GBE 2 Week#67 Peace


Danny watched the enthusiastic joggers and wondered if he would ever be able to catch up with the pace of the park which moved with its younger regulars sweating it out profusely before returning to their air-conditioned lives. A lot of elderly too visited the park to exercise, walk or just enjoy the lighter side of the city, meet friends, inhale the fresh morning breeze from the sea and reminisce about the past to avoid the present. Children usually came on holidays or in the evenings. He had seen the way this beautiful Park had changed over the last decade.

He noticed that today also the elderly gentleman was sitting alone at his usual place aptly named “Garden of Peace” away from the hustle bustle of the main park. This section was designed in the style of a Japanese Zen garden overlooking the sea. He and his companion had spent many a glorious mornings in these tranquil surroundings laughing, talking or just sitting quietly watching the sun break through the clouds just above the eastern horizon. It was almost a fortnight now since his companion had not shown up but he was always there. Oblivious to the surroundings he watched the water lilies float in the pond or gazed at the deepening rosy glow of the sky.

Today, in his freshly ironed lavender shirt the old man had sat there for more than his usual time.

Danny wondered what had happened to the old lady. Unable to stop himself he collected his sketchbook and pencils and walked up to him.

The old man was busy observing the little yellow butterflies flirting above a row of colourful flowers.

“Aren’t they beautiful?” He said looking up. His face was that of the Buddha, calm and peaceful. “She would have loved them. I have been coming to this garden since its inception and why not, it is I who planned and designed it.” He added.

Danny saw the riot of colours in front of him and the little winged beauties fluttering over them.

“You designed this garden? How wonderful. It is beautiful” Danny looked around the serene ambience that had attracted him to this place years ago and since then he came here every morning to sketch.

“May I see your sketchbook?” He nodded and gestured Danny to sit beside him.

“Sure”.  Danny noticed that the old man’s hands trembled as he took the sketchbook.

“I used to paint at one time, now it is difficult to keep the brush steady”, he smiled at Danny.

“Really, I would love to see some of your work”. There was something about the old man that drew Danny to him.

The old man did not reply. Engrossed in the sketches he turned page after page as if looking for something and then he stopped. His slender fingers traced the patterns on the lines and curves on the paper.

Danny leaned forward to see what had caught his attention.

It was a sketch of the old couple he had made just before the lady stopped coming. They were standing next to the lily pond holding hands. Her face shaded by the summer hat and his beaming with love.

“They have sent her to an old age home. I could do nothing.” His face betrayed a glimpse of the emotional storm that was swirling inside and then seeing the puzzled look on his face he placed his soft wrinkled hand on Danny’s and winked, “She isn’t my wife. She is my first love.” A faint hue from the sun-kissed sky spread across his face.

Surprised by this sudden revelation Danny didn’t know how to react so he simply smiled.

I saw her one winter morning strolling here, talking to the birds and flowers. The morning mist had just begun to clear. I recognised her instantly but did not approach. After all these years I wondered if she would remember me.” His face shone like the sun which was now shinning in all its glory. “For some days I lingered around avoiding her eyes, quietly enjoying her presence. She evoked memories that were long since buried in some crevice of my heart.

Then one day as I bent over struggling to tie my wayward shoelace I heard a voice, “you still can’t tie shoelaces properly, can’t you?”  I looked up and there she was with a mischievous smile on her face. She held me by the shoulders and helped me stand. For a moment it seemed like a scene from a fairytale.

“You thought I may have forgotten you, didn’t you? I was wondering how long we would play hide and seek,” She laughed.

“I remember, he continued, I had laughed sheepishly and muttered something silly. Since that day we met here every day, spent some time reminiscing the good old days and then parted with a heart full of hope to meet again. We found peace and solace in each other’s being and not being. Life had been a roller coaster ride for both of us and these hours of togetherness were in which we truly lived.

We often noticed your presence and she was the first to realize that you were making a sketch of us. “

Danny’s face flushed a deep shade of pink. “You knew I was sketching both of you?” “I am sorry I did not ask for permission. Both of you looked so much a part of this garden of peace that I could not stop myself.”

“I am glad you made it.” He glanced lovingly at the sketchbook in his lap.

