July 24, 2016

R for 'Red'

There was a time when ‘Red’ was synonymous with love. 

Heart shaped balloons you bought for your sweetheart on her birthday, the touch of vermilion adorning the forehead of a newly wed woman, the ruby ring that he slipped onto your finger when he proposed, the first crayon your child proudly identified at play school, the evening sky with the setting sun, gorgeous patterns of henna on the fair palms of beautiful brides at weddings, the auspicious crimson border of the traditional Kolkata Sari that must constitute the wardrobe of every Bengali woman, Ganesh ji's favorite hibiscus flower--a must have at every Ganesh puja, red bangles that stand out amidst the alternate white ones in the wedding chura, the color of your favorite wine, 'red medicine' or Mercurochrome---a fond memory from every childhood; school sports leading to grazed knees et al, the deep reddish brown of scrumptious Gulab jamuns--a deep fried sweetmeat and renowned Indian dessert, red roses that are quintessential for every 'Valentine's Day' celebration, your bridal sari in rich zardosi silk that is carefully wrapped in butter paper after being laundered and dry-cleaned taking care that the color does not run off, those lip smacking 'Rooh Afza' memories reminiscent of an era gone by.

There was a time when 'Red' was synonymous with love. But not anymore! 

Today, 'Red' has changed meaning. It has become polluted, putrid, rabid. It now reminds us of danger, carnage, blood spilled, lives lost. Everyday, there are headlines screaming of terror attacks, mass shootings, wars, communal conflicts and disharmony. Senseless attacks at Orlando, Dhaka, Nice, Munich, Afghanistan etc, horrific cases of females like Swathi and Qandil being hacked to death, the atrocities committed on Dalits in India, gang rapes, ruthless murders spreading hostility and viciousness with every attack, thus ensuring that the circle never ends.
'Red' no longer possesses that same sweet scent of love, that music of unity, that warmth of nostalgia we once enjoyed. Instead it now reeks of anger, hatred, disgust and disappointment.
Is this temporary insanity making us see the same color differently? Is it a type of contagious madness spreading like the plague, making us take notice what we once ignored and forcing us to ignore what we once cherished? Or is this the first sign of an impending doom---the beginning of the end?
There was a time when 'Red' was synonymous with love. But everything seems different now.
Oh, how do we go back to the 'Red' of old? How do we go back to that 'Red' of gold? 
R for 'Red' is the eighteenth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

July 04, 2016

Q for 'Quotes I love'

There are days when I love to google up famous (or at times, not so famous) words of wise people. pearls of wisdom they have left behind for us to delve upon, bask in, appreciate, and benefit from.

Favorite quotes, don't we all have them? Someone says something, and you wonder how it can fit so perfectly, how do they know exactly what you are feeling. There is an invincible truth, a certain sadness, an utter joy you experience all at once. And you realize those words will never leave you...at least not until you can help it.

Below are ten of my favorite quotes (in no particular order of preference).

1) "There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice." ~ F Scott Fitzgerald.

2) "The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ " 
 ~~Jack Kerouac

3) "We are as forlorn as children lost in the wood. When you stand in front of me and look at me, what do you know of the griefs that are in me and what do I know of yours? And if I were to cast myself down before you and tell you, what more would you know about me than you know about Hell when someone tells you it is hot and dreadful?” ~~~Franz Kafka

4) "Our lives disconnect and reconnect, we move on, and later we may again touch one another, again bounce away. This is the felt shape of a human life, neither simply linear nor wholly disjunctive nor endlessly bifurcating, but rather this bouncey-castle sequence of bumpings-into and tumblings-apart." ---Salman Rushdie

5)  "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

 6) "I like dead end signs. I think they're kind. They at least have the decency to let you know you're going nowhere." ~ Bugs Bunny

7) "If there's just one piece of advice I can give you, it's this – when there's something you really want, fight for it – don't give up no matter how hopeless it seems. And when you've lost hope...ask yourself in 10 years from now...you're gonna wish you gave it just one more shot. Because the best things in life, they don't come free." ~ Meredith Grey ('Grey's Anatomy')

8) "Without an appreciation for grace and beauty, there's no pleasure in creating things and no pleasure in having them." ~ Calvin ('Calvin and Hobbes')

9) "Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and adventures are the shadow truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes and forgotten." ~ Neil Gaiman

10) "You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." ~ Robin Williams

I could go on endlessly. Choosing quotes is like picking jewels from the treasure chest of the universe. They are never enough. And people keep coming up with wonderfully smart, witty, and intelligent things to say and impress you with.

