Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Day Is Done

I am not particularly fond of reading poems, as it had always reminded me about the old yellowed school days, where I was very often asked to write detailed explanation about some inexplicable poems by some fabled poets from past.

Which, by the way, meant absolutely nothing to me, and I always got a Big Zero flanked by a Red cross.
Though my poetic sense of humor has very takers, but still I would dearly like to share this poem with you, I hope when you read this you would have a smile on your face, twinkle in your eyes and a lost thought in your mind.

What I like about this poem, is its simple narrative that transforms from a personal journey by the author to a much bigger walk of life that we take each day.

I feel that this poem talks about my feelings, my hopes and despair in this troubled times. I do believe that you might also find your inner voice in this. In true sense it’s simply ‘Poetic’.

THE DAY is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.


I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,

And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me
That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.

For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
And to-night I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I have been lately thinking

Sometimes when I close my eyes…I see those brilliant suns soaked days in my mountains…Absolute blue sky….gently floating cumulonimbus clouds…ever smiling faces on the doorstep….ringing bells of the nearest temples….a gentle lazy walk with my brother in the afternoon….or simply sitting on the rooftop…watching the sun going down….feeling the cold dampness in the wind…Those were perfect days…I had the time...I had the way....



I used to visit a small village in Uttarakhand for Durga Pujo celebration…organized by a some expat Bengalis from Rudrapur…Pujo was a normal smallish affair between the families….hardly 50 people gathered around dense poplar, geranium trees, near the tall ever green deodars….we would then put up our small shamiana over there…and have a small…rather reclusive Pujo…
I was on my first year of college…terribly upset about spending my time away from the brightly illuminated Raj path of Kolkata…I had plans with my friends for a night-out during Ashtomi i.e. the 8th day of Navaratri….all gone down the drain….Now there I was…small pahari village surrounded by Himalayas and fabled Jim Corbett national park…few kilometers from the breathtaking Ramganga river…celebrating Ma Durga’s arrival…in her own land…that was a peculiar feeling….miles away from the hustle and bustle of crowd cramped streets of Kolkata…a vast space…open…lined with corn fields….flanked by the majestic Himalayas…with crown jewel Nainital lit up on the top of mountain….famous delhi-hardwar highway passing by…sometimes odd sounds of army convoy heavy vehicles carrying up ammo to forward post….crackles from radio…somebody listening to Vividh Bharati….common melody of cricket singing in unison…
Nobody spoke for the entire duration while the Pujo was performed…I was moved…stood motionless…watching engrossed old Brahmin performing Bodhan…
That dim lit night…chilly winds blowing in possible directions…slow but continuously flickering flames of the candle…only slow clear chants mantras…coupled with strange smell of ghee mixed with jungle flowers….It took my mind away…This is the real Pujo…I told to myself…no fancy pandals…no big crowds....no fight over the pandals themes…only divine interaction between the man and the maker…

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Remembrance

Waves after waves crosses the shore…never ending…just like time…never ceases to exist...never stops…never forgets to surprise…never waits for anyone…beauty of this apparent commonest natural behavior is its astounding similarities with life…life is like that…walking along…good memories…bad memories…love…loss...pain…happiness…everything is like a rainbow in the sky called life…it looks good with it…

Best lesson I have ever learnt about life…is to love…to share…more I have shared my happiness…It got multiplied…sheer coincidence!!…no…not really…more you give…more you share…it comes back…in your life…manifold…unless…otherwise…

When does the people becomes the happiest…is it when he gets a good job…excellent six figure package…a brand new car…a furnished wardrobe…latest gadgets…nah…my best guess…when he gets loved by someone….that’s best feeling that happens once in a life time…that too for lucky one….

I have been face to face with love a few times…strange kind of feeling…being restless...Being judgmental…being foolhardy is the most usual thing to do…however bad decision love might be…its worth trying…even once…

For some people it’s like getting stuck in time warp…never really able to get out of it…stuck in past things…what they have done good…what could have better...but I guess it’s better to move on in life…rather than waiting for someone…something to happen….

