Wednesday, March 16, 2011

An Ode to Ordinary Love

(There is nothing ordinary about it)

Could our love ever be the stuff of legends?
Would they read of it with wet eyes and broad smiles?
But we are simple people, you and I.
Simple people feeling extraordinary things.

Could we sing of it?
And would they hum the chorus?
Would it leave their lips but never their hearts, this love of ours?
Of us forgetables holding hands.

Would they talk of us when we are gone,
Like you do of me when I leave?
And I of your absence, limbless and incomplete?
Would they ever know about you and me?

Would they care for the music in our laughs together,
Or the way our fingers played?
Would they count the lines we carved on each other's palms,
One for each year we spent in love?

They would never chase the tears
Running down our faces to see where they ended,
The times of us ordinary lovers
Spent on sandy beaches.

*Dedicated to the love of my life, the cheese to my macaroni, the sun in my sky.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


As most of you would know, I did this course (Youth Empowerment Programme) by Chinmaya Mission in 2009. I would recommend it to everybody. I can call myself educated only after doing this course -- it really did put to shame all the years that was being taught how to read and write in school and college. Unfortunately, we might be literate, but the youth of India is terribly misguided and confused -- what's worst, we are UNINSPIRED.

A personal request to all to either sign up or pass it on to youngsters you may know who are interested in
1. Doing good work
2. Finding themselves
3. Are confused -- have time at hand and would like to use it well

This is largely a service program -- serving the country. We need youngsters who can tell wrong from right and who are inspired and creating an army of such inspired leaders is the objective of this course. Please take a minute and give it some thought.

The course fee is NIL (This is not an over-the-top MBA program. We are looking for inspired leaders in the literal sense, who are ready to give back to society).
The venue is Chinmaya Vibhooti, which is an hour's drive from Pune. (Don't expect traffic noise and skyscrapers)
The time period for the course is Two and a half months of training (at Vibhooti) followed by 12 months of service at various centres of Chinmaya Mission all over the country.

It is a wonderful platform for learning and implementing, through service in the field. Though a year seems like a long time, in a lifetime of 80 years, you can proudly say you gave a year to the service of your country.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Little Women

Chapter Twelve: In the End

Didi took a notebook out of her bag. She leafed through the pages and then plucked a photograph
from inside it.

On the left side stood this boyish girl with short-wavy hair and a stubborn look on her face. She stood in direct contrast to her pretty-in-pink sister, who smiled purposefully at the camera. Between them stood a man of rugged handsomeness, with a moustache set perfectly between his nose and upper lip, thick, black and its ends curled fashionably. He wore a smug look of pride. On the right stood a woman with a quiet confidence, smiling pleasantly as her perm made her thin face stand out, almost like she belonged in a pulp-fiction film poster.

When I turned the photograph, a vivid memory on paper, I felt my father’s pen in his handwriting. It said:

My Girls
The son and the moon,
And the blanket of the sky.
My little ones and the Mother,
How lucky was I.

Our lips curved into smiles as we read this, but our eyes gave the tears away. All this time we had wept over having lost him, but we never realized what Dad had to let go off...

His whole universe.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Little Women

Chapter Eleven: Lost and Found

Day Five

Well, it was only fair I got lost at least once during this journey. I am homeward bound and it is only fitting that I can’t find my way home. This time, I am not afraid of having lost my way. Maybe, somehow, I am turning into a traveller. Or maybe it has something to do with what lies in front of me right now.

Having asked for directions, referring to the map and still being lost, I just looked for the best spot in sight and parked the Bullet. I now sit on slightly wet grass, over-looking a lush green valley growing into a massive mountain of browns. If I peer closely, I see small streams, like waterfalls, amidst a billion shades of green and brown. Behind me are stretches of tar, swerving through the mountain as they lead the way for cars packed with holidaying uncles and aunties.

If this is what lost looks like, I don’t mind being lost all the time, at all. I feel like Dad. I know we have ‘lost’ him, but I now realize that there is a part of me that is him. In a sense, we will live forever.

Father holding daughter’s hand,
An interdependent feeling of growing together,
Tell me, Dad, should we walk or run?
You and I, a force forever.

The child in you,
Now here resides,
In the hole that is in me
And that keeps me alive.

We will grow wiser,
And you will remain,
The same old boy,
In the spaces of my young mind.

Let’s not stop and wait for the others,
We don’t run for them, but we travel together,
Hand-in-hand, heart-in-heart,
Brothers this moment, and friends in another.

We protect and preserve
The forces that bind us
A memory in a photograph
Because that’s all we have.

But we will act, not lose face or suffer,
Sing, dance and pray to be heard
Dad, take my hand, we’ll walk awhile longer
You and I, the force grows stronger.


I quickly packed my bags for the night and rushed to the car. I drove like a child on a sugar rush, indicator now, accelerator then. It was a long drive to Maa but with a little help from the radio and my crazy thoughts, I didn’t have much problem passing time. The traffic helped too.

