Sunday, August 7, 2016

10 Best Ways to Live in This Moment

The recent few years have seen the dawn of a few realisations within me. Some came as rude shocks while some crept in slowly and steadily sinking in at a gradual pace. Death knocking down some close people much before their time, false criminal charges on a dear friend landing him into a whirlpool of troubles, falling out with loved ones who I was on better terms in the past but no longer relate to, and many more such instances pounded fresh jolts on my heart every time they occurred. Let’s leave out the details, though. Each of these incidents have hammered home just one fact, sharp and strong. Life is short. The best laid plans go for a toss, because, you never know what time has in-store for you.

The realisation followed with a phase of blank numbness. And, a lot of soul searching later I made a promise to myself, that is, to live my life NOW. I wondered how I could ensure doing that. So, this is not something new to us. Every single one of us is aware of how life flies by in a blink, but yet we go about living it mechanically assuming that it would go on forever as it is, me being no exception. A lot of daily introspection led me to start incorporating a few changes in my lifestyle. I'm still in the process of adding more to these but a few that I have already starting living by are shared below, hoping it could also help you live in the moment if they strike a chord with you as you read them.

1. Before your kid grows up play that new game he wanted you to play with him, no matter how childish the game seems to you. Today you might put it off for the lack of time/interest, but tomorrow when you finally feel you're up for it he would have outgrown it sooner than you snapped your fingers.

2. Spend quality time with your parents. They did it for you when you were younger. Before you know, it would be time you would start craving for the same kind of time from your own kids.

3. Take care of your body but do not obsess over your weight and give up on your favourite foods completely. Remember, achieving perfection is only a mind-game.   Every time my taste buds crave for the occasional sinful cupcake or a tangy panipuri and I start fretting over the tilting weighing scales, I remind myself that these goodies are not available in heaven. It could be my last chance to savour them! Of course, goes without saying that a little bit of moderation would go a long way in keeping health issues at bay. 

4. Remember that gorgeous outfit that you saved for a special day (and the special day never came since years)? Go right ahead, wear it and make today special, because, we only think we have the time. 

5. Pick up the phone and chat up with that old friend you lost touch with but have shared some happy memories together. Who knows, that was what you were missing in your life all along.

6. Let bygones be bygones. After some years the small disagreements you held on to will not make much sense anymore. When you look back, you would recollect many such instances that just sucked your well-being by causing negative emotions within you. Totally not worth it. Declutter old stuff and make space for new. This applies to both material things and thought processes too.

7. Take that trip to your dream destination even if it means splurging a bit. After all, where do you plan to take all your hard earned money to? I feel, travel surely adds years to your life with all the enrichment infused by new explorations and experiences.

8. Let go off negative situations, people or habits that gnaw at your self-esteem or simply don’t give you a feel-good vibe. If you are in the middle of such situations, mentally distance yourself from the root cause and nourish yourself with an interest that adds value to your life in some way. It could be something as mundane as pulling out stray weeds from the garden.

9. And yes, last but not the least give some of your share of happiness to someone needy, not necessarily in a monetary form. It could be in form of your time and services to someone who needs it.  If you happen to take the elevator together, share a funny anecdote with that sad  old lonely neighbour whose kids flew out of the nest recently. Try to make him smile. Brighten up someone's day and it could makes yours doubly brighter.

10. Spend your time wisely. Do nothing sometimes. Slow down. Enjoy the view, read a book, smell the coffee, listen to music and cuddle up with your pet. 

Today could be the last. And, my promise to myself is to make the most of it while it lasts. Do you have anything to add to the list above? Share it in the comments section below. I’d love to know what it is. Till then live it up the best you can!

*Copyrights reserved.

This post was written for BAR-A-THON. 
Day #7, Prompt - Promise.

I am with Team #CrimsonRush for the #BarAThon Challenge from 1st to 7th August 2016.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Waiting

Source: Google Images
He leaned onto the window sill, desperately waiting for them to appear in his line of vision. Letting out a deep sigh, he'd have sworn his senses that he'd heard the gate to the fenced villa swing open. False alarm. It was Ramu Kaka, the housekeeper who walked in with a pile of freshly laundered clothes. Oh yes, why did he get these clothes today? His eyes twinkled with hope, as he followed Ramu Kaka around with the hope that he'd get a clue.