To move on…is the best practical solution...but keep those memories close to your heart…like a prized possession…share it with your dreams…it best suits there…

‘They are not long the days of wine and roses,

Out of a misty dream,

Our path emerges for while, then closes,

Within a dream’

Friday, August 28, 2009

Kuch Is Tarah

Yes…once again I am feeling bored…I have tried taking a temporary relocation to forum (I have spent 50% of my time there)…tried playing football...learning German...dozing off at odd hours...but somehow I always find some time to spare with absolutely nothing else to do.
So this fine morning…after a resolute sleep…after infinite snoring…after browsing internet for nth hour…drinking mth cup of tea from Pantry…after sending irrelevant status reports to thousands of unconcerned persons…after disturbing people who are online on messenger about some non-existent bugs…after trying to read latest newspaper report on Megan Fox…I have finally decided to write something...anything...anything about unknown smells…
Smells are very important for a foodie like me…it’s not for a mere temptation…but as the smell is intrinsically etched to one’s memories…I have tried to taste smell too.

I was coming out of my flat…couple of blocks away…on a small roadside stall near the Games Village Gate…a guy sells pakoda and fried delicacies…that has a fine smell…oil dripping…crumbling…half fried…deep fried…served with red chilly sauce…smell tells it all.

Then comes the smell of dhaba’s…specially Bobby Da Dhaba near Ulsoor Gurdwara…its a small run down shop probably half a century old…that has a smell…smell of hot…super hot paranthe…with little butter cubes on top of it…on tingling ghee on your platter…
There is this amazing smell of warm freshly cooked food…which I find irresistible…which I find in that place…that delicious Shahi Paneer with square paneer cubes and butter bundle on top of it…that’s a food experience…
There was a smell of Phuchka aka Gol gappe…slight tangy…smell of lemon...chopped onion…and smashed boiled potatoes…mixed…fiddled…to create a perfect piece of art…that’s the smell of street food…that smell has inexplicable affection from me as it has thousands of memories from my College days…
But yes…there are some smells which sometimes makes me nostalgic…smell of luchi…freshly prepared Alu r Dom…Makhani…what is special in these plates that they were served by someone special…someone with extraordinary love…none other than my Mother…My starting point of life..
That love and the beautiful smell with a warm aura around it…that’s my favorite…simple and humble...fresh...warm...served with a lot of love and eternal sunshine...love always…

Saturday, August 1, 2009

How I wish…how I wish you're here…

Rain has again started falling…dampness all around…sudden cold breezes...falling umbrellas…tumbling footsteps…sound of laughter…smell of earth…fresh…new…Rejuvenated….deeply aromatic…splashes of water…dazzle of colors…its monsoon time…kohl smeared eyes looking strangely…rain drenched flowers lying on road…silent…only sound is of rain drops on my roof…their sound plays like beautiful collage of nature and sound…I listen to them..Intently…
How I wish…how I wish you're here…


When winter chills settle down…dusty…cold morning...distant sound of trucks passing by…when I wake up early…shivering in the darkness…searching for my toothbrush…when look towards my window…darkness all around…faint light…Sun would rising up in a few moments…the lantern hanging somewhere in the neighborhood near Hanuman Temple…near Kalavati Chauraha…distant faint chants of hymns coming from nearest temple…
How I wish…how I wish you're here…

When I had trekked up to a mountain top…just beside a gorgeous waterfall….water gushing out….white….pure…tremendous….suddenly cloud comes and covers the wide…vast green landscape….as long as you can see greenery…this is beauty of Western Ghats….untouched…unspoilt beauty…360 degrees of panoramic view of the mountains…clouds intermingling with the tropical forests…
How I wish…how I wish you're here…

While travelling down the narrow serpentine path….the bus crosses a lot of twists and turns…it is approaching my destination….waking up from a deep slumber…when I open the window….the first morning sun falls upon my face….a gentle breeze caresses….I see early morning laziness all around…slight fog…warm sunshine piercing through cloud covers…a lovely face smiles…it’s the end of journey…
How I wish…how I wish you're here…

