My Moms Mango Tree

Naanis Mango Tree

My mom and I planted this tree at our home many decades ago.

It has seen two generations clamber onto its welcoming and sturdy branches. They are the ultimate playground for every age group (barring my moms, I think 😂)

No visit of mine is complete without reacquainting myself with this beautiful tree. It welcomes me like an old, dear friend, helps me find the best way up and holds me gently on its moss covered branches. It’s perfect for summer, it’s foliage of leaves giving out cool vapours and a faint, refreshing aroma. I can sit on this tree for hours, with or without a book or sketch pad.

Many years back, my son and I wrapped some money in a polythene and hid it in the vicinity of the tree. Neither he nor I remember where our ‘hidden treasure’ is! Digging around Moms tree will bring down unimaginable wrath, as only my nature loving mother can shower😶!

My kids write about this tree in their creative writing classes and attach many pleasing memories to it, much as one would to a dearly loved relative. 😁

I hug it goodbye, everytime I leave my moms home. Sometimes I visit it even if our home is locked and my mom is travelling out of station.🙄

To say that nature relieves one of stress is an understatement… It imparts relaxation and a unique acceptance of ones so called ‘failures and successes’ . In being steadfast, it tells us that everything changes, but the core remains the same. In giving fruits intermittently, it tells us that time is never wasted, it is being used for higher goals. It also tells us that rest is vital and one should not feel guilty taking it….😊

But most importantly, it seems to say, ‘Take your time… You are precious, just the way you are… 💕’

#😊 #SimplePleasuresofLife #joy


Run in Haste, Repent at Leisure… 😊 Travelogue 

Run in Haste, Repent at Leisure

I overslept.

As I came to my senses, the first thing that crossed my mind was, “Breakfast!!!”

Those who choose ‘Breakfast Complimentary’ while booking a hotel, know what I mean 😊.

With the threat of a deadline looming large and the vivid images of empty buffet tables, I rushed to the food zone, grabbing only my room key, a shawl and slippers. I could bring my tray up and then become presentable, I reasoned. How wrong was I!

As the lift opened into the lobby, every chair was taken by neatly turned out senior citizens, waiting to check out.

All eyes turned to the elevator by way of entertainment… And boy… Did they get some! There they sat, in their Khaki and Blues, moccasins and berets, a casual jacket hanging on the chair…. And here I was, PJ’s and Kholapuris, checkered shawl and odd shirt, hair tied into a hasty Bun, that was still crackling with an odd static that had energised it since my landing. All stray hair were defying gravity and pointing heavenward. 😁

Quizzical looks were being shared between cool pastel eyes, aquamarine looked at sea green and hazel at powder blue. They must have wondered if an ‘Emergency Evacuation’ button had been pressed that their hearing-aids had failed to detect.

I mustered the courage and stepped out, a bright smile plastered on my face. I picked up the last remaining tray, placed the last remaining banana on it. I made a gooey oatmeal concoction and a cocktail of all remaining cereals. I also picked up two yogurts instead of one, just to show them!

As I turned to wait for the lift, that obviously took forever to come, I could again feel my back being pierced by sundry pastel eyes. I took a deep breath and relaxed my shoulders whilst tightening my grip on the tray, after all, having it fall here would be the final nail on my proverbial, ‘dignity coffin’!

The elevator pinged. I readied myself to step in with as much grace as possible …but couldn’t.

There was a lift load more, waiting to disembark 🙄. I moved to the side and was once again the recipient of some amused appraisal.

Finally, I reached my room with my breakfast safe and wholesome and my dignity in tatters!

I peeped from my window to see their coach arrive. As they waddled out in single file, a line crossed my mind…

“What you think is your greatest embarrassment is but a momentary entertainment for another… “

That gave me some hope and a new resolve…

To never sleep in mismatched clothes again! 😀😂

Travel Tango 😊

My room overlooks a parking lot. It fills up gradually during the day and empties out in the evening. At both times, if I am in my room, I have a mug of tea in my hands.

