She walked in, looked up.
In the mirror, she gazed.
The woman of her dreams!
She walked in, looked up.
In the mirror, she gazed.
The woman of her dreams!
I was about twelve years old when my father who was then serving in Indian Army was transferred to Assam, one of the eastern states in India. My family shifted from Lucknow base in UP to Assam. We travelled mostly by trains those days and it took us nearly two and a half days to reach Guwahati and then from there another couple of hours to reach our Army accomodation.
Train journeys had their own charm. As kids, we would see clouds, trees and fields drifting away as the train sped up. The view of flooded fields, bright green paddy being sown by farmers who had their calves soaked in mud was quite intriguing. Witnessing the enormous Brahmaputra river from the train traversing swiftly on the bridge was frightening and super exciting. I remember people making wishes and tossing coins in the river. Brahmaputra woke everyone with its formidability. I vividly remember the tiny fisherman boats floating with the current of the mighty river. These are just a few things that I remember from my train journey to Guwahati.
Army unit was about six hours from Guwahati and bus used to be our best option. I particularly remember the red soil of Assam which was strikingly different. Mind you, I was a kid, so even the simplest and common things for adults were awe-inspiring for me.
In the next few weeks, we were pretty settled there. It was beautiful always. There was pitter-patter of rain every other hour. This place was superabundantly green. Sun rose way before five in the morning and days always seemed short as the sun used to set around five in the evening.
With so much of nature, came the snails which were harmless, however had covered the entire backwall of our house and were also hidden in the grass, in gravel and on pavements. I hated them and inadvertently crushed a lot of tiny ones and I could never see them amidst grass, I only heard them getting crushed which scared me and I would run and hear more crushings at a faster pace. While snails were harmless, snakes were not. I saw snakes every two days, they horrified me. By God’s grace, I never had to fight one or got bitten by one. I wouldn’t have ever won with a snake.
There are so many fond memories of Assam. On my way to school I used to just gaze out of my bus and witness the waterlogged fields blossoming with lotuses. This went on for miles and miles as my school was pretty far from my home.
Even today, when I close my eyes and I can still see the lotuses in the murkiest of muck, looking as fresh as the dew that sat on them every single morning.
Today was a tough day. It was pretty exhausting both physically and mentally. And emotionally tiring to keep yourself cheerful in lockdown, it’s been more than a month since it started.
As the poignance of lockdown was drowing me, I heard loud rustling of trees and howling wind. I stepped outside to behold the blue sky turn sepia. It was picturesque. I continued gazing at the sky as I sat down.
As I sat there, peace seemed to seep into my skin. I let my bones, flesh and soul soak it. This is exactly what I needed. With the wind, my thoughts began to flutter from my one moment to another. My mind was going to happy places.
In spur of the moment, I started scrolling through the photo gallery of my phone. Photographs have a way of transporting us to the feelings we had in the moments they were caprtured. With thousands of photographs in my phone, I chose a few that symbolize a happy moment for me. Here they are…
I’ll add some more to it..when I have some more time in hand.
When I think about magic, mighty shimmery green and blue aurora Borealis wandering in the sky comes to my mind. I haven’t witnessed one yet, however that’s exactly what magic would seem like, I marvel.
I think of the Sun. No matter how many times we see it rise and wane, the composition of its light with the blue, grey or clear sky and the clouds create magic.
Sea reflecting the bright hues of yellow and orange with silhouettes of tiny boats and birds flying back to their homes during sun down, make magic.
Psithurium of tall trees in high mountains where teeny-tiny birds weave their nests and sing with the wind, create magic.
The air eroding and carving paths on rocky lands with river meandering through the foot of the cliffs and the wind howling strongly feeding you it’s strength, makes magic.
An early morning chirping of birds that has power to heal your broken soul, is magic.
Being far, far away from someone in years and in miles with warm feelings unaltered by time and space, says a lot about magic.
