Monday, August 31, 2009

And she continued searching...

Kya karen zindagi, isko hum jo mile
Isski jaan kha gayi raat din ke giley.

Raat din giley....

Yet another soul searching number from Gulzar saab in the latest Bollywood hit Kaminey. How many times has the man done it? Weaving poetry and sense from everyday words and scenes... Before I get too carried away with my Gulzar-mania, I must restrict myself to my purpose. Such ordinary lines (and here I go again) and there opens a window to our endless war with life about shattered dreams and thwarted desires. And why not? For one is yet to meet a man to have tread the earth who would say "I've got whatever I wanted from my life, I am actually happy." Why should the realisation of happiness be so difficult? The other day I was watching Woody Allen's recent Academy flavoured Vicky Christina Barcelona and as always it happens after watching a signature Allen film, I was left thinking, thinking hard this time. I was intrigued by the character of Christina who is a nonconformist and is introduced by the narrator with these lines -- "If you asked her what it was she was gambling her emotions on to win, she would not have been able to say. She continued searching... certain only, of what she didn't want." In real life, we all are Christinas, in one way or the other. We all share her predicament and are very sure of what we don't want. Miraculously, it is a cakewalk listing out the I-don't-wants in life. But who can define what is it that we actually want? Ah.. if only! Now there lies the real sting!

Again there's this universally acknowledged truth that when one part of our life flies high in the sunny blue skies, the other spectacularly crumbles to pieces with a loud thud. How often the 'all's well with life' is just a flicker of a moment! The moment when we realise we have all we need, the conviction is lost and so is the moment. Even Facebook has quizzes that have the brains to calculate how happy one is with one's life. Probably because we humans have always calculated it in the negative! Jokes aside, how demanding can it be to put aside the blame games and the complain conspiracies and be peacefully content with one's share? Of course, it is often convenient enough to hurl the nameless acquisitions at life and call it unfair, but isn't it time we learn to be a little at ease with ourselves? Definitely soul searching can be very enriching as an experience, but at times it is just wise to resist the alienation from reality. May be it's time to kick out the whining void of wants and let in some fresh air. Christina, go take a walk!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Autumn therapy

Wings of feisty yellow and fiery red
flutter elfishly on the earth's mosaic-ed face.
A subtle pattern here, a mellow contour there
a delightful burst of life all around.
The greens of yesterday have emptied the sun,
having drunk its moods and colours, sip by sip.
Maple reds, Birch yellows, Oak golds....

Sure, there's a spell I can hear!
For this surreal, painted landscape --
Can this be real?
Must be the heady smell of the ripe, plump air!
Or perhaps something with the sun kissed colours
that nudge a nostalgic nerve of lost, forgotten years.

The flaming canvas ignites a soothing warmth
in the cold, dark chambers of my mindscape.
This golden panorama rekindles
a lost sense of tranquility.
Maple reds, Birch yellows, Oak golds...
Yes, colours can cure.
Sure enough, autumn does heal.

Thanks for everything

Two souls snuggled
under a lone umbrella,
their cloistered world peopled with raindrops outside.
Rain, the divine intervention, as someone had once called it!
The umbrella is a shield.
It muffles the unpleasant worldly advice of caution.

Rain or tears...
Who drenched me?
I would not know.
I could not feel.
Could only hear a defeated, hesitant whisper....
"Thanks for everything".

My eye lids felt tired and heavy.
The dream sitting on them had left.
But the rain was there, still hitting hard as ever,
chilling me from skin to bone.
As if to remind me of the reality clock ticking away...
Ah! So it was a dream after all!

I kept thinking of the faceless stranger under my umbrella.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Maid of the Mist

Some legends live forever, spinning the tales of a magical past and its incredible splendors. Tirelessly told and treasured over generations, they uphold the essence of their once credible past. During our recent visit to the Niagara Falls, we chanced upon the various stories that have associated themselves with the intriguing history of the magnificent falls. After watching 'Niagara - Legends of Adventure' in the park's IMAX theatre, it felt as if the raging waters of Niagara carried an altogether different meaning. The daredevilry of people in the past who challenged the fury of the falls is indeed stomach churning. From the French rope walker Charles Blondin who walked across the perilous river on a tight rope to the 63 years old school teacher Annie Taylor who of her own volition chose to tumble over the thundering cascades in a barrel, the mysteries and myths of Niagara are astounding. What is even more fascinating is that these bravehearts not only survived the ordeal but also lived to recount their moment of glory. However Lelawala's story was the one that had a lasting impression on my thoughts.