While in middle of night….I stop somewhere in remotest part of Kerala…travelling with friends…amidst nowhere…we enter in dhaba…roadside…typical…few sleepy waiter….I wake them up….it was cold then…December…31st..Munnar…got some hot paranthas…oily…with curry…trucks passing by…breaking the silence abruptly…only sound of munching food…occasional laughs…leg pulling…
How I wish…how I wish you're here…

Returning from office…almost all my energy sapped off...endless meetings…never ending improvement suggestions...listless faces…shrewd voices…manipulating deals…assigning works…it never ends…I stare emptily outside the window of the last shuttle from campus..Generally last bus is taken by few over worked beer bellied senior managers with rainbow tags…few TIS guys…all are sleepy…all wants to go home…grab a quick bite and sleep…
How I wish…how I wish you're here…

Durga Pujo…October…festivity all around…thousands of people crowd my neighborhood…I sit in small chair in my verandah….lazily watching people….people from all classes of society…in their best dresses….I see people going by…endless…their voices rings back my half asleep dream…
I feel tired now…
Its time sleep…
It’s my time to dream…perhaps I would meet you there…
How I wish…how I wish you're here…

Friday, July 24, 2009

Romancing Kolkata

Rain has just started…the gray skyline becomes darker…droplets on my shoulder…my eyes have become moist…
I was returning from airport….returning from Home…back to work…back to Bangalore….


My mind still dwells in roads of Kolkata…in my home…lot of unfinished things…lot of things to get…to achieve…to sense…to see…to tell…how I missed my family and friends…

Kolkata…that is the place where it all began…
It is not a glitzy city comparable to Bangalore…it does not have the page 3 tagged Film industry as in Mumbai…neither does not it have the elegance and panache of a Delhi…but what it has something else.. Something absolutely unique…
Here you can find different eras co-existing with equal √©lan…the Park street…still trapped in swinging sixties…when you travel down the road...you can listen to Elvis…and guardian angel Bobby Dealan playing…the sweet little chime of bells…gentle sound of jazz...you can feel the light in your heart…

Come to north Kolkata…it’s the oldest part of the city…this is Kolkata indeed…narrow lanes…crowded markets…bazaars...stream of humanity flowing down from the jetty…amongst the hazes…you will unmistakably find the old Kolkata…old small road side shops selling Singhara (aka Samosa), telebhaja (meaning deep fried delights)…these places have been there for generations…what a smell...a smell to die for…

Come south…you will find the vibrant Kolkata…latest flats...cars…gizmos…shopping malls…rivaling to Bangalore…crowds…PYT…buying latest fashion statements…this is also Kolkata…this is a new face of Kolkata…long traffic jams…typical office babu returning from office…half asleep…school girls in their saris…college lovers hand in hand…silent…let their eyes speak…

Kolkata is not a city…but a state of mind…it’s an abstract color palette...where many different hues and shades are mixed…mingled...matched to produce a rainbow…

It’s a city a par supreme…not because it has a legendary past…not because it will have a golden future…but it is that feeling that you are never alone…never lonely…there will always be someone to talk to you…always someone to start a debate out of nothing…on politics…on cricket…on the last known Bengal tiger (pun intended)…on poetry…on food…on love….

Kolkata is trapped in a older self…it is not just simply willing to break that image…we still love our Uttam Kumar (as par Marlon Brando clad in spotless Dhuti) romancing Suchitra Sen…the every common Bengali’s dream date…still…We still understand romance as Rabindro Songeet sprinkled with Rock band…we still call Bandhs in a self indulging pleasure…Perhaps Kolkata should remain like this…this is an utopian city…every Bengali’s pride…city of Tagore…Teresa and Roy… Our heroes are not gun totting six pack heroes…but simple Dhoti clad…simpleton…who can sing a good song…love a lady…and make audience cry with tremendous sacrifices…Let us remain that way…let us remain as pacifist…let us remain as old worldly…

We are good that way..

