The mocking mural


Have you ever felt like the universe is sending out messages to you? I ask because that’s what I’ve felt lately. Take for instance, this chain of events that have taken place over the past two days.

Yesterday, quite by accident, I came across a TED talk by Manoush Zomorodi, in which she explains the connection between boredom, or ‘spacing out’ and creativity. She conducted a challenge with her radio listeners, and asked them to switch off connectivity, and actually experience boredom. As she continued explaining, one of the things that struck to me was this:

Some of them (the people who took the challenge) told me that they didn’t recognize some of the emotions that they felt during challenge week, because, if you think about it, if you have never known life without connectivity, you may never have experienced boredom.

Watching the video, I couldn’t help feel smug. After all, I belong to the generation that grew up without affordable & accessible connectivity. I was also a very very reluctant social media user—mostly because of privacy concerns (I signed up for Instagram only last week!) I thought to myself, ‘we’d always find ways to remove the boredom from our lives through creative pursuits. What a pity, the youngsters of today have no idea what it was like, without phones and apps!’

In reality though, I was in denial. Over the past two days, Atul had chided me for looking at the phone constantly, checking my notifications, and not realising that there was tons of work to be done. (I’ve heard very similar rants from my parents too!) Okay, so maybe I was a bit caught up with this month-long challenge. “It’ll be different after November,” I had protested.

Today, I visited my Alma mater, Shaheed Bhagat Singh College, and saw these beautiful murals outside the cafeteria. As has been the case for quite some time, my friend Ankita and I took out our phones to take pictures.

Murals at Shaheed Bhagat Singh College
Fascinating and beautifully detailed murals by the students of Shaheed Bhagat Singh College

“So, are you going to post these to Facebook?” I asked her. “Oh, it’s not me, it’s you who’s going to be posting it!” she replied with a hint of mischief.

And that did it. With this chain of events coming together, the full effect of my denial towards my phone addiction, stood mocking at me.

Here’s a closer look at what I saw.

What was most ironical, was that my smug attitude about my immunity to social media addiction was clearly illustrated by the very generation of students whom I had pitied just yesterday.

I believe in signs, and when so many clues point in the same direction, it’s definitely a sign.

Here’s the full video of the TED Talk:

(If you’d rather read than watch, visit the TED transcript here)


This is post #25 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging


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Defining eyes


I first applied homemade kajal when I visited an acquaintance many years ago. While I waited for my friend to get ready to head out, I chatted with her mother — a tall and slim, simple rural Haryanvi lady. As our mundane conversation veered towards the use of kajal, she mentioned that she had prepared some herself.

I had a vague idea about kajal being nothing but soot. But the small boxes available in the market contain a sticky substance which smeared, so I wasn’t quite sure. She showed me her preparation. The homemade kajal that I saw was, indeed, soot and a tad rough to the touch. I gingerly dipped my finger in it and applied it to the waterline of my eyes. To my surprise, it spread easily and gave a beautiful definition to my eyes. I wondered how she had made it, but our conversation was interrupted, and I didn’t get the chance to ask her.

Life has a funny way of answering our questions, and seemingly disconnected memories find themselves being connected into one big picture. I had shelved this memory of the homemade kajal in the corners of my brain. Until one fine day — on the first Deepavali after our wedding, to be precise — I saw my in-laws performing a puja.

I saw them pray, and then light a large earthen lamp. They then placed an empty lamp, upside down atop the flame, supported by smaller lamps around the flame.

The next morning, I saw our own kajal, ready to be used.

Kajal
The soot collected overnight, a.k.a kajal

This is post #13 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

Circular Dependency


On a hot and sultry Sunday, I step out to go to the market. It seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the local roads. Perhaps it has. In the daily hustle and rush to the workplace, subtle things go unnoticed.

Of course the roads are nothing subtle really. One misstep, and the pothole can trip you. It would probably by fair to call it an obstacle course. I wonder if professional athletes train on the by-lanes of Delhi.

But today is different.