My room also overlooks a half-way home for people recovering from addiction. When I cross this home during my evening walk, I see a face peering out sometimes. A stranger fighting battles, scarred and scared. When our eyes meet he lets the curtain fall back slowly and disappears.

I walk along my way, treading on strange streets with names like Elf, Elba and Erwin. A far cry from Khel Gaon, Balbir Saxena or Mandi Gaon. Yet walk, I do. In walking I realise just how much the body craves routine. So I start my day with some yoga. The gentle stretching seems to soothe the tired muscles and makes me more aware of what’s happening inside my body. The ankles seem strained, the neck could do with a gentle massage. The hair is crying out for a good wash with its favourite shampoo, the nostrils want a whiff of elaichi and ginger chai, even if its premixed.

Outside my shut door, I hear a family walk down the aisle. Little children scampering, chatting in foreign accents. A mother with a patient voice, a tone that is universally understood.

Travelling pushes me into unfamiliar situations and I am always curious about my reactions to them. Missed flights, lost baggage, endless queues for immigration when one only wants to move on…. Ending up with Uber drivers who tell their amazing stories of leaving behind wars and families, of starting over in alien nations with no way to communicate, no familiar face, no welcoming hugs. Total isolation, yet a strange will to never give in and never give up. In front of these stories I have nothing to say or add.

My last Uber driver was from Sudan. 

He asked me about how many colours Indians came in! Having observed a great variety of them. I told him that we came in all the colors that coffee can be made in 😊. We chatted about his time in the US and he spoke about his dream of clearing his citizenship exam so that he could go back home and marry the girl his father had selected for him. He said by Sudanese standards he was already quite old. At which point I asked him his age. ‘Thirty-Eight,’ he replied. 

‘Whats yours?’ I pretended to look shocked and told him one never asks a woman her age. We both laughed and he told me that I was being very clever in not answering 😁

Then he asked me my name, which I gave him promptly and when I asked him his, he refused, saying that now we were equal! 

Oh, how we laughed! Two strangers in a cab, connected by peals of laughter. Before I left, he yelled out, ‘Mohammed!’ 

And I waved back at him and said, ‘I feel eighteen!!’

#travel #travelogues #durhamdiaries

A Beautiful Book.. 😊

I must have seen this cover a hundred times, yet I can’t get over the beauty of it! The colours, the expression, the textures… All are a work of extreme purity. 

Now, to come to what’s between the covers… Pure excellence.

Meandering between three decades, starting from the art and life of the first female Dutch artist to be invited to join the Artists Guild in 1600s, to present day New York of 2000 and a painting called, ‘At the Edge of the Wood’ and it’s forgery. Three alternating timelines and locations and their impact on the lives of different people, is done masterfully by Dominic Smith. 

I couldn’t agree more with the ‘People’ magazine review… “This beautiful meditation on love, loss, and art is as luminous as a Vermeer. ‘

Loved every word of this fabulous book.

Words Worth

I see them floating around, pieces of paper, like confetti, carrying differently coloured words….disappointed…happy…maybe… been planning…so sad…glad…will do…nature…love…children…
All these are snippets of pages from ancient diaries, diaries maintained over years, never re-visited, re-read yet carrying the ominous burden of the past. Stories about real and imagined hurts, extreme happiness, earth shattering sadness, tales about life-altering decisions and completely misjudged predictions of the future. At the end of it, this is all they are…a collection of words used to express the ephemeral nature of the emotions one is going through in the process of living. At that time they act as valves, helping one let off steam or gain perspective, but then their work is done. Holding on to them is like trying to grasp at shadows.
Therefore, I systematically tear them to bits and throw them up and they fall around me like refreshing rain. It is a hugely cathartic experience, like a ritual cleansing, like taking a long soak and watching the dirt move away, leaving a fresh and clear feeling in its wake.
It has been said, “Never make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions.”
These written words serve the purpose of showing just how temporary these emotions really are, how quickly they change colour and just how important it is to recognise them for this quality. There is nothing permanent about them, the feebleness of the word, “Never” or the fragility of the word, “Always”. In a non-permanent world, they fool us into believing that it will be different for us, that we will buck the trend.
What they serve to show is that, permanence is the biggest fallacy and change is the undisputed constant.
As I sit in a sea of floating words, I let go of all that I thought was permanent and train myself to enjoy the only thing that is…this simple, beautiful, present moment.
And true to my nature..I reach for a pen to record this new, life-altering insight. 🙂

