September 30, 2007

Inexorable Truth

Trekkers tent and yellow flowers dotting the green carpet on the way to the Himalayan Lake Pangong Tso

In our humanistic society, people strive to accomplish many goals, thinking that in them they will find true meaning to life. Some of these pursuits include business or career success, wealth, good relationships, sex, entertainment, service for humanity etc. One gets to read pretty often that many people have testified that while they achieved what they set out to accomplish - their goals of wealth, relationships, and pleasure - there was still a deep void inside. After so many years have been wasted in their pursuit, they claim achieving those goals eventually reveal a feeling of emptiness that nothing seems to fill. Do we feel similarly?

What's the meaning of life? How can I find purpose, fulfillment and satisfaction in life? Will I have the potential to accomplish something of lasting significance before I die? And is it really important to do that? I wish I had the right answers to these questions.

I just returned after yet another trip to India (the fourth this year). This time I travelled to attend my sister's funeral. Vera will always be in my heart. Death is an inexorable truth. Premature death is perhaps a misfortune. When one does not enjoy good health, probably one feels it is better off to be mortal since lack of good health does not allow to continue to be meaningfully attached to life forever.

I am deeply touched with the marvellous support and kindness I've experienced from my relatives, colleagues and friends during the past few weeks. This also includes my lovely 'blog friends' here: Thank you Tejas, Pijush, Jeevan Baretto, Kalyan, bendtherulz, backpakker, John F, twilight, Crazy Me, GMG, aria, claytonia vices. Thanks also to Jyoti, david macmahon, priyanka mahanta, WalksFarWoman, mrsnesbitt, countrygirlcityliving, Jeana and all those have been here and wished well. Thanks to each and everyone who has communicated with me recently - whether on this blog, online, airmail, e-mails, smses, phone calls and those who have visited me personally. Your support has been overwhelming and please know that your presence in my life is sincerely appreciated. I know there are no apt words to express all that I feel at the moment except say a heartfelt thank you.

Someone has tried to express memories of a loving one in these verses:

"I give you this one thought to keep -
I am with you still - I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not think of me as gone -
I am with you still - in each new dawn."
- Author Unknown

September 18, 2007


These are a couple of pictures of my loving sister, Vera, clicked before ill-health diluted her good looks. Vera, who was in ICU since early this month, died a few hours back.

Excerpt from Nostalgia:

Tall, handsome, slim and strong, fair but tanned, he toiled hard in the 16 acres of land we had. Mama was a marvellous mother, ever so caring. I still recall how wonderful she used to smell throughout the day. She had such amazingly soft skin. Each child's birthday was celebrated every year in some special way. Every child was precious to them. How they managed to make each one of us feel special is a mystery to me. Memories of a happy childhood. Young and easy. One large family and we were all content.

So, there we were growing up on that farm. Merrily roaming around the rice fields bare feet, climbing trees, plucking fruits from trees and devouring them, teaming against neighbouring kids to play new self-styled games, running through the jungles chasing rabbits, strolling through them so often to pick up wild berries, enjoying the lush greenery, swimming in the nearby ponds and lakes, playing in the gushing waters of the overflowing streams, frolicking under the waterfalls, playing with the farm animals, hugging and kissing the grazing ones, getting wet in the rains, never fearing but enjoying nature – the flora and fauna, listening to the birds chirp, identifying which bird it was that made such a sweet sound. We took it all for granted, little did we realize then that these times would be cherished so dearly in days to come.

September 17, 2007

Regal Faith

The Old Leh Palace was built by King Sengge Namgyal in the 17th century. It was later abandoned when Kashmiri forces supposedly besieged it in the mid-19th century. The royal family moved to their current home in Stok Palace on the banks of the the beautiful Indus river.

The mosque in Leh is a Sunni Muslim mosque. It was allegedly constructed under the threat of military action by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb which prompted King Deldan Namgyal to build the mosque in 1661. The mosque reflects a mixture of Islamic and Tibetan architecture.

Leh Mosque with Leh Palace in the background

The Dalai Lama made a visit to Leh in August 2003 to Buddhist temples and mosques, and made a speech to stress religious pluralism among locals and to promote religious harmony.