Between me and the market, stands a bright, black strip of tar.

I never thought the sight of roads would be so delightful. Like a weary traveller in a desert, I rush towards, what is possibly, a mirage.

I take a step, and my shoes grip the road. The tar has not yet dried out. I can hardly believe that after so many years, we have smooth road. I walk along, sceptical of it all. A while later, I let down my guard, and begin enjoying every moment of the sticky grip the road had to offer.

But thankfully, it doesn’t take long for me to return to reality.

Towards the side of the road, there is a patch of road which has not received the fresh coat of tar. It looks absolutely dry, and almost perfectly circular. It is almost as if it was deliberately left out, just to prove that the road is, indeed, new.

This circular patch presents itself every few metres, like milestones—only much more frequently.

Strangely, I feel reassured. A new road was too good to be true anyway.

* * *

Can only go up from here
Benches in various stages of construction on Tiger Hill. Considering this is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the place was in shambles when we visited. On a positive note, it can only go up from here!

I’ve pretty much wasted my free time today listening to old Shania Twain songs. I have a bunch of ideas I’ve been wanting to write about. But today, all I want to do is listen to songs by Shania Twain.

Going through the drafts of my blog, I unearthed this post — written 3 years ago, but never published. Quite like the pot holes of our streets, my blog swallowed this one whole! Oh, well, it’s on lazy, slightly confusing days, like today, that a draft comes in handy.

So who are you listening to today?


Photo taken with Moto G3. Click/tap to enter my Flickr Photostream.


This is post #10 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

Stop


I read a blog post today that, at first, irritated me. I typed out a comment, pointing out that the article had a sectarian and elitist outlook. Then I stopped myself.

I stopped because I felt it would be useless. I have come to believe that certain thoughts are ingrained in our sub conscious, and any change in opinion can only be brought from within — a realisation, you may say — and not from preaching.

The author had written about not understanding a different culture, and still criticised it as being backward.

I wanted to write that making such assumptions without even understanding why things are the way they are, was not fair, but I stopped myself.

I stopped because I saw myself making assumptions about the author’s motives. I did not know what the author saw that made them make the observations that they did.

I stopped because I was doing that very same thing that I had set out to make ‘right’.

And that is what I learnt today.

That silence isn’t necessarily a bad reaction to negative thoughts. And, perhaps, that’s what we need in today’s hyper-reactive world of 140 characters (or 280), that jumps to conclusions based on partial information, and can’t wait to throw in a comment.

Sometimes, we just need to stop.


This is post #6 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

To reveal, or not to reveal?


A prominent feature of Rajasthani architecture are the windows with their characteristic floral silhouette. When visiting monuments in the region, it is hard to resist the temptation of framing the magnificent views with the window. Ah, what a feeling it must have been, living in those palaces!

Alas, for women, not a very good one. The queens and princesses had their share of riches and maids and all luxuries that a royal household could provide. But freedom? Trapped in a tower, looking out of the window was the only freedom they had. Called jharokhas, the beautiful latticed windows were built to allow women to look at the world outside, without themselves being seen.

Here is one such window at Bagore ki Haveli, Udaipur. I wonder what must be visible through those tiny windows within the main window.

Latticed glass window
“What a wonderful world”

My previous posts of the Jag Niwas Island Palace and the Monsoon Palace were my favourite (and best) shots of windows with great views.

So this week, when the Daily Post asked us to show windows, I felt cheated. But considering what it must have been like for the women who looked out of these tiny windows, I don’t have any reason to complain.

Unacceptable


Sometimes, there are things we may like to do that are completely unacceptable to social norms. And so we avoid it.

For many, that is the way of life – to live someone’s version of life. Sometimes, that someone is a voice within us, fooling us into believing we’re in control.

What happens when you take the plunge and explore the other side of what is unacceptable?

Running away
From opportunities
From challenges
From suffering

Breaking down
Of the heart
Of barriers
Of walls

Streaming tears
Of sorrow
Of melting joy
Of realisation

What if, on closer inspection, what used to appear unacceptable, may in fact, be more acceptable?

