Sunday, July 16, 2017

Hope"fully" In Love

Two eyes
Hypnotize
Mesmerize
No lies
Two eyes

Two hands
Running errands
Fighting fiends
Holding last strands
There is no end
Two hands

Two legs
Spiraling webs
Around my crests
Two legs

One heart
Band-aid & darts
Rising above
Hope"fully" in love
One heart.

<3 p="">

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Why was it important for a 30 year old Indian girl to travel alone across Europe?

Delft, Netherland was not on the list, but turned out to be one of the best part of the journey

There are certain things you HAVE to do in this lifetime. Then there are certain things you THINK you have to do in this lifetime. Then there are certain other things you think you SHOULD have done in your lifetime. A lot of us fall in the last category. You must be thinking that the lifetime isn't over yet, then why talk in past tense. But as a matter of fact, it IS over sometimes. Rarely does it happen that once cowered down by life and finding it hard get back on your own, you extract that last morsel of strength in your deepest guts to give life a kick back, that YOU are not over yet! That you live, not just exist.

Getting 30 year old is complicated, in many ways. I am not undermining any other stages of life, but 30s, IT is something. Either you give in to the template that the society has in store for you or you die fighting(I may have exaggerated that one a bit ;)). The fears you had been running away from so far, come bang on in your face. The regrets you had safely tucked in a corner until now, start to crawl out of the little crevices and appear in their full blown might. And sometimes you start to question the decision and choices you have made in life. And existential crisis, don't even get me started on that. Existential crisis makes Quarter life crisis seem like a local goon in a low budget Bollywood movie. Existential crisis is the reason Quarter life crisis became a goon in first place. Existential crisis is the don who looms behind the shadowed realm of doom. He, who, demolished the modesty of quarter life crisis' mother and made his father drink his own pee, all in front of his eyes. Existential crisis made quarter life crisis cry for being such a cissy.

Going solo was less of a choice and more of a thing that I had to do since I found no company, so I packed up and left. And now coming back to the question why was it important for a 30 year old Indian girl to travel across Europe, alone? The answer lies simply in two words, because SHE CAN. Sometimes it is important to make someone realize that, cause in daily dilly-dallying of things it is natural to forget our own capabilities that are beyond the way we have been conditioned through life.  Ever since we girls are born, we are told a certain set of things, to behave in a certain manner. What you think may not resonate with people you meet, are related to or get associated with over the time. This changes the way you perceive things. That you need to be dependent on someone, or have a goal-set based on your age. Married at this age, kid at this age, house at this age. But trust me, there is no fuckin time bomb on your head.

Having said that, I can never thank my family enough for not creating a war-like state when I first disclosed the idea. I can never thank them enough to not think that I wasn't serious. and it is not just a "phase" that will pass. Sometimes it is important as it gives you strength to pursue what you strive for. Special thanks to my parents for trying to understand and understand to a certain extent, that why it was important for me to go to Europe, that too solo. It was scary to start with, but I gained courage when they thought it was possible and in fact, quite expected me to do that. All this, while me being a girl. And this is where the role of an Indian parent becomes very important. To trust their kids, to know that the education they get while on the road is something the parents will never be able to impart, to give them wings to fly the day they were born. You need to realize that they are grown ups now, big enough to take their own decisions. Big enough to make their own mistakes and gain their own experiences, which they can impart to their kids.

The kids now have so many "unconventional" career choices at their will, they can travel anywhere and still be earning great money. School textbooks can't explain the feeling when you are at the hospitality of a warm village family in remote parts of India, or the carefree attitude of people in Berlin. You gain a new perspective-about life or the lack of it! It is like, the more you know when you are out, you realize how less you know.

Solo trip may not always be fun. There may come ups and downs that sometimes get out of your hands, like the time when I lost my way to my hostel in Amsterdam at 1 am. I didn't even remember the name of the hostel or the name of the street. It doesn't feel great when you don't know the language and hence cannot figure out the way to the city center or tourism office and you want to cry as you have already missed two buses because of that. It is rough to eat alone outside in cold for an overpriced food, cause you didn't make the reservation. While it may ring hollow to hear from someone you do not know so well and find it hard to believe, but when you come out of your first solo trip after facing any kind of hardships, you will be OK. Very different, but OK.