Hundreds of years before, when the place was chaste and untouched by the European explorers, an Indian tribe by the name of Ongiara dwelt on the banks of the Niagara river. The Ongiaras worshiped Hinum, the God of thunder who lived with his two sons in the caves behind the falls. Every year the Indians offered the fruit of their harvest to appease their thunder god. But there came a time when many of them died for unknown reasons. The Indians were wary and thought of ways to curb the mishap. Instead of sending the annual canoes laden with fruits and flowers down the river, they decided to sacrifice the most beautiful maiden of the tribe every year to please Hinum. One such year Lelawala, the daughter of the chief was chosen. On the day of the ceremony Lelawala was bedecked with flowers and a doeskin garb. After the ceremonial feast, she stepped into a canoe and rowed towards the caves of Hinum. She plunged into her death as the canoe tumbled off the edge and cascaded down the turbulent falls. Hinum's two sons caught Lelawala in their strong arms as she fell and were mesmerised by her beauty. Each of them desired her. She promised to accept the one who told her the reason behind the unexpected deaths. They told her about a giant snake that poisoned the water once a year to get near its victims. Lelawala remained loyal and returned as a spirit to warn her tribe about the monstrous snake. As a consequence, the villagers waited for the snake and mortally wounded it when it visited the river banks the next year . The snake returned and lied limp across the river dying, with its head on one side and the tail resting on the other, forming a semi-circle. This later came to be known as the Horseshoe Falls. It is said that Lelawala's soul still lives in those caves and it is she who creates the spectacular mist and reigns the Horseshoe Falls. Since then she has been called the Maid of the Mist.

This story might be just like any other mythical folklore that leaves one in an imaginary realm for a certain time. Of course the reason behind the mist is quite obvious. The Horseshoe falls is 53 meters (173 ft) high and when the voluminous waters crash on the rocks beneath, they give rise to a gorgeous blanket of mist. But when you are there, amidst the hovering gulls in the misty breeze and the deafening roar of the falls, you might just as well keep the facts at bay. Because it, definitely, is an experience of lifetime. For only a maiden so beautiful and pristine as Lelawala could conjure up the resplendent, foggy mist that veils the caves behind the falls. To leave such a place with a feeling of being enchanted and intoxicated is certainly much more enriching than it is to analyse it as a factual piece of wild nature. Call it a nature lover's eye after all!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Little somethings

An unexpected drizzle in a summer afternoon, a falling autumn leaf, the wafting aroma of ginger tea, a restless squirrel scurrying up and down the tree, the surprise of a perfectly golden dawn... These are just a few of such countless everyday scenes from regular life. Yet there's a little something in all of them. Yes, the little somethings.
What is it exactly that often catches us unawares? Like magic we travel across borders of time and space with a fuzzy, warm feeling in the stomach. I, for one, get ecstatic whenever I would manage a little jig in the rain, or see a new bud popping out on my frail potted geranium. Such moments witness an abandonment of the cares, as if a world bustling with urgency and responsibility could always wait! At times like these I often find myself wrapped in high spirits and aboard Aladdin's magic carpet. Of course, I'm an incurable romantic! But there is certainly a lot more to it. These otherwise mundane happenings spread a certain positivity and hope. For some blessed moments it feels that the world around us is forgiving and innocent. That it actually has one single, straight face. Hypocrisy seems like a myth that has gathered dust over years of neglect. A mellowed tone blankets my thoughts, which otherwise normally take an erratic course on foggy days. An incredible feeling cracks me up from inside. A voice sings to me - "life is beautiful... tra la laa laaa..."
But sad it is, that quite often we brush aside these innumerable eloquent moments as mere insignificant trifles. In the name, or rather excuses, of aims and ambitions we nudge the beautiful slideshow of life with a cold, indifferent shoulder. If only one knew then that once gone, they go away for ever. For the flowers do have a mind of their own, never the bird will sing the same song again and not always a morning rises up with rosy, golden hues. So carpe diem, my dear friends. Seize the day!
Perhaps I should turn to Gulzar, who always does perfect justice to my incoherent thoughts --
"Choti baatein, choti-choti baaton ki hai yaadein badi,
Bhoole nahin beeti hui ek choti ghadi."
(It is the little things in life that are remembered the most,
And I haven't forgotten a single such moment spent...)

A summer rain

Pomegranate blossom in rain

The rain waltzes in with the august company of myriad hopes.
The oozing odour of the wet earth
unhinges my complete being.
I strip myself of the much accumulated worldliness
to partake in nature's pagan celebration.
My thoughts march ahead and rest on the rain drenched greenery.
Green... the harbinger of optimism!
Isn't rain cathartic?

I watch the quivering leaves flinch,
feverish with the weight of the promiscuous rain drops on them.
The droplets dangle precariously,
queued on the edge of the leaf,
as if to leave would mean the end of the world!
But, isn't life all about holding fast?
To someone, to something?

I can hear the rain seeping into my head.
I can feel my vision blur.

I am all that I have

Gigantic spruce and pines engirdle my vision
watchful, stern as armed guards.
Rhododendrons of a bloody hue
proud of their plump bloom,
flank a choking-green yard.
Shivering thistle leaves promise a good summer.
Only what kind of summer, I ponder...
Unknown birds sing unheard tunes as if,
their lyrics were potent enough
to germinate a belongingness!

Strange, a nature so unscathed and unmarred,
everyday bruises my identity!
These hardly seem mine...
the trees, the flowers, the birds.
All beautiful, in such proximity
and yet so much distanced!
They can charm and excite,
and yet fail to captivate the 'me'...

A foreign me
that searches for trails of known-ness.
For sunny, tropical faces
For spices wafting in the air
For the known cacophony of crows, of blaring honks.
This frozen, alien nature,
this unaccustomed earth...
This is not mine.
Only, I am all that I have.

P.S. This was written with certain pre-conceived, foolish notions of a hopeless romantic about her initial experiences of being the 'foreigner'. Even the sylvan abundance of Seattle had failed to soothe her homesickness back then!

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