Monday Memories 23 – Six Years Of Blogging And A Few Other Things


First of all Eid Mubarak to all my readers and thank you for the tremendous love and support you always give me.

Can’t believe I have blogged for almost eight years now.  A pretty anniversary message greeted me as I logged in today. Simple little things that make life what it is.

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1624 followers, 532,335 blog hits and Five years with Indiblogger. Incidently last year too the blog anniversary fell on a Monday.  🙂

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(Pic copyright The Book Club)

Today is a special day for many reasons.  The Book Club blog tour of my poetry book has begun and they posted their first review by Privytrifles . I will be sharing a post on the entire tour later.

This year’s highlight has been my book and you can read all about it Here .  Another good thing was the reading of Italian translations of my poems by Rachel Slade at the Cena Poetica di Samuele Editore  and another poem translated and displayed as part of the VerdArti festival in Italy.  New poems have been submitted to some cool online and print magazines and I am waiting.  Meanwhile there is a lot of reading and writing to be done. Both poetry and Fiction. I have not been too well and getting back my health is a priority right now. Reasons for less of blogging these days. Better days will come 🙂

This year also saw a change in my elder son’s life. He began working as a reporter with Hindustan Times (HT City) Aditya Dogra  .  A complete change from the Animation work he was doing. I am glad that he is following his passion and enjoying the new venture. Same with the younger one too who starts his winter training at the ITC Maurya, Delhi very soon. Nothing makes a mother proud than to see her children living their lives as independent adults. The boys are my strength and best friends. I wish them all the very best in life. We may not be living together but we are never too far away from each other.

It’s been four years now since I left my husband’s home in search of myself as a woman and as an individual. It has been an uphill ride but worth every obstacle, every heartbreak. These were just the tests, the build ups, so that I can go through to the next level of independence and self – control. I have realized that most of the times we are our own support system and the key is to never lose Focus. I still have a long way to go to accomplish what I wish, to have my place, to travel to the places I always longed to visit, to learn and write more, to completely shed all that is not me.  I believe the universe provides for us what we ask for. That our thoughts create our future. I am working on shedding the negative and visualizing all the good and abundance now in the present. I feel more centered. I have ‘reoriented’ myself and this has led to a more calmer me than before though I still panic at certain things. I also stopped mulling the old wine. I am not writing stuff full of angst and sorrow. At least I am making a conscious effort not to do it. I think it was acting as a block in my inner progress. Silencing the voices in my head was much-needed to feel the sense of well-being that is required to think right. I have begun to appreciate ‘little things’ that feed and nourish my soul and it has made a lot of difference in my life at many levels. I  have achieved a lot in last few years and I feel proud of it. There will come a time for me to talk about it more openly but for now one must just follow the heart and move on in the chosen direction. Keeping all the options open. Because I could not change the situation I was challenged to change myself.  It was a life saving technique  and it worked.

The universe has it all and I shall get my share. Thank you friends for standing by me in all the good times and bad.

I leave you with the serenity prayer that helped me chart my path,

“Dear universe, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

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Monday Memories – 20 – Hot Tandoori Food On Delhi Winter Nights


Some years back I did a post on Dhaba food  which is an essential part of North Indian culinary culture.  Today while looking at some old posts I remembered the roadside tandoor, a two feet by three feet hole dug out in the ground and plastered with clay, where at least once a week I would go and get fresh tandoori rotis made. An old woman owned this roadside tandoor and one had to keep the container of whole wheat dough in a line and wait for our turn. The tandoor remained covered with an  old tin sheet throughout the day and as the sun went behind the buildings the old woman took her seat on a patched rug beside it and people poured in with or without the dough to take the rotis for dinner. One roti costed 10 paisa if you got your own dough and 20 paisa if you took it from the her. Mostly people got their own dough as hers was mainly a mix of whole wheat and  all-purpose flour (maida). Some even made balls for the roti (the size of a tennis ball) to save time,  keeping in mind the number of rotis consumed by each person in the family. Many bachelors or students staying alone just came and told amma ( as she was lovingly called) the number of rotis they wanted and then sat on the small charpai near the shed while leisurely waited for their chance. Warmed by the heat of the tandoor they exchanged news, the events of the day or just relaxed. New associations were made over tea bought from the nearby tea stall which did a brisk business along with the tandoor.

Amma was very particular about her rules. Those who had rolled out the dough into ball came first in the line, then came the turn of those with plain dough and then the rest.

She would prepare the tandoor by lining it with charcoal and once it was lit and reached the right temperature she would wet her hands, cut the dough expertly in neat sections and roll them into smooth balls,  flatten the ball a bit, dust it with dry flour,  clap the flattened ball between her hands like a skillful artist  turning it around to get the prefered  thickness, dust some more flour to avoid sticking and place it on a small cushion and slap it gently to the inner side wall of the hot tandoor. She would quickly make more rotis and place them one by one in the tandoor.  In a few minutes the smouldering embers and the heat retained by thick dry walls made the  upper side of  roti brown and air pockets began to form. At this moment she would take a makeshift skewer , a thin iron rod hooked from one end to lift the roti from the tandoor, and flung the roti straight into the clay surface surrounding the tandoor. She would count the rotis, pack them in the container brought by the customer and take the money. This process went on till about ten in the night and then the tandoor would close for the day.

