Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Eat, Pray, Love

"This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something."

~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

This was one confusing read for me, apart from the occasional nuggets of wisdom like in the above quoted lines. I swung between hatred and love and then sometimes it was just unadulterated disenchantment. Now before I plunge deeper into my regrets, I must confess of being somewhat of a literary snob. Almost a decade of studying and a year of teaching literature has done this to me. But I did stray many times and found pleasure being on the other side, my most favorite being Bridget Jones, for I could actually identify with so many of her blunders.
Coming back to Elizabeth Gilbert's journey, I finally fell prey to it despite the years of resistance, ever since its stellar release. The reason - having watched the movie Eat, Pray, Love for the second time recently, and being once again moved by Julia Robert's brilliant performance (when has she ever been dull?!). My other reason for picking it up - I hoped it would have a cure for my personal disillusionment with life at the present moment, and that I would get to mend certain aspects of my writhing and wringing world. But this was one of those rarest of times, when the film adaptation stirs you more than the book itself. May be it was the superficial tone or the effect of too many bad, needy jokes, but a large part of it felt like reading out of the diary of a troubled teenager often obsessing over something as trivial as her first pimple.

Having said that, no one can take away the writer's courage and faith for embarking upon this remarkable journey, both physically and spiritually. Kudos to her for learning the daunting Sanskrit scriptures and mastering the art of meditation, which, I am sure, many of us Hindus haven't dared to and probably never will. But I just failed to make a connection with her predicament, or to get inspired from her experiences. I even went back to Goodreads to check out a few more reviews and was relieved to find that nothing was wrong with me. Well, not here, at least.

And when I was too distracted by the overwhelming self-love in the book, I chose instead to stare at this Buddha bookmark and draw from the pool of serenity cascading from that eternally radiant face.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Old tombs

My parents left yesterday evening and since then the emptiness of the house has been quite overwhelming, much more than what I had expected it would be. Ten great days punctuated by momentary disagreements (courtesy my string of tiring Virgo compulsions) sure did a world of good to the loner inside me. Now that they are gone, the gnawing unfamiliarity of everything has come back to haunt me once again. After all, amid all the chaos of the known and the unknown, the old and the new, they are the only ounce of belonging that encourages me to hang on and keep trying.

In my desperate attempt to unearth the old signs and songs that my heart was once so well versed with, I have embarked upon a determined journey - to go back to those places that once upon a time had rooted me to this colorful city. What could be more reassuring for a pair of searching, doubting eyes than a walk down the precious past. So braced with my parents and some cherished old memories, last weekend, I marched hopeful and brave toward my favorite jaunt in the city - the eternal Qutub Shahi tombs. Popularly called the Seven tombs for the seven members of the Qutub Shahi dynasty buried there, these cluster of soot-soaked mausoleums bathed in a charming timelessness has always held a special place in my heart. And this time, this is what what I came back with. 

A place of paradoxes. Enveloped in lush greenery yet covered in the dust of time and neglect, the blackened domes stand proud and mighty against all odds. A place of reverberating serenity. Pearly plumerias adorn the shaded path to the tombs while the quivering bougainvillea petals veil the weathered sepulchers in a dreamy magenta sheen. The soporific, monotonous cooing of the pigeons perched inconspicuously in the latticework. A place of surprises. The intricately detailed alleys and passages come to life with the echoes of footsteps while opening up to an unexpected facade at every turn. A place to get lost for hours. The fast fading but still breathtaking blend of Persian and Pashtun architecture takes one back to the days of poetry and grandeur. The mortuary bath, the carelessly covered sarcophagus, the dilapidated mosques strewn here and there, the watchful minarets, the aging bougainvillea - all define a time that is surely lost, but can still be felt.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Both sides

Having nothing much to say or share at the moment for a combination of various odd reasons, thought posting this song, that has been playing on my mind for some time now, would be a good change. When one finds it difficult to have one's usual way with words, I believe, one should best remain quiet. You see, they have to come to you, words.
And so, I will let Joni Mitchell's clever and comforting words speak on my mute behalf. They have often provided me solace in strange times, and the most when I have been a stranger to myself. When the whys and hows of the world are hurled from every possible direction at you. When you realize that 
it doesn't always have to be an epic, cinematic tragedy for the old heart to be tired. That a whimper is all it takes to break it, yet again.