Danny took the sketchbook slowly pulled the page from the spiral binding and handed it to the old man.

“She will always be with you.” He smiled and he gently pressed the two trembling warm hands.

For the first time the old man’s face really showed the pain of longing and separation. A tear escaped the soft brown eyes.

“Thank you.” He said softly.

Both men sat there in solitude under the shade of the fragrant Frangipani connected only by the warmth of their hands. The ‘Garden of Peace’ watched quiescent.

This post is written for GBE 2 week #67 Peace 

Recipe : Fun with Stuffed Capsicum


Stuff yourself silly with this delicious recipe.

Stuffings add colour and life to any vegetable and bell peppers are a favourite choice, be it Green, Red, Yellow or Orange. They look gorgeous and each stuffing has its own special flavor and aroma. Here I have used the basic boiled potato stuffing. You can bring a healthy twist to bell peppers in your own creative way.

Ingredients:

4 medium-sized Green Capsicum (bell pepper)

4 medium-sized potatoes

6 table spoon cooking oil

3/4 tsp cumin seeds

¾ teaspoon whole coriander deeds

¾ teaspoon fenugreek seeds

3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 large onion finely chopped

1 green chilli finely chopped

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp raw mango powder

Freshly chopped coriander leaves

Salt to taste

Preparation:

Wash the green peppers well and pat dry with paper towel. Cut the top off about 1″ from where the stem is attached. Remove all the seeds and pith and discard.

Boil water with salt and blanch the peppers for 5 minutes. Take them out in a colander to cool.

( Sometimes I do not blanch especially hen putting on grill/ oven and never with the Red and Yellow peppers)

Wash and boil the potatoes. Peel and cut into small cubes (or mash) and keep aside for later use.

For the stuffing:

Heat 3 tbsps of cooking oil in a pan on medium flame, till hot.

Add the cumin seeds, coriander seeds till they splutter. Put fenugreek seeds. Turn them golden brown.

Now add the green chillies and garlic and fry till the chillies turn whitish and the garlic turns light golden.

Add the onion and fry till soft and golden.

Now add all the powdered spices and cook for 1 minute.

Add the cubed potatoes and mix well to blend with all the spices. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Turn off the flame; add salt to taste and mix well.

Add finely chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Method to prepare the vegetable:

Fill each green pepper to the top with the mashed potato mix. Press down and top up to make sure they are well filled.

Heat the remaining cooking oil in a shallow pan (I use non stick flying pan so that the peppers can be lined up nicely and turned without breaking) on a low flame. When hot add the peppers (face down) and fry till golden. (Keeping the peepers this way will ensure sealing of the stuffing.)

Keep turning them in the pan so that they brown from all sides.

Once done, take them off the flame and place them on a plate lined with paper towel to allow excess oil to be soaked up. Add remaining fresh coriander leaves.

Serve hot.

Note:

There is so much variation one can do with the stuffing. You can use cooked masala Keema( minced goat meat) , sausages, lean ground beef, brown rice, scrambled Cottage cheese veggie, Mixed veggies ( carrots, tomato, beans, potatoes, soya granules, mushrooms chopped finely and cooked) etc. The options are endless.

You can also bake/ grill the peppers. Preheat oven to 225º C and once the peppers are ready to bake, do them at 225º C for 15 min. Or till done nicely.

You can top it up with any processed cheese (I like Cheddar)

You can use any colour bell pepper and turn the dish into summer carnival of colours.

So flirt with these beauties and enjoy a healthy meal.

Snapshot – GBE 2 Week #66


His hands trembled as he tried to light a cigarette. It took him five tries to get it right. He leaned against the wall to steady himself. Everything was a blur. His mind became warped.  He could see nothing, think nothing.  And then came the tears. They ebbed and flowed like seasonal flood. Only that his was not seasonal. He hadn’t cried in years. Slowly streaming down his face like hot lava at first and then like a deluge that surprised even him, hot water for pain like blood flowing from an open wound. Perhaps it was a wound. He did not know, couldn’t think, and couldn’t stop.

She came to him not like a memory but a stray thought. A thought that catches you unaware at the least expected moment. It was something he didn’t want but he wept all the same, shedding all inhibitions. He slumped to the floor and wept like never before into the deep night.