Some days the crowd was less and on such days she indulged her clients by making small talks or sometimes throwing tantrums about the consistency of the dough etc.  Most of the time she remained chirpy and warmed by the heat of the hot tandoor her wrinkled face glowed with happiness. There were times when the slightly burnt or extra roties were given out to poor children who waited patiently for the business to close for the day so they could get their share.

On special Sundays one would get the lip smacking dal too. The split gram dal cooked to perfection on slow fire could beat any dal makhani served in hotels or even roadside Dhabas. One could either take the plain dal or get famous panjabi dal fry or dal tadka ( tempered with seasoning of onions, green chilli and tomatoes) . The very aroma of freshly cooked dal and hot rotis made me drool. It was the best food one could have. We had to take a container for dal which she sold on a fixed per plate rate. The simmering dal was kept at the side of the tandoor in a huge aluminium pot. Those who wanted seasoned dal had to wait till the delivery of rotis was complete. Once done amma would hold the frying pan blackened from outside due to constant use, add a spoonful of oil, toss chopped onion, green chillies and tomato , add a dash of some secret masala (spice mix) she kept in a small box and give it a quick stir. The flames would sometimes flambé the seasoning and as the aroma would begin to fill the air she would add a ladel ful of dal in the sizzling pan and then pour the dal in the container. As a garnish sometimes she even put freshly chopped coriander but this was only for those who ordered in large amount.

I would wait eagerly for Sundays to relish this sumptuous meal. As we usually made Maharashtra or UP food at home this Panjabi tadka was a much awaited treat. I was in my pre-teens at that time and learning to cook. Urad dal dhaba style was one of the first things I learned to make. For two years we enjoyed the delicious food made by amma. Simple dal and roti whose memory still lingers in my mind. As i write I can feel the taste of the meal cooked with love and passion. She was a frail old woman, maybe in her early sixties, but the energy with which she worked on the tandoor was amazing. A true artist, experienced and adept at her art of cooking. We didn’t know where she lived or if she had any family but the shopkeepers and even the policemen on duty respected her and she never faced any issues with her clients.

I had seen her putting an extra roti or an extra ladle of dal for the students who came everyday to take food. A generous person even though she lived on her everyday earning.  She even believed in ‘ladies first’ or “ladkiyan pehle” as she mentioned before starting the work. The men had to wait it out till all the women were gone. Slowly I noticed that more and more  little girls began to come with their containers. The older women hardly came unless there was no one else to fetch.

I have eaten at many roadside eateries and dhabas but the memory of those meals is unforgettable. There is a certain pleasure in simple things.  A simple smile, a simple word or even a simple meal cooked with love.

We left that government colony when mom got transferred to new place and amma was missed sorely. I don’t know how long she continued serving hot rotis and dal at such low-cost or if she was able to sustain her little means of livelihood in the midst of growing number of food joints and rising coal prices but where ever she is I want her to know someone in a corner of world remembers her fondly.

I miss those roadside tandoors. One hardly sees them in the city anymore espcially in the area I live in but I make it a point to go eat at a dhaba once in while just to keep the tradition alive. Eating out on Delhi winter nights is incpmplete without dhaba food and I encourage all of you visiting Delhi is experience it at least once.

Monday Memories 19 – You and Me – That’s as good as it gets ..


Prelude to 2014

One thought

One need

One want

Despite all

In spite of all

To love you

To wake up with you

in your arms

every day

all my life

in your home

our home  (though I know you will tell me to sleep on my side of the bed. The left side. 😉 fully clothed. ) (“years of conditioning baby”,  you will say..but still..)

To make that first cup of morning coffee

To sit snuggled up on the couch and watch your favorite game

or a mushy romantic movie

with you dozing off , your head cradled in the curve of my neck

To cook those simple meals, deliberately making them elaborate

soaking in the smell of sex, love and spices

To tiptoe barefoot on cool wooden floorboards

taking in the  scent of you in the empty house

in your oversized shirt

after a lingering good-bye kiss at the door

To ready a romantic bath

an extravagant array of bubbles

bath soaks, a languishing dip in the steamy tub

indulgent back rubs (and much more)

conversations, (shoptalk? For heavens sake !) &  laughter

Wrapped in fluffy towel

to watch you work from home

taking client calls

shooting urgent emails,

drafting a complex deals  (while trying hard not to glance sideways )

with my mind spooning you  (It must be tough to ignore the heat rising from the bare legs next to you)

and in between all this

to fill  in the mundane

grocery, laundry, doing the dishes

polishing the floor, tending the yard,

mending the roof

having arguments

followed by fights (love quarrels I call them)

followed by make up sex

It is not a fairy tale after all

I dreamed of you last night. Like all other nights.

I dreamed of us doing all the above listed things among others.

Together.

