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Calcutta Calling!

Oh, Calcutta. You beauty.

The moment I stepped out of the airplane, the air came down on me warm and heavy! My body knew it was in Calcutta before my brain could even decode the neural transmissions. I can feel dampness in my breath. My hair feels sticky all over. And my jeans feel like they’ve shrunk two sizes. Time to tie my hair in a bun. Calcutta, here I come!

As I walk down the too familiar lanes of the neighbourhood I was brought up in, I see known faces, known shops, the same muri seller, fruit vendor, cobbler, security guards and even beggars. I smile at them, some smile back, some don’t. Some remember me, throw a greeting, others don’t, wondering if the heat is playing with their mind. Even the graffiti on the wall seems the same! A wave of nostalgia washes over me again, yet again. I say yet again because every six months that I head back to town, I realise how little it has changed and how the comfort of knowing the place makes me feel happy and sheltered.

The more I look around, draw comparatives, recall memories of times spent in the nooks and crannies of the city, the more I realise nothing’s changed. Nothing’s changed and yet something has. The city has moved on without me yet it remains the same. I can smell the sweat, hear the shouts of the boudi in the bus, see the kids taking a shower under water tanker tap, feel the camaraderie only this city exudes. And yet I too have changed. The nostalgia washes over as waves but I know that I will swim through these too. Home still feels home but I don’t rush to read through my scrapbooks or run my hand over the trophies I’d won.

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Maybe, like the city, I too, am growing. Older and wiser, each day.

Graciously Yours!

Open Up The Spaces.

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There I was, sitting on the topmost stair of the spectators’ gallery of a playground, writing, when a soccer ball landed with a thud right on my foot. I was taken by surprise and flooded with a flurry of apologies. I wasn’t hurt, no. But I roused concern among the boys. But why only the boys? Because there were no other girls around.

Why do men have a monopoly over open spaces? Why, if you look at the massive green stretches of open spaces in our cities and possibly even towns, do you find scores and scores of men playing all sorts of sports but no women? Why are we women still found standing by the entrance watching them play from afar, waiting for the men to return to us? Why can’t we swing the bat hard? Why can’t we kick a soccer ball away? Why can’t we dribble in sweat and exhilarate with ten others at a game played well? Why can’t we grab and hold in kabaddi? Why are we at the edges? Why are we scared of injuring ourselves?

Why do I see girls play badminton? Or cycle? Or skip? Or just choose to go for a walk? Why not put them together in teams too? Why not teach them to be a leader, a team player, bond with each other over match strategies and get that competitive spirit going? Why not teach our women to pull up other women and not push them down? Why not familiarize them with the touch of men so that they know the difference between the touch of love and lust? Why don’t our brothers teach us to toughen up? Why are our cuts and bruises scolded for and theirs disregarded? Well, that actually shows women are more careful about first aid, but you get the point, right?

What are we so scared of?

That our women will get hurt? Or they might disagree to sit inside homes any longer?

That our women will bring the team down? Or that they’ll become strong enough to form their own teams?

That they might overexert? Or that they will learn to embrace their bodies as they are?

What in the world are we afraid of?
Are we more fearful of our insecure men?
Or are we fearful of making our women secure?

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The author is well aware of the countless women who have made a superlative mark in the world of professional sports and is in no way trying to belittle the spectacular magnitude of their efforts. The author is well aware of women who are pushing all limits exceedingly well and breaking glass barriers every day. This post is not intended for those women. Instead, it is intended to bring out the other ladies, young and old, strong and weak, into the open so that they find out for themselves what wonders their graceful, lithe bodies can do, if only they allowed it to!

Graciously Yours!

The Cycling Chronicles.

What do I have in common with Lance Armstrong? Greg LeMond? Peter Sagan? Nothing at all. Except that they are some of the best cyclists humankind has known and I might probably be one of the worst. Or let me just be modest and say, humankind might see me as a person who’s awkwardly seated, desperate to un-hunch her shoulders, clearly locking her elbows and panting on inclines but cycling nonetheless!