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Keep Walking

Dreamy lights…
I am sleeping outside the tent…beside a small tree….
Horizon lays in front of me….its undulating landscape….juxtaposition between the dark sky and even darker water…make it all part of the same panorama…
Everything is wrapped under the blanket of darkness…as long as I can see…I can see water…still…sometimes flashes of light…comes out of the shadow of clouds on eastern end of the sky…it must be raining somewhere…smell of rain soaked winds…gentle breeze…soothing….

I could see the lights….its coming from the Linganamakki damm…twinkling under the open sky…splashed with the dazzling brilliance of thousands of neatly cut diamonds….Open emptiness…vast…eerie silence engulfs me…

I lie awake…
This place is magical…

What day it has been…memorable to say the least….
We started early…from Sagara…a small hamlet in Western Ghats near Jog Falls…followed by countless uphill climbs…moving up and down in a vast landscape…
Enchanting…sometimes tiring...sometimes awkward terrain…sometimes narrow escape…sometimes breaking into an impromptu song….

Crossed low lands…marshy…grassland…dense forests…evergreen…dripping green….unknown birds sing…dangerously beautiful spiders lazily roam around their intricately woven web…

Sometimes it is scorching….hot…brightly sunny…no shades anywhere…sometimes clouds come up from no where…covers the deep blue sky…it becomes murkier…wind picks up…but it is now slightly cooler now…
Flashes…
It is pouring now…leaving everything wet…soggy…shoes…socks…bag…I kept walking…
Roads seem to be never ending….serpentine…moving up...down…

Another two hours of walk…
Tiring…it is very tiring…every muscle on body are aching now…profusely sweating…headache…water is scanty….to be shared between eight of us….
Probably I can not walk anymore…my body had given up…hypoglycemia setting in…dry…absolute dry…rain had stopped long back…greenery has vanished into barren land….

I stop walking…sullen face…sun burnt…
Another 3 KM…I tell myself…Sourav da smiles…Himangshu is as cheerful as ever…followed by Shainish…Gaja and Sharad following briskly…Vijay picks up pace slowly…I look for help…Sunil…singing…

“Come on”….another 3 KM…just 3 KM…
Need to catch the last bus to Sagara…
“Come on Hurry Up”…Ganapathy is screaming by now…



"How many roads must a man walk down.
Before you call him a man?..."

I slowly start walking…lets walk...together....

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sunshine On My Shoulders

Kausani, Bageswar
Early morning…
Mist…fog…loneliness all around

I woke up early…I had planned to see the sunrise…when the first gleaming rays of the Sun falls upon the Panchachuli…the melting snow… early morning coldness…the splendid calmness….the faded solitude….it seems surreal…it creates a magic…

Icy cold winds sweep across the terraced slopes…
I was standing on the boundary wall of the Gandhi Ashram in Kausani….After days of traveling… I was taking a much desired break with myself….
Sometimes you need to be with yourself…you need to think about your losses, your gains…blessings and love that you have…put them into the deepest corner of your heart and keep on moving….I was reflecting on my prayers and promises…rhymes and reasons…speaking to them in silence.

I was on the edge of the compound boundary….overlooking the gorgeous twin village of Garur and Someshwar…covered in late night’s fog…blinking street lights…indicating the vast distance….the breeze from the farthest hills just caresses my face…

I feel sleepy…

I move across the huge cedar tree…to have a better view…
The little nights music reminds me of a long forgotten memory….memory of someone…someone I desperately loved…but unable hold onto….she slipped away…like silent night slowly, silently and softly….
“Silent as she comes
Softly as she goes
Ours is a love
That none must know”

The little night is slowly lifting its veil to give way to bright new morning….cold chilly night is slowly moving into a bright slightly warm dawn…

Never seen such a majestic view in my lifetime….in front of me stands the huge infinite range of magnificent Panchachuli…just beneath the wall of the Ashram…I can still see the villages…small huts…smoke coming out of the iron chimney…smoke mixed with wet fog creates a mirage….
The Kausani just waking up….
The old chaiwale of the Ashram in his light blue pullover and gandhian topi drifts apart…few tourists with blanket wrapped all around them….few Mountain lovers with prominent Nikon camera fitted with Zoom lenses…

