Choices


“You know how sometimes you tell yourself that you have a choice, but really you don’t have a choice? Just because there are alternatives doesn’t mean they apply to you.”
― Rick Yancey, The 5th  Wave 

I titled this ‘Choices’ for the lack of any other title. These are just reflections of the last seven plus years that I spent rediscovering myself. This is purely subjective piece of writing. A large percentage of women, even in India, may take completely different steps and bring a change in their sordid lives irrespective of age but some of us are unable to. Mostly because of our own inner fears. Most of the times these fears are  based on aspects outside our control and sometimes they are just baseless but still take a grip on our psyche.

I have always been a drifter and always been ridiculed for it. Sometimes it hurt me deeply and at other times I didn’t care. As a young girl I would often dream of travelling to all the places I saw in National Geographic Magazine and the other books I read. I would dream up places too. Beyond stars and galaxies, beyond the known and unknown. The consistent aspect of each dream was a house. A small yet comfortable house which I would turn into a home. A home where I wanted to be in but never was in reality. I would include a husband/partner/lover as the other resident and yes, there were children too. It all depended on how lonesome or solitary I felt. There would always be a nice kitchen soaked in the warmth of winter sunlight but coolly shaded in summers. There would always be a small garden attached to it. There would be books, music, food, laughter and most importantly love. Other things changed time to time. At that time I never thought of living alone. I was too lonely already to long for more seclusion. Later of course things changed.

At that time not many people asked me what I would want to become when I grow up and I felt grateful for that but when someone did I said, “I want to become a nun or I want to become a trapeze artist.” Fascinated as I was by the world of circus artists. It was a fantasy I wanted to escape into. Of course all that changed once sense prevailed but the drifting continued and all I needed to do in the  future was find a haven away from the chaos.

During the middle school years every time when I  returned to an empty house, with the house key dangling around my neck in a black thread, return to cold meals and silence, I would cringe and envy the kids who had someone waiting for them at home, mostly their mothers. Of course, we were raised differently and there were no gender assigned roles in our house but I was young and grappling with many issues. I think I even cringed at being alone with my dad for various reasons. It was at this time the feeling of living alone began to grow. The dreams remained the same but there were no companions, no family. Perhaps a few friends who would visit but not cling. I was increasingly becoming weary of people around me. It was a complex situation where I wanted the company and yet needed my quiet space.  We didn’t go out for movies or attended family weddings/functions. Hardly anyone visited our house but we did sometimes go to my maternal grandmother’s house in Pune. Another place that I was very fond of for many reasons and yet carried a lingering fear in my heart about it. Someday I will write openly about it.

There were times I enjoyed the peace and solitude of being alone at home. It was a good change from the tensed, argumentative, stifled time when others were around. In some part of my heart I reminded myself again and again that I did not have a ‘normal’ home environment and vowed to give that to myself and family when I grew up.  It did not happen that’s another story though I did leave my job before I got married in hope to make my marital home the haven I had always dreamed of. The lingering thought of having a working mother and my constant loneliness as a young girl made me believe that only stay at home moms could provide the secure and loving home a child needed.

In my circumstances it wasn’t a good choice to be a dependent. Financial independence could have saved me a lot of hurt and humiliation. It could have changed the course of my life but then there are a lot of other factors that contribute to the kind of turns life takes. One can go on about the ‘Ifs’ and ‘buts’ and ‘would be’.

When I look back I see my life divided into slots of  about twenty years each. I am in the third phase now. Two major life changing decisions came at the age of 24 and 44  I got married at 24 and left my marital home at 44. The reason behind both was similar and yet different in some ways. I have written about both in other posts.

Seven years on from the second decision I find myself at the threshold again. Still not able to find a closure. Sometimes I feel I am a rider inside the motordrome or a silodrome with no safety harnesses. I guess the universe took my fascination of circus acts a bit too seriously and put me on this eternal side-show in his carnival called Life.

It is very easy to judge people for the choices they make. I think the only person who can judge is the choice maker. Only he/she can weigh the pros and cons of the action taken. Most of the time the decisions seem correct at the time they are taken and it is only later when we look back we see the hollowness of the choices made. Sometimes we can start afresh and at other times we can’t, no matter how much we wish.

The last seven years revealed some very poignant things.

It is very important to be financially independent from an early stage in your life. It helps build confidence and gives you power to control your life to a large extent. You may question my statement and tell me stories of happy stay at home wives and I do agree that if your partner/husband is caring and respects your decision to follow your dreams even if it is to keep home then it is worth every bit but that is not always the case. I saw the dream shatter and the lack of financial support left me nowhere. As the years passed I found it extremely difficult to acquire the job that would suit my ‘outdated’ academic or professional qualifications.

Also that ‘academic intelligence’ or even life skills sometimes do not guarantee real world success or employment especially if you over 45+ woman and looking for a career.  It is a personal experience about which I will sometime write in detail.

The second phase of my life was a struggle to  cope with a non supportive/cooperative marital family, raising children and trying very hard, against all odds, to make that house a home. It did not work. So, I put aside the idea of  living my dreams and put all my strength to see that my boys get what I did not. It was a choice I made. I was weak, emotionally and mentally. The strength to rebel came very late and with tremendous consequences.

The idea of love is very rosy but be very assertive about your self-respect and dignity. Do not ever allow the other person to take hold on you in any way just because you are in love. If there is no mutual affection and respect in a relationship then it would never thrive. Everything else fades away with time. Adjusting, compromising with yourself on various grounds in hope of a blissful haven is foolish. Unconditional love is a silly thought. There is no such thing. Every act of love seeks something in return and if one doesn’t love oneself one can’t expect love from others. Again, something I knew but never practiced. What you give to others is never enough and is often thrown back at you as an object that supposedly smothered them. Never give away all of yourself to anyone. Never.

I also feel that heartbreak is often good for you because you know exactly what you do not wish in your life.  Mistakes / failures are always very good teachers. Each failure, each rejection is a stepping stone to something positive so instead of crying over them it is always better to move forward and be grateful for the things that broke you so that you could collect yourself and walk much stronger and experienced. They teach you lessons that you need to learn, strengthening and resurrecting you in the process. It makes you reach inside and know yourself better.

No school or college can teach you what life does. Be attentive to it. The beauty of the human life lies in its fragility so don’t give it up or give it away. It is the real strength and power of being human to accept your brokenness, to put it all back together. To fill the cracks with gold of love and move on. Cracks are the wounds indicating you have suffered and have overcome that suffering. Something like Kintsugi . 