And then it stopped as suddenly as it started. A dull ache swept through his body, a cocktail of myriad emotions that he could not decipher in a single moment. It drained him out.

He lit another cigarette and took a deep extended drag and felt the smoke fill his lungs. Slowly he exhaled and through the smoke screen he saw her. She must have been in her early twenties. He had just begun his career as a photographer and travelled all over the world. People, places fascinated him. He found a story behind mundane objects inanimate objects and infused life in them through his lens. He first spotted her near a roadside café. The city was shimmering in bright sunlight after an early summer rain. The breeze flirted with her waist long windswept hair as she stood with her hands embracing a hot mug of coffee. The harbour in the background made a pretty picture of her. He could see the hint of mascara in her deep dark eyes. She was dressed in a floral dress that clings to her voluptuous body giving it a sensuous flow.

She seemed oblivious to her surroundings. Near her, on a wrought iron table, lay a book. The pages fluttered like hummingbird’s wings. Unable to contain himself he pulled out his camera and focused on her. From behind his powerful lens he could see how ravenously beautiful she was. She did not wear any make up but her face shone like molten bronze. He zoomed a bit more and studied her profile mesmerized to react. It was like a dream sequence. He quickly clicked one snapshot after another and then stopped as if under a spell. His eyes still glued to the viewfinder. She brushed her hair back in a dancer like sweep and in one swift motion picked up the book and vanished in the sea of people who has emerged from a nearby mosque.

Before he could realize he had lost her.

Cursing himself for a lost opportunity he briskly walked back to the hotel unable to stop the excitement of looking at the pictures. On uploading he could find only one of the many he had clicked. Rest of it was as black as night. He was puzzled and angered at this unusual occurrence but the eyes that gazed at him from the screen of his laptop held him captive. For the next six days he went out every day in the city looking for her.

And then he saw her again, this time in a book shop. She wore a plain black dress and had tied her hair in a swirl. He made no mistake this time and approached her from behind. She suddenly turned as if aware of his presence. A little startled he stopped in his steps. His knees became jelly as she beamed at him.

‘You took my picture that day at the harbour, didn’t you?” she said in honeyed voice. She was a Latino for sure. He made a mental note of it.

‘So, you noticed.’ He smiled back.

For his age he was exceptionally fit and good-looking and he could see that in the mischievous twinkle of her eyes.

“Would you give me a copy of it?”

“Yes, of course” he said.

He took out the printed copy of her snapshot from his wallet and handed it to her. He felt the warmth of her body pass like an electric current through his body.

What was wrong with him? Stupefied, he picked up a white rose from a nearby vase and carefully tucked it in her hair. She didn’t stop him.

She glanced herself in the glass door, smiled softly, placed the snapshot in the book she was carrying and left without a second glance. He inhaled deeply absorbing her fragrance and came out in the street. She was nowhere in the sight.

He left the city two days later for another assignment. They never met again but her memory stayed with him every moment. She became an invisible companion who filled the emptiness of his life. In those moments of quiet when he was alone with himself he created memories with him, made love to her, walked hand in hand through empty walkways and streets of cities he travelled. She became his shadow. He never felt alone and for some reason he was happy.

It was twenty-five years ago.

He went to island of Majorca many times and every time his eyes had searched for her.

A tear silently left the corner of his eyes. He dragged himself to the window and looked at the dark night sky. It seemed to have become deeper than ever. The breeze brought  fragrance of winter roses from the manicured gardens of the hotel.

He closed his eyes. How could he not recognise her face even from under hundreds of tubes that ran everywhere? He felt a lump rise in his throat. What had brought her to this godforsaken city in America? Where was she all these years? He cursed himself for not ever asking for an address or a phone number back then. He always believed that the universe will conspire to bring them together again but never in his wildest dreams had he imagined it to be like this.