My Place in the Woods

My place in the Woods

I have been a lover of words for as long as I can remember. Like a rag picker I gather and store them. I have kept diaries and I have kept scraps of paper. I have cut out inspiring paragraphs from magazines and newspaper way before they were read by the rest of the family and been suitably admonished.

These diaries and words have been a true witness to the unfolding of my life. Like the rings in the trunk of a tree, they have helped me uncover the truth about myself and followed my personal and spiritual growth. By guiding me gently like fire flies in the dark, they have shown me the road down which I should travel in order to be peaceful and happy.

I write about a beautiful bird observed, a book that inspired, a movie seen, an exhibition visited, a memory recovered and saved from oblivion, an artwork that made me happy. As the subconscious desires and fears come to the fore from the dark recesses of the mind, the mere act of writing becomes cathartic.

 I find myself a quiet spot. In the stillness of the early morning hours, the empty page stares at me and greets me like an old friend. I am ready to chart the flight of my thoughts. The pristine whiteness of the page soothes my mind. Even before I have written anything I am calmed. With the process of writing I get in touch with that part of my soul which is nurtured by silence and blossoms with the light of attention.

My pen twirls expectantly in my impatient fingers, waiting for me to make the first move. I have been looking forward to this moment all morning. Chores over, hot cup of coffee by my side, a warm, welcoming silence all around, in this all-pervading silence, I wait to ensnare inspiration like butterflies in a net.

All I get is grey blankness.

I desperately want to write something exciting today.

I want to write a story using words that are fresh as summer rain and evoke happiness and joy. Words that will inspire me and their reader equally, yet try as I might, the right words elude me, whatever I write seems trite and clichéd. Is this really what I want to convey, I wonder? A dull, brown pall surrounds me. Yet, I persist, hacking into the dictionary and the thesaurus for new words and more agile sentences. Sentences that dance to their own tunes and make people sit up and take note of their existence. I know there`s a story within me that needs to be told. What is it? I need to find out, so I plod on…urging the dullness to lift and be replaced by something pulsating and bright.

After writing mounds of pages I realise the futility of the effort.  The stress I am putting on myself ensures that all creativity and spontaneity gets killed. I crumple them in disgust, not so sure of myself any longer. As the coffee cools by the side of the table, I feel my enthusiasm ebb away. Thoughts are already flitting around in my head…swarming around to let me know just how useless I am and how nothing of any worth will ever come out of me. As I flick them away with an impatient hand, I recall beautifully strung words…words which make sentences of such purity that they tug at the heartstrings. I take out my diary and read those sentences…collected painstakingly over years of reading. I forget myself and revel in someone else`s gift with the written word.

I thank the insight that spurred me to note down all that I admired in another`s writing. The clarity, the precision, the brevity, the eking out of the essence of wisdom is nothing short of miraculous. In those comforting pages of the written words, I lose myself. As I skim through impossibly perfect sentences, I come across words that could have been noted down for this very day…

“The woods will be very silent, if only those birds sang, that sang the best…”

Magically, I find my place, a place that no one was taking from me, but one that I was willing to give up, voluntaril. Now I tell myself, not without a fight…

I make a fresh cup of coffee and get down to the joy of writing.

I smile…