I spent years carrying the hurt in my heart and then one day I just let it go. It made all the difference within though the daily struggle to assert myself and live continues. Insecurity and discontent robs you of your peace and your health.There is nothing like travelling light and finding joy in small things rather than moaning over the past and the negative. Unfortunately financial instability or lack of money and a basic comfortable life in a space of your own can pull you back in that muck time after time.  The reason I suffer even now, even after knowing all this. It’s tiresome being a fighter all life long.

I’m essentially a very trusting person but the events of last few years have made me tougher. I am not cynical but careful than before. People who claimed to be well wishers back stabbed in such a way that I began to question the very essence of any relationship. It broke me but then I emerged wiser. Now there are a selective few I trust and the others need to prove their worth.

Each person and the environment in which he/she lives is different but one thing that runs through every situation is unless the men in your life (father/brother/husband/partner/lover/ son..) are enlightened enough to see you as a human being with a mind of her own who has goals and desires you will always be subjugated and remain unhappy and dissatisfied with yourself and others. To stop that you need to be strong and vocal about what you want from life and take full responsibility for your actions. I realized this very late in life. Many things were out of my control and irreversible by then. Never make this mistake of handing the pen in someone else’s hand. Write your own story.

I told someone to stay single and pursue the goals she had set for herself unless the partner is supportive of her blossoming. Not many agreed but darlings this is the only way to happiness. I support people who not to have children and also who decide to have them/adopt them or just sponsor a child. It is a choice they make. Why should one judge? We are very judgmental lot especially when it comes to the choices women make.

Patriarchy sees red when women make choices and that is one of the reasons why many of us have stilled voices. Also, our society is obsessed with marriage. It is time to look beyond pushing kids to settle down and have babies.

Women are “natural givers”, this is a concept taught by the patriarchal society. A woman has to think of others before she thinks about herself. ( If at all she dares to think.) We are made to believe that our very existence is for others. A girl is conditioned to this thought since childhood and the society frowns if she resists making her feel guilty and most of the give up her dreams. In each role she plays her glory is in sacrifice.

“Selfish” became my middle name the moment I decided to break those barriers. People often say women don’t want to break out of patriarchal mindset as they love to play victims or as an excuse for their life state or unwillingness to be decisive and take the hard path. Though I do agree that many of the women do that but it’s also true in many cases the lack of support system and financial instability can also hinder their movement towards a path they want to walk on. The hard path is harder than you think. At different social levels the choices differ and so does the ability to break free. Especially in the case of middle class, which has also now got segmented, women find it much difficult to step out. It’s easier said than done.

I think it is very essential to know and realize your worth not just as a woman but as a human being. As an individual.

Another thing that life revealed in last few years is, if you are in an abusive or an unsatisfactory marriage then take a stand as early as possible. If you delay then it would be very difficult at later stages. Not all natal homes are supportive and not every woman will find a steady income to support herself or children ( if there are any). Early decision also gives you enough time to make a fresh start if you need to look for a job to support yourself.  I spent twenty plus years in hope that things will improve but they did not. Don’t believe in the misconception that once you have children things will change for good or improve. No, they don’t and then children suffer too.

People often ask me, ‘ why did you take it for so long?” They say among themselves,”How could an educated woman with liberal thinking do this to herself?”

In our country unless you have a back up or a support system worked out it is lethal to step out and fight for your rights. If you think your natal home is where you’ll find solace, think again. It is very frustrating for many. I know because I am living it.

I had spent two major phases of my life struggling with myself trying to find who I am and where I am headed. Oscillating between what I was and what I had become.

In solitary hours I would stare at the walls on the house of bricks that held me captive because I let it. Slowly I felt my energy depleting at all levels. Though I kept myself involved with children and work at home there was something that was so unfulfilling that it began to gnaw at me.  I did things to distract myself from the mess I was in and found ways to keep myself and boys as much out of it as possible especially in the first half of the marriage. My natal family knew of all that was happening but as they say, if you do not help yourself no one else does. No support came from there to give me courage to break the destructive cycle. I talked, wrote long letters ( boys think that may have been a stepping stone to my blogging  at later stage) but never found a solution or a helping hand.

I also believed that time will heal things and a change will happen. Time doesn’t heal. Don’t believe it all you have been told. Time simply crushes you, chains you, makes you its slave and whiplash you to obey its commands. The answers, the healing comes from either within or from elsewhere. Time just watches the drama and laughs at our misery . Time is the devil to whom we have sold our souls. It is the master, we mere slaves. Only an inner uprising can bring the change. Only that can create true love, true courage, true self.

Abuse ( mental/emotional/physical), is difficult to explain. Many women find is hard to break the cycle of pain and either reach out for help pr move out. They resign to their fates, a guilt, a painful silence that penetrates their bones and makes its home there. The fear, the insecurity, the distrust cripples them. It is very disturbing and depressing. In my case it showed very clearly in physical symptoms. I became a hypochondriac to a very large extent.

Friends were helpless too even if they understood the situation. Suddenly I realized I was alone in this battle. There are many well-meaning people who understand your struggle and encourage you to ” stay brave” but the intention of wishing well does not help. Action does. Not many stand up for you and actually help. The boys were growing up fast and the clock ticking. I had to take a step or fall forever in the quicksand that was sucking me in.

I realized that the only person you can change is yourself. People do what they want to do despite you telling them otherwise. I used to get affected by the undesired outcome, still do at times, but ultimately I found that getting affected by the result harms me more than anyone else involved and that made the difference. It is better to let go and leave people to their views and doings rather than fret about something not in your control. (Still learning)

Someone I admire told me about the universal law of attraction and the role of destiny. I do believe in universal energies but unless one resolves things within the universe does not help. Unless you try to do something to bring the change in your life no one else will do it for you. People can be very comforting and good listeners but no one likes all day whining especially when that is all you do.

I turned 50 last October. Completing 3/4 of the expected average human lifespan and I am worried. Worried about future.  It terrifies me to see that I have neither the security nor the funds for my old age. So, what did I do all these years, let’s say from age 21 to 49 (the working years)? Nothing for myself except a three four years of work from home job given to me by a “friend” as a “do a good deed” pack. I earned some money and experience no doubt but I lost a lot on personal front and then the job itself. As the person said himself,” No good deed goes unpunished”. Not his quote but Oscar Wilde’s. My punishment was to be thrown out of work when I needed it most. It was a crucial time for me and a few more years would have seen me through a lot of troubles. This is when I realized that once you taste freedom life is never the same again. Also, that without enough money for everyday sustenance every notion of freedom and living a life one dreams of falls flat on the face. When someone knows that you are looking for safe refuge more than anything else and at any cost they get you to do stuff they want. I will tell you this very important story one day soon.