The trust you develop in humanity is something you cherish for your life. Like the number of times I was dropped off to my destination by strangers, who just wanted to help a girl who was alone in a new country. Or when a girl offered me her house to stay for the night cause my hotel, somehow, got cancelled on my first night in Europe. It feels amazing to see Eiffel tower at night in its full glory and city of Paris from the summit. It is awe-inspiring to see the 16th century paintings and architecture even though you can't make the head or tail of it. It is exciting to get lost with your phone dead and just a map of paper in your hand, or to strike an interesting conversation with people you meet on the way.

Columbus discovered America while travelling, may be you will also discover an island someday and show it off to the world. Island that has become of you, dissociated from the person you are or wanted to be. Sometimes, it can help empty your head and take better personal and professional decisions. My solo trip to Europe is now a reservoir, I go back to it when I am feeling low and pick out little drops of joy that I had felt when I was there.  It has been exactly a year since and it feels just right to write about it now. I can't wait to do it again :)


Monday, April 24, 2017

Tungnath-Chandrashila-Deoria Tal

View from Tungnath on a clear day
The clouds had come down to greet us
Panoramic view from the temple




How often do you visit a place thrice in a span of 5 years, that includes 500 kms of serpentine mountain drive. But still you yearn to go back soon? Not much, I guess.  When mountains call, you have to return the call? Cheesy? My bad! But what can be said about the mountains without sounding corny? What can be said that has already not been said?  Mountains and beaches are addictions, it is truly said. They calm your soul like a panacea for all your woes.

Which is why when my friends said, they wanted to visit Tungnath over the long weekend, I was ready without a doubt. A drive of 500 kms one side, including 250 kms in the mountain was challenging, but not enough to subdue my enthusiasm one bit. We started on Friday morning and after overcoming heavy long weekend traffic at different places, especially at Rishikesh, where it seemed whole of northern India had come, we were at Chopta in 12 hours. We crossed quaint towns of Devprayag, Rudraprayag, Srinagar(Garhwal), Ukhimath guided by different forms of river Ganges before finally reaching Chopta.

Chopta is called the Switzerland of Uttarakhand and for a reason. The drive from Chopta to Tungnath can easily be one of the most beautiful drives you have ever taken in India. The lush green trees creating boulevard of sorts on your way, along with the breathtaking view of Chaukhamba and Nanda Devi range, is a sight to kill for or may be die for. It is surrounded by forests of pine, deodar and rhododendron and is rich in flora and fauna. It is the gateway to the gorgeous treks to Tungnath and Chandrashila.

We made a pit stop at one of the most beautiful camps with one of the best views in the region, the Pristine Peak Camps. Though you can find cheaper options, but their services and the camp itself was impeccable. We chilled at the bonfire for a while, then after having dinner we had the soundest sleep in a long while. The area was so quiet that we had to talk in whispers and it felt like a sin to disbalance the harmony of that place.

Pristine Peak Camps
Tungnath temple
Next morning we were Tungnath- Chandrashila bound. Tungnath is the highest Shiva temple in the world and is the highest of the five Panch Kedar temples. It is a sacred pilgrimage, so it is our duty to maintain the sanctity of the place. It is located at an altitude of 3680 m(Mount Everest is at 8848 m for reference). Tungnath is indelibly linked to the origin of the Panch Kedar temples built by the Pandavas. It is a 4 km trek, which can be easily covered in 2.5 hours as the way to the temple is paved. The beautiful scenic beauty of Chaukhamba and Nanda Devi range accompanies you for the entire trek and motivates you when sometimes your last strand of courage starts to give up.

The view from the top is breath-taking especially on a clear day. On my second trip I had reached on a rainy day and as soon as it had stopped raining after a heavy downpour, the whole sky cleared up and the mountain ranges below stood before you till the eyes could see. The view is something that can't be explained in words or captured in pictures. In front of you there are lush green meadows on which the cattle graze against the backdrop of snow-capped peaks and you think to yourself, this is what real, unadulterated happiness feels like.

That's Chandrashila on the top
About 1.5 km from Tungnath is where the trek to Chandrashila starts. One can get 360 degree panoramic view of the major ranges of Himalayas. Hence the beauty of the sightings here is indescribable. You have to see it to believe it! Pictures can never do justice to what lies ahead of you and what your eyes witness is pure magic. Those who have a problem of vertigo may feel a bit disoriented or overwhelmed by the views and it may take some time to get used to it. The way to Chandrashila is natural and very steep so it might take you 45 mins to an hour to reach there, though the distance is short.