 (Photo courtesy: Wikipedia)

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I've looked at clouds from both sides now

From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As ev'ry fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way

But now it's just another show
You leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away

I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say "I love you" right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost, but something's gained
In living every day

I've looked at life from both sides now 
From win and lose and still somehow 
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all
I've looked at life from both sides now 
From up and down, and still somehow 
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

~ Joni Mitchell, 'Both Sides, Now'

Friday, July 13, 2012

A tag and some waiting

The other day Ash from M*U*S*I*N*G*S tagged me in one of her posts. Honoured and glad as much as I was, it wasn't without a hint of wariness. Reason - it involved answering a few questions, something which I was never really good at. But I have promised Ash I will give it a shot nonetheless, and my best one at that. So here they go.

Q. When did you start blogging and why?
A. I started blogging three years back due to many reasons but primarily out of boredom. Very soon I realised I could make this my healing space, my cathartic pad. Also, I love writing and a blog is the best way to maintain one's flow with words.

Q. What makes life worth living?
A. That this is just the one chance you get and you gotta live it!

Q. What do you like doing in your spare time?
A. I mostly read or try to be the compulsive shutterbug that I am. Writing, baking and gardening are my other favourites, not necessarily in the same order though.

Q. Who was your first celebrity crush?
A. Rahul Dravid! The love affair continues till this day!

Q. What one quality would you give the most importance while choosing (or having chosen) a life partner?
A. A good sense of humour. I know people would blindly go for honesty, but I would rather have the laughs!

Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. As a freelance writer, I love the spontaneity and variety of my work. And of course, the creative aspect as well.

Q. Are you happy with your present choice of career, or would you rather be doing something else?
A. Since we just moved back from the States, I am actually in search of a full time job. Once I get one, will let you know about it.

Q. Do you follow your head or your heart more?
A. If you must know, I have two hearts!

Q. If you were given the chance to rewind your life and do any one thing differently, what would that be?
A. There are so many things that come to my mind. But yes, I would have liked to be done with my PhD by now.

Q. How would you react if you were being followed by a shady-looking character in a secluded place?
A. I am quite a shaky character already, so probably would call a friend just to chat and shoo away the nervousness and take an immediate detour.

Q. Tell me about someone whom you've met in the strangest of manner, who has then gone on to become an integral part of your life.
A. A person I met long ago while travelling in train to my home state. Our conversation started in the most awkward of manners and today he is one of our few reliable friends in this city.

P.S. My parents arrive tomorrow morning. What I feel is beyond words, but once they are here and I've spent a few good days of great food and peace may be I'll be able to tell it all. I have so many lists running rampantly on my mind regarding what to eat, where to go and what to buy. Busy as these precious ten days will be, I'll be peeping in and out of blog-land to keep a tab on my favourites. 
Having said that, I go back to my waiting and so does this meticulously arranged room for their arrival.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A little rain

Sometimes a small moment is big enough, and in more ways than one could possibly think of. With a significant chunk of our worlds throbbing in tiny capsules of the ever enticing internet, naturally this has something to do with my virtual existence. A few days back, I received an email from a long lost friend, a bond that was once formed in an online community over our love for a common Urdu poet, Gulzar. The subject of the email just read - 'You love poetry, you had told me once' - and the body contained nothing but yet another forgotten poem - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Rainy Day.
Now odd as it might seem, but there's this quirky, serendipitous destiny of mine when every time I am in search of that little something to stir me and can't figure out what it exactly is for the life of me, something like this happens. Someone from the ancient past, long washed away by the tides of time or just obscured by the unanswered ways of life, would make his/her way back into my life. And my day would be made, just like that, smooth and uncreased like a freshly made bed.

Having nothing more to write but much to mule after, I would leave this poignant, heart-tugging poem for you. Since it's raining (it always does, isn't it?!) for more or less everyone, be it the literal or the metaphorical shower, I hope this would be a good, invigorating read.

"Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
   Some days must be dark and dreary."

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Rainy Day

Because sometime in the 'mouldering Past', in a little pastoral corner of Virginia, it looked like this after an unexpected midsummer shower.

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