Sunny With An Occasional Chance of Rainfall!

Dancing in the rain….

Image courtesy: I’m Falling Into Memories Wall by `smashmethod on deviantART

“Most things are forgotten over time. Even the war itself, the life-and-death struggle people went through is now like something from the distant past. We’re so caught up in our everyday lives that events of the past are no longer in orbit around our minds. There are just too many things we have to think about everyday, too many new things we have to learn. But still, no matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away. They remain with us forever, like a touchstone.” ― Haruki Murakami

Not really living,I was busily walking around my life. Rearranging happy anecdotes, dusting away the strife. (Should I have visitors), I wanted it to appear perfect! And along the way earn myself a few stars I expect.

So I existed but secretly waited, for life to come by. Instead came the seasons. Yet, life was too shy. My impatience grew at being passed over “I just want to live!”, said I in a petulant manner. A knock on the door and taps on the pane, Love beckoned me to dance in the rain. I couldn’t deny the outstretched arm, so I followed his lead, unsure at first. It conquered my soul and fulfilled me such – an eternal spring to quench my thirst.

The day is long gone but the memory has stayed. Like a lodestone it sets course when my priorities are swayed. If ever rendered immobile with arthritic feet,this will be my refuge, my nostalgic retreat. A safe haven to escape the pain, and surrender to the memory of dancing in the rain….

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And then I go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like “I love you”

No, this is not related to the song by RW. This is more to do with my ruminations over a recent experience.  Thanks to the wide reach of social networking I happened to get in touch with a girl I’d been to kindergarten with. That was over twenty years ago and even then we were not on such pally terms so as to swear life-long friendship. Therefore, the friend request received one fine morning was almost destined to be declined. Yet the fingers lingered, something stirred deep within, the mind pondered (you get the picture) and about ten minutes later, the request accepted. That she lived in the vicinity was an added incentive.

After a few days of hanging out online we decided to meet for coffee. “It would be fun to catch up and share memories of old times”, she added cheerfully. Er…”Houston we have a problem”, thought yours truly. The nervousness was justifiable since the extent of my shared past with her spanned learning the alphabets and Itsy Bitsy spider. We had gone to different schools and cities thereafter. In a moment of crisis this is how I imagined the meeting would go. Let’s call this new friend J to maintain anonymity.

Me- Hey! long time… How have you been?

J- Yeah I know! [Gives short description of life thus far]. What’s up with you?

Me- Oh nothing much [ volunteer an even shorter description of life thus far, I am tongue-tied that way]

J and I order our coffees. In a moment of optimism I super-size my Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino. Orders arrive and we settle into comfortable conversation.

J- Hey do you remember those days when Miss T. taught us the alphabets? It took me so long to sing L-M-N-O-P-Q the right way!

Me (smiling)- yes me too! I would always end up singing Elo-Melo-P-Q!!

J (all excited) – And, and do you remember the Itsy Bitsy spider?

Me- Yes, remember how Miss T. taught us the dance along with it and we performed on Annual day?

J- Umm no, I wasn’t part of it.

Me- Oh

J- Hey but the “Go-as-you-like” competition was great too! I was dressed as a pirate? What were you?

Me- Er, I wasn’t part of that competition.

This is that awkward moment when you have run out of things to say and your coffee can’t end soon enough!

Thankfully the actual experience wasn’t quite so horrific, in fact far from it. Though shared memories didn’t go beyond the aforementioned arachnid we did find plenty of other stuff to talk about. Soon it was time to leave. We made further plans of catching up and I was happy at the thought of having enjoyable company and who knows potential friendship too.

This is when she killed my thought bubble. How? Her exact words were ” See you, take care! I love you!” This is when my smile froze. What was I to say? That I loved her too? But I couldn’t right? Because I don’t! I have only just met her. Isn’t love reserved for people you really love and when you say it to them you mean it from deep within your heart? Is it really to be tossed around superficially or maybe confused with like? I don’t know. I changed school remember? Maybe I missed the memo.In the end I could only say “See you” and walk away hoping she did not notice the time lapse between her comment and my response.

What do you think? Has this happened to you too?

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Chastened.

The picture clicked by my husband had inspired the following write-up (sometime in 2008). It remains one my favorites still.

Image (C)-Anindo Basu -Trip to Nandi Hills 2008

I looked up at the trees, their branches spreading far & wide,

A fusion of brown & green, without a single bloom in sight.

 

Embracing each other, valiantly trying to blot out the sky,

An intricate work of lace they look, I thought with a pitying sigh.

 

Thinking it wise to point it out, I spoke to them in a kind voice,

“You form a patchwork on the azure canvas”, said I, bereft of choice.

 

Happy to have enlightened them, I waited to hear a grateful reply,

Instead they maintained a gentle repose, as though it were all a lie.

 

Indignant at having been spurned, I ploughed on with increasing zeal,

“How foolish to fight the mighty one, when you don’t even reach its heel!”

 

“And you are not even all that pretty,” I threw in for added measure,

Unaware of my pettiness, I smiled smugly, consumed in pervert pleasure.

