Friday, August 29, 2008


Hey People!
The party`s over. Finally! And in a few hours,we take the flight back home from Frankfurt. Its been an awesome break. And much needed. And now the heart yearns for home. And some good ol` 'dal-chawal'. And chicken. Its funny how they dont serve chicken anywhere in Germany. Atleast not in the small towns we were in. Only pork and beef! And in the last one month, every time I have tried to order something fancy at a restaurant, vivid visions of a hundred, stinking boars running amok in the gutter, come flashing by. Or an incident from childhood does reruns in the head, where a hundred enthusiastic cow-worshippers in Kolkata had taken out a rally, shouting slogans of 'Gai humari mata hai!".
(And a bengali youth, notorious for his irreverance, had shouted back - "Woh to tum logon ke shakal se hi maloom par raha hai!")

So I have pretty much lived on grass for the last 30 days.
No, no. Not that grass. Just some lettuce, spinach and some other fancy leaves.
I`m in no mood to do another travel blog on Germany. Though the place is worth talking about, really.
Anyway, so this is just a goodbye note. And a rather disjointed one at that! Shall write again,once I`m home. Do pray that I have an uneventful flight back, though I have my own doubts! I have run out of my 'Avomine' supplies, which incidentally means that a very nauseated and air-sick Piper shall board the flight tomorrow. *sigh*
My sincere apologies to all fellow travellers , you know, just in case.. ;-)
Ciao then,
More later..

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Lesson Learnt...

October 2007

The clock on the railway platform said 5:18 am. I sat by the window seat in the ladies compartment,watching fellow commuters scuttle across the crowded Sealdah Station. Loud voices screaming out to each other. Aroma of tea rising up in the morning air.Vendors hurriedly loading their barrels and wicker baskets onto the train. Newspaper men juggling enormous bundles. Last minute rush onto the ladies compartment. Catfights. And the smell of sweat, even at that ungodly hour. I sat there, waiting patiently for the train to leave. It would be any minute now. All of a sudden I heard this loud din and I looked across the aisle towards the door. Two hefty vendors were holding up an old man and literally shoving him into the ladies compartment where I was sitting. I realized minutes later, that it was only because his frame was so crooked, he could barely stand up straight. For a moment I wavered. Didnt know what to do. Should I get up and help the old man,who was by now,on his knees, and fishing for something in the torn satchel that he was carrying. But he looked a little scary. Tattered clothes. Broken glasses. Wrinkled skin. Shrivelled up eye brows covering two muddy yellow eyes. Forehead knotted by the years. And for a moment I felt sorry for him. Here was a man,not less than 90 years of age, threading his way from one train to the next, begging to live through just another day. What on earth could have happened to compel him into such dire straits? Didnt he have a family? What kind of a job did he do when he was young and more able-bodied? Or did he forever make a living out of the alms thrown to him by the daily commuters.
And then I saw him stagger towards me with a small packet of peanuts. He came and stood in front of me , offered me the packet and said,
" Ek taka" ( One rupee a packet).
A disclaimer at this point. I dont like peanuts. I can even go to the extent of saying that I really hate peanuts. Cannot stand the sight,smell or taste of it. I can be quite quirky that way!
But I certainly didnt want to turn the old fellow down. Whatever little expectations he had from me (even if it was a rupee) I didnt want to disappoint him. I was too busy feeling sorry for him!
So I fished in my bag for a 2 rupee coin and extended it to him. He thrust 2 peanut bags in my hands. I quickly returned them, saying,
"na na eta chai na" (no,no I dont want these).

And time stood still just then, for this one moment of truth to sink in.

He slowly took out a 2 rupee coin from his satchel and kept it on the seat beside me. Then looked me straight in the eye and said,
" Gorib thiki. Kintu bhikhkhe chai na. Kaaj korchi!"
( I may be poor but I`m not a beggar. I work!).
He walked away, leaving a downright ashamed me with another of Life`s lessons I`ll never ever forget..

Monday, August 25, 2008

True Colours...