At Chandrashila
You may feel a bit insignificant by the enormity of the view in front of you, but still, sit in the lap of the mountains for some time and spend some quality time with yourself, listen to your inner voice in the hush of the mountains, which otherwise gets drowned in the cacophony of the city life, where only the winds echoes and the silence speaks. If you are lucky, you may meet a new yourself or the probably the old-self which you had forgotten existed!
Deoria Tal

From Chopta it is about 21 km drive to Sari village which is the starting point of the Deoria Tal trek. The trek goes on for 2.3 km and can be climbed in 1-1.5 hours. Unlike Tungnath trek, this trek meanders through the forest and holds the sightings of the most beautiful rhododendron flowers laden trees, in the spring season. The sight is one to behold in your eyes as your path is covered with red rhododendron flowers, as if you are walking into a fairy tale and this is exactly what you feel when you get the first sightings of the Deoria Tal against the backdrop of white Chaukhamba range. The reflection of the white snow-capped peaks on the crystal clear water is as if a mirror has been placed instead of the lake. The orange light at the time of the sunrise and the reflection of the mountain peaks on the lake, is a picture that you will carry to your heart and could be the best memory of your trip, if you are lucky enough to witness it.

So a lot of things do depend on the time of the trip you take. Some views that may present themselves before you may be entirely different from the other season, but equally, or may be more breath taking, which is exactly the reason why I have already visited this place thrice!

But coming to the main reason why I am writing this blog now after taking three trips and not in the first trip itself, is not to make people excited about this trip, but to discourage them from going there, because this place is close to my heart. Unless, they go with a sense of responsibility. During my recent trip to Tungnath I thought, this is probably the last time I am coming here. Reason? It is adulterated now, too much touched by the humans, and as usual, majority of us taint the things we touch. The calmness, peace, serenity of the place that it once had, is gone. There are Bluetooth speakers that blare cheesy Bollywood songs about getting high, or Punjabi numbers that are played in the corniest clubs in Gurgaon. Who invented these speakers! The people had left beer cans, plastic wrappers, bottles behind without giving a thought to maintain the sanctity or purity of a place that is also religious for some people. If you have a similar plan to invade the purity of a place or to put up some pseudo-introspective facade, after getting high and play Malana trance songs in the background, without respecting the place, for some facebook or instagram posts that you want to show off to your friends, it is a request from a humble mountain girl, not to go there and ruin it for everyone, before it is too late. This is not some 15 second of gloating on the social media we are talking about, this is some serious shit!
Make a promise to the mountains that you will take care of them, and in turn they will take care of you.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Unborn, Unsaid, Unloved

She saw that little girl at the traffic light. She was nibbling into her bread, looking up occasionally for someone and then going back to eating. She couldn't help but look into her deep black eyes. The girl looked back at her. Droplets of sweat trickled down from that girl's forehead to her cheek and disappeared somewhere in her neck. She was in an ac car with him. A lady knocked at the car window once. He checked whether the doors were locked or not. She could make out that the woman said.. "Take one for the lady." He thought where will she keep that bunch of roses in the office hence shirked the woman away. She kept on looking at her constantly. She couldn't make up her mind if she wanted to take one to give it to him. Just like that. No occasion. Not a birthday. Not an anniversary. While she was making up her mind to get the roses, the silhouette of the woman was getting bleaker and bleaker in the rear view mirror. Finally , she decided to buy the roses to give to him, that she still loved him, that she forgives him and he was still her hero even after that incident, but it was too late. That woman had almost disappeared. She couldn't just go out at the red signal and find that woman and get the roses to give to him. That sounded too desperate. It was too late she knew. So instead she kept on looking at the girl who was taking care of the flowers and was probably that lady's daughter.

Daughter she was! And suddenly she felt so elated and so melancholy at the same time by just looking at that young girl's cherubic face with undaunting eyes. Abortion was not an easy decision she thought. She wanted her or him or it... whatever that was. But he said that she had to let it go. That being an unmarried mother would be the ultimate blasphemy on them in general and on her in particular. She wanted her/him/it though. No matter what. This is the closest she had come to life, how could she let it go! Born and brought up motherless, being a mother was her only solace. But he would not listen to any word of it. This was too much for him to live with. What would the society think? She had to give him/her/it up. That was the most painful day of her life. Literally and figuratively. Well it is never easy to say good bye to a part of you. Life does not remain the same without a hand or a leg or an eye. It was like they had taken her heart away and that she would not be able to feel anything anymore.