I eagerly wait for the moment…crowds slowly build up in front of the prayer hall…
4.30AM….
The presence of sun is getting prominent…the jagged edges of mountains are becoming clearer…the villages lying in front of me are also much visible now…

There it comes…
The first rays…piercing through the clouds…touches the peak…..
Magic!!
The white snow turns into bright flaming orange…a hush all around…people are spellbound…clicks of camera…
The night has gone…it’s a new day…
As bright and beautiful as possible…a smell of lavender….a laughter…a lovely smiling face…its spring in Old Garhwal….

The narrow lanes of Bangalore are far away…

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Silent night

8th October, 2001
Spring...Dussehra

A small time big delight for me…
Generally a staunch Bengali like me desires to spend Dussehra or Bijoya Doshomi in Kolkata…with family and friends...amongst bhashan and dhunuchi naach…amongst Dhakis...slowly peaking up their amazing beats…with all the memories from your childhood passing you by…you stand quietly in the crowd…observing…enjoying…reminiscing your school days…first night out with your friends…your first crush…your first loss…it comes back to you…

But somehow, I felt restless…something was missing in the air, festivity was there…huge monumental pandals crowd the city streets, millions of people on road, last minutes shopping in Gariahat bazaar, late night meeting in clubs, frenzied discussion about who will eventually win the first prize in Pandal decoration, joys, laughter everywhere….but still that homely feeling, relentless adda with your friends, a place where you can be your own...that was missing...

My parents were in Rishikesh...most of my friends were busy with their IIT, JEE preparations…

I packed my bag…folded my bedding…and decided to walk again…

Now, here I am, standing near the old dusty Mahatma Gandhi statue in Almora main chowk…
Lights just fading away in horizon…they create beautiful shadows on the deodar covered roads…they remain silent…calmness everywhere…

But there seemed to be a silent anticipation everywhere…the old rickety porter…the little school girl…the little kid on the other side of the road who sells breads…the fat grocery man near the bright’s corner…everyone seemed to be excited…though reluctantly…
They ought to be excited...today is Dussehra…

I walked down the narrow path down the gully...trailing bushes guide me to the main road…

Almora has a fabled Dussehra celebration, entire towns lit up in colors, lights in the evening… music played…narrating the tales of Lord Ram-Sita…tales of old folklores…tales of Gods and Demons….these celebrations are echoing part of the old mountain towns…they have very little to celebrate…for them life was and still is a simple story of yesterday, today and tomorrow….

Procession would be coming towards the Gandhi chowk via old bazaar…
Perfect photo OP for me…
I took out my old cannon camera and started moving towards the bazaar.
It is small market place… stoned carved floors…throbbing with people…

I waited…slowly crowds built up…from all parts of the society… old, young, middle aged, men, women kids...all…bright clothes...youthful exuberence all around me...
Slowly the procession was coming towards the middle of the bazaar…it will stop there for 15 minutes…
I gaze intensely…
Glistening…enchanting scenes…huge cart…two young kids dressed as Ram-Laxman…
Behind them an aged Pujari holding a mike…people were showering rose petals…smells of delightful incense stick...flowers…jasmine mixed with cold mountain winds…gives me a high…its evening...

I took a deep breath….
But I needed to take a good camera angle…but from where to take…
I looked up…I was standing on the staircase of small two storied wooden house, nicely carved…small wooden window…open...
A pair of beautiful kohl lined eyes curiously peeping outside…

Suddenly...the eyes focused on me…
Few seconds passed…
I was transfixed…I wanted to see the owner of the eyes…so desparetly...
A beautiful voice, asked me “Aap Ashram main rahte hai na?”…“Are not you staying at ashram?”

I nodded…but how does she know…I wondered
I was getting restless…I wanted to see her…She was standing in darkness…aloof...silently observing the crowd passing by...