He was in New York to attend to his ailing mother. She was the only other patient in the room that smelled of nothing but sanitized air. It was on her bedside table he had found the book of verses. Mom had told him amidst uncontrollable sobs, how the frail lady on the other bed had handed her book to the attending doctor and gestured him to pass it on to her just before she died, the book which she always kept close to her frail heart. An emotional avalanche hit him the moment he recognized it.He had stared in stoned silence at the book, unable to breathe, his eyes transfixed on the empty bed to his left.. He had picked it with trembling hands as everything else had slowly begun to fade around him. The snapshot had slipped and fallen near her feet and he was once again held captive by those gorgeous eyes. It was then he noticed for the first time the sadness that filled them. With great effort he had managed to pick the photograph and the book and unable to withhold the surge of pain and hurt of loss he had rushed out of the hospital as if driven by some hidden force.

The flutter of paper brought him out of trance. The breeze had become stronger and the pages of the book were fluttering like wings of hummingbird, just as they were on that summer day. The snapshot lay in their shadow.

This post is written for GBE2- WEEK #66 (8-19-12 to 8-25-12): Snapshot

 

Recipe – Sprouted Fenugreek and Potato Vegetable


Sangeeta khanna is one of the best Food Bloggers in Delhi and a friend. Over a phone conversation I asked her about healthy vegetarian food that could help me get over my Iron deficiency among other things.  I make all sorts of sprouts at home and use them in various ways like in salads, pulao, vegetable combinations and as stuffing for sandwiches etc.

I knew about roasted fenugreek being used for making ladoos mixed with whole wheat flour but had never used them as sprouts.

Usually I use it as seasoning in veggies, dal etc. Fenugreek is very nutritious herb both as a leafy vegetable and as seeds. It contains protein, vitamin C, niacin, potassium, copper, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc, manganese, and diosgenin (which is a compound that has properties similar to estrogen) among other active ingredients.

The herb which is a rich source of anti oxidant, minerals and photo nutrients  is a store house of nutrients is highly beneficial to cure many ailments like high cholesterol, Diabetes (do not eat without consulting the physician), appetite loss, heart burn, constipation, inflammation, muscle and joint pain, erectile dysfunction , baldness etc. It helps in production of milk in lactating mothers. Pregnant women should not use Fenugreek  as it  increase uterine contractions.

Sprouting fenugreek seeds crates enzymatic reaction which produces easily digested proteins.

To make Fenugreek sprouts and other sprouts with no contamination read this  Making sprouts at home by Sangeeta Khanna.

I used her recipe to make this vegetable and did some changes to it according to my taste.

 

 

I prepared a large bowl of sprouted fenugreek and kept the unused part in an airtight container in the fridge.

To make the Potato fenugreek ( methi) vegetable you need ;

Ingredients :

2 large Potatoes

I cup Fenugreek Sprouts

I Medium Onion

2  Fresh Green Chilies

4 table-spoon chopped Fresh Coriander

1 table spoon mustard oil or any other oil to cook

A pinch of asafoetida

Pinch of cumin seeds

Salt to taste

Red chili powder

Dry mango powder – 1/2 teaspoon or 1 teaspoon lime juice

Turmeric Powder – 1 teaspoon (optional)

 

Method : 

Make the sprouts as given in the link above. (I don’t throw the water in which the seeds were soaked, I drink it usually. Also I do not wash them so often if hygienically prepared. )

Wash and boil potatoes ( I steam them in a steamer) and cut into small cubes.

Chop onion lengthwise or in rough pieces

Chop green chilies in small pieces

 

In a non stick pan add mustard oil and let it smoke. If you are using any other oil let it heat and turn the flame low.

Add cumin seeds and let them splutter. Add chopped onions , grated ginger, green chilies and sprinkle asafoetida powder over it. Putting it early will burn it.

Saute the onion till light golden and then add potatoes, boiled and cut into cubes and also 1/2 of the fresh coriander leaves.

Stir and add salt, turmeric powder, toss well till done . Add the sprouts after this step. Cooking sprouts too much destroys its goodness. Add dry mango powder.

Toss for a few minutes and take out in a bowl .

 

 

The other variation with kasoori methi is in the link I provided earlier in the post.

Add rest of the freshly chopped coriander and a green chili split into half . Add lime juice while serving  if you don’t use dry mango powder.

Eat hot with Rotis, Indian flat bread or any other bread. Use it as a stuffing for grilled or plain sandwich if you like)

So eat healthy and stay well.

Enjoy!