The gentle old house-help offered him a few cookies sensing his unrest. Cookies! Who wants cookies? He thought to himself. I want mum and dad! He didn't remember when he saw them last. They had just walked out of the house one fine day just as they did every morning with their office bags, patting his head lovingly as they would before casually saying bye. And, the evenings would see them walking in with a happy hi and a big cuddle to him. Mum would sometimes bring him his favourite sausages. He would get a whiff of the mouth-watering stuff from the moment she would enter the gate. He sniffed hard today, but like the last few days it was just his imagination. Perhaps, dad would zoom in with his spirits high and they might take a stroll to the park nearby. He heard a distant honk but no, it wasn't his car.

He threw the usual questioning glance at the old man. Ramu Kaka looked into his liquid brown desolate eyes and shook his head. The phone rang and was promptly answered. Looked like Ramu kaka was waiting for it. Yes! It was probably one of them. 

"Hello. Haan ji Daadi ji, what time tomorrow?" Ramu Kaka inquired softly.

Oh, was Daadi ji coming over? He hadn't seen her in a while. Her genteel and affectionate presence would probably make him feel better. The last he had seen her and Dada ji was when they were leaving for America. He didn't know where America was, but from what dad told him on one of their strolls was that Daadi ji and Dada ji were going somewhere far from them. Dad sounded low then. He said he would miss them. Coming back to the present he wondered why dad did not miss him. He was away for so long leaving him alone. 

Ramu Kaka paused and further murmured into the phone wiping a stray droplet from his cheek, "I'm here every single day since the crash, Daadi ji. Baba is alone. He has to be fed and looked after, na? I'm just waiting for you and Daadi ji to come." 

As if they cared for Baba! He grunted in disgust. After Ramu Kaka disconnected the call he went about his new routine of lighting those overwhelmingly sweet smelling incense sticks and garlanding the large picture of mum and dad in the living room. Yikes...mum was allergic to that scent and smoke! She would have probably sneezed her heart out if she would have been here. Baba wasn't sure if his parents would like this ritual but he guessed that probably the old man did it with the hope of giving them a warm welcome in his own old world ways. After all, they deserved it since they were away for long. They smiled spiritedly from behind the tulips that framed them, their smiles reaching their eyes and catching his gaze on them. He swallowed the heavy lump in his throat and looked away. Yes, they should be coming home soon. Baba walked over to the window again, his mind buzzing with wishful thinking as he climbed onto the window. His silhouette highlighted his rested paws on the sill, his gleaming eyes flickered with a tinge of hope looking faraway into the melting horizon, as his bushy tail wagged slowly with renewed anticipation.

Source: Google Images

This post was written for BAR-A-THON. 
Day #6, Prompt - Wishful thinking.

I am with Team #CrimsonRush for the #BarAThon Challenge from 1st to 7th August 2016.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Feet of my Dreams

I have never had dainty feet. There was never a pair of tiny shoes I have fit in ever since I exited primary school. A shoe size - 40 is not really a very slender sight, you see, especially for a lady. To top it, my feet are broader than the ones you see on an average woman. And, the shape of my toes resemble distorted versions of bulbous ginger. To top it, I have duck feet. My feet always point slightly outwards when I walk. My mum had tried to correct it in my younger days, making me walk with a pile of books on my head pacing across the living room to balance it evenly in an attempt to make my feet point straight ahead, but alas!  Nothing worked. I bet, you have never paid attention to my feet that way, but well, everyone has their own demons stuffed in their closets. I'm bringing out one of mine in the open today for you looking for some empathy.

Throughout my teens I admired women with petite feet, their painted delicate toes peeping femininely from those nude peep-toes. Now, I don't have a thing for absolutely closed shoes and pumps, although I like them on others, but they are just not my style. Even if I do wear them, it is for a short duration. I crave for more freedom and hence my footwear needs to be well ventilated and oozing class. Every time I visit a shoe shop, I get tempted to try on thin strappy sandals, unusually delicate stilettos, only to find my feet jutting out haphazardly from the sleek straps that are supposed to hold it. Not a very flattering sight, I tell you. At times, I get bought into the over-enthusiastic salesman's theory that the straps would loosen up and take the shape of my feet after a few uses. So, when I pick up the particular pair on his insistence and wear them religiously for a few days to mould them to the shape of my feet I realise that, yes, the straps did loosen up but only to push my shoe soles backwards and bring my toes jutting out of the sandals in the front. The whole sight of it is similar to having two bundles of twigs strapped clumsily into those lovely sandals. 

