Year: 2012

Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate..

The cold is intense and bone- chilling. The surroundings are dark and heavy with depression. I wonder how people survive in a place where there is no sunlight for months on end. The grey and black clothes do nothing to alleviate the gloom. Thoughts of magenta, turquoise and sunshine yellow flash through my mind, streaks of tie and dye fabrics in brilliant colours cloak me with imaginary warmth as I think about the country I have left behind.

I have come out for a walk and was hoping for some hot chocolate and human interaction. Within minutes I realise the futility of my intention. There is not a soul in sight. I stamp my feet to stop them from freezing and rub my hands in an attempt to warm them. The thought of sitting alone on an isolated bench is too saddening.  

As I ponder over my course of action, I see the hunched figure of an elderly person coming down the road. Grey coat, white hair, body bent against the cold and using an umbrella as a walking stick. What could have brought her out into this freezing cold? Curiosity gets the better of me and I pause in my decision making.

She stops a few feet away from me and within seconds, as if by magic, she is surrounded by birds.

Dozens of them have descended and are frolicking around her. She smiles delightedly and throws bits of food at them. They flutter around her like long lost friends. Some sit on her shoulder and some eat out of her hand. Their instant connection is palpable. She is talking to them animatedly. They seem to be infusing each other with some special energy.

I delight in her happiness and yet feel like a voyeur. I feel like I am trespassing on a sacred ritual. A ritual developed by two beings intent on acknowledging the importance of the others presence in their life for their sanity and survival.  

The world does not seem so bleak anymore. I soak in this amazing sight and infuse the aura of the scene with brilliant, luminous colours of my own making. For some strange reason I am not cold any more.

 I decide to continue with my solitary walk…and hope to find hot chocolate J

Keys to Learning

We had a manual type writer when I was growing up. I chanced upon it during one of my many forays into our ancient store room.

Silent for years, dusty and weather beaten, it was begging for some attention. As I lugged it down to my room, all gasping breath and straining muscles, I realised that it would need more than just loving effort to get it into working condition again.

My action enthused and bemused my mother in equal measure. She had learnt short hand and typing as a young girl but couldn’t understand my fascination with this ancient machine. Yet, she introduced me to its body parts and what all would be needed to get it to function again. This entailed many interesting, foraging trips to town and to the `kabadi wala` on a regular basis.

That typewriter became my project and a friend during endless long and quiet summer days. I was determined to get it to work again and was also adamant to learn typing on it from the Pittman`s Manual Typing book I had found in my magical store room, complete with stand and firm, no nonsense instructions to go with it.

My hands became blackened by the ribbon that I had to change constantly and ached from the hammering of rusted, ageing keys.

Late into the night my erratic efforts would echo in a silent house, reminding me of urgent, life-saving messages being sent out from dingy rooms in some war-torn city .

Mother had long since given up on me.

At that time, I taught myself to type using both hands and never looking at the keys. Now, as my fingers glide silently over this extra sleek machine I use, I marvel at  the advancement of technology. I am also taken back ever so often on a trip down memory lane to my now redundant machine… One that taught me so much about life in its own way. Most importantly, it taught me to do something for the sheer love of it, with no thought about whether the effort will bear fruit or not….. 

Keys to learning

We had a manual type writer when I was growing up. I chanced upon it during one of my many forays into our ancient store room.

Silent for years, dusty and weather beaten, it was begging for some attention. As I lugged it down to my room, all gasping breath and straining muscles, I realised that it would need more than just loving effort to get it into working condition again.

My action enthused and bemused my mother in equal measure. She had learnt short hand and typing as a young girl but couldn’t understand my fascination with this ancient machine. Yet, she introduced me to its body parts and what all would be needed to get it to function again. This entailed many interesting, foraging trips to town and to the kabadi wala on a regular basis.

That typewriter became my project and a friend during endless long and quiet summer days. I was determined to get it to work again and was also adamant to learn typing on it from the Pittman`s Manual Typing book I had found in my magical store room, complete with stand and firm, no nonsense instructions to go with it.

My hands became blackened by the ribbon that I had to change constantly and ached from the hammering of rusted, ageing keys.

Late into the night my erratic efforts would echo in a silent house, reminding me of urgent, life-saving messages being sent out from dingy rooms in some war-torn city .
Mother had long since given up on me.

At that time, I taught myself to type using both hands and never looking at the keys. Now, as my fingers glide silently over this extra sleek machine I use, I marvel at the advancement of technology. I am also taken back ever so often on a trip down memory lane to my now redundant machine… One that taught me so much about life in its own way. Most importantly, it taught me to do something for the sheer love of it, with no thought about whether the effort will bear fruit or not…..