 

At last, the trees looked at me, and spoke, as a gentle breeze caressed my face,

“Dear one, don’t mistake us as one of you, your dreams are not for us to chase.

 

Beauty, power, fame or wealth matter not, what matters is that we are free,

Caught up within your worldly charms, that our friend you can never be!”

 

Humbled by this glaring truth, past offences made my conscience prick,

I felt ashamed of all the dreams that were thus far immortalized in brick.

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A secret

It’s a summer day in Kolkata. The weather is sultry and the sun blazes mightily. Inside the 11th grade classroom, the teacher tries to hammer in the implications of simple harmonic motion to a set of indifferent students that are surreptitiously stealing glances at the clock. It is the last period of the day and cannot end soon enough. A girl passes a note to the boy on the next bench. The boy reads and then pledges complicity. The bell rings. Students rush out to crowd around the ice-cream seller. The boy and the girl do not join them. They have their own plans and proceed accordingly.

They leave separately. The girl arrives early and waits at the agreed place for rendezvous. It’s the dilapidated compound of the erstwhile police quarters. Usually deserted during the day but rumoured to be the haven of shady activities by night. The girl feels a little uncomfortable and hopes that the boy would hurry. The boy in the meanwhile, takes a circuitous route to avoid detection and the ensuing questions from nosy neighbours, or worse, being dragged home by his strict elder brother. After what seems like ages, the boy arrives. The girl is a little miffed at having to wait but decides to forgive seeing him breathless and soaked in sweat. They look around to double check if there are any known faces around. There aren’t. Satisfied, they hold hands and smile; eyes shining with the knowledge of guilty pleasure they are about to partake.

A little ahead a man waits for them, same place, same time, as always. The boy pays him. The man nods and then sets to task. The girl watches the man in giddy anticipation while the boy watches her intently. He shouldn’t encourage this habit which has become an addiction, he muses. But they are young and in love! Moral scruples at that age are easily overcome with the desire to see your dear one happy.

At last the man is done and hands over the two paper packets to the loyal customers. The girl takes a small bite, closing her eyes in pleasure, she rolls the first morsel inside her mouth, feeling the potato, tamarind chutney, and green chilies  come together in perfect harmony. She is oblivious to the rest of the world. This moment, this bite, is her one addiction, her one escape. She suffers from a medical condition and has been under a strict antibiotic regime for the whole of last year. The onslaught of bitter medicines have blunted her taste buds and the only thing she craves for is denied to her. She had entreated, pleaded, begged even till the boy had agreed. This rupee 1 worth of aloo chaat after school was their one little secret. Did the seller know how much it meant to those two young people? Maybe he did, maybe he did not.

The remnants are polished off quickly, a bottle of water guzzled down to wash off traces and the girl runs off to take an auto rickshaw home. She basks in the after taste. She thinks about him. Feeling secure that she can trust him she loves him even more. The boy watches till the auto fades out of sight and makes his journey home, caught up  in his own thoughts…

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In case you are wondering what made the girl drool, here is a recipe of the aloo chaat. Bon apatite!

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A different perspective

When I first became acquainted with the concept of Daylight Saving,  it signified nothing more than a source of inconvenience to me. For all us folks from countries close to the Equator, all it meant was to have to reschedule calls depending on whether the rest was on DLS mode or not.

Last Sunday, DLS crept in again on us unsuspecting (or not in touch with the local news) folks. Weekends are the days to sleep in for most people. So is the case with us.  Pondering over the deliciousness of the Sunday that lay ahead, I lazily opened an eye to look at the time. It should be 11ish, thought my naive self supported by my experienced biological clock. Na-ah, 12:30 pm it is! The evil green digital clock informed me obdurately. Optimistically thinking it should be a technical glitch, I turned towards the cell phone for solace. No luck. Realization dawned – darn DLS! I was outraged at being cheated out of a precious Sunday hour, and consequently upped the crankiness quotient on my otherwise pleasing personality.

After an inordinately late lunch, we decided to go out for a walk. (Gasp! My legs did remember their job and had not atrophied in the last 3 months of being snowed in). The  weather was nice but I was wary. Sensing my misgivings, Spring sent in its messenger, the good old red breasted robin to announce the season’s arrival. On cue, a few hares jumped out of the bushes to greet us but disappeared just as quickly. They could have been relatives of the W. Rabbit muttering “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”  Neighbors, whose faces I’d not seen so far were out too, smiling, soaking up the sunshine, and preparing the grills for the BBQ parties. Cheers to the joy of waving goodbye to the vestiges of winter and welcoming spring! All this at 7 in the evening when the sun was yet to set. A full one hour later than usual! It’s not so bad after all, DLS has returned the stolen hour, I realized happily.

Later in the evening, as I was clearing up the remains of dinner, H commented “Darn DLS! Now I’ll have to reschedule the calls with the offshore guys again.”

What can I say? Some things never change 😉

P.S.-  Here’s an article on DST and the raging debate on its usefulness. Turns out we aren’t the only ones questioning the futility of the concept.