Transition


From established comforts
To starting anew

From being a part of one family,
To belonging to two

From the yearly hop between two cities
To a traveling spree

From figuring out two cultures
To switching between three!

From the spoilt n lazy brat
To greater responsibility

From an individual
To managing a team and a family


The image featured above is of “Lovers Meet” – the confluence of the rivers Teesta and Rangeet. The viewpoint is located somewhere between Darjeeling and Gangtok.

Phoenix


For several years, we’ve had a lemon tree in our balcony. I don’t quite remember when it was planted. My guess is that it’s been with us for over fifteen years.

One of the oldest plants in our balcony, it had spread its branches wide. It occupied a lot of space, but not our attention. Not for the right reasons anyway. And like a child seeking affection, it tried to make its presence evident. Every time we went near it to hang the clothes out to dry, it would scratch our hands with its thorns.

Apart from the scratches, the only time the lemon came into our conversations was when our neighbour’s lemon would bear fruit. In its entire lifetime, ours never bore fruits.

My dad brought some fertilizers on the recommendation of our green-thumbed neighbour. Those chemicals were apparently for making the tree bear fruit. But that didn’t work. And so we gave up.

Perhaps it would never flower. It wasn’t supposed to be in a flowerpot anyway. It belonged to the earth. And so we began contemplating getting rid of the tree.

But we couldn’t bring ourselves to uproot it.

We heard our own voices, and it sounded like disappointed parents thinking about throwing their child away. Thankfully, my father refused to throw it.

As if expressing joy at my father’s faith, the following year, the tree surprised us with two small flowers. But that was it. The flowers fell off without turning into fruits.

Last year, a towel got caught up in the thorns of the lemon. Nothing unusual, except this time, the cloth caused our lemon flowerpot to fall and break. We quickly transferred the plant to another flowerpot. But the damage had been done. A few days later, the leaves dried up. Two weeks later, the tree was gone.

For many months, the leafless frame of the tree stood in the flowerpot, showing no sign of coming back. My father refused to clear it out. It would return, he said.

But my mother and I had no such expectations. We’d pretty much begun ignoring the remains of the tree.

Until a few weeks back.

Springing to life
Springing to life

The brown branches were beginning to wear a green coat, with tiny leaves peeping out from underneath the wooden blanket—after a long long winter’s slumber, the lemon was springing to life.

Whether or not it flowers again, it doesn’t matter. We’re just happy to have our lemon back.


The image featured in this post is my entry for this week’s Photo Challenge : Rule of Thirds. Check out more imagery at the Daily Post.

PS: I recently completed four years on WordPress 😀

Resolutions


I was desperate to get some rest, but sleep was the one thing that refused to come. Random thoughts and visions haunted me, interspersed with summons, as they were, directed towards me — by whom, I don’t know. I tossed and turned in the middle of the night, till I could take it no longer. And then I wrote this.

Resolutions
Resolutions

Read: Know and understand other people’s points of view. Interact often with fellow bloggers and chroniclers of the world.

Write: Share your world view. Even if it is going to be just you who reads it.

Draw: Complete the picture and fill it with colours of your choice.

Sing: Find your own voice and express yourself.

Jump: Make decisions and take that leap of faith.

Strangers in the train


Swiping away on my phone playing a popular game, I was sitting in the metro train. It was peak office hours and the coach was crammed.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a young lady gesturing to the passenger sitting next to me. If she said something, I didn’t hear. Partly because it was a little noisy; but mainly because I had earphones plugged in.

I looked up and realised what was going on. An elderly lady had been standing next to my seat and the young lady had requested my neighbouring passenger to give the old lady her seat. I realised her efforts were in vain and I got up to offer my seat.

As the elderly lady sat down, the younger one thanked me. I couldn’t say anything. Here was a girl who cared enough for a stranger. And there I was, oblivious to my surroundings.

I smiled sheepishly and thanked her in my mind.