I write so I can breathe. I am constantly evolving, mindless at times, frustrating even perhaps but heck, I wouldn't change the smell of freedom that comes with writing.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Post from Mumbai Airport

Ah! Finally, the aroma of the hot coffee struck my nostrils awakening my sense to a day that looked terribly long at this point of time. There was a flight to catch, a destination to go to and move on from. It never really was about destinations for me. It was always about the journey. Perhaps, that is why, I have managed to stay in the now and not in what lies ahead. It makes me a maverick, a happy one at that. Yes, happy. One may debate happiness. As it has been debated over the decades and there is always a different answer to the source of it. Mostly, it is about what’s going on inside you really. I have managed to figure that much out. The state of my happiness really depends on me and nobody quite really influences that. Oh, they do try. What someone does to me could possibly affect my state of mind, or happiness. Really? No. What someone does is beyond my control. What I do with what someone does to me is what will define my happiness quotient.

Mumbai airport is noisy and laid back at the same time. I am headed to Delhi and the screen in front of me displays my flight is bound to Varanasi. I am not overtly worried about that. Either the flight is going to Varanasi and then to Delhi or going to Varanasi via Delhi. My presumption at this point is that the Delhi passengers are hopefully wise enough to not panic by what they read. Someone, of course, will panic and there will be moments of chaos which may or may not result in a mini pandemonium depending on which way the conversation, the explanation and the understanding goes. Communication can be such a tricky thing. Rather, it is the tricky thing.

The Calicut flight passengers need to board. There is an announcement through the public address system and a louder, overpowering voice booming without a mike ‘Any passengers for Calicut?’ – it makes me wonder if it is one of those bus-stops where the bus conductor steps down to scream the station so it may pick up passengers who want to go there but haven’t made up their mind yet about the bus they will ride, only this is the airport of one of the busiest cities in India, crazily romantic in the monsoons.

The weather is gorgeous. It is, yet again, my perception. I love the rains. Who can blame me? I love the shades of crazy wild child that emerges every time it rains. Each time I am at the airport, I wonder. Where are so many people going? What’s going on in their lives? Do we ever pause to think of that? The airport, with its multitude of passengers is carrying, on air, as many stories. Someone is returning to school, like my daughter, someone is heading to a new job, a funeral, a marriage, a vacation, arrival of a new baby, for healing, for doing something crazy, for quitting work, changing a life, walking away from a breakup or a divorce, a new life.

It is interesting to watch people. In my journey to whatever destination I choose to head to, the journey itself is full of these precious moments of observing. I have seen people sigh with relief that they have cleared the security check-in and now head for a coffee or a hot cup of well-deserved tea. The process of waking in the morning, packing, shutting down an apartment, hailing a taxi-cab and making it to the airport on time, checking in, going through exposing your laptop and camera for scrutiny, ensuring the security stamp is all done and then sitting to sip that coffee is well worth it.

The sun has peeked in from some part of the sky, the light blinding. There is a bunch of late thirty something men who sit in the waiting chairs opposite me. One particular man languishes on his seat like it is his office chair, or rather recliner at home. His butt is possibly resting right at the edge of the seat, legs parted in a lewd body language expression. It makes me want to kick him, you know where, just so he sits upright. Sure enough, he stares at my daughter and me. By the time his gaze follows from my kid to me, he straightens himself up. If looks could kill, I have managed to injure him with mine. There is a sense of satisfaction that courses through me. The Varanasi flight is still displayed, adding to the frown lines on a number of passengers who are now cross-checking their boarding passes to compare flight numbers. Some of them, I reckon, will add to the confusion when the boarding to Delhi/Varanasi is announced.

The Calicut flight is still boarding. Quietly now. It makes me wonder…

The Varanasi flight has been announced. Time to fly.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Who am I settling for?

What are we settling for really when we enter a serious relationship? What is it that we seek in a relationship? Who really scores you as a person in their life eventually? For a person who has made enough mistakes about relationships in her life, one can presume and say hey, who are you to say anything about serious relationships? Oh well…that is a perspective. Am I really qualified to speak about relationships? Perhaps, yes.