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The revenge of the avocado

I bought my first ever avocado the other day. Its plethora of nutritional benefits (with a svelte figured model gleefully enjoying an avocado smoothie) have pounded our consciousness for years now. This miracle fruit can be called an angel if such categorization was allowed in the fruit world…you get the drift. So, I decided to give in to the call of the healthy life.

Now, avocado never being part of the diet while I was growing up, left me clueless about how to deal with it. Day 1 therefore saw the aforementioned fruit being respectfully placed on the fruit rack along with the mangoes and watermelon. I can’t be sure but I think I saw it (let’s call it A. for short) roll away towards the other side. A. sure liked to preserve its special status, no hobnobbing with the commoners, this fella.

Day 2 to day 5 were spent eating mangoes and watermelon which were more than eager to show me their pretty faces, A. being blissfully erased from the memory. Day 6- the husband while clearing the refrigerator chanced upon the truant A. and drew my attention to it. Ah yes A.how could i forget thee? I hastily googled possible recipes that would allow me to max out the nutritional benefits yet not be time consuming. Beetroot avocado soup- very high on the health quotient and therefore correspondingly low on the like-ability index. Naturally, out of question. Finally, settling on a smoothie (wonder where that idea came from!) I set to task. Cutting open A. I smelled it. It smelled of vegetable, I noted surprised and discouraged. Too late to back out, i went ahead with the next steps. Scoop – season – blitz – taste. Reaction, ” Eww, now I know why babies don’t like it!” Anyway not one to waste food, I added in the milk and set the blender in motion one more time. Now it was time to pinch my nose and gulp down the concoction. But the lid of the blender jar just won’t open. I gently coaxed, applied pressure and tried every trick to get the lid to open but it remained unmoved.Pun intended. Finally, in a moment of frustration I yanked it off. Whoosh! Yes, splashed in smoothie stood my battered self, assessing the damage around. It appears A. was quite off put by my blatant disregard for itself. Enraged, it had entered into cahoots with my otherwise well-behaved blender jar and the rest is history.

The A. had extracted its revenge (yes it was cold) and I have learnt my lesson i.e. we just wouldn’t click so no point trying to introduce any bonhomie between us. I’d however tip my hat as my mark of respect next time I am passing the avocado aisle in the supermarket. Can’t risk  avocados in various stages of ripening flying out at me, angered no doubt over some perceived sense of  disrespect on my part!

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Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans – John Lennon

Oh what infinite joy is it to live life! And more so when you are finally able to grasp the meaning of what ‘living’ actually constitutes.

Prior to my year long sabbatical, life used to be a series of tasks. I’d diligently make out lists everyday and check back at night. The number of tick marks  being directly proportional to my sense of fulfillment/ accomplishment for the day! Yes, a sad life I now know. However, in self-defense I can say it is easy to get carried away in a world where we are routinely subjected to comparisons, and scoffed at should we fail to make the cut. And being passed over is gut-wrenching to say the least. Hence willingly or not, we all participate in this debilitating  cosmic dance of envy, masques et al.

I always prided myself in being able to stay outside the circle, doing my own thing. I thought I knew what I wanted and had work-life balance mastered to the T. I would gladly dispense my 2 cents worth of advice to anyone who’d care to listen. Little did I know how guilty I was of not practising my own preaching. My standards were astronomically high, my peer group for comparison ridiculous. Needless to say I regularly set myself up for failure or rather what  failure meant as perceived by me. I was always in a state of emotional turmoil because I’d often confuse what I did with what I was. The huge load of activities I strove to fulfill each and every day would leave me in a perpetual state of tiredness, yet I trudged on. Who was I to defy Miss Perfection sitting on my head with a cracking whip! It turned into a vicious circle where I would hardly have time for myself. I slowly lost touch with myself, most friends and the joy of living. A few persistent friends, who knew better would badger me to join them for an occasional dinner or shopping spree and boy did I enjoy those little breaks! But my occluded vision would soon make me feel guilty of having a good time and I would rush to play the role of the perfect wife or perfect co-worker or whatever other role I was trying my hand at.

Zoom in to January 2012. The initial euphoria of seeing my husband after a long time has wore off. I have ample free time at hand to do just what I want except (surprise!) I don’t know what to do. It’s a pitiful state and I bemoan the fact that I  do not have  e-mails to check or presentations to dole out. I mean if I am not working isn’t it such a waste of my time?  How do I prove to the world that I’ve done something to justify my use of oxygen for the day? But gradually, all the jitters, the feelings of incompetence, the almost  pathological need to be doing something at all times disappeared to be replaced by a sense of ever lasting calm, better cooking (!), loads of reading, you know stuff that made me happy…

The eureka moment did not come accompanied with a sonic boom announcing its arrival. No, it was something like “aaah…mmm”. ‘Aaah’ being the moment when realisation dawned on me that I was aware of each and every moment of my life and not merely going through the motion of living. ‘Mmm’ owning to really good coffee! Told you, my cooking’s improved. 😉

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