So go right ahead. Feel free and add to the list. Embellish my world with your favorite words. I am waiting! :)

Q for 'Quotes I love' is the seventeenth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

June 22, 2016

My happy place

I have always been a gypsy. My family tells me, as a kid, I'd find it difficult to sit still. They'd try to tempt me with chocolates and toys. But no amount of bribing or coddling would ensure my immobility (unless I was asleep of course, the only time my family could catch some much deserved rest).
So there I was, a curious little brat, stopping in the middle of the street to watch couples fight, peeping over tables at restaurants and solemnly pointing out to food stuck in between teeth of the diners, peering at kids my age get excited over toy trucks and doll houses, and keeping my folks on their toes with my suspicious silence and sneaky disappearances.
Nothing could hold my attention from wavering for long though. I'd soon want to move on to some other thrill. Perhaps it was a keen sense of learning, an unquenchable thirst of adventure that propelled me forward, or perhaps I was just born that way, a curious cat searching for new possibilities in everything she saw and in everyone she met.

Growing up didn't help much either. Of course, I had my share of fun like all other children my age. But I was still distracted. The constant search for something else...something more...something different was on. There were days I wanted to slip away from the harsh wrath of reality into a cushy zone that could truly make me happy. A private space that would give me the comfort of home, and yet satiate my hunger for adventure, rejuvenate my spirit, and set the world in magical motion. Some place I'd leave with the silent promise of returning as soon as possible, and wait and want to go back again.

In hindsight, perhaps the quest for such a thrilling adventure land would have started and ended in my overactive imagination if it wasn't for my older sibling. It was she who got my interest piqued, and much to my chagrin, proved to be my 'Pole star' guiding me into the 'Narnia' of my imaginings, a wonderland that actually existed outside my dreams and made me instantly fall in love with it.

My happy place was right there---in my very own house. How exciting, I thought. It had a special login system. I could enter it from literally anywhere in the world. I felt like a happy snail, content in carrying it's home on its back. My 'happy place', full of surprises, would be furnished differently every time. The moment I entered, I'd be subjected to beautiful revelations, scintillating surprises, and needless to mention, oodles of adventure waiting for me.

I would never tire out here. My intrigue and interest would soar with every visit, and I'd come back for more every single time, just like I'd imagined. This was exactly the kind of happiness that I'd imagined, and I'd finally found a place that warranted it for keeps.

Since there, I've always been visiting. I spend hours at a stretch there. Sometimes, the entire day. At times, the whole night. The interior keeps changing, but that gives me the opportunity to live a million lives. Perhaps that is the secret---the provision of a chance to break off from the drudgery of a mundane reality and experience life in another persons shoes, if only for a while.
As a child, I loved eating alphabet soup. I remember sieving the noodle-letters and eating them first. The enthusiasm for the vegetable broth would eventually fade, and I'd try to find reasons to skip finishing my dinner. But during that brief period of strain-sieve-swallow, I'd be happily lost in the jumble of words formed from the alphabets in my soup.

Years later, words still brings me the same kind of joy I'd experience as a child. As the popular maxim goes, 'Old habits die hard'. I open my bag and fish out my current read. A small voice from between the pages beckons me, causing my heart to flutter and fly.

It's time for the snail to disappear into its cocoon. It's time for me to slink into my happy place.

A temporary panacea

Shopping malls are mystical places
With retail stores and coffee houses
Convincing people they are prettier than they look
And less lonelier than they feel.

There's a map giving directions
For the already misdirected
Loaded with shopping bags
And a light(er) wallet,
Victims of mirrors that lie
Making all seem beautiful
Inside illusive designer stores.
Come home, and
The spell is broken,
You want your money back.
But alas! There's a no-return policy
You had been warned!

You stumble upon a friend from work,
Talk a while, grab a bite
Behind glass facades with 'mermaid' logos
Over ice-cold coffee and sizzling-hot company;
A hole in your pocket,
Although chemistry worth a million bucks,
Both of which are here to stay
While the adrenaline lasts.
Until next morning,
When back at work,
You see her laugh
With another man.
The spell is broken,
You want your heart back.
But alas! There's a no-return policy
You had been warned!

Shopping malls are mystical places
With retail stores and coffee houses
Convincing people they are prettier than they look
And less lonelier than they feel.

May 30, 2016

P for 'Pause-Rewind-Play'

I was whiling away my time at a nearby park, looking at a bunch of kids at play. It was a treat to watch their innocence. The way they charged at each other, bumped, collided, toppled over, giggling happily, straightening up a little once they got tired only to eventually brush off the weariness like the mud on their sleeves and jump at each other again.