Paripoorna

Paripoorna, is a word that describes a state of fulfilment and completion. It is an understanding that exists within and comes to the fore as a conscious state of being. 

Paripoorna signifies a belief that nothing is lacking, spiritually, physically or emotionally, it is complete acceptance of oneself as an extension of God and therefore believing that that oneness is our true reality.

Out of millions of words, some make more sense than others at a particular time because they vibrate within and resonate differently. They bring a smile to ones lips and a nod of understanding. Paripoorna, for me, is one such word. It translates into abundance. Abundance of nature that overflows and nourishes, abundance that fills up the senses and urges one to celebrate life.

Paripoorna is how I feel when I paint… Just the act of holding a brush and putting colour becomes an act of worship….

Bob and I

Never having had a dog all my adult life, I really wasn’t prepared for little Bob’s arrival, a three month old black pug with a small, wrinkled face and enormous, liquid black eyes that followed me  like a radar no matter where I went.


Bob and I were thrown into each other’s company inadvertently. For some reason, it was always my approval he sought every time he chewed the leaves of my precious money plant or gobbled the accidently fallen homeopathic pills. Not realising that as a strategy, it was completely wrong. As I tried to be angry with him, he would wag his tightly curled up tail and absorb the attention I was showering on him with glee.


He was determined to change my indifferent attitude toward him by nudging me to play, every time I settled down with my book, another wrong move.. When I looked down at him with annoyance, there he would be, quivering with excitement, making sudden movements to coax me to get off my cosy chair and frolic with him..his energy level at an all time high compared to my waning one!


Very used to painting alone in my studio, at first, I resented his desire to be there as well, sniffing appreciatively at the smell of turpentine and linseed oil in the air, licking watercolour off the floor with great gusto. We had constant run-ins and if I chose to leave him behind, he would whimper softly and look at me through the picture window, eyes moist and hurt at this betrayal. No matter how long I worked, I found him exactly where I left him, excited to have me back, his small body swaying in elation, all sorrow that I had caused him, forgotten and forgiven.


Slowly and patiently he broke down my defences. When I was ill, he wouldn’t leave my bedside. His food had to be brought right there, where he could see me. He would bring his special snacks of bone to me and leave them near my bed as a motivation for me to get better.


Where earlier he would cry at not being allowed into the bathroom, now I find him waiting patiently by the door. He accompanies me all round the house, an eager witness to all the instructions that need to be given in order to run a home. His little feet move furiously to keep pace with mine and echo my movement uncannily. I move, he moves, I stop, he stops. Making me think of the genius who came up with the line,’whereever you go our network follows..!’  Against my will, he has ingratiated himself into my heart. I even take him out for drives and show him the world that exists beyond his home. My heart breaks though, when a child points out to him and yells excitedly, “Look mom, a black pig!” seeing the shocked look on my face the mother corrects her child, ”It’s a pug dear a black pug, a dog not a pig” I feel myself relaxing as a wrong is righted. Bob looks at me happily, I have stood up for him.


He is a permanent fixture at the studio now. He looks at me with quiet approval as I take risks with my art. Barks dutifully when he hears a new male voice on the stereo and all hell breaks loose if I change to the radio. The constant chatter and giggles of the RJ drive him mad, as they do me. We have some things in common, after all…


What started as a tenuous relationship, has settled into a happy companionship two years down the line. I am still the centre of his universe and in the daily living of life, despite the blunders I make, he is still my biggest fan! 

That Extra mile…

We are driving through a desolate, arid stretch of a high altitude desert. The expanse of uninterrupted landscape leaves us city people gasping at its uniqueness and vastness.  Simple hutments boast of flowers that have been planted in rusted Mobil oil cans and discarded coke crates, adding beauty to an otherwise monochromatic landscape. Our driver tells us that people living here live in the proximity of severe hardship and their deep rooted faith makes them peacefully calm. They learn to make the most of their meagre resources. It’s an aura that surrounds him too.

During our drive, when an engine part gives way, we panic. We take into account our extreme isolation on a deserted road, the approaching dusk and the bone chilling cold that it brings in its wake. But our driver has unshakeable faith. We push our car to one side. We peer into our phones for signals that don’t exist. No one knows of our exact location in this wilderness.  His faith and confidence are a source of great peace. We wait…

Finally, an army truck crosses.