I am peaceful today. Cool,calm and collected, as they say. I am Blue. The lovely refreshing blue of a calm ocean. People talk of 'feeling blue' and 'blue Monday'. But my blue is the sky making friends with the sun and cotton-puff clouds. The Blue of a robin`s egg. A Blueberry muffin.The Sapphire Blue eyes of a maiden princess. It is the colour of welcome water in a heat wave.

Red is inside me too. My red is not the angry,bleeding red. It is a happy colour, rising up inside me like a great ball of fire,exploding into the air and spurting forth small flames of laughter. The Red of a clown`s nose. The Red of the symbolic heart. The Red of the vermillion on a young Indian bride. The Red of a ripe strawberry. Red rubies and rust. The same red glow I see at sunset and at the wake of dawn. My Red is vivid. My Red is pure.

And then there is Green. Not the green monster of jealousy.But the green of Life and Love. Green grows in me like a tree, slowly bursting forth into a greeny mosaic of young leaves. Green is life when I watch winter branches become heavy with green foliage in Spring. The Green of a traffic light. The Green of a dollar bill. The Green city of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The Emerald Green waters around a coral reef. My Green is fertile. My Green is rich.

Black is not dull ,dead and gloomy. My Black is elegant. My Black is feminine and chic. It is exquisite. It is classy. It can be shiny, glittering, stunning. My Black is not a reminder of storms. My Black is the sky at night - sparkling with stars and carrying the Moon on a silken thread. An evening dress studded with diamonds.

My Silver is a special colour of adventure and excitement. The stars at night. The moonbeams reflecting off the Silver sequins of a bold evening dress. A jet in flight,the Sun chasing it and making it shine. It is a dangerous,exciting silver of flashing swords and clashing 'en garde' cries.

And finally White. I save it for special days. White like the clouds on a clear day, a long dress and a veil. A white orchid bouquet. A white cake. A White wedding and Love. A White Christmas. And White oyster pearls. My White is always special. My White is always shared.

Inspired by an article in the Readers` Digest, read a couple of light years ago!

Friday, August 22, 2008


Jostling. Shoving. Rambling along.
Hot tears. And angry sobs.
Snarling. Biting. Slicing.
A hand clasp here. A hug there.
A split lip. A bared soul.
A bitter word. A warm hug.
A hop and a skip every now and then...
A slashed soul. A soaring spirit.
Holding of hands. And a lingering conversation.
Fierce struggles. And a hot cup of coffee.
Heart wrenching whimpers. And soulful music.
A hop and a skip every now and then...
Ashes of burnt dreams. Footsteps in the mud.
Jingle of windchimes. Amidst volcanic outbursts.
An easy catharsis. A thawing ego.
A breach of trust. An act of betrayal.
A hop and a skip every now and then...
A staircase here. A brick wall there.
A blur. And a rainbow.
A skirmish. Or a war.
Bleeding hearts. And bruised souls.
Broken promises. And dreams realized.
A balmy embrace. A gasp for air.
A fall down the hill. With no direction home.
And a hop and a skip every now and then..

Life and I continue to be friends..

Inspired by this

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Awards Part 2

Ok, so D has been kind enough to give me this award. And I quote her :

"The Brilliant Weblog award- a prize given to sites and blogs that are smart and brilliant both in their content and their design. (Ahem!)
The purpose of the prize is to promote as many blogs as possible in the blogosphere. Here are the rules to follow:
1. When you recieve the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back
2. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.
3. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Brilliant Weblog’
4. Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize (optional).
5. And then we pass it on!"

And the seven brilliant weblogs I award are:

1. Nostalgic Chica : For the funny,yet endearing way she narrates her tales and because in every post of hers, I find a certain part of myself :)

2. Suki : For her brilliant style of writing and wonderful insights. And to think she`s just a kiddo! :-)

3.Mira`s Mom : For making such an interesting read out of a Mommy blog! I love the simplicity with which she narrates her tales.

4. Orange Jammies : For the poet in her, par excellence! You read her blog and think that is exactly what you might want to convey to the world. And yet,you never can.. She`s brilliant! Really!