She again said “I live in the house opposite to it…”. She was silent…procession now ten meters away from the narrow lane in front of me…
She said again “If you want to take a nice snap…come towards the balcony”

I walked towards the staircase…spring in my limb...moved up and there was I...standing on a small balcony…on a side of small bazaar...overlooking the procession...

But I am standing opposite to an angel…her kohl lined eyes had a smudged look...mixed with a lost romanticism and loneliness…innocent...she was lost in something...

She was again speaking to me…but…but I could not hear her…procession now exactly opposite to the window…her voice got drowned in the chatter…thousands of people moving along with the procession…like the pied piper of Hamlin…they are following the gigantic statues of Ravana the demon God…Its their night to celebrate…the sound, lights, non-stops songs, laughter, joys…

The silent night slows spreads over the sleepy old Almora...
Let them celebrate…Let them take their joys with them...I will take my memories with me...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Take me home

The splendor of the setting sun crosses my mind…the soothing, warm, sultry winds from the Ganga blows across my face...I am standing motionless…Lost in thought…My eyes are searching…Someone…Perhpas a known face.

I am standing against the fading light near Princep Ghat…it wears a deserted look…a bihari couple holding hands stroll nearby…few boatmen engaged in talks…chirping birds…distant faded hawker calls…few evening walkers in brisk motion.

Its daybreak…time to be in home.

I look towards the magnificent Hoogly Setu…a mammoth structure…the sun is just the behind the bridge creating an intriguing pattern of lights and shades around the staircases leading to the Ganga…slow undulating waters of Ganga…slowly unfolding lazy another evening…no hurries…it is very quiet…

This is Kolkata.

I am thousands of miles away from my self styled exile...I am back to my city…city I belong to…City which taught me to live…to love…to give ADDA...

Clicking sound...someone is taking photograph…
A familiar voice…Rajat spoke “R koto chobi tulbi?”…“How many photographs will you take?”…Rajat… dost o ka dost …extrovert…lonely…hidden behind his broad smile…I can see faded memory…sullen…

This innocuous remark is aimed at the very core member of the Bangalore Group…Niladri… a perfect Bangal…great cook… good footballer…great foodie…unofficial mascot of Garia… always wears a smile under any circumstances….replies “Notun mobile…tai” “New mobile...that’s why!!”

Arijit has vanished again…he is one of our best buddies since college…prankster…perfect friend…trying his level best to capture snap of running train near Princep Ghat station...a narrow…old station...memories of past hung all over it.

Now Dan speaks up…“Ebare chol...amake jete hobe”...
“let’s go...I have to go somewhere”. Dan aka Piku…my oldest friend...since school days… a dapper in jeans and casual Tee’s…solid…stoic Man U supporter…uber cool…

Most silent member of our fabled team, Jico now replies “Dara jabi…Kak r Gari ache”…“We will go...Niladri has a car…”…Jico aka Ritam…a silent guy...with a wicked sense of humor…we call him the last known polar bear in Kolkata…

I was silently picking up their talks…smiling…laughing…it seems so similar to our long lost days...days of togetherness...days spent far away from our know city...our family….we were in Bangalore…We had celebrated everything together…birthdays...treats…fully faaltu parties…any damm thing which could celebrated in a grand way...
I played a very small insignificant part in that…
That was three years back…

“Hey”…A loud thumping noise…
“Say something” not so amused Team member asked…
I looked up…trying my best to get back to the present tense...eyes focusing slowly on a black VOIP… an unknown number flashes there…a faceless client demanding explanations…right NOW!
Air conditioned room…opaque glass panes…a white board with business model diagram…few neatly arranged chairs…a flickering laptop…business jargon…verbose technical talks...Everywhere…

I am back…
I am in the Silicon City...in midst of a client call...curious eyes look at me…they thought I was sleeping…
Winds…warmth…adda…known faces has vanished into wilderness...the tingling sensation of joy for being with your family and friends has disappeared…they are now replaced by a feeling of agony…a pain of separation… from My family...from my friends…from my city…those narrow gully’s…sweet shops near Garia Mor…Sobuj Dol ground…the strange smell of my house…the eternal sunshine on my Mom’s face…the unspoken warmth in my Father’s tired face haunts me...I need to come back… I have to…

I slowly try to regain my composure and mumble…“Could you please repeat that again!!”