In our home.

When you know you are never going to get the man of your dreams, never going to come closer , the dream itself  becomes kind of important.

To close your eyes and let your imagination catch fire, to pretend you are with the man you love, doing things you will never be able to do in real life, that’s as good as it gets.

Monday Memories 18 – You And Me – Absentia


The moment I opened the door of my home a sudden heartache hit me like a jab of an invisible knife. For a few seconds everything blurred. I held on to the door knob staring into the empty quietness that had occupied everything animate and inanimate. It was a home I cherished, my private sanctuary, a place of my own where I lived on my own but never felt lonely.  A place decorated with the imagined invisible tales of our love that warmed me and gave me company at all times but today it all seemed unfamiliar and surreal as if I did not belong there. Everything  gazed at me with mournful eyes. His brief visit had violently altered my side of the world. He had left but his absence still lingered, making itself more poignant with its presence.  I crossed the threshold stepped inside dropped the bag and the purse on the floor and began to assess the magnitude of the void which becomes more apparent as it gets filled and this one was rapidly filling up with missingness that was  flowing out from every pore of my body. Each step  more difficult than the last. The heaviness began to occupy me turning my limbs to stone. It hurt to be hurting.

The ephimiraliity and uncertainty that has hovered around me while he was here had transformed itself into sorrow and a gnawing sense of disbelief. A  tumultuous place a few days ago the house seemed like an echoing tomb today.  I felt that if I stayed there one more minute the hollowness will gather and  bury me alive in this plastered grave. It’s strange how I felt the lack of him more than his presence which has morphed into my tortured existence and everything around it.

I moved like a lost soul from room to room unsettling the quite trying in vain to fill the space he has left. Up till now I had too little time but now there was nothing but time and I felt myself being engulfed by it.

I had lost all my sides to him and in this altered reality I stood completely stripped off. Exposed. The cold creeping up my spine, filling me from foot to head even though it was a bright warm day. Numb is a feeling too, I always said and in this numbness I wasn’t aware if my heart still beat. Everything had come to a standstill inside me as if I had entered a zero sensation space. I wanted to cry but tears had dried and turned to heaps of salt. Something had malfunctioned inside me shutting down all my senses and bringing it all to an irrevocable breakdown.

A whirlpool was swirling deep within me.  Unable to contain the surge of emotions I rushed out picking my purse and closing the door in one swift action. Without looking back I ran down the stairs forgetting about the elevator and briskly walked down the street shutting myself to all the sights and sounds. I could not understand what was building up inside  – sorrow or rage  or just a feeling of loss.

I wanted to unscrew and pull out the  corkscrew of absence that had gone in so neatly. I needed to push the rising deluge deep into some unknown depth and to do that I bought myself  the biggest tub of the Haagen-Dazs’ ice cream and parked myself  on a high stool in a corner away from the huge glass windows overlooking the street. I did not want distractions and dug into it shoving it in my mouth and almost swallowing it  with no attention to taste or chill that was sending waves of cold fire down my throat. After finishing three-fourths of it  I closed the lid tucked the tub in a paper bag and walked out . The market was flooded with weekend shoppers but I just kept walking through it all hugging on to the tub hoping it  would heal the sickening ache that had taken residence inside her gut.. I didn’t hear the honking from behind till a hand pulled me to the side. The car driver hurled some angry words  at me and all I could catch was “die”. Yes sir that would be really nice. I found the lump in my throat melting and rising up. I mumbled a feeble thank you , lowered my head and shouldered my way  through the crowd of local vendors, rickshaws, sleeping dogs, blinded myself into a few shoppers, got two portions of spicy, oily hot comfort food packed, picked two king-sized candy bars, a big bag of potato chips and walked back home. The ice cream box had become warm from the mid day sun but I felt  unable to trash it.

I emptied the food on a tray , threw the candy bars on bed, stepped out of my clothes and curled up in a corner, knees to chin.  and stared at the steaming hot oil dripping food and spicy pickle. A wave of nausea hit me and pushing the tray aside I pressed my naked body on the hard cold marbled floor and wept fiercely. crumbling and disintegrating as if I was invaded and shamelessly plundered through and through. I felt ashamed of stuffing my face with a thousand calories in order to stuff my emotions and not just that I had also bought a cart load of it home. Tears flowed freely again as guilt and regret hit me like a knife. I wanted to feel the pain not tranquillize it with gallons of  food. I wondered what was hurting me more, letting go or holding on to something unreal. One side of my body had gone numb. I had never felt so exposed. Slowly I picked myself up from the floor, pulled a Tee over my  tired body dragged myself to the bathroom and stood under the shower with eyes closed. Letting the water  wash away everything not needed by my body, mind and soul. I did not bother to remove the tee which clung to me like a second skin. There were no tears, no thoughts, nothing, just a calm one feels inside the womb. Water is a healer so is the salt. It is not just for any reason our tears are salty.