  They don’t have what we need but they’ll see what they can do after they reach the next village. Deafening silence engulfs us as the truck disappears down the road. We are riddled with scepticism. Our nervous wait begins yet again but still our driver shows no sign of anxiety. He tells us that in this hostile terrain every help that comes our way has a divine hand behind it…

Eventually, almost two hours later, an unknown car stops by. It is coming up the way the army truck had gone. The driver leans out and passes a packet to our driver and zooms up the silent mountain road. The packet contains just the part our vehicle needs…!  I am baffled, absolute strangers connected by destiny and a smile…

           –                –                –                –                –                –                –           

We do find people who travel that extra mile for no other reason but because they gave their word… Thank God for them!     

That extra mile

We are driving through a desolate, arid stretch of a high altitude desert. The expanse of uninterrupted landscape leaves us city people gasping at its uniqueness and vastness. Simple hutments boast of flowers that have been planted in rusted Mobil oil cans and discarded coke crates, adding beauty to an otherwise monochromatic landscape. Our driver tells us that people living here live in the proximity of severe hardship and their deep rooted faith makes them peacefully calm. They learn to make the most of their meagre resources. It’s an aura that surrounds him too.

During our drive, when an engine part gives way, we panic. We take into account our extreme isolation on a deserted road, the approaching dusk and the bone chilling cold that it brings in its wake. But our driver has unshakeable faith. We push our car to one side. We peer into our phones for signals that don’t exist. No one knows of our exact location in this wilderness. His faith and confidence are a source of great peace. We wait…

Finally, an army truck crosses.

They don’t have what we need but they’ll see what they can do after they reach the next village. Deafening silence engulfs us as the truck disappears down the road. We are riddled with scepticism. Our nervous wait begins yet again but still our driver shows no sign of anxiety. He tells us that in this hostile terrain every help that comes our way has a divine hand behind it…
Eventually, almost two hours later, an unknown car stops by. It is coming up the way the army truck had gone. The driver leans out and passes a packet to our driver and zooms up the silent mountain road. The packet contains just the part our vehicle needs…! I am baffled, absolute strangers connected by destiny and a smile…

We do find people who travel that extra mile for no other reason but because they gave their word… Thank God for them!

Samay ki ret..

Sitting on a new bench under an old, gracefully ageing tree, breathing timeless air…. surrounded by light that is softly filtering through the leaves…an unforgettable atmosphere is created… everything contributes to its uniqueness… cobwebs that have missed the gardener’s vigilant eye and thrive in forgotten corners…a delicate abandoned nest, still secure amidst branches, but empty. Wind that rustles and talks to the leaves like long lost friends. There is sheer poetry in the way colour fades from ancient walls and iron rusts on huge hinges. Ivy climbs and moss grows. Brave, little flowers push their way out of cobble stoned paths. These are not processes that follow any rules. They take their leisurely time to bring inimitable character to the surroundings where they exist. The gloss of newness fades into colours of immense character and depth.

Joining this timelessness is the sound of a hundred fresh young voices, soaring uniformly into a crescendo, like a flock of birds taking flight… singing an ancient hymn. I feel goose bumps rise on my arms.

It feels as if the chorus is echoed by the walls that have been witness to thousands of such mornings, over the years…
The desks tell forgotten stories… new students carve out fresh tales of their own on it…each one adding their imprint on that which existed before….

Our life is not in isolation, it is a super imposition on an existing design. We all leave our mark on it…changing it forever…. for better or for worse.

Remember this..

I am sitting alone in my balcony with a book. I got home after a busy day and am relaxing with a cup of tea and an interesting book. The late afternoon sun is lighting up the tips of the trees and the breeze is blatantly stealing fragrance from the vine laden with pink and white flowers. I inhale deeply. I am filled with gratitude for the beauty of this moment, I sigh…..a voice in my heart says, remember this…..

Remember the simple beauty of this day, or the beauty of this simple day…. whichever way I put the words, my mind understands what my heart is conveying. I pause and really become aware of this moment. The chirping of the birds, the distant roll of traffic, laughter of some children, the silence around and within me, the luxury of freshly made masala chai and the peace of my own company in my home. Remember this, the voice says, so you don’t forget what peace and harmony feel like. Through the rough times let this feeling guide you back to the sanctuary of your heart. Let this moment become a beacon to light up darker moments with its simple brilliance. After the highs of excitement and the lows of sadness, there is the beauty of the ordinary moment, a moment when nothing exciting is happening yet one feels blessed. A moment that is perfect in its simplicity and simple in its perfection. Grant me awareness of more such moments, so that I can find greatness in the beauty of the ordinary day…..and remember it….

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