5. Raising T : For being the wonderful Mommy she is,to Lil T. For the fabulous way she addresses her problems in life and finds simple solutions to them..all in her blog. I love to read her blogs, though I sure wish she`d publish more often :-) She`s one of the first blogs I got addicted to and one of the first bloggers who was kind enough to leave encouraging comments on my posts :-))

6. Chrysalis : For the brilliant and spirited posts on issues that all of us should spend time thinking about, even if for a little while..

7. Sukanya : For having the guts to bare it all. For the simplicity in her writing style that has me hooked!

One last note of thanks to D, for being sweet enough to acknowledge my presence in the blogosphere. And here`s hoping that we get to read more and more of her fabulous posts!

Awards Part 1

18 years back in time...
A little girl of twelve comes running through the kitchen door. The old sachel flying behind her,shirt hanging out and hair spilling out of the clutch. A sight to see. But her eyes say it all. And in her hand she tightly clutches the award she got at school. Excellence in various subjects. She won,after all. She`s not the useless brat people think she is.And Mommy pats her back,gives her a glass of lemonade and says, "Well done Baby. But who won the medal?"

8 years back in time...
A tired 20-something gets up to wash her face. Grabs a cup of coffee and sits down to study again. Nobody had said that Med School was easy. But then again, no one ever said it would be this hard. But she knows she has to go on. Violently rubbing off the sleep from her eyes, she roams around the hostel corridor, reading, memorizing, struggling to keep afloat. People swim past her in aggressive strokes. All illusions shatter. An intelligent young woman,set out to be the greatest doctor in the world, now stands by and watches people swim towards the finishing line. While all this time, with her head under water, she struggles to stay afloat.Coming up for gasps of air now and then.

5 years back in time...
Limping along, she`s managed just fine. All around friends and college mates take to the winning stand,while she slowly bumps along. People turn back with eyes of pity.Sometimes even disgust. Some think she may have been on drugs.While others think she`s fallen into 'wrong' company(?!!). Why else would a smart young girl ,who set out to win the world, somehow get confined to the last staggering few.. But she carries on,mindless to the insanity of the world around her. Bumping along ragged unknowns.Shoulders drooping. Spirits soaring.

1.5 years back in time...
A woman sits by the window of her favourite coffee shop and looks at the world racing by. She no longer feels the need to join the race. She`s content to sit by and watch the rats win. Not overtly happy. But reasonably content. And at peace. Here she sits, waiting by the window for The G to show up. And thinks of what to write on her next post. It started of as a past time.Her Blog. Her space. But grew in proportions to become her life line. As readers increased and comments flowed in, she felt something stir inside. A longing for a stamp of approval that is not hers. Vignettes of appreciation now and then. And nameless, faceless friends. Warm hugs and hand-clasps across the web.What she lacked in reality, she got it here,in this space.

And now...
A young woman of 30, comes running through the kitchen door. Purse flying behind her, shirt tucked out and hair spilling out of the clutch. A sight to see. But her eyes say it all. And in her mind, she tightly hugs onto the award, that D so sweetly awarded to her.
"The Brilliant Weblog award- a prize given to sites and blogs that are smart and brilliant both in their content and their design."
The G looks up startled, wondering if she`s sick. And then the words spill out. She`s won after all. She`s not the useless brat people think she is. And The G pats her back, gives her a glass of lemonade(albeit a lil spiked! Apple Bee are you reading ;-) ) and says, " You so deserve it,Baby!"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Aaaaahhhh!! :-))

Hey People! Its working! My laptop started working again! Just like that! Boy, am I relieved or Am I Relieved!! Going over some of the 'Greek' IBM Thinkpad sites, I think I diagnosed what the problem was. Looks like the poor baby went into hibernation because of over-charged batteries!! I had not the faintest inkling that such things could occur! The whole episode scared the living daylights out of me. I`m taking extra care to see that the batteries are only half charged now! Gosh! What a day its been!
My earnest plea to any and all techies reading this post. Is this hibernation thing for real? Could there be any other problem with the darn thing? What,if any at all, precautions can I take to avoid such hair-raising, bone-chilling episodes in future??
p.s - A Big Hug to Suki for her response :-))


You know how there are times in people^s lives when they look at others in distress,click their tongues, roll their eyes in pity and say , ´All shall be fine´,while they smugly think that this could never happen to them?
Well, this is one such time in my life!
Just yesterday I was reading Suki^s post about some trouble that she had with her laptop and I sat back on the couch with a cup of coffee,passing smug, smart-ass comments on her space-
And Lo and Behold!
Today my Laptop crashed! I^m still in disbelief. Have been trying to start the darn thing since morning now. Any techies reading my blog? Help!! Cant believe this happened...