Dependence is imprisonment and even though I know it I have very few choices. The ‘hard path’ that people tell me to take is all fine and dandy but my inner fears and physical, emotional health doesn’t allow me to cross the line once more at this stage of life. Now, in this third and perhaps the last phase of my life, I am again at crossroads. The choices are clear and very few unless a miracle happens. I do believe in them by the way. 🙂 You tend to believe in everything when all else fails.

A few of those choices will mean giving up on all that I worked on in last few years. Giving up on my ideals, my beliefs and to start afresh is scaring the wits out of me. I have to make a choice soon even if it means a complete turn around or shedding my skin once again to begin from the first step however hard and painful it may be.

Someone asked me why I decided to play the role of a homemaker when I was ‘educated’ and ‘talented’? Why didn’t I take up a profession, become a ‘working woman‘?

The answer is, every woman is a working woman. As for professional life or being a career woman, It was a choice I made and thought it to be correct at that time. I never imagined things would turn out the way they did.  I never imagined that the ‘home’ that I always dreamed about can only become a reality only IF I earn.

Sadly, everything hinges on money.  I have seen even the supposedly closest people turn away the moment they realize you have nothing much to give in terms of money.

This post is just a rambling to help me and maybe others to decide what course to take to make life worthy. I am seeking answers everyday as I battle with my fears. Will the patriarchy win? Will I eventually find my space? Will I find the closure? I tell myself I have been there before. Fought the war, for myself. Won it too. I keep the faith in the choice I have made now. Though I know the stanch feminists will disagree with it but then again I know what’s best for me in this difficult time. I have to correct certain things. I have to make peace with myself. I have to resurrect a bond I cherish. I have to end the search for a home for good. I have to find that space where I can make the choices without a finger pressing my jugular.

My heart is full but my mind tells me not to give up after coming so far. I have battled fears, depression, physical health issues, heartbreak, regressive mindsets, constant bullying, physical abuse and more at other levels. Still battling many of these. Being home bound for years has made turned me into a nervous, jittery person. I feel scared to take on the world as I did so naturally earlier. It has made me shrink into a non believer in myself. Crowded places make me uneasy, going in empty elevators, public transport scares me. I am not the person who didn’t give a hoot to troubles. BUT, I’m slowly changing that. It is a painful task but I am ready to bring myself back into the game.  I have constantly repaired myself and moved on with courage. I have a feeling now is the time to take that final call. Changing old patterns takes an effort and that effort needs immense strength to carry forward but I am not a quitter. I may give in many times but I won’t give up.

“Don’t ever think of me as “easy” “provocative” . I may speak my mind openly and seem to you like a “non typical Indian woman” but then you don’t know Indian women. It is time you changed your perception. I have scars from touching certain people in my life .. and
Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” Khalil Gibran

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Some Random Thoughts, Seven Poems, A Memoir and A Photograph


I have neglected my blog since a long time. I mean apart from the news and photographs and recipes I haven’t really posted any stories, poems, memoirs etc. The reason is I am working on the MS of the novella I am writing and collecting the short stories, poems etc for publishing. Also, I am desperately trying to clean myself of patriarchal bullshit. This whole year has been amazingly annoying and hurtful at the same time at many levels. It has also been a mixed year for writing. This  winter is going to be long and harsh..

Now, coming back to the BS I mentioned above.

Patriarchal bull shit comes in more forms than you can ever imagine and it can be very subtle. AND where should I put the increasing number of labels the men are honouring me with? you can trust some people to screw your life when you least expect. It makes my blood boil but just the slogan shouting and walking out as a rebel defying the system seldom helps. Don’t ever think you can count on support of natal home. Nah.. it turns toxic sooner than you can think. Unless you have a job security and/or a heart of steel you get fucked both ways. If you don’t have good health then it is the cherry on top. I know.

Many women are not living their dreams because they are living their fears. Isolation, restriction, guilt, humiliation, denial, continuous controlling and criticism and lack of empathy, love, companionship, shattering of a dream of ” a life long relationship based on mutual respect” breaks them. Emotional, mental tortured is hard to explain due to lack of ” solid evidence.”

Emotional Abuse comes silently most of the times camouflaged as “love, betterment, moral duty, guilt, emotional blackmail, and marital rape. Silence helps it breed and dig its claws deeper.
In our country ‘Thinking for oneself’ is not encouraged. It’s always conformity & herd mentality. The moment a woman begins to voice her thoughts she is condemned, ridiculed & told to shut up. If she rebels, her condition is even worse.

This is the ground reality of majority of women. The woman who works for us said a thought-provoking thing. She said,” Middle class non working women are in a worse situation than others. The rich have other resources to fall back upon, like money and all that it brings, and we, the poor, can just leave an abusive home, make a jhuggi somewhere else and work in homes to sustain ourselves. You can’t do that. So, its worse for the likes of you.” I couldn’t have agreed more. I have shared this earlier too but now and again the reality of it smacks me hard on the cheek, reminding me to shake the muck that I am allowing to grow on me and move away. Where? How? When? I don’t know.

I also know the hawk-eyed snoopers are reading this right now and itching to set the grapevine ablaze. Go ahead all you pinch-brained nitwits. I don’t give a hoot. Some others may be steaming within and wanting to say something nastier than what they said earlier but don’t know how. If you burn the bridges you lose more than you can imagine. By the way I always wanted to ask, “who it was that taught you to speak bullets without considering the exit wounds, tell me who?” Oh I love this line from Flatsound|you said ok 

Rant over. Now some good things.

Seven of my new poems got published in Cafe Dissensus blog. The news made me super happy.

Sharing one of them here but to read the rest do click on the link below.  Do explore the magazine, it has some excellent stuff.

Void

loneliness curls in the spaces
between the notes of the rainsong,
the night bleeds neon, collects
in puddles near the wet sidewalks,
cigarettes, float like decomposed corpses
bloated with memories, voices, tense with
longing, rustle through the trees, possessed
and restless the midnight lingers.

I wrote a memoir long ago for Soul Curry that used to come in TOI but by the time I sent it they stopped that feature. It remained tucked away  in some folder until I chanced upon it sometime back, polished it and sent it to Readomania. for publishing on their website.

They accepted and here is the link.  The Old Black Trunk .

Do read and leave your views about these two in the comment section on the respective sites as well as here.

I will be sharing a few more poems soon and will try to keep the blog going.

Till then stay blessed.

darkness and pain?
well, that’s now a thing of past
now let’s look after
passions and
surrenderings
meanderings and
wanderings

Receiving And Giving – The Healer Friend And The Magic Of A Dream


This is a very special post for me. A token of love and gratitude to the friends who have made difference in my life. Once in a while you come across someone who touches your life in an unexplained way. Someone who is a giver more than a receiver. I feel that is very inspiring. Not many give so unconditionally and freely.