Eeshu was coming home today. She has finally called to tell us she’d be reaching in the evening and she wanted to see us both. I hadn’t heard her voice in almost a week and we both weren’t used to that. I couldn’t wait to be pampered by Maa and showered with Eesh’s stories. That adventurous one! I always knew she’d do something to make women all over the world proud. At least I was proud. She did what she wanted to. I always knew she could do it, secretly.

Maa and I met, broke into a dance and I lunged to hug her. “Me too, me too!” Eeshu appeared out of nowhere. “I was supposed to welcome you! What are you doing here already?” I gave her tight squeeze. “Surprise!” she beamed.

It was an ideal day. All three of us, with our legs warming up inside the blanket, Maa feeding us great food and showing off her art work. It was great to see Maa so driven about something after so long. I felt how Picasso’s kid must feel, if he had one. My crazy baby sister had loads to tell as well. Mom would have tiny heart attacks every time she told us she got lost, or her bike broke down, but in all, we were all just relieved that she was back in one piece. Her friend Anuj, of course, was more relieved to have his bike back, in one piece.

Little Women

Chapter Ten: Wake Up!

I woke up with a start and reached for a pen and paper on the bed-side table. I started to sketch and the lines just flowed. I had dreamt of an image, a waterfall gushing into a still pond. The water landed on a lotus flower, that remained unperturbed by the heavy force of the water. I did not know what it meant, but within me, it stirred a sense of peace. I wanted to capture that picture in my mind onto paper. It became an incessant urge within me.

I hunted for my canvas and painting artillery. I had not painted in a long time. I impatiently squirted the paint onto the easel and my fingers began flowing. It was the journey of a life time. Sometimes the brush walked and at other times it ran. My fingers traversed the canvas for nearly four hours.

I finished the painting with a feeling of discovery. I had found something, and this time, I would not let it go.


Day Four

I was looking in the wrong place! While I was busy moping over my luck, there was someone waiting to help me. Little Kajal had been silently watching me and shyly came to me with her hands behind her back. She leaned on my bike and waited to catch my attention.
Her father owned a chai stall closeby and their house stood adjacent to it. That was my place of residence for last night. It was the most wonderful experience for a traveller. I had transitioned from a tourist to a local, overnight!

A family of six, six-year-old Kajal is the naughtiest of them all. Her laughter is contagious and her fearlessness, an inspiration. It makes me think whether I too was so bold when I was young. I am not sure I like growing up at all, at this point. I can feel the fear and cynicism creeping in. Perhaps I need a friend like Kajal to remind me to stay a child forever.

This family’s hospitality amazes me. It also amazes me how big-hearted people can be. I feel almost disgusted of having lived in a city - so much for progress and modernity. This is a better life, a simpler one. But I am not too sure how I’d survive like this for long. I am, unfortunately, a spoilt, city child.

Kajal’s father also got his friend to fix my bike. This means it is time to leave. When I tell Kajal this, she cries. I hug her, but I wonder why this child weeps at my exit, having known me barely for half a day. Did she think I was here forever? We are all on this journey, travelling our own paths. But when they cross, we are thankful to have met, I want to tell her. I am starting to realize now, that perhaps the same rule applies for my father’s exodus.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Little Women

Chapter Nine: Inside Out

Don’t panic, I told myself while I, well, panicked. I rummaged through my stuff. Dad’s gloves were missing. I could not have misplaced them, how could I have? He had given them to me. “Are you looking in the right place?” Ashinde repeated. Where could they have gone? I had kept them next to my jacket before I had dozed off last night, and now they weren’t there. I couldn’t think straight. Those gloves meant everything. It was almost like losing Dad again. The thought itself made my heart sink. “Calm down, little one. Where did you see them last? Think.” “I don’t know, they were here in the room...I showed them to you this morning, did I? Did I give them to you? Do you have them?” the words tumbled into each other. “You are looking for something, but you are not looking in the right place.” “Stop saying that! It’s not helping! They were my father’s. I told you how precious they were to me!” I dejectedly dropped myself on the bed and held my head in my hands, trying not to let the weight of my feelings translate into tears. In a half hearted attempt, I lifted my jacket with one hand and fidgeted inside the pockets. I found the gloves.

“See, Little one. This is what happens. You look everywhere and you have the gloves. Stop looking outside the pocket when it is inside. It is inside and you search outside. And then you cry about it like a baby. And now you found your Dad! Happy?”

Relieved, I repacked and got ready to leave with Ashinde by my side for a little while longer. He had decided to get off mid-way, giving me reasons I didn't quite understand. The ride was noisy, with Ashinde having something to say about everything, and then abruptly stopping, to give some room for introspection, I figured.

I would have to be the lone ranger from now on.


Day Three

Having survived two days in a land away from home, I am failing to love this feeling of discovery. Before leaving the house, I knew this journey would have been tough, but just how tough, I am now starting to see. I am, at this very moment, sitting on an uneven milestone, my broken machine parked next to me. I have a feeling it has something to do with the carburetor, or something else. May be I will find someone to help me. Am I looking in the right place? Or maybe I will have to find a place to stay around here, since it is getting dark. I suddenly feel insecure and in need of protection. I am starting to miss Mom.