Recipe – Avial ( South Indian Vegetable Stew)


Avial is a specialty of Kerala, Tamil and Udipi cuisine. Rich with nutrients of fresh seasonal vegetables, this stew has added flavors of coconut, curry leaves and spices. The dish is usually eaten with steamed rice. One can make it either dry or with slight gravy.  Avial is made in a variety of ways with a range of ingredients  and is considered essential part of Onam Sadya.

I used local seasonal veggies available in North India. It turned out to be delicious.

Ingredients : 

Vegetables :

Ash Gourd – 100 gms
Pumpkin – 100 gms
French Beans – 10
plantain- 2
Snake Gourd – 1/2
Potato – 1, small
Brinjal – 1, small
Drumstick – 1
Yam – 1/2 cup

Don’t use veggies that contain excess water or get mushy when cooked.

For the paste :

Grated Coconut – 1/2 cup

cumin seeds –  1 teaspoon

Garlic clove- 4

Green chilies – 4

Onion- I small

Other ingredients :

Turmeric powder- 1 teaspoon

Salt – according to taste

Sour Curd- 3-4 tablespoon

Fresh Curry leaves –  a few (1 spring)

Method :

Prepare the paste :

Add all the ingredients listed above for making the paste in a mixer and coarsely grind them to a thick paste. Add just a little water if you find it difficult to grind.  Keep aside.

Prepare the veggies :

In a heavy bottom pan put all the listed veggies which are peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch long pieces. Add green chilies slit in half. Also add enough water to cover the vegetables. Add salt and turmeric powder and simmer on slow heat till  half cooked. Make sure the vegetables do not get overcooked. I use a fork to check if they are done. The fork should easily go in but veggies should remain intact and crisp.

Make a well in the middle of vegetables and add the already prepared coconut paste.

Stir well and cook on low heat for another five minutes. Keep it covered.

Take a teaspoon of coconut oil or any other cooking oil. Heat it a little and add curry leaves to it till they crackle. Pour those curry leaves in the mixture and cover.

Take beaten curd and add this too to the vegetable stew and remove from heat.  Do not cook after adding curd as it may curdle and ruin the dish.

Watch the colorful carnival come alive with exotic aromas as an added bonus. I kept a little with gravy and rest without it so that it caters to everyone’s wants.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Recipe – Lauki Ki Barfi ( Bottle Gourd Fudge )


In Indian Ayurvedic medical system Bottle Gourd/ doodhi/ lauki holds a special place due to its health benefits. This is a recipe perfected by me over the years. Traditional Indian sweets require a lot of love and patience. They are time consuming but the end result is delicious. I usually avoid using Khoa which is base for many Indian sweets. I prefer to use full cream milk and reduce it on slow flame to get the same texture and the taste is much better than khoa.

Bottle Gourd is used for making kheer, halwa and barfi and here we will learn to make Bottle gourd barfi or fudge.

Ingredients :

Bottle Gourd – 2 cup grated.  Choose fresh lime green bottle gourd with a round bottom and no blemishes.

Sugar- 200 grams

Milk- 1 liter

Green cardamon powder –  1teaspoon

Almonds- Blanched and finely chopped 1/4 cup

Clarified Butter – 1/3 cup

Method :

Wash peel and grate the bottle gourd. Keep aside. Some people remove the pulp and seeds but I keep it all. One needs to take tender bottle gourd.

Heat full cream milk. Add the grated bottle gourd to it. I don’t fry the vegetable before adding milk. I feel all the juices should remain in the dish.

Keep the heavy bottom pan full of milk and bottle gourd mixture on low flame and let it simmer till the milk completely evaporates.

Add the clarified butter and keep the flame on medium. Keep stirring to avoid burning.

Let the mixture leave  sides and turn a beautiful golden brown.

A this point add sugar. I usually add sugar at later stage.

Dry up the water content after adding sugar.

Stir it till it gets a nice shade of brown.

Add almonds and remove from heat. Add cardamon powder. This should always be added in the end.

Grease a high edged plate covered with foil paper.

Pour the mixture and flatten it to form a smooth texture.

Let it cool. Once cool cut into squares or diamonds.