I came to know Penelope and Slim Chandra-Shekar via Facebook. I felt an instant energy exchange. Strange, isn’t it, how a social network can become a channel for healing, for receiving and giving, for sharing and expanding in all possible ways? That itself is indicative that life opens up many ways to heal and to blossom. Love changes forms, negative turns to positive.

Healing works through spirit guides. If you are open and receptive distances don’t count.   Even though I have known Slim for sometime, I met him, for the first time, in June. He was visiting India to celebrate his father’s 99th birthday in B’lore and after that for three days he visited Delhi to meet friends and relatives. His physical presence was such a joy. They say when the student is ready the master appears. It is the same with spirit guides. They will be there when it is time. In that short time we spent together, I learned some meaningful life lessons, had long conversations over good food, listened to his amazing story of life transformation and how he and his wonderful wife Penelope are touching one life a day to bring joy and love through their work.

The Magic Of Gayatri

You know, sound is a very powerful medium of healing. The vibrations can actually dissolve the negative in you within no time. You just need to be in right energy frequency.  I still carry the essence of the positive energy I received through our interactions. Slim is shaman, healer, nutritionist, hypnotherapist and a wonderful human being. You can know a little about him HERE. Meeting people who are selflessly doing healing work is a gift that life brings. Apart from the love, care and understanding Slim gave me a token of spiritual love that I will cherish all my life. The Magic of Gayatri.  Gayatri mantra has been part of my life since childhood and I am aware of the immense peace and light it brings when chanted the right way. You will find many versions of it on the internet but the reason I found this particular CD worth listening is the profound energy vortex it creates within you. The calming voice of Slim, the introduction to the mantra the soothing music and the sublime rendering of the mantra makes it a wonderful vehicle to meditate, relax or just be inspired. The mantra works at whichever level you need help – physical, spiritual or emotional. For me, it opens my mind and heart when ever I chant it.

This isn’t a promotional post and I am not being paid to do this. This post is in gratitude, in love, in honor of what I received from my friend. It is important to spread the magic of Gayatri so that more and more people can benefit from it. You can let it play in the background as you work or sit quietly and let  the words wash over you. Since ancient times people have always used and still use the sound-vibration of chants for healing purposes. Many of us just chant the mantra mechanically and are deprived of the true value of Gayatri Mantra. Listening to Slim explain it with such simplicity made me chant it with intent and with an open heart. I am not a religious person but this mahamantra is a universal prayer that spiritually connects us. Frequently listening to it creates a permanent template of peace in our consciousness and even if you are not chanting the mantra it stays in you creating the inner calm. This, of course is my personal experience. I believe that we are all energy beings and we are all fluid. it is in our inherent nature to flow. If we don’t we rot. We need to keep expanding our vibrations. I don’t know if this makes sense but do think about it. I also feel that one needs to be watchful about what’s being said or repeated and this is not just for mantras, chants etc but in daily conversations, the sounds we hear and produce for they impact us in a very permanent way. Gayatri Mantra is next to chanting ‘Om’. It unblocks a lot of energies as it permeates through consciousness. The knowledge of the science and philosophy of Shabd brahm is an integral part of Indian spirituality. The Gayatri Mantra has a specific sonic pattern coded in syllables and vowels to carry the cosmic energies of sound and act as a spiritual tool. I feel that the chanting of mantras scientifically helps in healing as well as strengthening our mind-body-spirit triad. Filling us  with eternal calm and love.

When I talk of calm and love my thoughts turn to Penelope. I have not interacted much with Slim’s wife but followed her insightful writing and lovely art work on FB. I think the meeting with Slim expanded my inner horizons to receive more. I had always felt connected to Penelope at a different level. Many times I would just browse her pictures with grand children, friends, her husband or look at her paintings and other artwork and it would instantly fill me with calm and strength. Beautiful and talented as she is, one can feel her paintings through the screen. Slim and Pen are perfect examples of people for whom age is just a number. It is an inspiration that one can pursue one’s passions at any age. You are never too old for anything.

Here is another example of how the fragrance of healing comes to you. When we are open and even when we are not or think we are not, we are in relationship with everything around us. It is for us to consciously recognise and choose the positive and be in it.

Abstract Painting is one of the gifts Penelope has. She works with acrylic and mixed media. Her art has this strange calling. There is much more that what is clear. Art as a medium to heal is a concept I love. I reviewed a book sometime back where a doctor has introduced and infused poetry, music, art with medical care. It is exciting to know people are opening up to complementing and alternate healing therapies along with the modern medical care. The mind, body and spirit need to be in harmony for a wholesome wellbeing. Art in all forms – dance, music, painting, creates that harmony. Neuropsychologists believe that art and music heal by changing the person’s physiology and attitude. It changes from fear and stress to deep relaxation and inspiration, helping the person to change his/her perceptions of their world. Art, prayer, music and healing come from the same inner source of our body and are associated with similar brain wave patterns, mind-body changes. They all are deeply connected in feeling and meaning and take us to our inner resources of healing as we know that all healing comes from within.

I am struggling with a lot lately. I have a nervous temperament and am very vulnerable to everything around me. Life is challenging when you are a woman, rebel and have a mind of your own especially when living in Indian society. The fact that I trust so easily and open too soon is cherry on top and yet that is all I know. I am still learning to consciously be attentive to my emotions. To choose which emotion to act on, which to drown in and which to let go. To love, and bring myself up again.

On one such day, caught between the emotional and health issues, I had a very beautiful and life affirming dream. It was about Penelope. She came to me as a mother, a confidante, a friend. Women, I think are born healers. Some of us may not know it and hence not use the energies in positive ways but those who know, do amazing work. I have never spoken to Penelope, nor interacted with her much but still she found me as I sought the spirit who could guide me and she responded, a healing inspiration across time and space. I am a lucid dreamer and have earlier also connected to spirit guides in various forms and each time is special. It doesn’t have to be a human. It can be a spirit animal.

Let me introduce you to Gyp at this point. She was a Dingo, an animal companion of my very dear friend and mentor, author and artist Kris Saknussemm. Kris introduced her to us on FB through photographs and little stories about her and I always felt a calling. It was as if she was there, in the shadows, watching over me. I told Kris and he was very pleased. She was an animal spirit guide for many who met her or came in contact with her in some way. I often go and read this Article Kris wrote in her memory. The moment I read it for the first time I knew why we felt connected. Another female spirit , brave and wild, who was inspiring lives through her energies. Do click on the link and read.

Coming back to the dream, I shared it with Slim over the phone and he suggested writing to Penelope. I was hesitant but at the same time excited. The love I felt needed to be shared so I wrote to her. Here is what I said,

“I have been through difficult times and am still dealing with challenges, trying to bring on the positive in my life and this dream is a new beginning, new insight for me. Positive warm thoughts coming from you.”