Leh Palace close to the Leh Mosque

The Dalai Lama took a flight from Delhi to Leh on his visit again on July 31, 2007; while I took a flight on the same day from Leh to Delhi. I sat among a group of military personnel and had interesting conversations with them. I hope to blog about it sometime in future. Security at the Leh airport was extra tight that morning. My tiny backpack was not allowed as a cabin baggage on this flight and, as always, I cooperated with the airline staff by letting it go in the checked baggage.

I intend to post more pictures of Leh and Ladakh in days to come.

September 14, 2007

Musings of a Ballerina

Picture courtesy google

Time for another post. What shall I write about? I've nothing to complain about, nor anything to be passionate about. It's Friday and my weekend. Right now I have the Friday morning syndrome of idle body and idle mind. If I don't want the devil to win, I should publish this post, just as it has turned out, rather than abandoning it.

This morning, I catch myself with the "what if" pattern of thinking:

What if I had taken up arts instead of science to graduate in at college?
What if I were born in Antarctica, where I'd be one amongst less than 1,000 people?
What if I were a hermaphrodite? Which gender prison would I get sent to if I committed a crime?
What if I had intelligence enough to challenge, if not beat, the jurists, mathematicians and scientists of this world?
What if I had one hundred million dollars to spend?
What if I had taken up another profession?
What if I were able to control my laughter when tickled?

Why do these questions crop up? Is it the devil's mind at work again on a lazy Friday morning? Or is it mid-life crisis? As soon I became aware that the latter much abhorred-by-many factor might have something to do with the feelings, I immediately took an online quiz to check on it and the results showed - and I'm not at all surprised - that I suffer only 1% of the so called crisis. It said:

"It's very unlikely that you're experiencing a midlife crisis. You're content with your life and the direction it's taken, and you've accepted the choices you've made. You can discuss your future calmly and without any regrets for the past, and you maintain a positive outlook on aging."

So I'll presume I am enjoying life 99%. Boy, it did make me feel glad I am going in the right direction! That is if online quizzes are to be trusted. But then again, I don't need an online quiz to give me a boost. I can vouch for it with the way I feel about myself. I know, in general, I am still passionate about living and also, for a fact, that am feeling ultra lazy on this Friday morning.

I am not like that "type" of a woman who, at one stage in her life, feels she should rebel against time and believe in the urgent need to run to a fat-cropping doctor to have a figure like Kate Moss, or take up belly dancing to compete with Shakira, or some such unnecessary dare-devil activities to establish that the hips don’t need to be replaced, or buy a fur coat to provide evidence of the capability of affording it, or a plastic surgeon for Penelope Cruz looks, or to have an affair with a squash instructor to prove she is still desirable. No.

As for me, I am certain am swaying around with my life with the grace of a ballerina. I dance around uncertainties and pirouette around problems and very much feel in control with the choreography of my life.

If lazing on a weekend is part of enjoying life, go ahead and enjoy it to your heart's content. Have a great weekend folks.

September 12, 2007

Choki Dhani by Night

Choki Dhani is a village 12 miles away from Rajasthan’s capital city, Jaipur, on the Tonk Road.

It is an ethnic village that is spread over 10 acres of beautifully landscaped area for a rustic look and has typical Rajasthani ambience. It has evolved as a tasteful and authentic symbol of the ethnic life and culture of Rajasthan.

Right from the entrance of Choki Dhani village, one gets to experience the hospitality of village life starting with the ‘tilak’ and showering of rose petals. For those who enjoy it, there are camel and elephant rides, games, and performances. Folk and music artists play live music at every nook and corner where 'mandaps' are erected for them to perform concurrently. Few visitors can resist the temptation to join them. The dinner served was vegetarian and was one of the tastiest I’ve had in my life - something I'll never forget for a long time.

My Choki Dhani village experience was a vibrant and invigorating one and I enjoyed myself getting soaked in the authentic culture of Rajasthan.

September 11, 2007

On The Village Road

A few months back, I sped past this old man in a quiet village road.

Something from within made me have the vehicle take a reverse, and I walked across to him, gazed warmly into his eyes, smiled at him and I sought permission to take his picture. We then shook hands and I continued on my journey.