Garnish with almond shredding. I have skipped the garnish as mom doesn’t like it much. 😉

Serve as a dessert.

Would you hold me? Give a real hug?


I like the way you say “we will find a way”. I like the word “we”. It feels like a warm hug even from such a distance. I have lived a life fractured into “You” and “I”.  It never became “we” until you came in it.

It is true that every time I think of you  it is like getting a hug from inside out but sometimes the want for a real hug consumes me like a wild-fire. I wonder if the love we put into words will ever transform into hugs – real hugs not virtual.

I have forgotten how a  real hug feels like, the warmth of a human body against yours, nothing sexual or romantic but just a need to be held. I can’t remember even if I go back looking through my youth or even my childhood. Just simple hug, that cocaine high , that surge in the blood, that solace of being desired, that shamanistic, trance like feeling of ecstasy which strangely illuminates from within.   I desire you in the simplest way, simpler than you can think of and this desire is constellation of  wants and needs, hopes and dreams exploding inside me yearning for that one hug. The warmth of your arms around me.

I get that warmth from the words you say and write and the yearning increases with each day.

Sometimes I sit and wonder, why do we feel so uncomfortable giving a hug as we grow up? We don’t teach our children importance of non-sexual touch. They grow up without that knowledge and don’t know what to do when someone wants to hug them. They freeze. They feel confused when a sudden voice from inside tells them to go embrace someone. They burn but can’t bring themselves to give a simple hug. It surprises me how my own boys somehow lack in this especially when I instilled it in them. I guess society has a lot to do with this inhibition we have. These simple gestures of holding hands, hugging are lost in the rigid norms society enforces on us. It is surprising that two girls hanging out, hugging , walking hand in hand, giving a friendly peck on the cheek is acceptable but when boys do it becomes a matter of concern and ridicule, something abnormal, out-of-place. What kind of world are we living in? Aren’t we depriving our children of basic human needs? What will they become when they grow up, if not skewed up, frustrated adults fighting with their basic instincts?

We grow up to be icons of romance, fulfil those slush fantasies but so lack in these simple things. It is strange that sometimes those in a relationship/ marriage too lack these simple pleasures just like we, the lonely ones do. It is not gender or age based either.  We connect with each other at many levels but not on this one. There are times when one wants to give a hug and restrains and if one gets a hug one freezes and shrugs it off. Either way we lose, curl up, and go into a shell yearning for a  hug.

Empty hearts give empty hugs, even the pleasure of sex quickly goes cold in cold arms. I have been there so I know. They are just physical motions one goes through, a routine, devoid of love, desire, care or longing empty arms which may feel warm but leave your cold and drained. Slowly that dies too leaving a void, a starved body longing for human touch. Nothing is more bitter than to be forced to submit to the falseness of love. To endure the cage of arms that suck life out of you instead of  nurturing it.

I long for those arms, those arms that can end the growing longing; arms that would wrap me in the comfort of loving energy that matches mine. Arms that would make me feel safe, cared, understood for who I am. Not possessed, owned or used as an object, not holding me as an obligation to dead vows .

I sometimes feel like hugging random people on streets but I notice how suspicious we are of each other. We restrain ourselves and lock ourselves afraid that the floodgates of human emotions may overflow. Unsure if we can handle the deluge. We give virtual hugs freely but a real hug is a herculean task. I have felt the flow of energy even when touched accidently but it just ends in a surprised reaction. Hardly anyone gives a real hug these days. It has been reduced to a social gesture. We hug our animal companions more than we hug our fellow human beings. Isn’t it something to think about? Have you ever wondered “why”? Why is there such a social disconnect?

I sometime ..no, actually all the time … feel the need to put my head in someone’s lap or shoulder and cry or open my arms to someone who needs it, to stroke someone’s hair, to simply hold someone’s hands, simple things that words can never express.

You have to be in this place to feel the emptiness of the feeling of having someone who can change this forever and yet being a distant dream. This feeling is beyond the loneliness of any sort.

To be held in true love is a rare experience these days, be it from children, parents, friends, lovers, be it in any relationship even marriage.

I am looking for those arms, those arms which would hold me and true love, compassion of human heart, comfort and understanding.

Would you hold me? Would you turn those words into real hugs?