My eyes look longingly at pedicured pretty feet passing me by on the streets wearing the most elegant of tie-ups criss-crossing on the sylphlike pair of legs. The toes seem to mock me with the glorious pop of colour on them. I embarrassingly tuck my less fortunate ones under the drape of my ankle length skirt. "A pedicure might probably do something miraculous," I tell myself and set out to the beauty parlour. My attempt at getting the much needed boost of ego by getting them scrubbed, filed, pruned and primed in foamy heavenly aromas go wasted when the therapist shakes his head in the middle of the pedi-session every now and then, trying to figure out which breed I belong to. He had probably lost his wits when he tried to give a semblance of shape to my toe nails while filing them. I ignore him and try to concentrate on choosing the hottest nail colour to assemble my battered spirits. The therapist gives me a blank stare probably wondering what difference would the nail paint make to that horrendous pair he just dealt with. The optimist in me sees the bright side of my glossy toes as she steps out of the beauty parlour with renewed spirits. And, what does she see right across the aisle in the store window of Charles and Keith? The sleekest pair of canary yellow stilettos (Oh yeah, that's my colour these days. The brightest of yellow!). The gay yellow slivers of leather tease me from in there provoking me to walk in to check them. The salesman gives one discerning look, first at my feet and then at my face and flatly said, "We don't have your size, ma’am."  He sounded like I was guilty of making an unreasonable demand.

My foot! I don't lose hope so easily. This too shall pass. Someday when I shed my excess and reach my ideal weight (yes, yes, I will!) my feet might miraculously shrink into the svelte shape they deserve to be. I mean, look at the rest of me...they need to do the rest of my awesome self some justice, no? So let’s keep hoping that there will be a day soon when I put my best foot forward, clicking the tall heels of my sleekest tiny shoes, straps moulded elegantly on them, I shall leave that therapist at the parlour and the salesman at the shoe shop with their jaws dropped open in awe, wondering how the magic happened. Amen, to that!

Source: Google Images

This post was written for BAR-A-THON. 
Day #5, Prompt - Tiny shoes.

I am with Team #CrimsonRush for the #BarAThon Challenge from 1st to 7th August 2016.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Smartphone Catch

There, he was at it again.

"When do you ever leave that phone alone?"  I questioned my son who was at an age where I could reprimand him for not behaving old enough for his age, at the same time treat him like a baby as per the nature of the situation.

He replied without looking up, “When I go to school. That's when my dear phone gets it breathing space," he quipped smugly, quite pleased with the smart answer he could come up with.

I shook my head feeling hopeless. "No son, you gotta have a life besides this," I remarked, “Go out, play cricket with your friends, go cycling...look at your bicycle gathering dust!"

"Sure, but first tell me when do you leave your phone alone?" he demanded.

I looked at him straight in his eyes,  "I only check it when it beeps. It could be work-related, you see." I replied, trying to sound as matter-of-factly as I could.

“So what make you think I am not doing work on phone? I could be discussing my project with my teacher over WhatsApp," he shrugged. “Don’t give me that, child; catching Pokémon doesn't count as a project!" I retorted.

 He walked away giving up on me, banging the door to his room after him.

I sighed. Kids these days...their childhood is just not the same as ours used to be. They are prisoners to their virtual life. Gone were the innocent and fancy free days of playing in the open,  the heady rush of sweating it out on a healthy outdoor game with friends and wondrously catching butterflies in the backyard.

The catching butterflies reminded me of something. Trying to push my thoughts aside I reached out for my phone. "Freak…that's Squirtle!" My eyes glinted with excitement as I spotted this virtual blue turtle character from the Pokémon series perched right there on my sofa, in augmented reality.  I promptly aimed a Pokéball to catch him. He dodged the ball, teasing me into action.