In mornings, when a small bakery en route work entralls you with a whiff of freshly baked warm and light loaf of bread that transports you to your home, that’s magic.
There’s so much magic around. It is created in moments where we may not expect. Magic happens when we open ourselves to it knowingly, unknowingly.
Life’s been intricate ever since I left college, perhaps, it always was. Life’s pace has always been dramatic – sometimes so fast that I would live days without realising the time that passed by and then so, so slow that all I would do is rewind the lost time.
I choose to believe that I prefer the high tempo of life because it leaves no hole to peek into the past and lets you glide with it in the future. The other half of me craves for the low tempo of life, the one that heals the soul and illuminates it. This other part makes me delve into the darkness of the starry night. It lets me walk on the minuscule grains of ever unsettling sand where the gentle waves kiss the shore.
Apparently, I want it both. What’s your tempo? Let me know in the comments below.
My outlook toward music and God was alike. I knew both existed, I enjoyed being immersed in the idea of both from time-to-time in my own way but was very selective about devoting my time to either. Being selective can be an excuse for being indolent.
For me, music resonated with road trips and God with my beliefs. God was approached when I was in a crisis-like situation. The idea of being spiritual was sacred and very personal. I wouldn’t visit temples although I had those just minutes away. My connect was based on a typical rebel mindset that I would do only what I feel like doing. It was more about passion and being driven by it. “Why should I do something because everyone else was doing or my parents did?”, I always thought. It all felt right at that time. It was all about passion.
Today, I think passion is the most overrated thing in our generation. Everyone talks about passion and following it. But do we really need to have passion, to do something? Can passion not be developed?
I never felt like visiting a temple, it was probably once or twice in a year that my family could convince me to accompany them.
In the last few years, because of people around me especially my husband who’s quite spiritual, I began this journey of visiting a temple once in a week. These were not my heartfelt visits, I was only an accomplice in his spiritual journey. He would sense my unwillingness and blend it with a supper date or a visit to a plant nursery, which would keep me enthused for the evening. We had numerous weeks of these customary visits to the temple and contrary to my conviction, I did start feeling engaged in these short temple visits. Overtime, I felt as if a seed of passion was sown within me, passion to connect with the divine. I wouldn’t say, I became passionate about God, but I knew spirituality had started growing on me. I felt a strong connect with God and ironically, this burgeoned with my engagement with music. It was an atypical trance, tribal and nature.
It’s marvelous to look back in this journey from time-to-time and squeeze all the goodness of passion that one can savour. And, it’s great because I didn’t have it, it was built within. Passion was created, this gives me hope of the unnumbered passions that one could have.
Here’s how it started.
First bird I spotted was a coppersmith barbet. It seemed unique with colours of yellow and orange around its head, beak and neck. I thought to myself – “must be rare”. I googled and got to know that it’s a resident of Indian subcontinent. I also had encounters with an oriental magpie robin which is a little black and white bird. An absolute stunner! A few times, I met a common kingfisher. Kingfishers are beautiful creatures who tweet daylong. I also spotted a male and a female koel. They are unlike each other. While male is all black with crimson eyes and the female has white spots all over its brown body. Albeit, she does have crimson eyes. They are always singing. I saw a blue Australian super fairy wren as well. These birds became my motivation to get up early in the morning, to witness the beauty of nature. Before I realised, this had already become a hobby of mine. I also spotted a red-vented bulbul and a greater coucal. A few times I was awed by flocks of different birds including one of sparrows which overwhelm me every single time.
This is how the world feels like right now.
And this I how I want to feel.
I want to dance in sun and soak myself in the warmth of light, I want to drink rain and just run away. I want to be part of a crowd and I promise not to cringe when it gets too crammed. I want to run around like a crazy person, smiling and hugging people. When all of this is over, I want to do it all.
Few months back, I was enjoying my vacation with people from different countries. I was having a blast experiencing different cultures and food. On the first day of 2020, I was on a flight and was feeling truly ecstatic because this was the first time I was flying on 1st of January. I thought – what a crazy year this will be? I was already planning for my next vacation.