I have only known how to cycle for about a dozen months now. It’s a shocker to most people and yes, I am still trying to respond to “What were you really doing as a child then?!”.

Of recent, I have finally gathered the courage to cycle on the main roads, albeit at light traffic hours, but it should still count – considering I’m collecting enough anecdotes to write a post about!

  • My usual morning workout includes cycling a couple of kms before I hit the gym – the snag being that the road is almost at a 20-degree incline and it is ‘oh-so-not-easy’! The burn in my thighs and the shortness of breath kill, while I dissuade myself from staring back at passers-by who would have probably walked past faster, and also because India (we have people everywhere, all the time). One of those days when I was barely wheezing past the stretch of incline, my speed faltered, a couple of vehicles overtook, distracted me and bam! Turbulence hit, brakes were applied but I still went and rammed into a garbage truck picking up its trash. Wait. Don’t jump to dirty conclusions! The truck was okay. The cycle was okay. I was okay. And no garbage fell on anyone, anywhere. I swear. Otherwise, there would have been a selfie, for sure! One doesn’t experience a lot many selfie worthy embarrassing moments in life.

 

  • Guess what happened one of those days when I parked my cycle below the gym and was happily sweating it out upstairs? Someone ran off with one of the handle grips on my cycle. Or they might have sauntered off at a leisurely pace. I will never know. What I will remember are the scratches and cuts my right hand faced that morning while cycling back due to the absence of said pilfered item. How much could have a handle grip cost them? Or was that funny for them? Haha. Not funny.
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And just like that – vandalism enters my life.
  • My cycle seems to be a pet peeve for many around. The other day someone left an empty plastic water bottle in the basket. I ignored it thinking one of the building staff might have left it there by mistake. The next day a bouquet of dried out roses were stashed there. Of course, people have asked me if it was left there for me by a “secret admirer”. But what if they were left behind by the person who stole my handle grip and then he stole this bouquet from someone’s trash and thinks dried roses can be apologetic enough? The world works in mysterious ways.
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Roses and no note? I want my note! You can take the roses away.
  • We all strive to look cool once in a while. I thought my Bluetooth earphones might do the trick for me. I put them on one morning, but they didn’t last a minute in my ears. Thanks to the uneven and pothole-riddled roads of Bangalore, the earphones kept dropping out and became more of a distracting menace than a cool kids’ gizmo! So cool of you Bangalore city, so cool. Attention on the road is more important than looking cool. I get it! Thanks.

See you around. Cycling, hopefully.

Graciously Yours!

P.S.: Also, thank you A, for literally running with me all those weeks, helping me get a hang of figure eights and u-turns and, simply, cycling.

Moo Points?

My week started on a bad note – regular household issues – oh yes, we bachelors have those too. No maid, cook screwed up the food quantities, delayed to work, no transport, traffic and oh, the heat! So coming up, are a lot of moo points. Take it or leave it, but do read it!

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As I strode purposefully towards the main road, following my Mom’s advice to calm down, cars and bikes zipping past me, a cab honking at me for taking up road space (well, the footpath could give me a sprain, they’re that bad), I saw a cow ambling at 10 am in the morning, barely moving enough to place one foot ahead of the other, ten seconds at a time.

Cars conveniently circled around her and went their way, not even bothering to honk. Why me then? Why was I expected to be on the footpath when this cow could do whatever she liked? Why did I have to chide myself for being late for office at 10 in the morning when this cow could just loiter around, literally doing nothing!

“Eat more meat.” “Focus on your calcium intake.” “What about carbs?” “And when will you take those multivitamins?” So much talk about food and food preparation. If she’s hungry, she doesn’t even have to go to the kitchen to whip up something or Swiggy food! She can just regurgitate food ingested earlier and chew it again! Not that I want my ingested food back in my mouth, urgh, but just sayin’!