So busy was I in the act that I barely realised that my son was standing behind me studying me with a mocking expression. "Yeah, right!" he smirked sarcastically, with a raised eyebrow. So well, I was caught red-handed. This was worse than being confronted by my mum when she caught me stealing chocolates from the refrigerator in the middle of the night back in my childhood. Embarrassed to the core, I have to sheepishly admit that he had rested my case.


This post was written for BAR-A-THON. 
Day #4, Prompt - Caught red-handed.

I am with Team #CrimsonRush for the #BarAThon Challenge from 1st to 7th August 2016.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Safe with Mother

The pelting raindrops descended with force splashing in fury on the concrete pipe before sliding down in fervent streams. The rhythmic sound it created had put her infant baby to sleep after a torturous session of wailing. The raging winds, the crackling thunders and the moist surroundings had kept the panic stricken baby awake for a long time. Asha had held her baby close to her chest, covering her with the end of her half wet, tattered sari, patting her gently to sleep.

Wearily, she was just about to doze off when her eyes wandered to the far end of the road. Something moved. She couldn't comprehend what it was since the play of showers made the vision hazy. She strained her eyes and saw a movement of fur. It was a tail moving around in circles. A mother was trying to shield her tiny pups from the slapping rains. The three pups must have been barely a few days old and must have slowly strayed out in the open. In a desperate attempt to cover her babies, the mother crouched protectively over them trying to create a roof above them with her lean malnourished body. She looked around helplessly and her pleading eyes caught Asha's gaze, The communication between them was wordless and effortless.

Asha gently lay her baby down on the soft bedding that she had made from an old shawl. She dragged a sheet of blue tarpaulin that hung on one end of the pipe to keep them dry and covered her head with it as she dashed towards the other end of the road in the madness of the rains to save the fragile lives. Cupping the  three puppies in her hands she led their mother to the safety of the pipe. They were all now within the dry secure confines of the concrete pipe that had been a shelter to Asha and her baby when they were thrown out of their hut after Asha's husband died of excessive alcohol consumption a few days back. He was deep in debts in his last days. The money lenders spared no time after his death to take over his hut. With no place to go to Asha had taken refuge inside the huge hollow concrete pipe on the road. 

She gently caressed her baby who slept peacefully alongside the wet pups, while their mother licked them one at a time trying to warm their bodies the best she could. Both the mothers quietly exchanged a look of grateful contentment. Mothers and their ways, you see. 



This post was written for BAR-A-THON. 
Day #3, Prompt - Fragile lives

I am with Team #CrimsonRush for the #BarAThon Challenge from 1st to 7th August 2016.

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Circle of Fragrance

So, you're here to check out what I've posted today. What you don't know is that you are blessed to have come here to read this post. Because, I'm sending out good energy to one and all who are connected, detached, known, unknown/indifferent to me, my loved ones, my haters, all included. Not that I'm some great divine soul who could bring miracles to your life. I'm just a simple person like you.

You may wonder why I'm being so benevolent. What you don't know is that I myself have been touched by such positive energies, by people who did it in their moments of benevolence. And, now is my turn to take it forward to do my bit. Just with the hope that the world becomes the heaven we often dream about but do little to make it into one. Where people don't only think about doing good things but actually 'do' the good things. It’s a far cry from the chaos around us right now with misguided souls shedding innocent blood in the name of religion.

But nevertheless, if this circle of passing good energy continues going forward, like a string of fresh jasmine flowers wrapping all living beings in a circle of miracles, who knows the evil energies might get dissolved, mingling in the goodness of the positive fragrance it exudes. Wishful thinking, but why not give it a chance? So, will you take this fragrance forward and pass it around?

Too much good on my blog today, isn’t it? Why? Because....what you don't know is that I'm now a certified pranic healer. The possibility of helping people in need with my newfound knowledge has changed my life ever since and I hope I am able to utilise my learnings effectively, if not to do good, at least think and intend good. Blessings be to all.


This post was written for BAR-A-THON. 
Day #2, Prompt - What you don't know.

I am with Team #CrimsonRush for the #BarAThon Challenge from 1st to 7th August 2016.

Birth of Fiction

Source: Google Images

Once upon a time, long ago, Thoughts met Words. Actually, Thoughts was looking for the right Words to get his work through. They met, brainstormed, debated, broke apart, lost each other mid-way, rediscovered each other with a renewed perspective and mingled. Their love-hate relation led to the murders of a lot of pages. But in the end the reward was the birth of their union - Fiction.

