In every Indian household, festivals are a special time. In my childhood, our home in the hills of Kohima was no exception. Those days there were no sweet shops around as they do now, and so, in the build up to the annual Durga Puja—the biggest Bengali festival of the year, we would wake up to the aroma of varying flavours as Ma and grandma would so painstakingly make, every afternoon, after the regular chores would get over. Continue reading
Every picture tells a story! To me, this picture of my son, when he was two, will always remain special.
Every picture tells a story! To me, this picture of my son, when he was two, will always remain special. This was taken in the summer of 2006 at Trafalgar Square, when my parents had come to visit us in the UK and we had decided to take them on a sightseeing trip to London.
2006 was a tumultuous year in my life for very personal reasons that I’m not going to elaborate here. While it was a year that I’d happily forget for a number of reasons, it is ironical, that I chose to hold onto one of the most defining moments of my life through this snapshot.
It reminds me of my younger days in beautiful Cheshire. It reminds me of hope, of unconditional love and innocence that reaffirmed my faith in life when there was every reason to give it all up. It reminds me of the little everyday moments with my son—of inane conversations, silly laughter, of playing rough-and-tumble and peekaboo, of humming along to our favourite nursery rhymes and cosy story times in cold and windy Manchester. It reminds me how I learnt to embrace motherhood after years of fearing that it would take away my independence and devour my solitude, and eventually, of my discovery that motherhood came as one of the biggest blessings that helped dispel my angst and hurt and helped me move on from the extreme negativity and depression that surrounded me at the time.
Some feelings and some experiences in life seem to defy description. They make you bask in their bliss and bring a smile to your lips, even when you know that you’ve had moments alongside those, that made you crumble and fall apart—both being equally real and powerful experiences but somehow, when you look back, you only wish to remember the one that brought you warmth and joy. Well, this picture falls into that category. That sense of purpose in the stride of my two-year-old marching with the pigeons always brings a smile to my face, leaving me with a warm fuzzy feeling that I felt that summer day in London.
Every time I see this picture, I remember myself being part broken, part happy and part despairing; feigning normalcy because I didn’t wish to talk about my feelings and yet, trying to be the best mum that I could ever be, to a little human being that needed me more than anything or anyone else.
It reminds me of a feeling that I’ve always cherished—the joy of being a mother, so unlike what I’d ever imagined in my life earlier, but one, that has since, given meaning to my life, and a purpose that I’ve held onto through the highs and lows of life.
Life brings tears, smiles and memories. The tears eventually dry up, and the smiles, well they fade too, but the memories linger on, and sometimes, as in the case of this picture, stay on forever!
Now that you’ve read all about my most cherished object, I’d love to know about yours too. Which cherished object do you hold close to your heart? I’ll be looking forward to reading your thoughts in the comments below.
Linking up with Damyanti for the Cherished BlogFest 2017 where people post about things/people they hold close to their heart. If you’d like to join in or just read the other blog posts related to this year’s Cherished Blogfest, do click here.
Last week in Bengaluru was quite a mix of rain and shine. As I watched the sun peep out from behind the clouds, my mind recalled an evening, almost similar to this one, when nothing was going right and hope was almost lost. I was a little girl in pigtails watching another sunset behind the hills. Naive, unprepared and apprehensive of things beyond my control. It was during one of the darkest phases of life, when time seemed to stand still and nothing seemed to change ever.
Contrasting it with my present, grateful that life has now taught me to be stronger, and aware of the world and it’s moments of unpredictability. Looking back, since then, so much has happened, worth being grateful for! One part of me resolves not to delve into the past again, and another one nudges me to look back, remember and reflect. I seem to have lost track of how many life lessons I have gathered this way!
In some ways, I am thankful for what I’ve been through during those early years of life. It has shaped me to be me, my thoughts and my stubborn positivity to keep going at it. This is why I do not like to give up on anything even today. Nothing comes easy in life really.But, I’m not delving into it. That’s going to be my post for another day.
While taking this shot, I kept deliberating on how life is such a juxtaposition of opposites, where joy walks hand in hand with sorrow, and blessings co-exist with burdens, and triumphs meet tragedies alike.
Our heart despairs one minute and bounces with hope, at the very next one. We tend to forget the present, but relive our memories that replay events from times gone by. Life never fails to baffle us!