Would you?

You know

I would

If you choose so

Till then I will just desire. Feel your words wrap me in their warmth and make my fragmented state of ordinary life a little coherent. No longer scattered like autumn leaves through  time and space but contained at one place. In You.

When was the last time you gave or got a real hug?

If it makes you think, I feel for you.

Here is one  for you

Empty Spaces, Inky Nights and a Sound Cave


This is just a collection of thoughts triggered by a fabulous photograph of an empty walkway, a message exchange of thoughts on the beauty of sunsets and nights, an emotionally charged lash-out from someone right in the morning and a gloomy rain filled day.

Words explode in my head pushing and thumping against its walls to escape, thoughts stumble on each other like perplexed mass but I could not bring myself to write a single word. Frustrated with myself I turned to reading but the words became a blur. Crying is therapeutic and I was filled since some days. Suddenly my eyes became pools of hot liquid and from under the closed lids streams of hurt and pain and utter dejection with self began to slid down my flushed cheeks. For a long time I just let it all flow. My temples throbbed and zillions of electric currents passed through my head sending shock waves down my tired body. Then it all ceased. Sleep is a healer too.

Words still kept their distance. When the walls begin to cave in and suffocate you light streams in from some crack somewhere. I chanced upon a lovely photograph of a walkway and a simple exchange of thoughts and a some comments reminded me how I miss the empty spaces in life. How all the life, even in lonesomeness, I am filled with an inner chatter, how I need to calm my self and embrace what I love. Go where love is. I have always been fond of long empty corridors, walkways. They give me a sense of intimacy. There are stories drifting in the play of light and shadows.Shadows that add meaning to the mundane. I remember how I would lean against a pillar , a tree or against the coolness of a wall and watch the deeper play than that which words can express. I would imagine the people who must have walked there once, their conversations, silences and then those empty places would fill with colors, textures, sounds and smells and as suddenly they would appear, they would vanish. Leaving a quiet silence and I would stand at its threshold not moving a muscle listening to the silence.

As I saw the photograph I was sucked into that place, that time and for a moment nothing else existed. The conversation drifted to sunsets and nights and I remembered what beautiful sunsets I had seen during my various journeys. Each one distinctly different from another. Sometime a carnage of dreams and memories, a sun stabbed sky turning  from Merlot to scarlet to shades of crimson, purple, blue and bronze which existed only in the box of crayons from my childhood. As I grew up I usually found them spread across the sky. A few of those brilliant sunsets I still carry in my heart. The orgasmic meeting of sky and earth at the horizon. The shimmering snow-clad peaks of Himalayas. The deepening evening shadows, the cacophony of birds, the sweet fragrance of pine or flowers riding on the back of evening breeze, the timelessness and a knowledge that we have a few hours of solitude ahead of us. It is surreal experience that remains etched in the memory for ever.

The sunsets led to the nights. The rich hues of night sky, the changing patterns, the calm that slowly seeps into the hollow of your bones. Night sky holds a very special place for me. I find it more alive than the day sky. I have memories associated with the night sky from my childhood, from my growing years and those years in between when it became my constant companion. The healing dark, I called it.

I often wondered what pulls me to the night and realized that just like memory it suppresses the idle details. Night is all-inclusive. Everything is draped in one single color.  A vast expanse of oneness that takes everything in its compassionate fold. There were times I felt choked behind the walls and curtains during nights and it loomed large over me like a hungry carnivore ready to take a plunge and dig its sharp claws in my soft flesh of my heart. I longed to step out and reach for the night sky outside my prison , lay bare my body and soul to it but then slowly I realized that all the serenity and calm that the night brings is inside me. Nights became the blotting paper for my sorrows, a playground for my desires, a confidante for the untold secrets and unfulfilled dreams just as it has been a fairy kingdom with stories written in stars and imaginary shapes and figures lingering in the drifting moon and cottony clouds during my childhood.

There was something about the darkness I loved then and do now. Every perspective changes as the night deepens and then fades with the first break of morning light. Laying in bed  just before the sleep takes over is the most rewarding time. It is a time  when the human heart , alone and unperceived, is full of powerful emotions and surrenders itself completely to the darkness. When all that is concealed is revealed.