Fiction was unique, interesting and curious. Curious, because Fiction was looking for Facts. But the day Fiction met Facts, Fiction realised that all three of them, Thoughts, Words and Facts were stranger than Fiction because, though the three of them had amalgamated into the creation of Fiction, each of them were so different from each other, yet so dependent on each other. And that my dear friends, is the potpourri that went into the making of Fiction. Strange...isn't it?

This post was written for BAR-A-THON. 
Day #1, Prompt - Stranger than fiction.

I am with Team #CrimsonRush for the #BarAThon Challenge from 1st to 7th August 2016.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

#FacebookMotherhoodDare - from a mother's perspective

Idly scrolling through my Facebook news feed a few days back, I came across this post on the Motherhood Facebook dare, which led me to an outburst prompted by the sheer unfairness of the thought behind the post. What follows in my post here has turned out to be a series of questions and each of these questions really are answers in themselves if challenged within their context.

The writer of the post has gone forth and called this dare a sexist activity. Sexist, really? How can anything related to something as pure and natural be termed as sexist? Sharing a few nuggets of happiness through smiling pictures of your children has been termed as a sexist activity. Have we really turned so cynical that we've started robbing each other off little pleasures of life? Yes, there have been pictures of cute kids in their growing phases, posted proudly, a lot more frequently than usual in the last few days. So, what’s the big deal about it? Aren't there a lot many different kinds of  pictures and posts being updated on Facebook regularly, that's what the purpose of that particular platform is, right? Sharing, connecting and networking. So what, if it is a bunch of happy, proud mothers cheering each other?

Her take is that this campaign was creating a lot of fuss which emphasised the emptiness it actually represented and how it segregated women into a superficial and selfish bracket of haves and have-nots - those whose womanhood was validated by marriage and motherhood, and those who have remained single, childless, or married women who live with the stigma of being barren. She further talks about empathy towards women who have had failed becoming mothers or who have been forced into becoming one.

Honestly, is that the only parameter we have towards judging women? How does posting a harmless picture of your child and tagging other mothers glorify you and bring down other women? Don't all of us humans, irrespective of our genders have our own share of blessings and misfortunes? Instead of counting our blessings, we have got into a habit of highlighting every misfortune that torments us. More so, when someone expresses their joy and fulfilment publicly. Why should a woman who's biggest joy of motherhood be questioned just for the sake of those who have been eluded of it?
None of us are blessed with a perfect life so to speak of. There are numerous instances where one could draw comparisons and feel deprived or offended in our day to day lives. Listing some of them below:

-Why haven't we raised a flag on Father's day and so many other "days" that can very well serve to be kill joys if at all that is the point we are driving home? Isn't that sexist again?

-Irrespective of Valentine's Day or any regular day, lovey-dovey pictures of couples are trust into the faces of melancholic widow/ers, divorcees and singles. Poor single souls - have we ever reflected on how much lonelier it would have made them feel? So, should we stop posting those pictures that are precious memories of people in love, for the sake of those unfortunate singles?

-I lost my pet dog last year and yet people have been torturing me with posts and pictures of cuddling cute cats and dogs every single day. I still have not got over my loss to replace it with another pet. Should those pet owners who post these pictures stop posting them to be sensitive to people who don't have pets and miss one in their lives?

-One of my friends is jobless and in seeking a job since a long time. Does his/her peer's posting their own professional accolades indicate being heartless to that one friend who has been deprived of the same?

-There are times you come upon some post that you related to and deemed it fit to be shared with your besties whom you tag on the post. Does the tagging of those specific people indicate that the other friends on your list are not worthy of sharing it with and do they need to feel dejected for being left out? Somehow tagging the mothers who you think are great mothers has been shamed at. Isn't it equivalent to choosing those besties while sharing that interesting post?

-The #100saripact still runs viral on Facebook, with women flaunting the best of their finery. I wonder if it offends women who lack that number of saris in their wardrobe and draws their attention to their financial inability to own so many saris.