“In the dream, You were making a painting with bright blue, fluorescent colour butterflies, fireflies etc. A beautiful scene from around where you stood. Not sure of the place but it was some lovely hilltop. I am sitting on a rock watching you paint.
The creatures you painted weren’t around us. You said “Tiku, if you believe in goodness of life it comes to you. Even inanimate comes to life.” I said , I believe you Pen, but how can inanimate come to life. It can have a different life, an aliveness about it but it can’t live like us.

You said, “like this” and as you gave the final touch to a wing of a bumblebees everything you had painted began to fly out, crawl out of the painting. Birds, butterflies, fireflies, bumblebees, the air got filled with a fragrance I can’t explain but I felt it. The canvas became white again as I watched awestruck. The voice I heard was soft, motherly voice. Something I crave for. It filled my heart. Not a shrill sound but light as a feather.”

“Wrapped in the fragrance and the sight I slept but I remembered the whole scene after waking up. I felt relaxed and the message came to me so clear , to move on, to cleanse myself of all the negative about myself, people , places. All the while we talked and I watched you paint Slim was in my thoughts too, as if validating the good vibes we shared. I loved the healing bond we formed.”

She responded with such love. A new bond was formed. She was even inspired to paint the dream and trust me, it is exquisite.

Tiku's Dream

Posted with the permission of the artist. (Penelope’s painting)

What can be more fulfilling that this? A blessing from the universe. You ask and you

receive.

Life unfolds in so many magical ways. One can only be grateful for such events and imbibe from them. That is the true gratitude. To learn from what you seek and flow with it. Heart connections are always way above the geographical distances. I always believed in this and now it’s proven in yet another amazing way.

Thank you Slim for connecting me and Penelope. For bringing to me the Magic of Gayatri, for your friendship and for the tremendous love and light you bring in so many way to so many people.

Thank you Penelope for making me aware of the immense possibilities that lie within me, for the dream visitation, for the awesome support work you are doing to touch so many lives and for being a strength, a solace and a source of light.

Thank you universe for your benevolence and for the challenges that make me strong.

For the gift of vulnerability in me.

The more we journey inwards, the more we shine outwards.

Let us create more space for healing. Do please listen to Magic of Gayatri and if anyone who is reading this wants to help Slim in making the CD available in India, please leave a note in his ‘contact me’ on the site link above.

“The things you take for granted are the things others are praying for.” Be generous with  gratitude. Be in harmony with yourself and with all.

Digital art by me. All rights reserved.

Digital art by me. All rights reserved.

Monday Memories 5 – A Walk Through Enchanting Beauty And Silence


I had just turned fourteen when dad took me to YHAI office in Chanakyapuri, Delhi. Each year YHAI holds National Himalayan Trekking Program and I was about to enroll for the ’82 batch for a trek to Khauli Pass(12,800 feet/3750 mts,) situated in the Dhauladhar range (the white range or the silver range) of Himalayas. This small pass situated in Kanwar wild life sanctuary is snow bound for almost seven months in an year. This particular trek was later discontinued due to massive landslides.

Some feeling are so overwhelming that they can not be described. It was my first trek and first journey alone. Dad always wanted me to be fiercely independent and despite of protests from mom, he stood firm on his decision to let me explore the world on my own. A lot of preparation went through in preparing for the trek and one thing that such programs teaches you is, discipline and planning.

I was part of the Mumbai group and one beautiful summer night in May I boarded the bus with my haversack to Manali. After a night long journey I got down at Bhuntar, delirious with joy and nervous too. I was fit, strong and rearing to go. Buntar is a base camp for registration and initial training. I had  the advantage of being youngest in my group and the team leaders and instructors made sure I was not uncomfortable. They took extra care to get me adapted to long treks and camp life.

The precipitous valley road from Bhuntar to Kasol was under repair. It is one of the most thrilling road trip with all its blind turns and narrow stretches. One could see the lush Pin Parvati valley and the  thundering Parvati river meandering like a thread deep in the gorge.

I have very fond memories of our base camp in Kasol (1640m). Nestled in the midst of conifer woods at the banks of Parvati river this beautiful mystical place is a heaven on earth. It is also known as Little Israel of India and one can spot  large number of Israeli tourists among others but our camp was situated a little away from the main Kasol village.   Kasol and the neighboring villages of Tosh(3000 m), Malana and Jari are the home to supposedly the best Hashish in the world –“The Malana Cream” and some of these gorgeous villages are tucked away so deep in the mountains that they didn’t really figure on tourist map for long. They were frequented mainly by travelers looking for serenity and calm and of course the Malana cream. I have already written about the gorgeous beauty of Malana , the solitary village in Malana Nala to the side of Parvati Valley.  It is the lat of the hippy settlement in that region.

Awestruck by the verdant valleys and the crystal clear water of Parvati river I walked around the woods and village, crossed the gushing mountain streams and even paid a visit to nearby pilgrim town of Manikaran famous for its hot water springs.

Even after so many years the memory of that first night in the base camp is so fresh that I can ear the sound of wooden flute echo in the silent mountains. The time stood still as under a star-studded sky one of the trekkers from another group played the flute. Kasol was a training camp so usually there were four to five groups based there, either returning or going to higher camps. It was an adventure and I was already feeling like Alice in wonderland. I had never seen such pristine beauty of the Himalayas from so close and it sure was breathtaking.  We did some nature trails during our stay.

The sweet smell of pine forest, apple orchards,  wild horses and herds of sheep and mountain goats, the gargling white waters of the river, the treacherous mountain nallahs which eventually merge into the river, the swaying wooden and natural rock  bridges, the tranquility and the silence is enough to enchant any traveler. As I write this I am actually transported back to this gorgeous place.

This is where I learned rock climbing, rappelling, river crossing on a rope and other skills essential for a trekker. The entire route of the trek was dotted with places which could cast a spell on anyone by their virgin beauty. It is hard to explain it in so few words the feeling of walking in such enchanting beauty and silence (This was the name of the trek report I wrote after completion).

I vaguely remember some of the names of the camps like Grahan (7700ft), Padri (9300ft) and many more. Each camp welcomed us with fresh food cooked on wood fire by the locals. Each camp night was made memorable by the bonds we created over songs and adventure stories, laughter and night walks around the camp.

We went through blooming meadows, forests, along the river banks, up the jungle trails, crossed the snow-covered landscape, walked through the glacier and the most amazing part of the trek was that we did this all at our own pace.The area is covered with thick canopies of deodar and fir trees that prevent views of the sky.This is what makes the trek in this area enjoyable and challenging.