She can be white. She can be black. She can be brown. Or even a mix of all three. And she’ll still be loved for who she is. Why? Why do I have to then worry about being tanned? Why can’t I just be I loved for who I am?

Oh and here in a country where Hinduism is largely significant, she even gets protection for just being who she is – a female. Talk about harming a cow and behold the furore that will persist. While we two-legged women carry around pepper sprays even in broad daylight – for the exact same reason – because we’re females.

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And that’s how I ended up with an existential crisis conferred upon me by a lone cow, walking at her own pace in the middle of a road, refusing to make way for the world rushing around.

The heat fried my brains, I guess.

Still,

Graciously Yours!

Boots.

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She trudged along the gravelled path,

Far from home, lost in the rush of the world,

Her boots worn, her back stooped,

The winds, cold and brazen, cut across,

The skin on her face drooped.

 

Her eyes stung with tears,

That refused to fall out,

She shut them close,

Wanting to push the world out.

 

Alone and desolate, she bawled,

Her cries ringing, echoing in her own ears,

Her thoughts drowning out what little sound was left,

Over clicking boots and howling winds,

She didn’t hear the answers to her calls of help!

Help may not always come in the shape you desired but it will be there, in the most unexpected circumstances, from the most unexpected people. Never cease to believe that you’re cared for, loved by and the pride of someone among the 7 billion of us and counting!

Let those boots take you to places but never forget what coming back home is like. Home, after all, is where the heart is. ❤

Graciously Yours!

 

 

My happy place.

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The Internet, as we all know it, can be a vicious place to be. If you still don’t know it, well, you haven’t explored enough. Right from seeking gratification to fake news, keeping up with TikTok videos and the latest record-breaking egg, medical remedies to tips on how to build your own rocket, you will find it all. It’s brought the world closer together but it’s also taken us apart.

I am sure each of you has had days where you just want to keep the phone aside and not look at what the internet had to offer. The deluge of information can be overwhelming and a detox work sometimes but then you get hit by FOMO! In all of this confusion, what do you really do with those twiddling thumbs?

I try to detox every once in a while but I am left with my own thoughts which do not really help because they’re, if I may say so, contaminated by social media. Everything seems so peachy and perfect on social media that I start questioning the daily rigours I face in life. For once I’d like to know the challenges people face, the scars that are healing, the pain hidden behind those smiles. I’d like to know the people for who they are and not for what they want to project.

So how do you find a happy place on the World Wide Web? One that assures that it will take care of you, it will not let you down, bring a smile on your face. I found mine! Pinterest. And I cannot swear by it enough. It’s helped me through two heartbreaks, endless writer’s blocks, restless hours of melancholy, dried spells of humour, DIY craft spurts and hell, even when I wanted to drool over the hotness we can never seem to find in our daily lives. No one’s competing for attention there, no one’s trying to up the ante further, no one’s liking or commenting and if they are, I am blissfully unaware. All you find are pictures people have pinned on to their boards, private or public, and the algorithms do the rest based on your search keywords.

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Pinterest to me represents the true collaboration of how far one’s choices and ideas can go if one only has the intent of not seeking validation but instead sharing it because they wanted to. I love the quotes, life stories and confessions that you find up there! They restore my faith in humanity. Pinterest makes me come to terms with the fact that whatever be my life story, someone else is also living the same story somewhere out there, if not worse.

In a world of seven billion people, I may be unique but I am not alone!

Graciously Yours!

P.S.: This is not a sponsored post, though I wish they did sponsor me! If only. *Sigh*

Setting Sun.