I removed the Tee and gently rubbed a handful of  Epsom salt  all over my body feeling it release the old pain and melt away all the hurt with every stroke of my hand.  I let myself soak into the universal healing and then patted myself dry, got into fresh clothes. Once in the room I shoved the food in the fridge making a mental note to give it to the house help in the morning. along with the candy bars. The bag of chips went into the cabinet. I unpacked, uncovered the Buddha and pressed it against my heart before placing it on a shelf  where I could see it from anywhere in the house.

The sun was concentrated in a shaft of light in one corner of the drawing-room. I pulled the wicker chair in the pool of light and cuddled into it. I loved him and either I could stay trapped in what wasn’t or move freely into what is. The choice was mine to make.  I had decided to move on with him in my heart. It is never ‘over’ and I did not want it to be either. We were just living in two different worlds but I knew in my heart of hearts that he felt the same.  I smoothened the little silk cloth on my lap.  “Never too far away from you“, I ran my finger tip over it feeling the words pulsate with life.

The phone began to play a familiar ringtone. The heart skipped three beats then fluttered.

Monday Memories 17 – You and Me – Variations of love


Sometimes things simply are a matter of “is” ,” is not” and ” won’t be”.

It seems odd that a casual unexpected meeting with someone could bring about such a change in one’s life but that’s life , isn’t it? Since the day we connected on that nameless day  my each step has been to bring myself closer to you.  Some bonds are karmic . People are brought together on the checkerboard of life for a purpose, to accomplish something, to help each other evolve. It is as intense a relationship as any other but never culminates into anything.  A house that isn’t abandoned and yet is uninhabited. Only visited.

Karmic love is different from romantic love , friendship or passionate longing. These things may be a part of  that karmic bond but they are not the essence, they are just part of a bigger scheme of things. It is a bond of a lifetime and is understood only when the expectations are dropped.

I will tell you a little story here.

There was a woman devoted to the love of music and she practiced it all her life for a performance she would never give. It is the same with love sometimes. You can only keep on loving. There is nothing else to it. There never be a spotlight on you nor you will ever come in public view. Some loves stay on the backstage but that does not mean they wither , they blossom unnoticed. Sometimes the breeze may carry their fragrance to the beloved at others it may linger and spread far and wide slowly fading until only a hint remains.  Just like the smell of sweet pines in the mountains.

Hurt and ache springs from expectations. From a want to mold a person in the image you create of him. The moment  you fall in love  you believe that the universe has planned this for you for ever , that everything is a cue in that direction, you choose the characters, rearrange the scenery , guide the plot and do all in your power to make possible what is utterly impossible. Love itself has no power to conquer anything , it wants us to do it on its behalf and we do it all wrong. Smothering it in our wish to dam that whose intrinsic nature is to flow.

Some things are never meant to be and daydreams are fine till they do not take bearing on the reality.  At times when you find love unexpectedly and in great abundance you  become selfish and possessive but slowly over the period then comes a time when one is at a crossroad and there is light. Either you smother the self and the person you love with hopes, demands and expectations or set free each other and enjoy what is.

Over the time I realized that all this talk of unrequited love is nothing but expectations gone wrong. When the relationships weighs heavy on heart it is a cue to reflect upon it. It is a difficult process as it involves looking within in a totally unbiased way. Relationships should be a source of joy, not heartache.

Loving you is my feeling not yours and no one can take it away. You may or may not love in same way or not love at all. One can not force other person to accept your love, no matter how deep and meaningful it is to you. So either we form a karmic bond and do good, happy things or suffer the illusions.

If your love is deep and meaningful to you , you don’t push the other person, you let it flow and mean well and accept things as they are. Most of the time when we push we lose the other person, we lose a friend too and all that is sweetness turns bitter.

Karmic bonds are life long two people who respect and appreciate each other and yet do not smother each other. The degree of intensity of this can vary between the two people involved. The reasons too. It is better not to question because the answers usually lead to more questions and an endless process of speculation begins. Love is , as Rumi said, meeting beyond the ideas of our right-doings and wrong-doings. It is like a seed, you plant it in others with acts of affection, kindness and respect, you water it with your hopes, and it will either flourish so that you can eat the fruit that grows from the plant that grew from the seed or it will lie dormant, never to flourish. True love is the love of equals but there are occasions where love is unconditionally given because one keeps the ego below the relationship.

Sometimes it is what it is.  There is no future or hope for any togetherness of a level one may dream of in a love relationship but one still gives.  It is meant to be that way and if one finds solace and joy in it then there is nothing more precious to live for in one life. Reciprocation, however longed for, is not the goal. Love then takes a spiritual form. A devotion. It is also a way to express gratitude for being part of the journey. Of evolution.  Sometimes two people are bound by events in their lives and all they can do it give in their own way. Sometimes in shot measures sometimes completely.

Not many people agree but to accept the things one can not change and give what is needed and receive whatever is there is also a form of love. If it doesn’t hurt either that is. For if it does then it is not love and maybe never was.