Here’s another sky shot of the overcast sky contrasting with the ray of light. May you have a wonderful weekend to enjoy your weekly break and relax. Happy Friday to you all 🙂
Linking this with #Skywatch Friday, a community of sky watchers who are happy to present you with stunning sky views from all around the world.
(For Day Three of the Festival of Words hosted by Write Tribe from July 10 to July 16, 2016, I’m writing a photo post and a brief glance at my journey into the realm of photography)
There goes a well-known saying that a photo is worth a thousand words! I doubt if this dictum holds true anymore, considering that photography, once considered the privilege of a select few, is no longer so. Continue reading
As I mentioned in my previous post, the Sandakphu trek is perhaps one of the best and certainly the most popular of all the treks in Darjeeling for those having a limited time at their disposal. It offers the travellers an excellent view of the Kanchenjunga and the Everest group of mountain peaks in Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan.
The first part of the trek from Manebhanjyang to Tonglu is a steep 9 km uphill climb through a forest in the eastern Himalayas that leads one to a picturesque little settlement with a trekkers’ hut and solitude. On a clear day, one can get a fine view of the Nepalese valleys and of the plains of North Bengal with the snow-fed Teesta on the East, the Koshi on the West and a number of smaller rivers between them. Tonglu promises much and delivers for the most part.
The village is named after one of the higher peaks on the Singalila Ridge. It is located inside the Singalila National Park in the Darjeeling subdivision of the district, near the India-Nepal border.
Tonglu is also famous for The Trekkers Hut, which generally serves as a night halt for trekkers on their way to Sandakphu. Trekkers who usually reach here by evening, catch their breath from their day-long climb and sit by the hut, enjoying the magnificent views, as they are served Tongba, a fermented barley drink served in a bamboo container, to enjoy alongside. At 11,000 feet above the sea level, the peak and the surrounding areas are tranquil and there can be no better place than this, to soak in the peace and enjoy the beauty of the mighty mountains.
(Linking up with my very first post for #Friday Reflections on Write Tribe hosted by Sanch and Corinne. I am writing on the prompt – ‘If you could do something that you have never done before, what would it be? Why do you want to do it?’
This was my first real trek and I think my journey actually answered the question!)
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………-(This was chosen as a featured post for #FridayReflections🙂
That morning as I sat by the window, biting into my sandwich and sipping hot tea, I was suddenly taken back in time to a chilly morning many years ago.
It was October. We were in a remote little village called Rimbik, bordering Darjeeling. Facing the Himalayas, we stood, surrounded by an imposing range of hills full of conifers, in the Singalila National Park in West Bengal. Having started the descent from 12, 700 feet, we were a small group of people, returning from a very picturesque place called Sandakphu. It was nothing short of a dream come true, to have climbed the Sandakphu peak and witnessed the stunning views of the Himalayas, the evening before. The sight of the four of the five highest peaks in the world, Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu, seen from its’ summit was thrilling beyond belief and we felt a strange sense of accomplishment.
Our minds, as much as our cameras, had captured some exceptionally beautiful images. The magnolias and the rhododendrons were a treat to behold. The chirping birds, the pine forests, the bamboo forests and the whole picturesque surroundings made it even more memorable. The weather was not constant at all – one minute it was bright and clear, but the very next, it would get super foggy, only to clear up by dusk and lo and behold, right there before us, was the most glorious sunset ever seen. The clouds floated by, with not a care in the world, and so were we, lost in the beauty of the majestic mountains!
Our lives seemed petty, before the awe-inspiring sight in front of us as we headed down, with sore knees, back to the base camp.
My fellow trekkers were all on a mission of sorts. Having quit our respective jobs and with definite ambitions to explore the unknown, all of us seemed to be on a pilgrimage — only that this had nothing to do with religion. It was more of a quest, to know oneself. As Thoreau once said, “Not until we are lost, do we begin to understand ourselves.”
And this is what we must have all been looking for, on that trek — each trying to find the answers to the questions plaguing us. The trek we were on, gave us an unparalleled opportunity to rummage through and then, question, critique and weigh out every idea from the depths of our consciousness, at an unhurried pace and in perfect harmony with nature. (How I wish I could go back in time once again!)