Although I carried my haversack and sleeping bag on my back most of the time there was no sign of tiredness. There were times when a fellow trekker would carry my pack during steep climbs. It was all about brotherhood. The friends I made are somewhere out there and if any of them reads this I want to send my love to them. Prashant, Haresh, Johnny, Kalpana and many more who were always there in times of difficulty. I guess my training as a basketball player and athlete paid off during those strenuous long stretches.

The instructors and team leaders of the group and in the camps were extremely helpful and I remember at one camp they even sent a search party to look for me and Prashant as we had decided to rest along a river bank surrounded by wild flowers and pine trees. The search team met us half way to the camp and I dreaded that I would be told to return to base camp for breaking the rules but I guess the wild excitement in which I narrated the scenic beauty and my adventure melted the camp leader’s heart and I was left with a warning never to venture on such escapades alone. Prashant was a seasoned trekker and that helped too. Later, when he and some other friends came to drop me home I found he was my second cousin from mom’s side. :D. No wonder we clicked despite age difference. (He must have been in his thirties).

In those ten days of walking through the splendorous Himalayas I learned to appreciate  silence of the woods and streams. I learned to recognize the sounds of the forest and the saw some of the most amazing birds, flora and fauna. I did not carry a camera but the images are still fresh in my mind. For the first time I saw the bear in its wild habitation. ( Two bears came in the middle of the night at the last camp before we hit the glacier. They explored the camp site as we watched their silhouettes from inside our tents.)

I had my first experience of crossing a glacier holding on to a rope  tied to pegs pushed through the snow.  The adrenalin rush, the beating of heart, the careful maneuvering of each foot step and the final ascend to a spot which left me spellbound. You have to go there to see what nature can offer when left in its virgin state.

Most of my collection of things which included a big frozen black beetle, almost entire discarded skin of a python, bark of the bhoj patra  tree, pressed flowers,copies of  photographs clicked by my friends, an autograph booklet with some memorable messages got lost after my marriage. I am still searching for the identity card and my article which was submitted to YHAI office after returning.   The only thing which I still have apart from the lovely memories is this certificate which was issued to us.

IMAG0915

We could not reach Khauli Pass as the weather drastically changed and we had to return to the camp. Within minutes clouds can turn a shiny sunny day into a deathly dark nightmare. With great difficulty we fought through bitter cold and rain and managed to return.

Most of the group went back to Bhuntar base camp but our little gang of friends went on a little adventure to Mandi and from there back to Delhi. I would love to connect with anyone who was there during this trek. Feel free to leave a comment and connect.

I could do this post in many parts and still feel inadequate in describing the inner serenity and calm this experience brought in my life. I am thankful to my father who never discriminated between his son and daughter and in fact let me explore the various facets of my life and go for my dreams.

I did the Chandrakhani pass, Pindari glacier and the Triund trek after this one and then stopped. Its been almost two decades since I have done any serious trekking though I took many trips to the mountains in past years.

I wish to start again and fulfill my long lost desire of exploring the much desired places in the mighty Himalayas.  So, here’s to adventures and star lit nights.

The quality of mercy…


“It was never going to be an ordinary day. Ordinary days do not exist in the lives of those living in conflict zones marred by war and if you are a woman belonging to a certain ethnic group then life’s ordinariness lies in it’s not being ordinary. “

She suddenly leaped out of the chair and began to pace.

“We can do it some other day if you wish”, I said.

She waved her hand, poured herself some water and settled again. That is when I noticed the two missing fingers on her right hand.  A chill went up my spine as I imagined the kind of atrocities she must have faced.

A lifetime of internal dialogue and struggle was clearly visible on her face. Her deep-set eyes were pools of pain and suffering that she had endured all her life and especially in the last few months. I had thought her to be middle-aged on their first meeting. She certainly didn’t look in her mid thirties.

I was filled with a certain respect for this woman who had transcendent her fear to bare her soul despite the trauma it would cause her to open the wounds which were finally beginning to heal.

“The separatist struggle had taken a toll on all of us. I was just one of the many women who were maimed, raped, killed, tortured or dumped in jails to face the atrocities by the authorities there. We lived in perpetual fear all the time yet convincing ourselves that these things will never happen to any of us. That we will survive but today out of the five people who were rounded up that day only I am left to tell the story.

“Have you ever seen a body of someone you love split in half and the heart exposed to splatters of blood, smoke, gunfire, bomb and grenade blasts?  Seen your best friend brutally molested, beaten and left naked on the streets to die? Seen the fear, hurt, humiliation and pain in the eyes of a five-year old boy watching her mother in that state?

I have. I saw it all that day as I stood rooted to the ground on that chilly winter morning.  Rape in a war is not merely a matter of chance; it is rather a question of power and control. My friend suffered because she belonged to a certain ethnic group. Her rape humiliated the entire community. It was masterminded to totally encapsulate the defeat of men of that community in protecting their women, to humiliate, degrade and terrify them. It is good she died or else she would have been rendered invisible by her own people, left to fend for herself, suffering from one mental disease or the other like so many other women there. Each woman there suffers from anxiety and unrest. Just that, the degree of suffering varies.”

Caught in a maelström of emotions she closed her eyes. I could see her hands trembling as they clutched the bars of the rocking chair on which she was half-reclining.

“I watched in horror knowing it was my turn once they were done with others. Everything fails when you are faced with terror. All my education, training in sports, presence of mind evaporated in thin air.  I felt as if I was carved in stone but something kept telling me to fight till the end, to take that chance. I didn’t want to die like an animal if I could prevent it.”

The evening sun was peeping through the huge trees and the cool breeze made the curtains shadow dance on the floor. She watched them intently for some time.

I decided to record the rest of the conversation on tape and took my seat on a sofa in front of her. She looked up and I felt a slight smile at the corner of her mouth but the gash on her cheek made it impossible to judge that correctly.

As if she read my thoughts and ran her fingers over it.

“The scars inside are deeper than the ones on my body. The wounds are still in process of healing. I put up a fight when they tried to get their filthy hands on me. When a man turns into an animal there is no limit to what he will do. May they be forgiven for what they have perpetrated, she mumbled softly.

“They were four of them. Severely beaten, I drifted between life and death but could make out that I was tossed into a vehicle and taken away. I remember a voice hissing in my ears. “We like to play with our pray before the kill the thrilling the chase and hunt, the better it is. The sound of their laughter still echoes through my mind.”

She winced and began to rock the chair. I looked around for help, suddenly scared for her. She had been in medical supervision since past few months and wasn’t stable enough to cope with the world outside. The doctor observing from the corner of the room nodded at me to relax. The attendant brought a tray with coffee and biscuits. I poured a cup for her. “Lots of milk and sugar” She said without opening her eyes.

“I like it that way. It helps me cull the deep black darkness inside me.”

