon so could not guess.  So are you from UP, Rjasthan or Bihar ?” ” Kayastha or sunar varma?”

He was now getting on to my nerves. I felt like strangling him then and there. 

“How does it matter ? “” Am I being selected for the caste or religious group I belong to?”

“No, no just asking. We need to follow rules”.

“Does the rule say anything other than providing the silly surname?” 

” Hey be proud of your family name. It gives us our identity and shows the culture and religion we belong to.”

” I give a hoot to religion and my name alone gives me enough identity. I am better off without family names that ignite caste, religion differences . Humanity is what I believe in, nothing else and I DO NOT  write any family name.”

” You will when you get married”

“Watch me.”

I did not get selected for the State team. I do not regret it for it shows how limited our mentality is and that I do not wish to be part of it at any cost.

I never adopted a family name , still don’t write it but it is mandatory in many of the govt. procedures and it sucks big time.

I legally never dropped my family name and regret that.  Too much of a hassle changing it on all govt. and legal documents . The system sucks.

I defy to write my husband’s name, family name or add any such thing to my name. Take it or lump it. I do not wish to be imposed with any such social bondage. Thank you.

Why is it so Important to show to the world which family, community, state, culture, religion etc  you belong to? We talk of harmony, oneness, humanity and then we go on to create such wide differences. 

Tell me would your views change about me  after knowing which state, caste, religion, country I belonged to?  Would you start looking at the Tikuli you know in a different light ? If Yes , then I feel sorry for your limited thinking.