-And then again, those travel posts. All good, we all love to see good sceneries and exotic locales. But are your happy faces against these backgrounds posted with an intention of bringing our inability to take such vacation to our notice?

Everybody has their share of misfortunes...but why do we have to associate somebody's joy with our own misfortune? Isn't that a sadist attitude in itself? Wouldn't we rather count our own blessings than raise fingers at someone's expression of joy that has not been yours? Agreed, there are some toxic personalities who might rub it the wrong way and pose unacceptable questions to women who have failed in conceiving, but those handful of negative people should not be used against the innocent majority of mothers who have actually earned that joy with the pains that they bore. Motherhood is a journey, with high and lows only a mother can understand. No mother needs to feel guilty for what she is proud of. Period.

In fact, although I was tagged on this dare quite a few days back and was unsure on participating in it, the rebel in me took it up only yesterday when I read this particularly offensive post. It is a perfect example of how we have started associating every simple joy giving activity with some kind of pain/trauma/unfairness on the other. As I draft this post, I notice that two of the friends I had tagged on the dare had silently untagged themselves from my post. Was it their disagreement to the whole concept or was it their concern that people would judge them on basis their association with the dare? All their choice. After all everyone has choices. You choose to either agree or disagree. Both of which can be done silently, moving on without offending others. Remember, you weren't hatched by a hen. So calm down. Shaming motherhood is akin to raising a finger at your own mother. Think about it.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Turpentine scented memories with Hema and Chintan Upadhyay

As my cell phone beeped notifying me of yet another random WhatsApp  message that lazy Sunday afternoon, I reached out to scan the contents of the message only to be rudely shaken out of my weekend snooze. It was a website link forwarded by a friend stating the news of the gruesome murder of an acclaimed artist. Well, an acclaimed artist for the world but a dear friend from college for me. We were hardly in touch but I would get regular updates on her because of the common circle of friends we belonged to, and also for the fact that she and her husband, were equally dear to us since we had shared some valuable moments of growing up with them. Each of them were doing extremely well for themselves in the art world in their own ways. But wait a minute, murder? This couldn't be happening to one of us...these things happened to other people, in the newspapers, on the television, on the streets....not to someone so close!

Renowned artist Hema Upadhyay and her divorce lawyer Harish Bhambhani were found brutally murdered,their bodies packed in cardboard boxes, dumped in a drain in suburban Mumbai on 11th December, 2015.  Unfortunately, the fingers pointed accusingly at her estranged husband, Chintan Upadhyay, a celebrated artist himself.

It took a few disoriented moments for me to figure out whom to cross-check the authenticity of this unbelievable news with. I shook my college alumni WhatsApp group to attention, pulling them out of whatever they were doing, spread across different time-zones of the world, and soon we were on frantic phone calls, totally out of our heads as to how and what had gone wrong. The days that followed left us numb and blank still in shocked disbelief. But well, this post is not about what happened in the recent days. It is about what I knew of Hema and Chintan Upadhyay as individuals from back in the good old college days, at the Faculty of Fine Arts in the Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, where we graduated as Bachelors of Painting.

We were close, not in a way best friends are. But in a way when a handful of twenty odd people are thrown together in a batch, sharing the same studio space for four years are. The kind of proximity which exposes you to what each of those twenty people think like, express like, eat like, sleep like, breathe like, sneeze like and react like. What each of them would love to eat, wear, watch, dream, listen, talk, sing and paint about. We were all different like chalk and cheese but there was a certain camaraderie that grew with time when you spent so much time with someone, over endless cups of  chai, discussing each stroke of their paint brush, light hearted leg-pulling, singing and warming up in front of the bonfire.