The girl at the signal kept staring at her, as if questioning her that why did she give up, why didn't she fight for the life that was inside her. It would have been that girl's age now, she thought. Was she reborn somewhere else? To a more loving mother who did anything in her might to protect her. Her, yes that's what it would have been. A girl. Her deepest instincts could tell her that it was a girl. A girl it had to be. That little girl did not leave the contact for even a single moment. This was intimidating now. But what the hell, the signal was not getting green. God what is wrong with that fucking signal she thought. She wanted to open the door and run away. Never to have to see that girl again. It took eternity before the signal turned green and the car rushed away. That girl's eyes following her until she got bleak in that rear view mirror. The air inside her was heavy, she felt a deep pain in the chest as if she was tied to a heavy rock and was drowning, same thing she had felt when she had to undergo that abortion. She opened the window to get some fresh air. She started taking short breaths as if she was drowning sometime back and she just remembered that she knows how to swim.

Car stopped outside her office. She gained her composure, closed the door with a quiet gesture, did not look back at him and walked away. His heart ached. She had not been the same even after four years and he could not forgive himself even now to make her go through a thing which is a woman's greatest pain. He thought he could have done something more. But he was too scared due to the position he holds in the society. On his way back, he crossed that signal. That little girl was gone and so was her mother. He thanked silently. He did not have the courage to face that little girl whose eyes were following him constantly while at the signal. He thought he would take the longer way next time, just to avoid this one. He reached office, dialed a number and kept the dial back before the phone on the other side would ring.

She went to the terrace of the office building to take a smoke. It was her momentary escape from the sea of memories that was creating crest and trough inside her heart. She stayed there for how long she couldn't remember and when she could gather enough courage she came back to her seat. There were roses at her seat. She opened the card,  there  was a message from him. And as she read it tears rolled down her eyes.



"I am sorry.

-Dad."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The hourglass...


It is sometimes weird how life intertwines and takes twists and turns and bends and then presents before us people and situations that would have seemed so unlikely some days, some years, some decades ago.

It is weird how fates of some people are attached with those of yours and at the same time how things are so out of your control. How when you meet people in some way you could never have imagined! How people you had lost hope of meeting again, turn up unannounced, at the time you needed the most but wanted the least or wanted the most but needed the least or needed and wanted the most at the same time. How you lose people you could never have thought of losing and they remain lost forever!

What remains of them is a memory, which again is a tricky thing. After all when the memory fades away what is left-the silhouttes that change constantly, the fading smell of the body that once was, or the voice that once soothed your inner senses. Your face ages but your voice doesn't.

He heard her voice across the table in the cafe where he was a regular, he knew at once it was her. Who else could it be? He didn't even need to turn around to assure it was her. As hard as he could have tried to run away from her, he knew one day he will have to return to the place where he had left a major part of himself, only more exhausted. With broken pieces of himself he had covered a long distance, but still found himself where he started.

Time is a bitch. It eats away all the memories and leaves you with nothing. And you remain restless until that nothing is filled with something. Until you come across that dried rose which smells of a past you can't erase, or that mug whose handle has broken but still finds a place in your closet, or that note, the ink of which has faded away but the writings are engraved in your heart. And then suddenly like a high tide, your heart is filled and overwhelmed with those memories again, leaving you even more restless.

The memories that are broken and faded but are there. The memories that are distant, battered and distorted by time. You can't even remember that the way you remember a person or a situation, is the actual way it was and the way it happened or is it something you would like it to be remembered as, in your head. No matter how hard you try to preserve them in those little spaces in your brain, they slip away, like sand in hourglass, grain by grain.

There comes one point in life where you want to fill that nothing, not with distorted memories but with actual people, a real touch, something more tangible. That's when you go and clean that closet. Burn those rose petals, throw that mug in the trash, tear the note away. Get rid of everything that may crawl in through some crevice that was left open unintentionally or intentionally. 

But today she was sitting at the table behind his. It had been 7 years. He had tried to wipe her existence from everything in his life that had been touched by her, even his soul. He had tried to find solace in someone else's bosom. When she had gone, he had tried to find answers to many questions. He got answers, but then answers may not always be what you expect them to be. They can be ugly sometimes.