I joined back office with my tan and beautiful memories of my holiday. I just couldn’t stop smiling with the days I just lived and the days I was planning to live. I was enjoying my work and my life. In the next few days, I learnt about a virus that the entire world was talking about. I first heard something about China, then a few days later, it was Iran, then Italy. It was sprawling like wildfire globally and soon it hit India.
The idea of Corona virus hitting India was as scary as Tsunami hitting Japan (Tsunami hitting anywhere else is equally scary). India was not prepared, people were not prepared, government was not prepared.
We all were going to experience something unseen in the last 100 years. Everyone was going to get affected. There were no exceptions. Our worlds were taking a one-eighty degree turn. India a country with an unending hustle-bustle was going to get used to being quiet. I know the entire world was experiencing this, but for India, being India, this was a challenge. We are the noise makers, we don’t know what quiet is. We are deeply tied up with our families, our friends, our neighborhood, how were we going to survive this? This India would have to understand social distancing and most importantly, follow it.
We all learnt about social distancing. By the way, this should be Oxford’s word of 2020. The virus and the word made us stay at home. No malls, no fun places to go to, no dinners outside, no vacation plans and no social gatherings. Stay where you are – is the message. A lockdown. I understand the message. We all do. We have to stay at home. Homebound only. Which means I’m working from home, just like most of the us.
Working from home has always been a dream. It’s convenient – I always thought. Well, initially it was fun. It was so good to be in my space and delivering work. I realised I was more focused at home than office. I was so focused, just like my husband who was also working from home, that our line of personal and work space blurred. It wasn’t clear anymore whether it was time to work or to stop work. There were no breaks, no early morning chitchat with friends at work and no snack time. My husband got up every morning in a hurry to get ready for his early morning zoom meeting. Our lunches were also in a haste mostly. By the time we both were off our laptops, it was mostly eight in the evening. Then, we would prepare our dinner and it would be ten already. What was happening? We were spending twenty four hours together in the same house and not spending much time with each other. And me being the selfish one that I am, I was also worried about not having enough time to spend with myself. I am a firm believer of spending some quality time with oneself first and then with someone else.
That evening, I started making a mental note of things that I wanted to do. I understood that the lockdown was not going to go away anytime soon. I had to do something. I had to.
First thing I did the next morning was – I picked my Nikon DSLR that I bought five years back. Yes, five years back! I could count the number of times I used it earlier and I’m not proud of myself to say that. I was so excited when I had bought it but in the daily grind of life, it was kept someplace, where I wouldn’t see it often. I cleared my mind of my past excitement and filled my heart with the freshness of early morning. In next few seconds, I was in my balcony. Now this is no ordinary balcony. This balcony gives me a view of endless greenery, hills and open sky. I’m always thankful to God whenever I’m in my balcony, this is my favourite space in my space. As I stood outside, I noticed a bird – I had never seen this bird before. I was elated to see it. The bird was Coppersmith Barbet. I clicked. Next day, it was a Bulbul, the next, a Superb Fairy Wren, the next, a Magpie Robin and the next, a Kingfisher. What was happening? Was this because of lockdown? Maybe? I wondered how I never noticed a single bird apart from the pestersome Pigeons. Now this is my hope of my every morning. This makes me happy and this gives me hope.
In these times, we need to find our own hope. We need to create new strengths and new happinesses. While we all need to work. We all need to have fun as well. We need to connect with ourselves, or else how will we connect with our families, our partners.
Find something that will make you feel alive, I’m trying to find more. Gym is shut, so I’m trying sun salutations at home. Have no Starbucks or a Durga coffee house open, so I’m trying Dalgona at home. I’m learning about focus, aperture and white balance, things that I should have learnt five years back. Writing this article is also about me finding happiness. I hope there’s something that each one of us is able find for ourselves – finding our happiness in the times of Corona. The gloom will get defeated by each drop of happiness that we create in our lives.