On the first day of nude study which was a part of the curriculum which required us to master sketching the human anatomy in its naked form, we were like a bunch of awkward teenagers trying not to look at each other while some of us stifled our giggles as the model stood unclothed in front of us. There were lazy afternoons where each of us stretched our personal chatai mats in front our canvas mounted easels, staring at our creations in progress, sometimes taking a quick nap (yes, the studio was like home, because we spent our entire day there and went back to our homes and hostels only to sleep in the night). As we got busy mixing blobs of colours on our palette with turpentine soaked brushes, somewhere out of nowhere would start the infectious humming of songs that emanated from a corner which soon caught up on the other end of the studio and the hum would turn into a full blown chorus sometimes. On lucky days we would be attacking some poor guy's tiffin and hogging on it with our charcoal and paint stained hands. And again, those routine strolls to the tea stall outside the college gates, to sprawl on gunny bags spread on the footpath, sipping on  the famous Vishnu the chai-walla's trademark elachi chai as we brainstormed on the complexities of various aspects of our personal lives and the way it weaved into our respective arts. The tattered denims with messy paint dabs and dusty hawai chappals that we donned had no idea what they were going to be replaced with in the near future. We barely had a currency note or two and on occasions just a few coins in our pockets to get us going, but that did not matter much back then. Wonder when and how it all changed? I wish it hadn't. I wish we could still live on the way we did back then, in a bubble of surreal thinking that kept us secure in the cosy nest of our homelike faculty.

With Hema, on the Painting department terrace
 in the faculty of FA, Baroda.

With Chintan on the right,
on the Painting department terrace in the faculty of FA, Baroda.
The first time I had seen Hema during the first year of college, she came with this aura that a convent educated girl comes with. Especially, in a small place like Baroda, the perception of The Convent of Jesus and Mary School, where Hema had come from, was that the girls who passed out from that particular school had certain mannerisms and attitude that set them apart, that one could spot from a distance. A wavy lock of strands that drifted on one side of her face from her forehead was her distinct style throughout college days. We would teasingly call her by the name of "Sindhi" and she would gladly play along. My favourite memory of her was getting a pair of puppies from her house. Her pet, a Lhasa Aphso had mated with a German Shepherd and the result was this comic mix of pups, some furry and some with shiny coats. I took one of each, a white furry one and a black coated pup in a wicker basket and gifted them to my mum on her birthday. My poor unsuspecting mum had no idea what to expect from this peculiar breed of pups. Within a few weeks, the tiny pups were the size of  full-grown lambs, frisking around from the sofa to the dining table to my dad's bald pate, making my mum wonder how much bigger they were going to grow. Soon we had to give away one of the pups to another friend, for the lack of space for such big and mischievous dogs but we kept one of them. "Rummy" was the pup who stayed back with us and when I think of Hema today, I thank her for all the wonderful memories she had provided to us by giving us the very adorable "Rummy."

In the days to come we noticed a lot many layers getting added to Hema's convent bred persona, possibly a few of those were added by her involvement with art and her interactions with Chintan, whom we affectionately referred to as "Chintu." Chintan, was this personality with a raw Rajasthani edge. He had strong views on every topic and a lot of it made enough sense for people to go seeking for his counsel time and again. My fondest memory of him is of him singing the song, "Neela Aasman So Gaya," from the Hindi film Silsila, sung by Amitabh Bachchan. Chintan's voice has this hoarse quality that would lend beautifully, just the right emotion of tranquillity to this song which I soaked in blissfully every time he rendered it soulfully. On many a evenings when the sun would be setting and the studio would be cast with orange shadows, I would request him to sing it for me and he would oblige. To this day, that song still reminds me of him. He was known for poking fun, making a drab environment lively with his antics and more importantly, for probing people he interacted with to think and provoked them to scratch the surface deeper. Provoking and rebellious he sure was, but only in a way that would help others.

Waiting for the day I could hear this song sung by 
Amitabh Bachchan from the Hindi film 
Silsila in Chintan's amazing voice yet again.

With Chintan seated on the right,
on a study tour to Kutch
With Chintan, the second from left, at the
 India-Pakistan border in Kutch on a study tour,
as he pays close attention to my discussion
with another friend.
Well, so both Hema and Chintan were two very different identities for us until the final year of college, when we started to notice them getting into naughty giggling banters and funny arguments, almost childlike, but none of which we could make sense of, except for the fact that there was a chemistry. A chemistry that made us wonder, what was it that drew them to each other? The sophisticated Hema from a conservative Sindhi family (Yes, her family seemed conservative because she was never allowed to come for any of the study tours or late night college get-togethers) and the brash, down-to-earth Chintan, who came from a small-town artistic background, his father being a renowned artist too. But then, during those days in college there were quite a few of such exceptional couples amongst us who didn't quite fit in together but yet were seen together in perfect tandem with each other. And, we accepted their union with a broader perspective, little expecting the sad outcome of it all in the coming years.