The woman he was now with had given all she could to him but he could never bring himself to feel the same way as he did, for that voice across the table. That voice, that sounded like pitpatting of rainfall on the tin shade, the voice that smelled like water on parched earth, the voice that felt like meditation to a disturbed soul, a mother's touch. 

He is torn whether or not to look back and see how she is doing. May be go up and say hello, for ol' time sake. Or may be he should just go away and pretend as if nothing ever happened or was heard, something that he had aced, ever since she had left- to pretend. Pretension comes easy to him now. To not be what he is and be covered in layers and layers and more layers, in that cocoon, cause he knew that there are very few who can understand, process and absorb the melee of emotions that go inside him like she did, so effortlessly.

He turned around and looked at her. She had changed, only got better. Those extra pounds she was always very conscious about, were lost. The jawline was much sharper, the calves much leaner, the jeans and shirt had been replaced by a printed dress and the sneakers had given way to stilletos.

Her little finger was curled in that guy's index finger. Tall, lean, handsome. They were getting up to leave. They laughed, snuggled, stole little pecks on the cheek. He felt like an onlooker. He turned away but it was too late. Dice was rolled, the next thing he knew she was looking at him. Awkward exchange of looks, followed by even more awkward smiles to fill those 7 years. 

Overwhelmed by a sea of emotions, he got up and walked away. She walked away in the opposite direction. She turned twice to look at him; he could see that in the mirror in front. He just stood there. He was engulfed in emotions so strong that all his sense would burst out it seemed. Her figure kept becoming smaller and smaller in that mirror till she faded away in time, but her memories came alive again, dancing in front of him, teasing him a couple of times but sharing his heaviness. Like when almost all the grains of memories were getting emptied finally, someone turned the hourglass over again.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Sun Behind The Clouds- Tibetan Struggle for Freedom




The sun rises somewhere in the east. There is news on all the radio channels. A young guy self-immolated (settings oneself on fire) himself in struggle for freedom for his country. It is heard that he had burnt himself in a prime location in front of a big crowd that comprised of Chinese and Tibetans. The young boy’s skin is charred and he will not live to see another sun rise, even when his country gets free someday. The pictures that were coming out are gory and cannot be seen by weak-hearted. The guy was just 21 years of age. This is 41st such incident in less than 2 years in Tibet.

Somewhere in the hills of Himachal Pradesh in India, people are watching the video of the self-immolation. Their hearts cringed at the sight and a tear or two can be seen rolling down their eyes. The kids don’t know what has happened but they know something is wrong. They have seen similar expressions on their parents’ faces earlier too. They are not normal kids and they know this. They know they are in a foreign land that has accepted them, yes, but it will never be their homeland. After all, a man’s identity is his country of origin where people don’t call him a foreigner, where he doesn’t have to learn a language that is forced upon him, where he knows that he has left his mother, son or daughter behind.

Far away in Tibetan land, there is a bunch of nomads that has laid itself down on the green mountains and hills, protesting against the mining of their home by the Chinese. There is an army that has come with arms to remove the nomads. Well that area is rich in copper. But the trees need to be cut down and the grasslands too, the nomads will be left wandering and the mountains will be left open after mining, barren and dry. The nomads resist as they worship these lands that give them home and food, but nobody cares. Chinese need the copper and they will take it back to Beijing, in the trains they had connected Lhasa with after chopping down more forests and more grasslands. Some of the nomads die in the struggle, some are threatened and are given concrete houses to live in, where they don’t belong. They belong to the mountains and grasslands, after all they are nomads.

In a house in Lhasa, an old man prays to the picture of his spiritual leader, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama who has been exiled to some foreign land. He prays to him to save them from the cruelty they have to undergo every day. Suddenly there is some noise in the drawing room. He hides the picture inside his trunk fearing that it might be the Chinese, for they are not allowed to worship freely to their saviour, who is considered by the Chinese as the main lead that causes unrest in Tibet and the one who instigates self-immolation by the Tibetans. It is a crime in the China occupied Tibet to keep His Holiness’s pictures or even pray to him; that person might be put in jail.

