Monday, November 25, 2013

Pine Forests and Wild-flowers

What happens when you just realize that this is the only weekend till next 10 weeks, which is somewhat un-engaged for the most of it? You choose a place near your city, figure out the logistics (especially a quiet place to stay), pack your bags & head straight for it! And that’s what I did…so what if it was a tiring Friday or a Monday that loomed large with an early morning meeting at 7:30 that I’ve to attend in person at office?! 

For me, a weekend break is
1.      I don’t have to put on my contact lens & brush my hair
2.      I can take mindless walks without looking at the watch
3.      I can curl up on a couch without worrying about the next meal or a to-do list
4.      I’d be secretly happy that the data-connectivity is bad which means I’m not tempted to check FB & chat on whatsapp
5.      Most importantly I don’t HAVE to do anything.

With a little less effort most of it gets fulfilled actually.

And hence I head out to the hills crossing the plains & the forests. The meandering Nilgiris Mountain train brought much joy. The 19th century colonial bungalow was as cosy as I could have imagined…and a real fireplace with smell of the burning wood, in front of which I curled up most of the evening got me grinning like a Cheshire cat! I let my thoughts wander away to faraway places, people I love thinking about….the conversations that I have had with them and imagined I would have. When I saw a white-washed, red-roof house on a slope of a hill…I wondered what the owner must-be like, does he feel lucky that he smells the pine-forests every morning…what is his World like?

In my mindless walks, I stop by to pick up ferns and wild-flowers that’d be dried and kept inside the pages of my books…time will fly, there’d be work to do, milestones to achieve, more trips to make…but the brown colour of the ferns & flowers would remind me of those moments that photographs and written words fail to capture. So what if I am bleary-eyed on a Monday morning…it’s all worth it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tring Tring …it is the wake-up call!

The alarm rang, as always by habit. I fumbled for it…something felt different. Yes, it is not my pillow & not my bed certainly. This bed is too soft. Oh yes…this is England…right! Arrived last night…& then hit the realization…I am on holiday, I don’t have to go to work…I mean I don’t have to go to work today, I don’t have to go to work tomorrow or day after or even the day after…oh damn! It doesn’t really feel as happy as it should! What does one do when there’s no work and no study either? I don’t know that life….maybe I should wear a nice dress, wear a smile & go out for a walk….Explore the World Pooja…I whispered to myself!

Summers in England are not really as warm as they should be and the mood swings of the weather is worse than a woman PMSing…any moment without a warning it’d start pouring! Did I really need this holiday, I wonder?!

I made way for a cafĂ©. Okay…so the cheapest coffee is £1.30 ….rapid calculation inside the head, that would be Rs. 104…what if I have a sandwich too…so that’d be £4.80 in total…once again rapid calculation…Rs. 384…oh damn! Am not I spending too much?! Never mind, it is the first day & the Husband is earning in Pound Sterling! Scraping off the last morsel off my plate and draining the last drop of liquid I walk here and there soaking in all around me. Just in one corner, I see a theatre…if I stay back here, oh well, if I am ever allowed to stay back here, maybe I would perform in one of these theatres…I smile to myself…who needs logic while day-dreaming anyway! Then I spot a dome-shaped building. I walk in greeted by smiles. There is the young and the old; smart women and roly-poly Mums…whoa! A library!

“you mean I can take 6 books at a time?”
“There is no membership fee also?” I felt like they have pushed me in a heaven! Books neatly kept even better than the swanky stores in India…oh man! There’s Hillary Mantel’s latest!...oh god…isn’t that what Jeffrey Archer released last month?! Sigh…happiness…there’s a lot to do when one is not working and not studying after all!

Swindon…small town England. The trees. The cobblestone roads. The Parks. The Pubs. And the Library.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Change has to start from within your own threshold!

“are you an Indian or a Pakistani?”
I looked up from the magazine I was leafing through sitting in Colombo airport waiting for my flight to London; not surprised by the question (I have heard it many times & not bothered to keep a count!); with a half-smile and a hint of pride in my voice I replied, “Indian”.
“It’s terrible ...what happened in your country! ...but I am sure there will be tougher laws now.”
He got my attention alright...a blonde with deep blue eyes wearing some illegibly scribbled print of a sweat-shirt...doesn’t appear to be the type who would take interest in India. I replied with a vague yeah, still wondering how he is tuned so much into us. As I reached England, I gathered that for days this has been in Top 10 featured news in BBC UK, and almost every casual acquaintance that I made mentioned it if the subject of India came through.
So much attention is disturbing especially because the focus is on something that I am ashamed about. The criticism mostly centred on the men, and how patriarchal the Indian society is. Human mind is weird; what I can criticise day in & day out rang bitterly in my ears when it came from outsiders, after all these men belonged to my land too, and it’s sad that I can’t even defend them. My thoughts then turned beyond the it just the men only to blame; don’t we women play a part too? Yes, we do...after all these acts of rape, bride-burning, female infanticide, dowry...they are not just mere acts but a thought process...a thought process that we women have nurtured, accepted for thousands of years!
There are umpteen examples in our mythology, but I wouldn’t get into those; let’s just stick to the contemporary times. The men who indulge into such acts don’t arrive from Mars! They belong to the households and families that we all women are a part of. So we do see such train of thoughts around us in our everyday life, and these thoughts are inherent behind any heinous acts. I agree it is a little difficult to accept and admit, but it is the father, brother, uncle, cousin, husband, boy-friend, neighbour, a fellow-commuter, an office-colleague who does harbour chauvinist feelings & thoughts; and when these thoughts become extreme, they turn into a brutal act. Why don’t we women protest when a male in our vicinity expresses some regressive thought that hinders the equality and respect towards women? I know it is easier said than’s a severely patriarchal society, but only by seriously protesting & standing up to an issue, a change can be brought. I am not saying that all of us women should turn into an overnight rebel, but one needs to stand up when experiencing dishonour towards own self or womankind in general....strongly refusing to accept is the first step to any kind of change. We need to be vociferous when we see dowry given & accepted in our own families even though you may rub a few people wrong would be surprised to know that a woman in the form of Mother-in-law or an elderly aunt are often as guilty as the men!
A quick tale – In a crowded street of a famous city, this girl was walking with her husband and a few other friends. She drifted a few feet away from the crowd, when three drunken men landed on her, mouthing obscenities and trying to grab her. Her husband saw it from a distance and scowled but didn’t really do much. She dodged and saved herself from those three hoodlums on her own. Her husband screamed at her later, ‘why can’t you stay close while walking?’ Yes, an MBA working with a foreign MNC, he saw her fault & not that of those rogues who troubled her. He failed to notice that those drunks had screamed obscenities or had tried to grab her. She is a woman with a mind of her own; she stood up to him & said, ‘all your protests for the 23-year old, a victim of lust, greed & frustration is limited to Facebook only...inside you are as terrible as any of them!’ The husband went quiet ...protest dear ladies, protest when you see any inequality meted out against your clan, even if it is it against your own people...change has to start from within your own threshold!