With Chintan in glasses on the top-right and Hema in the
aqua blue saree on extreme lower-right. At one of the college galas.

With Chintan in centre-right.
A lot many years later when I landed in Mumbai with my first retail job, I bumped into Hema in one of the retail spaces I was working for. Her eyes popped out of disbelief on seeing me in Mumbai, that too on a job. We hugged, briefly exchanged updates and parted ways assuring each other that we would keep in touch. I ran into her a couple of more times mostly in malls and during Navratri at our college campus. One of the occasions I chanced upon both Chintan and Hema at a multiplex about to catch a movie. It was with the same warm affability that we met, hugged and when Chintan suggested that I drop by their place sometime, I promised to do so. But well, as in the case of big cities like Mumbai, that never happened. They were engrossed in their Page 3 milieu, while I was busy juggling my corporate duties. Facebook was the only window now that updated us on what each of us was up to.

In the coming years, a lot of stories floated around about the trauma in the couple's personal life, none of which I chose to speculate on because I knew how people generally spiced up these stories to hike the entertainment value, and I definitely did not want to enjoy at the stake of somebody's misfortunes, especially when it was about people I shared a bond with. Little did we know that it was a misfortune that was to snowball to a greater magnitude. Knowing both of them, I would never dream of either of them doing anything as vicious and gruesome as what has happened. The naughty tussles in the corner of the studio had graduated to bitter alimony tiffs in the court but beyond the love they shared, each of them were bound by humanity. It is this humane streak that made Hema instruct her cook to prepare food for Chintan when he visited their home in Mumbai much after their divorce, and the same humanity which made Chintan ask people to shut up if they bad-mouthed his ex-wife Hema in front of him. It is this very grounded trust we have in both of them which has formed an invisible link that now connects all of us friends who were beginning to lose touch with each other, getting lost in their own big bad worlds. We woke up to remind each other, of those years of growing up together, when we had dreamt and shared with each other hazy future plans...most which we were beginning to forget, and of our precious lives which could snap short any moment.

They say love lives on in a lot many ways, much like the scent of turpentine on our fingers that left traces on our paintings from college days for much beyond eternity. I do hope Hema and Chintan's love for each other will live forever in the form of justice. A justice that should bring forth and punish the actual offenders who have brutally manipulated the misfortunes of this disturbed relationship and not the sordid junk that media decides to feed us with. Love and light to Hema and Chintan. We were, are and will be by your sides - always.

Copyrights Reserved:
This post is an expression of my personal thoughts and a tribute to my friends Hema and Chintan Upadhyay, with no intention of hurting the sentiments of any individual/s. The content of this post and pictures used here are the personal property of this blog's owner. Commercial use of either part or entire content and pictures is strictly prohibited.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Unseen Strings of Melody

She sat curled up in her usual posture on the easy chair, cocooned in the little balcony of her apartment. Her smile accentuated her soft features. He looked on absorbing each moment of her presence as though his life depended on it. The overcast skies suddenly glowed as though reacting to her smile, as soft breeze caressed her unruly hair that strayed on to her face. Gosh! Did she realise how beautiful she looked when she smiled? He wondered as he put his heart and soul into the vibrations his fingers felt when they strummed on the guitar, almost as though his fingers were happy feet on a dance floor. He was sure he was doing something right when he saw her smiling every time he played the guitar on his balcony facing right across hers. He wasn't sure if she found him as attractive, although she never looked into his eyes. But the fact that he could give her that joy was enough for him.

As the notes wafted across, her heart skipped a beat. This was the case every single time the music reached her ears. She wondered whether he played it for her or for a larger audience that she was unaware of. One thing she was certain of though - only a man could play the guitar with such passionate abandon. She felt a little self-conscious at the thought of his gaze on her but the melody made her forget her shyness and pushed her in state of trance, making her lips curl upwards blissfully.

The earth smelt of fresh showers, a few droplets teasingly landed on their cheeks. In a world full of miseries, a blind girl could enjoy the gift of music that a deaf man could churn out, by the sheer will of pleasing her. Either of them oblivious of what the other one was deprived of. After all, there’s so much to life beyond those few misfortunes that each of us have to live with.