Back in the hills of Dharamshala, 84 year old Ama Aate, is telling her story to a bunch of curious youngsters. She was in the Chinese prison for 27 years! And somehow managed to escape to India, the land that has given her refuge. She tells about the Lhasa uprising of 1959, when about 80,000 people from Tibet escaped to India undergoing the most horrendous journey for months, crossing mountains of snow, along with their leader The 14th Dalai Lama. She was left behind in Tibet. There are tears in her eyes when she recounts the whole incident of her and her relatives and several other Tibetans getting captured by the Chinese and thrown into the prison. The pain is exhibited by the sheer intensity, the hand gestures and the facial expressions with which she recounts the whole episode. She may be speaking in Tibetan language but her expressions tell it all. She reminisces how they were tortured, beaten, starved and interrogated by the Chinese. Most of the Tibetans were dead within 1.5 years of being in prison due to torture, starvation and humiliation. Ama Aate held on to hope, praying to her goddess Tara and her spiritual leader, that someday she will be free. That someday came after 27 years but nevertheless she made it to India leaving everyone she knew behind, even her own daughter! There are tears in her eyes when she recounts how her 4 year old son was killed when he was trying to pull his mother away from the Chinese who were taking her away to the Chinese prison. They kicked him to one side and the small boy died on the spot. Now there are tears even in youngsters’ heart, if not in the eyes.

Deep in the Kham province of Tibet, a journalist is making a video wherein he asks people of Tibet about the tyranny of China, their appeal for freedom and for their leader to be back in their country. This journalist has covered whole of Tibet and is wondering how to “smuggle” the tapes out of Tibet as China will not let him do that or might even put him in the jail and the tapes will be lost forever. A Tibetan decides to take the risk. The bags are exchanged and the Tibetan leaves for the train to Beijing from Lhasa. The Chinese officials knew about the exchange and started following the person who had handed over the tape, in the confusion that he is the person who has the tapes and not the one who left for Beijing. The hotel is ransacked but nothing is found. The tapes reach safely in India and are broadcasted all over. The journalist is arrested, imprisoned and sentenced to long years in Chinese prison.  Currently there are many Tibetan political prisoners in China and Tibet.

In a school in Lhasa, some kids are being deliberately taught everything in Chinese. They are taught to give up The Dalai Lama and are taught the wrong history that Tibet has always been a part of China. They teach them Chinese culture, Chinese language and Chinese history in an attempt to wipe out Tibetan existence and its culture and history on the world map.

Coming back to Dharamshala, there is a lady running around in her office. Fresh news has come inside the Voice of Tibet Radio station. A person called her up from Tibet informing her about the latest oppression by the Chinese in which how the monks were holding a peaceful protest against the Chinese regime in front of a monastery and how there was open firing by China which killed 6 Tibetans on the spot. A day later Voice of Tibet receives the news of this person who passed on the news, being hunted down and detained by the Chinese officials on the grounds of instigating unrest.

This is a normal day in the life of a Tibetan in Tibet. The life in which he fears for the day to come, where he cannot even pray freely to the only faith he has, where he knows that this might be his last day. He makes plans every day to send his son and daughter to India, to take that one-month long arduous journey braving icy blizzards, treacherous mountain passes and the ever-looming danger of being caught by Chinese police, for a better life in their spiritual leader’s country of exile. He cannot identify his neighbour anymore because he is some Chinese guy who has now settled in Tibet. He fears the day when there will be more Chinese in Tibet than the Tibetans, cause that is what the Chinese intend to do. The Tibetan women are not allowed to have more than one kid, if she happens to be pregnant with more than one kid then the lady is forced to abort the child.

Cut to Dharamshala, here lies a community, which is trying very hard to preserve its culture, its traditions, and its language in the hope that one day when it gets free from the most tyrannous regime of the world, it will take it all back to its homeland where it all belongs. This community has immense faith in its leader His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, that he will bring them home one day, who sometimes himself faces moral conflicts as a political and a spiritual leader but still manages to bind them so well. They know that they are just 6 million in front of China’s population of 1.3 billion, but they hold on to hope and faith that someday they will go back and will live freely, will breathe freely, will smile freely. Till then they are in the country of their refuge, carving an identity for themselves, fighting each day to mingle with the people here who sometimes don’t welcome them , doing their best to evolve their community as a whole in the land of their exile where they came with nothing; but at the same time working towards their freedom, slowly and steadily.

The sun has set down for the day, but it will come again tomorrow with new hopes and new resolves.  Tibetans believe firmly that Tibet will be free- Bhod Rangzen!