I close my eyes again…they are waiting for me…

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sunshine Days


Winter. Almora

Early morning…I just woke up from my deep slumber. I felt drowsy…sleepy. I felt terribly tired...slowly picked up my jacket from the hanger.
I came here yesterday evening for a couple days stay. Had a long bus ride from Haldwani, where I was staying with my brother. Six hours of bus ride had, drained of my energy. I still had not recovered from the back seat bumps.

Back in the City of Joy...I was always a late riser.
But something is very special about Almora, its air...its festivity...people...it’s old temples...old stoned carved roads...small groceries...the bal-mithai shops, where everyday people would gather not only to buy but also to share their stories...of pain...of love….of everydays ordinary life...like it always has been for centuries.
I never wanted to waste a single moment in lazy thoughts there…I always had something to see, to explore, to smell, to touch, to wonder…to fill my lungs with fresh oxygen..

I was staying in a small wooden cottage behind the army cantonment in Almora…covered with forests....It is a perfect location for spending days in solitude…no noise....no traffic…no pollution...no exams...thousands of mile away from my dreams, aspirations...I was tired of chasing them.

I took a chair...opened the window….small wooden window…no grills.
Took a deep breath and sat down.
It was a kind of foggy day…sun was slowly rising above the horizon…sparkling rays were playing hide-n-seek in my corridor…I could see the rays falling in deodars in front of my window…couple of squirrels were at their fighting best…calm...quiet...serene.
I had a peculiar feeling…I was happy…I was dreaming..

I looked up.
I could see the narrow winding road down mountain…serpentine...I could see it partially…covered with trees on one side and a steep gorge at another. I could also see little children in their smart uniform going to school...Couple of Army Truck...few cycles..life as usual..

I could also see her...standing in the roof of her small house on right of my window...she was the daughter of a local grocery man...fondly called Lala-Ji by all..
She was drying her hair…standing at the edge of the roof…empty bluish sky...morning sun had just risen enough to fill the color palette by a shade of orange...but still there is a chill in the air...sometimes razor sharp winds cuts through your woolen clothing’s…there is an nothingness in front of me...
As far as I can see..only lush green mountain landscape..
I put my hands outside the window…trying to get some vitamin D on my skin…

Again I see her….she is now drying up lal mirchi on a small jute mat…
She looked stunning…as beautiful as the mountain in front of me....pure…unknown…ethereal..
So near...but yet so far…as wind blows…her hair falls across her forehead...
she had already become a part of the wintry sunshine morning..

Cring Cring….
Door bell rang….
I looked at my watch…7.15am..
“Who will come to see me” I thought.
“No body knows that I am in Almora” I tried to be rational.
I went up to the front door…and opened the door.

An old man…70 plus…Wrinkled face, broken specs, a perfect kumaoni topi on his head, maroon crumpled sweater…his skins reflected the hardships in the mountains..a jhola on his shoulder..
“Yes”. I said in softly…
“I am Kisen Lal….Postman”…he replied..
“I was passing by… saw windows open...” he stopped to take his breath.
“No one comes here now days. Earlier a bengali babu stayed here…I was his friend…” he said feebly.
I immediately knew...he was talking about my Grandfather…
“I am his grandson”...I responded with a smile.

He stood there…motionless...probably wondering and trying his best to relate me to a long lost friend....ages had passed…since he last saw my grand-pa...suddenly his eyes lit up...probably there was tears too..
Like early morning dew…lit up in a perfect sunshine.

He hugged me.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fifteen Minutes

I am standing against a small ridge overlooking the majestic kanchanjangha.
Though not much can be seen now. Cloud has covered everything. The Sky has taken a pale grey, murky color comparable to the water of the Bay of Bengal. Flashes of lightning piercing through the cloud can be seen now and again.