P:S Have been using the public computer here in the guest house. The rackety old keys are making an awful lot of noise, as I^m furiously typing away .
And exasperated students trying to study in the commonroom are staring at me with killer eyes. I glare back.
´My laptop just crashed´ I say, in an effort to draw some sympathy.
But the students have just about had it.
One comes up, pats my back by way of consolation and says, ´I^m sorry for you mate. ´
´Still,´ he continues, `Just dont push it..`

I^m beating a hasty retreat! Any techies?? Pleeeeaaasseeee Help!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Fairest Place on Earth.. - William Wordsworth

Home to The Beatles and The Pink Floyd. To Charles Darwin,William Shakespeare and Lord Byron. To Wordsworth, Jane Austen and William Byrd. To Issac Newton and Captain James Cook. And that is to name a few..

The pints of cider just taste better out here and the smiles seem more genuine. The Sun more guarded. The moors greener. The air more crisp. The sheep look up startled. While the ducks simply mock at tourists in wooden punts.
The unspoilt English countryside. Just as I had imagined it would be.
We gratefully took the opportunity to take a load off and escape the chaos of routine life. Destination - Lancaster and The Lake District,including Grasmere,Windermere and Ambleside.
I relaxed completely(for a change!), lazed around, ate lovely home cooked meals(including tandoori chicken,chicken sausage kathi rolls and phuchka, no less!!) and spent a fair amount of time letting my shoulders unknot the prior weeks of tension.
There's so much to tell. Ingrained in my mind is the image of a family reading,eating or watching t.v, while curled up near a heat convector, tossing ideas of life plans into the mix and stretching out like cats. And all along,a little bundle of joy purring contently in his rocker, occasionally looks up and smiles.
Amidst all this, we also managed to wander around the countryside from one leisurely activity to the next, with a strict "no-planned-fun" policy.
One August afternoon post-lunch, we headed out towards the countryside. A tad too often I did think of buying a pair of Wellies(Kate Moss style,no less).But promptly let go of the idea for fear of outrightly appalling The G and his family! A perfect day in August. To a perfect place for repose. With perfect company.

The trip was splendid. An endless patchwork of fields, moors and dales, with an occasional break for a tiny little wooden fence.
Green,rambling hills stretching endlessly. Old stone cottages, skittish rabbits. Rambling rose bushes. Feisty roosters. Random sheep wandering about,alongside the narrow winding roads and rustic footpaths. The sights and sounds yet untouched by the passage of time.
Farmers still building wood and stone pasture walls by hand, years of history in each perfectly placed rounded rock. Here time stands still and the pace is relaxed.
We took a walk through the Grasmere village. Over wooden bridges and stoned pathways.Where you look over your shoulders every now and then,expecting to see a horse-drawn buggy. And you almost do. A unique mosaic of lakes, tarns and rivers, linked by wooden bridges. Houses with finishes of lime wash and distinct use of granite,sandstone or limestone for details. Rose bushes creeping up on the moss-covered stony walls in unexpected warmth. And bushy hedegrows fiercely guarding the little cottages. Walking across the fells or climbing their crags felt strangely liberating. Like I was free to breathe again.
The walk took us to the burial sites of Wordsworth and his family. And I wondered if the great poet actually layeth below!
Also worth mentioning is a Wishing Well in the centre of the village. Where I was so taken in, craning my neck and peering inside the cold,stony walls of the well, that while backing of,I bumped into an old farmer on his evening walk and profusely apologized to his unsuspecting dog!
We also walked by the Dove Cottage - where Wordsworth spent a large chunk of his professional life. Easy to see exactly what brought out the poet in him! By the way, has anyone read 'Dorothy Wordsworth`s Grasmere Journal'?
It eloquently describes her life in the Lake District along with her brother William Wordsworth. And I`ve heard its a must-read.
So anyway, we were warmly welcomed by most people and sized up by awkward glances from the locals every now and then. Slowly as the spirit of the countryside seeped into each one of us, we gave up on etiquette and the cheesy jokes began to fly back and forth. But somewhere amidst all the euphoria, I sensed a little something tug at my heart. A feeling so empty.Yet it weighed down on me. Something so intangible that I couldnt really grasp it. Yet it continued to disquiet me with its blue fangs. And as we drove back home into the sunset, it suddenly became clear. I miss our home, The G`s and mine. I so miss the ease of mind that comes from familiarity and routine. And so, no matter how splendid the journey or how fair the destination, I just cant wait to get back home..