Then she opened her quiet eyes and looked at me. “They should have sent someone seasoned. You are still too raw to brave such experiences”.

I fumbled with some words in support of myself but failed. She kept looking at me.

“We seem to be of same age though I am sure you thought me to be twice yours”, this time she did smile and I realized how beautiful she was, radiant even in her fragile state.

I mustered a smile and offered her some cookies. She carefully selected one with sprinkled sugar and began to nibble it.

“I have lost the count of how many times and by how many people I was raped and beaten. They broke my fingers and gave me wounds with a dagger one of them had, kicked and shoved the butt of the riffle in my abdomen. For hours I lay naked, body, mind and soul in that small room while they drank. My body was just a sack of pain and bruises but still I kept thinking of a plan to escape. It is strange that they did not kill me or broke my legs or hit me on the head. I never lost consciousness once though pain made me delirious. It was unimaginable to think I could escape alive from them.

The chill of the night made my body stiff like a log. I did not feel parched or hungry even after twenty hours of starvation. In fact I did not feel anything.

Sleep took over as I stared blankly into nothingness that filled the dark room.

When I opened my eyes I was in a hospital in the city. They said I had slept for more than two days. My wounds were stitched and dressed but my body still felt like a log and even the slightest movement shot a streak of pain through it.

I tried to find out how I managed to get out alive from the clutches of those beasts but got no replies. I guess it is better this way, maybe for someone who must have dared to save me, for I had no strength left to carry on. I do say a silent prayer for that person for giving me another chance to live.”

My heart warmed at the words. . On the way back from the village where I was sent to investigate the killings, miles away where the woods began, I had found her huddled like a bundle among the trees. I had stopped my jeep and along with a friend managed to rescue her to the city hospital and then to this private one, away from the turbulent environment.

Of course, no one told her anything. They weren’t supposed to.

I realized that she had dozed off in the meanwhile. The half eaten cookie rested nestled in the fold of her gown. I walked over and placed it in the plate. The doctor told me to withdraw.

She needed rest and most of all peace.

What happened in the last few hours and how she managed to reach the road remains a mystery but it would certainly have taken immense courage to escape alive. All her people were dead. Village burned to ashes. Curfew imposed in the area.

All that remained was the mist that slowly enveloped the small mountain village like a shroud.

Silently I closed the door and look a last look at her through the glass window. She was a survivor, a brave one and she had a beautiful smile of a child.

The curtains of the large window swayed to the night breeze while the crescent moon kept a watch on her as sleep caressed and healed her ravaged being.

In the still moonlit night I too said a silent prayer for the woman who braved it to live a life she held too precious to give up even in such dire circumstance.

There was a new life waiting to blossom buried under the heavy layers of snow. Soon the spring would come.

Hundreds of women like her go through similar or more horrifying experiences each day and succumb to the fate, unnoticed, uncared between the conflicts of power and rule. Human life is ravaged and torn to shreds at the altar of political tug of war and dies in oblivion. The universe watches quiescent.

It wasn’t an ordinary day for me and  henceforth no other day would ever be ordinary.

This post is part of the contest It was never going to be an ordinary day.. on WriteUpCafe.com

Musings Of An Unquiet Mind


Silence of woods on a spring day

The heart is restless today. I am trying to calm my unquiet mind. A longing to escape is growing within. Escape to a world within. I rummage through an old diary tucked away among some forgotten pictures and notes tied with a lavender ribbon. Slowly I shred them and let the pieces of a long gone dream make a tapestry of words on the floor. Razor sharp edges of crisp paper even after so many years? I thank the person who invented email. READ, DELETE, TRASH AND EMPTY. Letters written on paper are difficult to destroy. They somehow manage to leave a mark. Burn, shred do what ever. They stay.

I discover these jottings at the end of the diary . There is no date . I copy it all here. Just as it is and light a funeral pyre for the memories rotting along with the pages.

Smudged words, blotted patches of ink crazily crisscrossed paragraphs.

I don’t need them now.

I need a  silent escape. My blog is the only place I retreat to at such times. I allow myself to flow with the words copied from the diary.

Silence of the woods on a spring day.

When the breeze sings the  symphony of pure silence and the sunlight filtering through the tops of the trees and lovingly touches the ground. The beautiful, magical dance of the flawless shadows on the forest floor surrounded by a mystical aura. Time floats free in the endless woods.

The silence in the rhythmic music of a mountain brook or in the  rustle of the leaves as the  tall elegant trees  sway like the dervishes  in a soulful dance. A green silence.

The fading moments of daylight dissolve into twilight bliss. The forest melts into an ebony haze. A soft misty nothingness is filled with serenity’s song of silence. Nocturnal darkness takes over silently seeping through the very soul of the forest wrapped in the essence
of luminescent splendor.

In nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…we need silence to be able to touch souls .Silence …to listen to the silence between the words, between the lines, in the gaps, to absorb, to become one with what you are doing.

Meditation or dhyan , silence of the heart and soul …It heals ..Creates a stillness and calm within …

It is when we are silent, we open up to life and it does the same for us.

Maun …. Embodiment of joy.
We do not always realize the implications of the quietness we unconsciously seek and enjoy when we take a walk in a solitary meadow or in a forest or on a mountain. By occasional contacts with silence, our nerves are soothed, energy is regained, and the total effect is bracing to our bodies and minds.

I enjoy being silent even if I am part of a noisy group, it’s not a forced silence like when you are alone.

For me keeping quiet and being silent are two different things.

When silent, one’s mind should be trained to become empty …you don’t even talk to yourself even in the subconscious …it’s a wonderful feeling which completely de-stresses you.

Once you start to enjoy silence you learn to listen to the unsaid, sounds you normally don’t pay attention to.

It increases your power to listen, makes you in tune with self and your surroundings.

Listening is a dying art.

Most of the time we just hear the various sounds without paying any attention to them. Being “maun” is also a method to enhance your will power . We always want to escape to a peaceful place looking for ‘SHANTI’  but that shanti lies within us, we just have to look inwards.

Silence is also very beautiful, I have experienced that by being completely silent I become one with nature and that’s a wonderful feeling. It has a calming effect on soul.

Silence has helped me take many major decisions in life, to do things in the right way guided by my inner. It has improved my concentration power and though still I need to work quiet a lot on it, it has tremendously helped me discover myself. So SILENCE for me is self discovery and a very important part of daily living.

For me

Silence is not

lack of words

lack of music

lack of curses

or  lack of screams

Silence is not  lack of colors

or voices

or bodies

or whistling wind.