It is funny that we expect honesty and trust in a relationship but are ready to let the other person compromise it to love us back. It is true of the relationships where there is a third person involved but the moment you respect and love yourself and your love for the person it feels good. It feels good  not to feel the pangs of jealousy, of loneliness and want , or absence, guilt and whatever it was bringing. You accept your place in their lives and theirs in your life. There is nothing more than that to look forward to. Or is there? I think there is.  Someday you will know it too.

There was a time I would cringe at the thought of being outside the periphery of your world and lament non stop of the heartache it caused but it has all dissolved. For my love for you does not need crutches to stand. It isn’t dependent on anything.  I said once, “I wear your love like a scarlet letter on my being” but not anymore. I wear it as a warmth that was lacking all through my life and know it will see me through all the winters of my life.

Time is an illusion where your past and future lives run simultaneously in the present and in this present I am happy and content with the variations of love you have brought. Together in distance each in its own way for mutual growth and personal evolution. If the universe has brought us together there ought to be a purpose and it will fulfill itself at the right time. Till then You and Me will keep flowing like a river finding and charting its path in the landscape of our lives.

I leave you with Neruda’s Sonnet XVII from 100 Love Sonnets

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep

♥ ***************************♥

Monday Memories 16 – Five Years Of Blogging With WordPress



WordPress.com

Five glorious years of blogging with WP and Four as Indiblogger – 1,378 followers, 484,310 hits, 892 posts and 5,293 comments.

A Big Thank You To All Of You 

 This has been a great learning experience for me. A platform that provided me space not just to showcase my writing but also to heal from the turmoil I was going through.  What began as a release, a catharsis later turned into passion. Today I feel that my rooting years are over and the real word journey has begun. Through my blog I met people who enriched me with their friendship and love, some of my poems  and short stories got published online and in print, I was interviewed and featured on some of the known blogging sites and networks.  Indiblogger connected me to hundreds of other bloggers, a thread unseen but very strongly connecting all the extended family members of this wonderful blogging network. Thanks Inditeam.

I also thank BlogAdda for interviewing me and choosing many of my posts as their weekly picks.

I thank not just my readers but also those who recognized the spark in me and never let me slip back. My friends, mentors and my boys without whom my journey would have been devoid of some of the most amazing experiences. Growing up with them made me who I am.

Here are some of my most loved posts

Interview with Kris Saknussemm  If you are a budding writer then you MUST read this. Kris is my mentor and friend and although this is an old interview it is very good advice. I owe it all to him for helping me in those difficult teething years of writing.

I will one day introduce you to another fabulous mentor I have, Facebook has been a blessing for me. A post on that is overdue. Coming soon 🙂

Return  A very short fiction . Although dark and not much to the liking of many I absolutely enjoyed writing this. Do read.

Le petite Mort –  A 55r which is my all time favorite.

Temples of Khajuraho  –  A completely different take on the Temples of Khajuraho.  My best post in travel section so far.

There are a lot of issues close to my heart and I have very strongly written about them but these are the post I wish to share today. The inline link in it will take you to all the other posts.  On Being a Woman   and On being a mother

This is the first of the Monday Memories post and one of the two parenting posts i love  Bottomless Pits, Edible Weapons and more 

the other is Relationship Dysfunction  . AN old post which is based on a real experience Have it flaunt it  , I suck at humor but enjoyed writing it.

There are many more which I can link here but  won’t it be nice to explore and read on your own 😉 ? I will look forward to your comments, suggestions  and critique.  Please feel free to honestly express your views as each one will help me improve my writing.

Let me leave you with two short poems from a new collection not yet on blog

what once was entwined 
is now entangled 
masks shed
knots
cracks
bared 
love is many a splendorous thing

**

words
tangled up in knots
someone else has tied
part broken
part whole
– a poem
restless with hopes and fears

Monday Memories 15 – The Phoenix Rising


This is a different memory post. It is about rising from ashes. Letting go, reclaiming your rebel self, not settling for anything  that hindered my evolution as a woman. This is about defining my worth ,taking control and saying – FUCK.THAT. SHIT. I am the author of my life and I decide which path to take or not take. A discussion with some friends prompted me to write this. All lives are not full of exciting adventures.

There are lives which resemble a lonely boat tied to the post conversing with its shadow and looking out into the vast blue ocean , yearning to escape.  Mine was such a life.  Until I decided to leave the comfort zone that meant being ted to the silken chains and trust me it is hard to take total control. Many people prefer to drift through the BS that surrounds them just for the sheer comfort of not having any responsibilities. Be a puppet , dance the dance and shrug your shoulders, curl up. Do nothing. Conjure up some very solid reasons for doing so, one of them being not looking into one’s own eyes.  Don’t rebel  because rebelling means pain, agony, loneliness and hard work. Rebelling means confronting oneself before anyone else. Reclaiming oneself. Do what you always did. It is easy. Say what you always said. Never go beyond the known. So many of us do it.

I lived that life so I know. Don’t ask for the reasons for I do not wish to go there but I put my dreams and desires in a pretty little jar, closed the lid and kept it in a vault.