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pictures of our trip to Lancaster and the Lake District

The Answer is Blowing in the Wind..

The nation has been 'blazing'. Literally. Serial blasts. Unprecedented violence and mass massacre. Mass killings at the hands of our very own Police force, not to mention terrorist activities, have become the latest fad. First Bangalore.Then Ahmedabad, where the sick and the grieving were targeted in hospital attacks. Followed by Jaipur, Surat and places in U.P and Jharkhand. Not to forget the Nandigram massacre on the orders of the Left Front Government, to stamp out protests against the Government`s plans for a Special Economic Zone. And now Jammu is burning. Unmerciful killings in broad daylight. Darkness at noon. Land turned into burial grounds. Nourished solely by a red,bloody alluvion.
The past year has been a bloodbath where all fellow Indians, irrespective of caste,creed or religion are forced to dive in.
And here we are celebrating the 62nd year of Indian Independence, like there`s no tomorrow. Probably because there really isnt.
Its a little scary to look around and see the callousness of the Government and its people alike. Are we getting used to terror?
Happy Independence Day to All Fellow Indians!
Yes, we have attained Independence.
But when will we be free..?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Goodbye People..

Hello People,
I`m off.. Visiting The G`s family in UK first. And then to Germany. Shall be a lil irregular with my blogs until the 14th. Thereafter, updates from the Land of Cuckoo clocks and beer :)
So long, Farewell.. Auf weidersehen...Goodbye for now.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Hard Day`s Work..

The G and I finally bought ourselves this L-shaped table, spreading across the two walls of the home office,on the far side of the room. Nothing spectacular about it except that it seemed sturdy enough to bear the weight we were planning to burden it with. And like all good things from Ikea, we had to assemble the darn thing ourselves.
So last night after dinner,we set out to make ourselves the table ,that lay in front of us in small bars of wood and steel. The home office was a mess. Papers, nails, hammer, screws, blades and what have you - strewn all over the place. All the tools we`d ever require, lay there right in front of us. We started out with the smaller pieces first. Adding a layer of cohesion here. Fixing up a few disjointed parts there. Drilling in screws. Tightening the bolts for strength. Giving some leeway and letting loose for some flexibility at the hinge. Misinterpreting the users manual at times. Arguing over the routes to take and vehemently defending our own wrong decisions, only to realize later. And then undoing parts of it and redesigning again to set things right. Bruised by a sharp edge here. Patching up a few harsh exchanges there. Singing along with the radio. Sometimes disagreeing. But mostly content to be working together. The quiet amidst the chaos, a hushed testimony to all the hopeful anticipation in our souls. The realization that I was more skilled in certain parts and that he was good in the others. That our combined efforts were greater than the sum of its parts. And finally after a few hours of struggle and synergistic efforts put together, a whole path of emotions traversed - from hesitation, doubt and skepticism about how it would all turn out, to anger and despair at taking the wrong turns, frustration at having to undo things and start afresh to the sheer euphoria of having reached one`s goal - here I am sitting and admiring a thing of beauty. One that I helped create. And I am left wondering if it isnt the same with our relationships...

Friday, August 1, 2008


Having read NC`s post, I have not stopped wondering. Where are my roots? What does the word mean anyway?