I looked up from my Kindle and out the window. The air turbulence was distracting. I wanted to stretch my legs that were getting cramped in the narrow leg space provided these days by airlines. Just a few minutes ago, the view from the window had been drab – blues of the lightest kind with fluffs of white cloud in the foreground. Or was it more than a few minutes ago? I wouldn’t know. My phone was on flight mode and my mind grappling with an Agatha Christie whodunit. Keener observation of the clouds would allow the brain to identify patterns. Sometimes it would be a horse’s head, other times a trophy and then a flock of sheep. But right now? Right now provided a view that would make it to Instagram stories, photography contests and lure amateurs towards professional photography. But I sat there watching unperturbed, unhurried. I was flight bound to home. The Sun was going home for the day too – home being the horizon. My eyes went in and out of focus, the portrait mode some call it, others name it bokeh. In an expanse of white, to the far right, soft hues of orange meshed with lighter yellows which faded into whites of the clouds. The mixed streaks seemed painted, with the flourish of pulled brush strokes. The center was a deeper, brighter, concentrated shade of orange, like the Sun itself was shining out – but you knew this was an illusion – more science than mere fabrication. The Sun was closer it to its home than it let on – this was simply a delayed telecast you were viewing. Closer to my window, making way for the scene were the clouds – bigger clouds, fog-like, misty, as if dewy-eyed at the beauty out my window. And then came the window – double paned, corners curved, waiting to be flapped down; a hole at the bottom edge of the outer window, scratches on the outer pane, whether flying bird wings or key marks, no one knows. And then I return to my Kindle, back to Christie, because I know, no matter how good the camera, it wouldn’t capture the scene my bare eyes saw. But I hope my words did.

Graciously Yours!

Hope.

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What keeps you going on the less happy days? What keeps you from letting one night turn into yet another morning? What pushes you to breathe one more time even though it pains every time? The belief in God – whatever your religion may be, wherever your faith lies? Or is it destiny? Or karma – that you will get what you give around. Or are you one of those who believe in the power of humans and the ability to conquer the world – the rising supporters of humanism?

Me? For me, hope keeps me going – the hope that one of these days, I’ll figure myself out again. Someday the sun will be brighter, the world more colorful and the day happier. The hope that this too shall pass and l will survive it like I have all these years. Hope. It’s important not to lose hope.

Graciously yours!

Let’s Post!

The only times I stepped into Post Offices was to buy postcards and stamps for keepsakes – be it the dusty but spacious one in Port Blair where on the wall was put up the expected days to deliver posts all across the mainland of India or the small house up a steep flight of wooden stairs in Landour, marked as a Post Office where a family of three resided and all things post office were neatly stuffed in a bag. But I have not been to a Post Office to post a letter in more than two decades of my existence in India. And how many of my generation have really? In all likelihood, the only letters we’ve written were in school as part of the curriculum or to relationship managers in banks and cover letters as part of our search for jobs.

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I want to frequent my trips to the Post Office because I am craving to write letters and find myself some penpals! I’m sending an open invitation to everyone reading this – come let’s write letters to each other. I’d love to know how you spend your day, what you read, what holds your interest, what irks you, how cold is the ice in your country, what your culture finds appropriate. I’m looking for inspiration, more than glad to provide motivation and excited to ignite my creative spirits! Also, use my wrist a little more to write – the handwriting to going to dogs! So are you ready to write a few letters? Because I surely am!

For international contributors, I understand if you’d rather send emails, taking into account the cost impact – but you have to, you just have to, attach a handwritten note or a sketch or doodle as part of the email.

Reshare post! And leave a comment if you’re interested. ❤

Much love,

Graciously Yours!

Forever?

I’d lie if I said you had me at hello, but once you had my attention, dear fellow, there was no looking back. I waited for you all day long and it was only by the night that you came – in my dreams. I stuttered when I spoke to you, flushed when I spoke of you. I’d be surprised if you even gave any second thoughts to my presence while you were the only presence that persisted in mine. Soon, you walked away out of my life, I flailed at your memories to keep you on my mind until someone else had me at hello. I say love. Others, infatuation.

I ask – is love only meant to be forever?

Graciously Yours!