City nights are harsh, artificial, haunted by neon dreams and smog that chocks its lungs and yet there is a time when everything stops. When one is pulled by the magic of the night sky. The few hours before dawn when I usually step out for deeper communion with self and whats around me.

Nights spent lying under the stars on terrace during summers still makes me nostalgic. The first thing that we lose when we grow up is the sense of wonder. I remember nibbling on a blade of grass and just watch the night sky. A million zephyrs, a lonely and frayed moon tugging the corner of a cloud drifting aimlessly, smokey wispy clouds,  sometimes  just inky blackness  of a winter night descending on everything under it like a widow of the universe it mourns in silence.  Its deep horizons yearning and longing for all that is lost.

The wild stormy nights of rain armed with jagged spears of lightning slicing the sky in two. Rainy nights that cleanse the venom inside and outside. I have spent hours standing under the night rain letting it out flow out.

Have you ever heard someone play soulful music on a wooden flute in the stillness of the night? Ever felt the warmth of human body next to you on an endless summer night without even touching? Ever thrown your arms open to the sky as if fishing for stars? Even looked at the mist moving like a ghost in the night from behind a glass window. Ever stood in an open filed, a lonely beach, a moonlit desert, at the edge of a cliff jutting across a deep valley drinking in the night? Ever walked the smoke-filled, neon lit, city roads at night? If not then you haven’t lived to the fullest.

I have walked the meandering , winding roads in the hills with sweet intoxicating smell of wet pine filling my lungs and puddles dull of moon light creating a magical scene after a sudden mountain rain. Roads hold me captive but we will talk about them some other time.

I woke up to a rain-soaked day today. When you stir a dying fire there are chances of some spark turning into a flame. Some questions burn like embers and should be left alone. Relationships are complex tangled web of emotions. I watch an emotional outburst turn bitter  and pungent with rage right in the morning. With heavy heart and tear filled eyes I took the blows , scared that one wrong word may spin the thing into uncontrolled roller-coaster and it was the last thing I want at this point of time in my life.

Brimming with pain I tried to stop the deluge that waited to be unleashed. The best option at such times , and I have faced many of them, is to go into a sound cave.

This is something I learned over the time. To switch off, disconnect, choose some music with drums, guitars, preferably rock, heavy metal , turn up the volume, put on the headphones and go into a sound cave. My favorites in such times are Enigma, Nirvana, The Rasmus, Evanescence etc. I used to listen to soft melodies which acted like fuel to fire marooning me in deeper in sadness. Music can be a great stress reliever as well as an escape into another world which is far remote from the grim, heart wrenching reality. Wearing headphones acts like  insulation from outside world – a sound cave where nothing else exists. In times when the world seemed too much for me I learned to slip into this sound cave. For an hour or so I sedated myself with music giving myself time to emerge out of  the incident that shook me. I often play some music according to my mood and listen with headphones on. It is my way to kill loneliness , to disconnect with the unpleasant and to connect with the sounds and rhythms , to absorb the lyrics which may or may not really have any relation with my current situation and mood but it soothes my inner.

I realized that doing this cleared much of the blocks within me including the writer’s block.

The sand is slowly shifting from under my feet. Uncertainty is looming large. Am at the edge of desire. I tell my heart that everything will work out well but I know certain things are elusive, distant dreams that may never get fulfilled. Sometimes we are at a crossroad of emotions and all we can do is either push through the fear and go ahead with the flow where ever it takes or become a cynic and get caught in the web of “what if”s and “if only”s .

Last one year  has been a journey within. I discovered facets of me that I never knew existed. I found myself doing things I could never imagine doing in wildest dreams and yet I am still unable to cut that one thread that is rubbing against my soul and making it bleed.

There is also something else tugging at my heart apart from losing my new-found economic independence. Something which holds the key to my life.  Love is a many splendored thing. Right now , with my muse back, I am letting the universe take over. I have slipped the questions to the universe. I know the answers will come .

Leaving you with a song I love

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6qLNnxGDaA&feature=related

Photograph : Part of the collonaded walkway that surrounds the Plaza Mayor at Salamanca. Photo Credit  James Goddard  . Many thanks.