The online dictionary states :

1. The underground portion of a plant that serves as support, draws minerals and water from the surrounding soil ; may be embedded and not always visible and sometimes stores food.

{* For starters, I`m not a plant! Hence the fact that I really cant seem to find my roots!
*And secondly,Parts of me that store food arent necessarily 'underground' or 'not visible'! }
Cant believe my sense of humour! Must go drown!
*Piper heads for the lake..!*

2. A base or essential support, a basic core

{ Where is my base? Who, until now, have I ever depended upon for support in any form? Never have. I`ve never really *belonged* anywhere. Yes, my nomadic existence for most parts of life,without a fixed domicile(or atleast the parts I was grown-up enough to register) had been harnessed into a circumscribed (w)hole, demanded by traditional family and friends. But could anybody at any time harness the soul? For years, I have allowed myself to drift along with the flow. Herded into a line of mediocres and coerced into accepting the daily bread. Sometimes wilfully. Mostly, clawing back. Struggling to hold onto one sunbeam and spread my roots into the soil. Fighting to get a foothold, to stand up erect. To flourish. To flower.
And until The G came along, I had been an autumn leaf in the fall.

3. A primary source; an origin; A progenitor or ancestor

Does the word 'roots' simply refer to the ancestor or the progenitor, or the stone-aged traditions and cultures that have been imbibed from them over a lifetime? And if that is the case, which I strongly suspect it is, then I will forever remain as uprooted as I sometimes feel. For, I will never allow myself to be defined by certain irrational rules laid down by a rural society,unless I see some intelligent logic in it. I would much rather exercise my own discretion - however big an act of indiscretion that may be! I always do. No matter what amount of unadulterated,unconcealed disgust be thrown my way. One cant always expect to live life as if it were a universal popularity contest! One would much rather live according to one`s own terms, rather than waltzing to others`.

4. Roots - The state of having or establishing an indigenous relationship with or a personal affinity for a particular culture, society, or environment

I have no personal affinity for any one particular culture or society - just as I have no personal dislike for any. I live my life the way I want to. Always have. Most think , that`s a crazy way to live. But that`s the only way I know. Or none at all. I have come across zillions from all walks of life. And I have continued to imbibe the things that have fascinated me and shunned those that havent. Does that make me any less an Indian than others? Does that make me any less a human being than others?

Some ofcourse might disagrees. They may find my rebellion against all age-old traditions overly teen-age and imbecile. Infact a friend once said to me that if traditions were not there to bind a society together, we would all run amok. Society would lose its social fabric. There would be a murderous frenzy if all were to do just what they deemed fit.
Today I feel like trampling on the neighbours` flower-beds. Where are my garden shoes?. Oh,wait a minute. Better still, know what I really feel like doing? Shooting down their cat. Where`s my gun?.. Ok you get the gist.
Rules are there for a reason. To restrain humanity. And compell our animal instincts into playing dead. Moreover, my friend argued that most people in various social fabrics in our country are pretty much comfortable with the way society functions. Why,most would never have left the warm shelter of their homes to venture out into the big,bad world. They would be content living their lives by the rule-book, never wanting to 'uproot' their 'normal' existences. Why on earth do I want to change any of that?
I dont.. But I`m entitled to my opinions, am I not??
I have nothing against people who find their roots in the age-old customs and traditions of their nation, their religion, their communities or even in their family heritage. All I`m saying is that I just dont seem to find mine..
However on some deeper reflection, I realize that I do find myself missing home every now and then. All the little things, you know.
At times The G and I even discuss plans of returning back. And I think to myself - perhaps I am inseparably bonded to the motherland by this slimy umbilical cord, that remained an unscathed whole through all these years. And even though I do manage to grabble at it now and then, it slithers through my fingers and out of reach,before I can catch hold of a scissor and slash it off.

I`m not like a tree with thick woody trunks and well-defined roots that dig deep into the earth for a stronger foothold. And come spring, bursts forth into a leafy mosaic of green and yellow.
Perhaps I`m just a floating plant. Keeping my head above water. Flourishing. Flowering. And swimming alongside the tide with my sauntering roots..