Unassuming he does look, nevertheless, as I looked at this picture today, the creativity in me stirred up and I felt he was talking to me thus:

Why are you hurrying, young lady?
Slow down from your fleeting world
No need to rush, take it real easy
You’re in a quiet lonely village road

I see you flustered in your personal world
Give up your consuming self-centered life
Be not so passionate for the wrong causes
Expel prejudice and grime from your heart

Superficial life fetches only discontent
Set right your distorted mind to clarity
Fill your life with zeal, serenity and joy
Interrupt it with love and care for humanity

Look at me, weak in body I wobble, falter
Never in a hurry on any given day
I halt to admire the flowers in bloom
Seize time and strength to soak in delight

I capture time to witness nature unfold
Listen to the birds sing, as I linger on
I have desire to admire the golden sunrise
This evening I'll also enjoy gazing as it sets

Why do I mysteriously continue to smile?
I thought of my life, that part with my wife
Recollected my youth with my sweet love
Times with her that have so swiftly passed

What am I thinking, you continue to ask?
I wish on earth lasting peace would abound
That people really learn to slow down
Everyday love each other more and more

Why do you have to hurry, sweet lady?
Slow down from your mad rushing world
No need to scuttle, take it real easy
You’re now on my safe serene village road


September 3, 2007


The eighth one born in our big loving family, I was told that as a young child, she used to help mom with her chores and the rest of the time followed her father around the farm-house.

As she grew up, she was fond of singing, embroidery, athletics and sports, excelled at throw-ball and volleyball and became a dear friend to many.

Over time, she got married, made a cosy home, and as the kids were growing up, quit her job and gave them attention full time. She turned out to be an expert cook, and did wonders in her garden. I can observe she’s a patient and understanding wife and as a loving mother, she has been raising her three lovely children well and been a strong pillar of support throughout.

I can vouch she is a gem of a person without an inkling of malice or shrewdness in her. Impropriety and indecency have always been discouraged and censured by her, even if something was said in jest. There has been a sense of ingenuousness and pureness in her that I’ve always admired.

At the prime of her youth, she was a beauty - tall, fair, attractive, pleasing, fit, with a flashing smile that would make heads swerve for a second look. Age and illness gradually change outward appearance of a person, but the inner beauty only grows over time.

I cut short my last month’s holidays in Jammu & Kashmir as soon as I got to hear about her deteriorating health. Instead of proceeding to Srinagar as I planned, I took those 3 flights from Leh as I spoke about in my posting of a few days back (August 20) to meet her:

I reached my hometown and proceeded directly to the attractive little villa she was living in. On the front side is a luxuriant lawn beside which are a variety of garden plants and flowers. Fond of gardening, she lovingly tended to the plants herself until last month. Having the best garden in the neighborhood, she was often asked by the neighbors for tips on gardening which she gladly helped them with.

Exactly a month back at this time, I was with her. I spent 9 full beautiful days and nights with her, mostly following her like a little lamb. During my previous visits, she used to pamper me, but this time I did what I could for her, and tried to help ease her pain and suffering. I talked to her, listened to her, we strolled in her pretty garden and we dined together, I slept beside her, cried with her and laughed with her – I relished and rejoiced every moment I spent with her.

I lived those 9 delightful days with her, so did she. I was very happy those days. So was she.

And today she is in ICU – battling with death.

She’s my sister Vera. I love you Vera.

September 1, 2007

Elephants on the Street

Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, is a place dotted with castles, gardens and remnants of the royalty of yore. Some tourists view all the nook and corners of this old city from the back of an elephant.

This tradition of elephant riding in Jaipur is almost a part of culture, reminding of the days when the royal processions full of elephants and horses would travel the city streets. Elephants were considered a sign of wealth and prosperity and the kings would ride on ornamented elephants.

Elephants are managed and trained by mahouts, the elephant keepers, who organize elephant tours in the city up the hill to Amber palace. Drawing enthusiasm from the popularity of wildlife safari in Ranthambore national park, the Rajasthan government is planning to introduce elephant rides at Amber fort in Jaipur.

I shot these pictures of the elephants on the streets of Jaipur.

Camel On Roadside

The camel has a single hump;
The dromedary, two;
Or else the other way around.
I'm never sure. Are you?

- Thank you Nash