Sometimes when the shadows stretched long and thin and a slight breeze nudged me I would set free my mind and think what it would be to throw open that lid and let those dreams breathe. How would they smell when brought out into sparkling sunlight. It took me many years to realize my mistake of handing over the pen to others to write my story and that day I decided to break free.  It is not easy. We are not birds and do not have wings , we are women living in a society that tells us to bow down and stay tied to the post.

I am writing this to share how I began to write. It was my first step to claim myself. I had never opened myself to the world and it made me nervous to step out and expose. It is like being nude. If you are not comfortable in your own nakedness then you can’t be comfortable at all. Simple as that.

I was born against the wishes of death. Life had snatched me from it and put me on my feet not to sit around in a little box of velvety thorns but to get out and do my own thing.

Writing helped me expand my horizons , to get connected to people with similar passion for life. It helped me bleed out the pain, hurt, It helped me release old scripts, reject old plots, say goodbye to those characters in my life story who had done nothing but scarred  it, to erase, edit, chop out those bits that did not fit. It began to fill my lungs with the oxygenated air of freedom and self-worth.  After all this there came the time to write the ending. There is nothing more impossibly difficult than ending for it means snapping off with one clean cut all that is not you. It is a heartache and many times the voice from the little velvet box will pull you to come into its folds but that’s where courage lies. It is a phoenix rising. Death and birth, fuck up and bliss, heartache and joy all at once. We have to go through the annihilation to emerge again – victorious. Once you have cleared everything that did not serve you can bring in all that is yours, all that has been already yours just not claimed till now. It is a home coming of  the self.

To begin anew, afresh on a clean slate. It is a drudgery, a painful uphill ride, Alone.  I was lucky to find  friends who constantly stood by me like a rock and along with the patient love and care kicked my butt when the need arose. They helped me polish my dark side. Helped me break my mental barriers. They had my permission to do so and frankly they would have done it without my permission too. It is actually I permission one gives to oneself. To be totally in the hands of the sensei.  That is the way for the student. There is no other way.

You have to be uncomfortably grounded to start again. It starts from the bottom, from the scratch always. You have to release the past to move ahead. The lesser the baggage the easier the journey.

It’s been four years since I began to do serious writing. exposed myself completely, shed all inhibitions and surrendered myself to vulnerability of life. It has been worth every courageous risk. The changes were evident and they shook the world around me. The rope that tied me to the post began to loosen and break  with the strain and strength of my desire. It gave away finally two years back.

It was the night of storm and suddenly I found myself being tossed into the open waters but by this time I was prepared. The right thing to do on a stormy night is to lie still till it passes and the day breaks. These are the testing hours and if you survive those the ocean is yours for ever. These  times are life altering.  It takes courage to start clean to let the slate remain empty for sometime and not rush into filling it with the familiar. It takes immense strength to step into the unknown, to push yourself over the edge, to leave things behind that may have at one time been the only source of your reason to be. It is like the cutting of the umbilical  cord.

To detach completely so that you can carve new potentials. I am proud of my evolution. I am proud of my mentors, guides, friends who gave me rock solid support just enough to get going.  Always around in the shadows somewhere watching me chart my path.

Nature teaches us about our fragility and our strengths. There is no better teacher than the universe.

I learned that it is not about just staying in the light or seeking it ,, it is also about owning our dark, befriending it, polishing it, making it shine. You got to love your shadow that is the only way to be complete. Unless we learn to accept and be at ease with our grief, pain and destruction there can never be a movement.  I am grateful to the universe for the storms in my life big and small. They brought me to the shore or else I would have been drifting aimlessly in the ocean or crashed into pieces on some forlorn island and the purpose would have been lost for good. Meeting the darkness, facing the shit storms, taming and getting better of fears, insecurities, illusions, limitations (many of them self-created)  is all it takes to forge the path ahead. Never deny, suppress your dark side. Get into conversation with it.  You can never step into the light if you have not walked through the dark.

Shit happens . Move on. Don’t settle for less than what you deserve.

You lose some you win some. That is life. Write . Write your own story and keep the pen in your hand. Always.

I know this is not a usual memory  post but the time has come to grow new leaves, to flower and claim my place under the sun. I shed the old leaves, I bared myself to the harsh winter just for this spring. It is mine and am gonna make the best of it.

Memories will always be there , Good and bad. Imagined and real.  The trick is to never lose sight of he ” tip of the cold mountain” as my friend and teacher Kris says.

Onward we go.  Each ending is a new beginning. Each rejection a step closer to acceptance. We attract what we give. That is the law of attraction and the universe recognizes it. It worked for me , it will work for you.  Launch forth your heart. Create, co – create, stay vulnerable.

You are a woman. Sexy , beautiful, intelligent and totally awesome. Recognize it and take control before you get swallowed by others perception of you. Fuck everything Be yourself.  The strength of your desire will bring you what is yours and much more. Be pen and receptive and let me tell you this is not a discourse in some ‘New Age Teaching’ it is first hand experience.  Go get your shit. It is out there waiting for you.