The scene unfolding in front of me transported me back in time to an age when I too was unaffected by worldly norms and societal rules, where one only got hurt if they grazed their knee or skinned their elbow, where forgiveness was granted with a simple 'sorry' and all bitterness was forgotten thereafter. The ways of the world had not caught up with us. Life was uncomplicated...simple...happy.

And that made me wish for these kids never to grow up, at least not before they had to.
Just sitting there on that park bench surrounded by a group of these mischievous minions had set my world in motion once again. The spark of curiosity glittered in their eyes. The effervescence of enthusiasm gurgled in their voices.
Their exuberance was infectious. It had been ages since I experienced that kind of warmth around me---the non-judgemental attitude of those who believed that the world was still a good place.

As I got up to leave, I wondered if I could take a bit of that much needed belief along. But something stopped me right then-as I gazed at the setting sun in the distance, I realised it was getting late. Perhaps, a little too late.

 P for 'Pause-Rewind-Play'  is the sixteenth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

May 26, 2016

There are cracks in everything

NEWSFLASH: A bit of relationship-gyaan (that you all know yet need to be reminded of) from my side.
Going by a lot of recent case studies involving my friends, enemies, and people I see around, I have derived a very important law of relationships.


Proximity and perfection share an inverse relationship. You must have noticed this around you---two people madly in love think the world of one another. Time flies and the relationship gets stale older. Slowly but surely, you see the enthusiasm they share die a silent death. The couple that could once not get their hands off each other have started squabbling on petty things. The best friend gets to hear complaints and sulks of how the spouse just doesn't care anymore. The once perfect spouse/partner has turned into a bundle of flaws. The closer you get, the less perfect you realize he/she is. You get the drift, don't you? Happens with the best of us.
It's just a matter of time before we discover the deficits in something or someone we once thought the world of. That is the problem with proximity. It brings us closer, close enough to notice the things we did not intend to see. That is when we start missing what we now think should have been present all along. We start craving for perfection in others, instead of trying to attain it in ourselves. We wish for words that have not been uttered. We long for things beyond our reach. We set our imagination to work, and eventually end up feeling miserable.

It is a known fact that expectations in life, inadvertently, lead to disappointment. It is also equally true that love (in any form or degree of severity) eventually results in expectations. It is then that we start nit-picking. We magnify the arguments, blow the misunderstandings out of proportion, and ignore the memories. We end up blaming each other, not realizing that it is a game that nobody wins. Mud slinging can only worsen your emotional conflict.
If you cannot talk it out without pulling at each other's hair, then take some time off and think. Rash decisions never helped anyone. Introspection, however, has!

Introspection is an innate quality that all humans possess but seldom use. Maybe we are afraid. After all, not everybody can handle the truth that soul-searching introspection often tends to reveal. Questioning ourselves and assessing our feelings urges us to examine the faults within ourselves in a more objective way, in a way that we are made to realize that the flaws we see in others are an extension of our own deficits.

We sit back and smile. Who can we blame but ourselves?
We now begin to view 'perfection' in a different light; nothing is absolute. There are cracks in everything.

May 25, 2016

O for 'Off-beat musings'

She is the hope that needs no promise, the kind that makes you content with her subtle presence in your heart, treading carefully with muffled footsteps, making sure you never lose or gain complete control of her nimble self.
At times, you feel your heart shriveling up, searching in all its corners for that seductive glimmer, that first ray of dawn, that refreshing wave of optimism; positive signs that permit you to carry on dreaming. But alas, you see none.
The night seems endless, and the shroud of light you once saw has faded into a small dot in the distance. Hope, like the palace of illusions, has fooled you once again. The minstrel with her musical anklets was just a mirage you ought not have trusted.

The relentless heart, however, is no quitter. Despite the emptiness you feel inside, you know for sure that when the time comes and you hear the tinkling bells again, your heart will expand to accommodate her merry dance. And you will sway to her merry tune, once more.

For she might be the hope that needs no promise, but you are the love that knows no bounds.

 O for 'Off-beat musings'  is the fifteenth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

May 20, 2016

N for 'Nosy neighbors'

Mine is a creative neighborhood
Of well-acquainted strangers,
With faces lit with Cheshire-cat grins
That instantly transform
Into wrinkles and frowns,
And pleasantries to groans and grimaces,
Snapping congeniality at the blink of an eye
Into sharp indifference and oblivion
When someone approaches them
For a helping hand.

Glass-window panes tightly shut down,
Doors lock and peepholes open,
As my neighborhood lurks into troubled homes,
Hoping nobody will catch the bluff
They'd manufacture at the gossip mill
Where they work tirelessly day in and out,
Not knowing that inside every adjacent house,
Behind every curtain shade,
Is another eye watching them spy;
Another mind cooking another story.

N for 'Nosy neighbors'  is the fourteenth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.