Silence is Not  lack of anything

Silence is resting,

nestling in every leaf, every root, every branch of every tree,

it is in the breeze that nibbles at these leaves

or sometimes swooshes around them

Silence is the flower sprouting upon the branch

In the drizzle that tickles them

or the pouring  rain that drenches  them to the core of their being

it is also in the still air that hangs around them on a hot sultry day

Silence is the long winding forest trail  fragrant with the intoxicating aroma of sweet pine

Silence is mother’s song to her  newborn child and  her  cries for her stillborn one.

Silence is the roar of ocean waves and  the sandpipers dancing on the shore.

Silence is the vastness of  green rolling plains and it is a blade of grass.

Silence is the flight of a solitary eagle

A colorful kite soaring in the vast blue sky

A dog curled up under a shady tree on whose trunk furry squirrels run up and down.

Silence is sound And silence is silence.

Silence is love, even the love that hides in hate.

Silence you share with someone you love, so cold, so sharp, you could cut yourself on it. There is nothing so hurtful, nothing so bare and forlorn as the silence that falls like swords on two people who no longer know what to say to one another, and it is the kind of silence that tells you that you are no longer of any importance to that person, who really is no longer even there; it is a silence that renders you invisible.

Silence that hangs heavy in the air. A dark cloud of silence. Where the words strain to touch the  fabric of  someone’s silence. When words become strangers , the thoughts freeze and we are rendered speechless – silence of death of loss.

Silence of pain , physical, emotional pain that’s leaves you numb.

Silence of the suffering heart.

Silence  is  the eyes of poor, hungry children

It is the lover’ s sex exhausted fall into sleep.

It is the call of morning birds.

Silence is the lucid moonbeams kissing a wild flower.

It is a word, a hope, a flickering flame of candle at the window of a  home.

Silence is everything –

in the renewing sleep of Earth,

the purifying dream of Water,

the purifying rage of Fire,

the soaring and spiraling flight of Air.

It is all things dissolved into nothing

Silence is with you always

Sometimes as Shanti sometimes as khamoshi and sometimes as a mook cheekh ( a silent cry) a silent cry of a woman.

.

Banaras Revisited : Snapshots From Memory Lane


In the year 1931 on March 31st  a girl was born to Ramchandra  and Varada Moghe. The eldest of six siblings  she grew up in Theosophical Society and did her schooling and graduation in the Rajghat Education Center of the Krishnamurti Foundation, a beautiful 300 acre campus full of trees, overlooking the confluence of the rivers Varuna and Ganga, on the outskirts of the ancient pilgrimage city of Varanasi.

Fortunate to be born in that time and place, she became a part of the rich cultural heritage of  her birthplace. Her home was a hub for Music, Theater, literature  and she grew up listening to music maestros like  Siddheshwari Devi, Kanthe Maharaj, Gohar Khan , Bismillah Khan.

Many personalities from politics, music, art, theater, literature visited TS and she was fortunate enough to Listen to them.  Famous writers of hindi like Jaishankar Prasad, Munshi Premchand , Sarojini Naidu stayed and worked from there. The family was closely associated with  J. Krishnamurti, and many others.

Her father taught at Basant College and her mother ,  a homemaker and a B.Sc graduate from Ferguson College, Pune , among other things, designed first of the kind science workbooks for small children in Hindi .

After post graduation from BHU her Job took her to Rishivalley in 1953. She frequently visited her parents and later  married a lecturer of science  who taught  at the boy’s college run by Krishnamurti Foundation now called Rajghat Besant School. My dad was a close associate of J.Krishnamurti and worked for the Krishnamurti foundation.

Her last visit in 1959 was the end of her romance with the city of  Banaras for the time being.

Now after 45 years My Ma took a sentimental trip down the memory lane with my brother who was born in TS Varanasi.

It was an emotional experience and not a religious one. Although the city had changed considerably since her time, she was able to go to places where she spent her childhood and yearly youth, the molsary, mango, neem trees under whose shade she played with her friends, the house where she stayed and the school and college where she studied.

Ma was married in Sarnath ( it was an inter caste love marriage ) . She was unable to take pix of the beautiful Sarnath due to some problem but fondly narrated to us about the majestic yet serene stupa and the excellent museum which shows the rich display of Buddhist and bramanic culture. The temple of Buddha with lovely wall paintings depicting the life of Buddha  by Japanese painters and the Bodhi tree where Gautam Buddha attained Bodhisattva.

The Ashoka pillar still stands there in Sarnath shinning beautifully even after so many years. Photography was not allowed at many places even near the major temples in Varanasi , the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Sankat mochan Temple.

At the age of 79 my ma has a spirit of a child and she managed the cope with the travel, crowd and narrow lanes full of bulls and cows and people, the heat and dust in spite of her very frail health  to look around and make the trip a memorable one for her.

I am glad  she was able to fulfill her desire and it was a joy to watch her describing all the details with so much happiness.  Now she wants to take us there and  that is one trip I am looking forward to.

I am sharing some of the pix  with all of you , A snapshot journey down the memory lane through my mom’s eyes. Hope you will enjoy.


Sunrise at the Ganges

Mom could not take many pictures in the city due to her health condition and as she puts it , she wanted to absorb it all in her eyes rather than in the camera so most of the pix are from the ghats and TS, Rajghat compound .

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Banaras has many ghats but some of them are famous for religious purposes. The boats are called Dongi in local language and the house boats are known as Bajda , the boat man is called mallhar.

A ghat is a very special type of embankments that are actually long flights of wide stone steps leading down to the river where people can take a holy dip.

Dashaswamedh ghat, manikarnika Ghat, Manmandir ghat are some of the famous ones. Manikarnika is where the cremations take place and also the last rites and rituals for the dead are performed by the Hindus.

After the breathtaking beauty of Ganges  Ma took some pix of TS  and Rajghat which are a treasure for all of us.

The buildings of the Theosophical Society were designed by Surendra Nath Kar an architect from Shanti Niketan. and the sculptures and reliefs at the Vasant college were created by Rudra Hanji fondly called Rudrappa , a friend of my grandfather. The old Banyan tree is a memorable part of ma’s childhood. The Montessori school where she is sitting on the steps is now an assembly hall. The steps were designed in a way so that children of the age group 3-4 could easily climb them.

Ma and a friend under the beautiful flower shed

The TS compound

Morning view of Ganges from Rajghat

The bridge on the river is the oldest and was the only bridge during ma’s childhood.

The Old Banyan Tree in TS

The Varuna river has been turned into a small Nalah ( a dirty river stream where all the drainage water goes) The pic shows the confluence of Varuna and Ganga .

Ma will complete 79 years on 31st march this year and I am delighted to travel back to her roots through her.

Thank you ma for the pix , for all the interesting stories, for the delicious mithai 🙂  and the prasad from the temples. It was the most memorable  day spent together.