I want to thank my readers, my mentors, my friends and each one you who contributed and continues to contribute to my life in one way or the other. Look for those who need you and be there for them. We all need each other. Never still your voice , never give up the student heart. Never limit yourself.  At least try not to. I am trying too. Join me.

Monday Memories – 14 – You and I – Absence


rambling thoughts

rolling

like a pebbles

directionless

homeless

gathering dust

gathering memories

now stuck between

a rock

and hard place

it is raining incessantly

It had to pour

Something has shifted

since the time silence

fell upon us like a sword

so cold, so sharp one could cut oneself on it

A silence

that has rendered

me invisible

and

in this chaos of sadness

memories have turned green

under the

the empty aching blue

of your absence

and my heart

from this great distance

watches helplessly

nostalgia was supposed to be about

moments shared

memories created

laughter, kisses

endless conversations

songs hummed together

in different continents

pictures, poems, stories

waking up in each others arms

being silly

arguments. lovers quarrels

even silences

and

make up sex ( in whatever way it was possible)

Never Ever in my wildest moment

I believed

It would be

YOU

personified

I existed at two places

here

and

where you are

with miles and miles

of ocean between us

I drew you into my world –

 real  and imagined

painted pictures in words

but didn’t know where to draw a line

there are times even now

when I can’t decide

which one of us is missing

I don’t know which pain is

more excruciating,

the shock of what happened

or the ache of what never will be

I know it is over

as simply as it began (and I am trying to convince myself even now that THIS is a mirage not THAT )

THAT which is real

in my heart

throbbing

pulsating

a wound

which is

as much yours

as

mine

(Ah! the joy of pain we so willingly endure)

there are many words

you left unsaid

many questions

 you never asked

(maybe they were things you were afraid to know)

and many went unanswered

in your hesitation

I found all my answers (so I believed)

each of us

for all our lives

live

so bitterly

misunderstood

I listened to the friction within you

of wanting and not wanting

missing and yet not connecting

I heard it all

but my heart

it deliberately chose

selective hearing

and imagined a glimmer of hope

in the slithers of sun

that warmed like  love

and tickled me in glimpses

 between the veiled Autumnal shadows

that loomed large

closing in from all sides

nothing haunts us like the things

we never say

(sometimes also those which we so carelessly say)

I would not have left you

on that September afternoon

had I known it would be our last

 the regret pains my heart

now among other things

I dream of lost vocabularies

that may express what we no longer can

but even tough the words have turned stranger

it is alright

for I know

what we are

and what

we could not be

there wasn’t a  closure

No goodbyes

and I hope (there is still a hope)

that one day

when you  make an inventory of lost things

you will find me and remember

what I meant to you

till then

I will do what I do best

move in the rhythm

with your ebb and flow

All of  You and Me   

I collect your whispers and arranged them in tight sentences (lest they flee) try to make sense of it. In your absence sadness of things speaks for you. Your abject indifference has seeped in and taken shape of everything around me. Words have long since turned strangers. The cell phone has turned into a paper weight. No, if you think I am saying all this because I miss you you are wrong. One doesn’t miss oneself but gutters too have limits when the sky pours it’s rain .

Monday Memories 13 – The Kodak SIX – 20 Brownie (Model -E)


My mother had just completed her intermediate when my grandfather gifted her the Kodak SIX- 20 Brownie Camera Model – E.

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She remembers it costed forty rupees at that time and it was a huge amount to spend for her father on such a luxury but my granddad always appreciated hard work and never stopped anyone from pursuing their interests. My mom was the eldest of  six children and even though the earning were not so high she was gifted this beauty which has come to us as a legacy.

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This box camera was manufactured till 1957  and then it topped being made.  So it is one of the collectibles. It came with meniscus f/11, 100mm with portrait lens, a single blade shutter, two brilliant view finders, 2 pin flash contacts, tripod sockets and cable release socket, metal winding knob and release button and shutter safety catch.  Mom says she used 120 and 620 films which gave 12 images.  It was manufactured by Kodak England  in the early 1950s and had two built-in filters. One is a yellow filter and the other one is close-up filter and they both pull in/out using a lever on the side.  It was a relatively  low-priced, point-and-shoot, hand-held camera that even children could operate.

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The camera traveled everywhere with my mother and she captured some of the most memorable moments with it.  She fondly remembers a picture she took of a caravan of camels crossing the chambal river in the ravines as the sun slowly made its descend behind the hills.  Most of the family pictures in Banaras where she lived were clicked by this little wonder. The whole family life of her friends, siblings, parents and relatives captured in images that are now neatly placed in bundles marked by year, date and time.  Later the smiles & tears and the memorable “first” moments of her children ( me and my elder brother) were also captured by this camera. Slicing of a moment and freezing it forever in all its vulnerability. I think it was her sketchbook of intuition and spontaneity.