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Delhi Diary



Standing in the Delhi metro I always think, Delhi keeps me on my toes all the time, literally and figuratively.

When I came to Delhi 9 years ago, I used to think she was like a cat. Shrewd, wily, mean. Always trying to get her own way, not caring about people that dwelled in her. But Delhi had a different face too, like a cat does. She welcomed me and then threw shit at me, scorned at me and then loved me, sometimes even groped and touched me at wrong places and then hugged me. And just when I thought that I am done with city and I need to be in a new city, she gave me more reasons to fall in love with her. The only thing Delhi keeps doing to me is that, she keeps surprising me.

People living in very small towns are fascinated by those who live in Delhi in the same way, as those who live in India and are fascinated by people living abroad. For them, they are the people living in "big city", earning "big bucks", wearing Nike, Mark & Spencer and Levis.

When I came to Delhi first, I was this young small-town girl, freshly out of school. Delhi was still building then, attracting millions of youth every year who came starry-eyed for a better future. I came too. It seems Delhi and I are getting old together, going through the same phases at the same time. After all these years, we are still "under-construction" . We share a lot and can understand each other like noone else does. Sometimes when I am too angry I punch her, when I am way too happy, I hug her. She, in return, does the same to me.

Tall buildings, wide roads, metro, 500 people cramped in space meant for 50, it was all new to me. Especially coming from a small town Dehradun, where maximum distance from your place would be 20 minutes scooty ride(Yes, we Indians measure distance in minutes and not miles). My sisters were already here, trying to carve a niche for themselves and I am proud to say today that they have done so well a job and inspired me too. The tryst did not last that long as I moved out in a year to the remotest area I could ever live in I guess, for four years to complete my B.Tech. But Dilli kept calling on and off in that span of time. After that I took up a job and made Delhi my base and ever since I have been in this love-hate relationship with her.

Delhi taught me life will not always be fair, but she also taught me that at that time you need to be hooked to your close ones and not loose them in the transition. She taught me to value relations that were important and discard those that were unwanted. I am not a very loud-spoken person by nature, but Delhi taught me that sometimes you have to shout at top of your lung to make your way, cause some people understand only in high decibels.

I was naive, she taught me to fight for my rights and my integrity. When I was being stared at by vulgar eyes or was being passed lewd comments, she taught me to yell back with greater intensity. She taught me that when the vendor says 800 for a kurta, give him 200. There is so much history in bylanes of Old Delhi, in the monuments in South Delhi that it makes you wonder, on what remains of history are you standing right now?

I wondered why my next door neighbour would not visit my home, why can't I leave my flat's key to the aunty living downstairs so that when my roommate comes she doesnt have to wait for me for an hour or why was aunty amazed when I asked her for a cup of sugar. Delhi scolds me all the time for not understanding such small stuff. I stand aghast when I hear news about rapes in Delhi or girl child being beaten brutally to death. Delhi stands aghast too. I question her that why she is muted then, she tells me to accept things as they are and move on.

On the other hand when I came here, she was already crowded but she just managed some space for me by squeezing others. She taught me to be independent, to be bold, to be formidable, to take no shit from anyone. Also taught me to show my teeth and my claws too.

I will not deny that I have not been homesick here, that I never wished that I was back home in the mountains, that I never wondered that why am I running everyday catching metro and buses and for what. I have been frustrated, exhausted, annoyed, almost cried. But then the next day when it rained or when I had a small chit chat with the rickshaw-wallah about his family and kids or when I'd see the colorful sky on independence day or when I'd play Holi with strangers in the opposite building or when I'd take a walk in one of those fancy gardens on a typical wintery Delhi morning or when I'd see any beautiful historical monument and read about its history, I would just sit back and wonder...This is amazing! This is Delhi! When I make my way through a crowded train, or when I buy those fancy clothes for me and my folks, I am so proud of myself. Every day, every moment!

Delhi doesn't belong to one community, it is a blend of so many cultures that is hard to choose a dish from so many in the menu. There are just two mainly spoken language- English and Hindi, not like other parts of India, which always have this one language which is French to the outsiders. Nobody is an outsider in Delhi but at the same time everyone is!

Delhi has a big heart..everyone is invited.
Aakhir Dilli hai Dilwalon ki! :)

Hope"fully" In Love

Two eyes Hypnotize Mesmerize No lies Two eyes Two hands Running errands Fighting fiends Holding last strands There is no end Two...