Over the three days of trekking, I remember how often we had moments of absolute quiet, when we sat on the edge of a cliff, gazing into the vast expanse ahead of us and thinking our own thoughts. One was busy scribbling into the log book, the other staring into rapturous admiration at the mighty soaring Kanchenjunga. The other two were busy reading, when not taking photographs and generally looking lost, as if the object he was looking for, lay there, hidden in the midst of the unknown. One thing was certain. For all of us, the trek was deeply metaphorical. The journey was mostly inwards. We all had our own battles to fight. There was no reason to break the perfect silence which surrounded us. And we seemed to be in perfect harmony with nature. The sound of silence surrounded us everywhere.
Perhaps, the reason for suddenly remembering all that, so many years later, sitting in the comfort of my warm sunlit home, was in recalling what might have been going on in our minds that day. I guess it had to do with us being young and full of adventure, of willing to risk it all and take on a gamble. With time, the biggest casualty for all of us has been this sense of adventure, hardened as it were, by living life and seeing the world in a different light.
The memory of that morning in Rimbik, is still fresh today. I can almost see myself seated on a wooden bench, having hot tea and biscuits by a roadside tea stall with my friends. I remember the feeling of being free. It was wonderful traveling alone, with my thoughts unbridled, unhindered, to help me make sense of where I was heading to, in life — and where I wanted to be.
As time passes, of the many things that have come and gone in our lives, travel has been a constant. I have enjoyed every journey taken. And, almost every trip has taught me, in a unique way, how much there is to discover, every time we set foot outside our comfort zone.
That is precisely why we need to push ourselves out into the unknown every now and then.
That’s the only way to grow I think.
Known originally by the name ‘La Ville des Fleurs’ (The City of Flowers), Quatre Bornes is a town in Mauritius, located in the Plaines Wilhems District, that lies sandwiched between the towns of Beau-Bassin Rose-Hill and Vacoas-Phoenix. Its’ present name is derived from French, meaning “four boundaries”, referring to the boundary stones that marked the limits of four large sugar estates once situated there. Sugarcane is still produced in the surrounding areas as an important crop. Today, Quatre Bornes is a fast-growing, mainly middle-class residential and commercial centre linked to the capital city of Port Louis, that has emerged as an important hub of urban life in this island nation.
It is here that our journey began when we first landed in Mauritius, one Wednesday afternoon, in the middle of an anti-cyclone and torrential downpour, many years ago. After a brief meeting with a few senior folks at Jay’s new office in Moka at the foot of the Mountain Ory, we headed straight for a Chinese meal at King Dragon in Quatre Bornes! That was our first ever encounter with a town that was later to become the hub for most of our networking and social activities during the course of our stay in the island.
Before moving to Mauritius, we lived with Jay’s parents for a while, so, it was actually in Mauritius that we set up our home for the first time. How wonderfully exciting the whole task of doing up the place was, of buying household stuff together and my first experience of cooking three proper meals in a day(phew!!!). I had never shown the remotest inclination towards cooking or any other household chores or activities ever before, so I was also in serious disbelief seeing myself cook, wash and clean with a new-found zeal and finding in a whole new avatar! Legally not allowed to work, I was busy learning the ropes of effectively running the house and decided to join language classes at the Alliance Francaise in Port Louis and Oil Painting classes at Quatre Bornes to meet up with like-minded people and relieve myself of the monotony that comes with living in a new country. A decision that earned me some lasting friendships
Those days, Jay’s cousin who lived in Quatre Bornes used to invite us home every Friday evening for a little get-together. Besides, we also had a wonderful friend called Benita who lived a few steps away from her place. Quatre Bornes also reminds me of the Sunday Market, (more of a flea market) that we all loved going to! At the Indian Women’s Cultural Association (IWCA Office) I also briefly attended Yoga classes! Our favourite haunt for a Mexican meal was also in Quatre Bornes. So, you see how handy it was for us, living right next door in Rose Hill and hopping over to Quatre Bornes!
Today, memories come flooding by, as I recall those years. What wonderful times we all had then! The contrast of colours, cultures and tastes had made our stay in the island all the more charming. Those two years in Mauritius, were well and truly the best years of our lives. So much has changed in our lives since then. And, yet, some things never change because the human mind has a way of capturing the essence of the moments to flash it again years later in a very different context, to merit the question -‘…did all that really happen?’.
Today, my heart fills up with gratitude for the good times we shared, the friendships we built and the lasting memories that are left behind.
I wrote a poem for you dadu. I so wish you were here today so I could read it out to you.
Some grandpas have ears that listen,
arms that always hold,
love that’s never ending
and a heart that’s made of gold!
My grandpa was just like that. Continue reading