I was very small when the camera developed some light problem and even the films became unavailable.  When mom used to open the black trunk in which she kept her valuables I as a little girl would sit with her exploring the treasures, the heirlooms, the albums surrounded by the scent of old cotton sarees of my grandmother mixed with a mild fragrance of cloves tied in small bundles to keep the bugs away. Those times were full of stories and myths that each photograph told. For hours we would sit with old yellowing pictures and this box camera in my lap remembering days from a distant time, distant era. Events that could not be reproduced but for those B&W images. The process sometimes became self revelatory.  one begins to find a part of oneself in each person who is photographed. A bit  like alchemy. As a little girl I would click imaginary photographs with it, people, places, and spin stories around them. Most of the pictures were hand drawn sketches but were appreciated as perfect photographs. Such are the joys of childhood when you aren’t judged for anything.

The camera still has its original brown leather with a metal clasp though it is opening up from the seams now.

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Some days back I found a large bundle of old letters and photographs and along with them this camera which lay forgotten among the past relics. I did  some research on the Brownie cameras by Kodak and came up with this interesting article The history of the twentieth century cameras   . It is amazing how the technology has advanced. The model -E is rare and not many sites feature it.

Today as mom and I sat looking through the pictures again I wondered how this little device gave us memories some unforgettable events in our lives.  Nostalgia gripped her as we talked about the advancement in photography.  Not many young women had the luxury of owning a camera of their own when mom got it. The printing and film cost were not very high but pursuing a hobby still added to the expense.

Its been a long journey full of kodak moments. The camera is not in use now and has become part of the memories it created.  A collectible that is part of  history as well as our personal lives.

Here are some photographs taken from the camera. Most of the photos are of mom’s family and many of them are tucked away in cartons.

These were with me so uploading. One picture is taken in 1953 at Kanyakumari in which mom and her two sisters are at the sea-shore.

The first close up with a baby is mom and my brother, the second is me and mom . The lake scene she can’t remember but it could be Nainital.

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Now we have moved to much advanced  DSLRs, digital cameras and mobile phone cameras but these bittersweet moments are all we have of times gone by. The time before digital photography. The heyday of Kodak with the famous slogan ” you push the button we do the rest.”

Kodak pioneered in home photography and now after a hundred and thirty years of making memories the company has stopped making cameras.

I am looking for some experts In New Delhi, India who can correct the fault with the camera and provide the 620 film roll if possible. I want to bring this memorable device to life. Suggestions are welcome.

Monday Memories 12 – You And Me


Some things are forbidden and yet we indulge.  We want to create memories.  Memories are not always made of  what happened it reality. They are also make beliefs. Things we imagined , dreamed , yearned for and with such intensity that they began to  seem more real than reality. It happens with dreamers, story tellers , poets , lovers  and people who aren’t too full of themselves. You need space to let these memories to take birth and grow. You have to endure the pain, the discomfort, the ecstasy and the constant reminder that they are not fragile and ephemeral as reality. They are amaranthine . They are powers of darkness and when these imagined memories collide with the real ones they become vehicles of destruction. It is a hypnotic drone and blur which makes nights sleepless and turns the days into a perpetual black hole.

I am entangled in those memories of you. Both real and imagined.  When people withdraw or leave they leave a gaping hole. Different people fill it with different things unable to remember what initially existed before in its place. I filled and glamorized  it with memories of time we spent together, with pain and self-pity, with tears and hurts. I called it solace, peace, solitude but it was nothing of those. It was just noise. Cacophony.  And then one day the tears dried. Just like that but pain remained. The hole remained. Gaping at me more than ever before and to make things worse It had taken a shape of you.

I was unmistakably going through lots of pain when I met you. You assured me it will go away. I had apprehensions. I had heard these words before but despite my apprehensions I believed you.   I waited. Patiently.  Days, Weeks, Months, Years. The vanilla flavor has long gone but the taste is stuck in my palate,  I am trying to wean myself off you. It is a long painful process of disengaging cell by cell, pore by pore, nerve by nerve. Sometimes I pull a wrong nerve and the scream shoots inwardly at a deafening speed leaving me convulsing with pain.

When you hand over your splintered heart to an absolute stranger you take a big risk. You are prepared for what it holds. You know if it all fails the memories of it will shred you but you still go for the forbidden.

Indifference is opposite of love , not hate and there is nothing I can fill these silences with other than memories. Nostalgia holds a lot of importance in our lives. Memories can also make you muddle-headed at times like they did to me today. They can make your adrenaline rush and bring with it bouts of immaturity and catastrophes that leave you feeling even more miserable than before. It makes you impulsive and everything done on an impulse is not good. It can go so terribly wrong that it can startle you.

I was thinking I had lost you but nothing is really lost to us as long as we remember it and today as I think of you memories are bringing me the whiffs of smells of places  that I did not pay attention to, that I didn’t really think existed. It is bringing to me songs that take me back to a  moment in time like nothing else can even if its bony fingers, sharp nails and pointed elbows hurt me no end. It is worth all the pokes and jabs and scratches.  Whatever is left unsaid , undone can be added to a memory and turned into a dream to savor till it too becomes a memory. New things take its place and the cycle continues of dreams and memories and all that it is between that. In these flickering images i find the warmth you forgot to take with you when you left.

Love Hurts. You And Me 

(song shared from You Tube. )