I look again..patches of green everywhere. Cold, damp chilling wind is blowing against the rain swept slopes. Incessant sound of rain drops falling onto the leaves, creating a beautiful sound. My hands are wet in rain, socks are soggy.

This place is unusually calm, but still one can hear the distant sounds of birds, unknown insects buzzing all around. An earthy smell of rain drenched soil percolating through my mind.
I keep on walking.

It was Sikkim.It was in June. Monsoon. Whereas most of my friends in kolkata were enjoying their mach bhaja with khichuri in a much deserved break after the prolonged Higer secndary examinations, I was trekking somewhere near pemayangtse, in west sikkim.

I was staying in a PWD bunglow in pemayangtse. Just over the top of the hill, sorrounded by the magnificant peaks covered with snows. When morning light falls upon them, it looks like vanilla ice cream. Half frozen.half molten delight.
In clearer weather one can also see 7000 plus peaks all around.360 degrees of panoramic view.
The view in monsoon was also surreal. I always liked travelling to the Himalayas during different times of the year. It showed me different aspects of the mountain and its people. Just on the other side of the Bunglow, there was a small garden. Where you can find all types of flowers, jasmine, lavender, primrose, orchids, chrysanthemum; dripping in rain water, after a long summar in mountains it was their time to celebrate the rejuvinating downpour. On either side of the entrance to the Bunglow, huge cedar, pine, deodar trees were silently meditating.

I was walking towards Upper Pelling. A small hamlet at the edge of the mountains. It is quite a popular place for the tourists. During peak season, this small village-town gets flooded with people from different parts of the country. But in monsoon, it is deserted, few half mad trekkers and foreigners searching for the Path of Buddha could be seen.
Just behind the Upper Pelling road, there was a small market. Typical pahari market. Cold, old and empty. Couple of strayed dogs, an old porter smoking a beedi, few bengali tourists in search of bengali hotel could be found. I was going to the market. I needed to make a STD call to kolkata.
I was walking cautiously, roads are wet, slippery. A misty fog covered the entire strech of road, hardly 10-20 meters of road were visible.

I was walking for about an hour now. Market was nowhere to be seen.
“Is this the road?” I asked myself.
“Yeah have to be this” I thought.
But I need to reach the market before 10am. Otherwise, I will not be able to return before noon. “But whom to ask?” I wondered.
In another 15 minutes, I will be in Pelling market I told myself.
Someone was coming on my way. I can see. Distant, slowly moving figure. Must be another trekker. Because this road, was taken generally by the trekkers who were moving up towards pemayangtse.
I watched the person to come out of the mist. Gosh..It was a girl. A extrodinarily pretty girl.
She was smiling!! or was she?
I looked at her..she looked somewhat of my age..slightly built..wearing a blue sweater and light bluish windscheater, matching knee high blue socks.
I kept on looking at her..she had pinkish cheek.
“Shall I ask her about the direction? Have to.. no other way..” I told myself.
She was on a slope, slowly coming down towards me. Empty road, apparent silence everywhere. Sky seemed to be getting dark again.
I slowly walked towards her..My heartbeat had already picked up..She stopped..looked at me..and said “Lost!!” in an amusing tone.
“Ha-yes”.Goodness..I had mixed up my reply..in hindi and english..
“Come on speak something” I thought.
But I was still admiring her beauty..unbelievable..so simple..yet so innocent.
I regained my thought and hesitatingly asked, “Is this the way towards Upper Pelling?”
She nodded..Was that Yes or No..I wondered.
I looked at the road and said “I was walking for an hour..and then I saw you & thought…” my throat had dried up already. I was feeling a kind of cold, tired.
She smiled again “You are walking in wrong direction...this road is goes to Pelling Monestry..I am going towards peling..” she fell silent.
The thought of walking with her excited me.
“Can I come with you?” I mumbled.
“Sure”she said. Still that smile...decorated her face.
We were silent again..Not much of topic to talk about..I guess.
She broke the silence.
“We need to walk fast, the drizzle has picked up again”..
“Is it ?” I wondered..I was lost in time.
We picked up pace..
That was the best fifteen minutes walk for me ever in my life.