If I was to view the wisdom that comes from hands on experience, yes indeed. After all, people with experience means these are people who have learned lessons in life as well. Some of us learn from the lessons that are being taught to someone else and well, some of us are always inclined to learn it hands on, like yours truly.

That is not what I was getting at however. The question I was asking was who do we really want to settle for vis a vis who we choose to settle for sometimes in life? Hypothetically, you will meet someone wonderful. ‘Wonderful’, defined as someone who is marvellous, inspires delight, someone you want to admire. Is that ‘wonderful’ what you seek? Think about it…before I get to the other half of it.

Then, hypothetically, you begin to date this person and want to be with this person because he/she is wonderful. It’s going good and hey you are happy. Stop! What kind of ‘happy’ is that? Is it the ‘happy’ that makes you smile, makes you think of how great the person is, how smart the person is, how sharp the person is? Or…

This brings me to the second hypothetical situation. You meet someone pleasant, thoughtful, and attentive and genially a nice person. What more, this person is there with you and you are the one thinking how much joy the person brings to you, how wonderful the person makes you feel. Each time you think about this person, you smile because of the joy this person brings to your life when he/she touches it. This is going good too and hey, you are happy. Stop again! What kind of ‘happy’ is that? Is that the one that makes you smile, lightens your heart, and makes you think of how wonderful this person makes you feel?

Now my question…think about the two…being with someone who is ‘wonderful’ versus being with someone who makes you feel ‘wonderful’. Do you get it? The difference?

Yes, I am seeking the second one. Why? Because I know, I have a lot to give. I know I can make a person feel like they are the most wonderful person on earth because I think they are genuinely wonderful. However, if that person cannot make me feel like I am the most wonderful person on earth, I am not settling for that. No way. I cannot be a doormat for anyone who is just wonderful. I want to be the big heart and soul for the one who recognises me, takes me for who I am and makes me feel I am the most wonderful person on earth.

Yes, that is what I will settle for. Period.

So, my question is, who are you going to settle for? 

- Sandy

Monday, July 9, 2012

Biji


Biji.

We called her Biji. Ever since I had known her, ever since my brother had known her. Over a decade and a half has gone by since she passed away…I was in college then. I have hardly mentioned her. She lives in some secret hidden chamber of my being…

The one constant memory I have of her is taking her to the Gurudwara every Sunday. I was in Dimapur which is (or used to be rather) a small rustic town in Nagaland. I was five? Six? Seven? Never mind. That’s not the point.

We would go in a rickshaw, holding hands; mine a support to her and hers a safe sanctuary. She had the silkiest of skin, wrinkled but so amazingly soft. I can remember how the nerves stood out, how the bones jutted out and her bony fingers gripped mine, firmly, gently.

The Gurudwara visit every Sunday was something for her to look forward to. Dressed in her whitest best, chiffon chunni, sometimes sprinkled with tiny glittering transparent stones, sometimes delicately bordered with lace, the chiffon all soft and light; she stood tall, kind and sweet. For me, it was to be out with her, be able to meet my closest friend Avineet at the Gurudwara among scores of other classmates who were sure to be there.

Biji would always tell me that I was wise. I used to be ever so pleased with that. A child likes to hear that. I did. Was she religious? As far as Biji was concerned, yes she was religious. She would tell my brother and me stories of all the Gurus and I would listen on while my brother always ran off in the middle of it.

She was the one who first taught me how to cook. I was seven then and she taught me counting in Punjabi…she taught me a lot of things really. I have missed her. Not devastated or anything. Perhaps, in my family I take death better than the rest, so far at least, but I think of her with fondness. I remember her wrinkled face, her cheeks hollow because she would wear dentures. The dentures were a focal point of interest for my brother and me. She would clean them and we would ask her if we could also do that with our teeth when we got older. She would smile and say it’s always better to brush them inside your mouth…what if someone stole them?

Most of my childhood curiosity-filled questions would find its way to her. She made those amazing churi (hot phulkas smashed in hot ghee and shakar), she would feed us and we would listen to stories she told us. The Ramayan was her particular favourite. I would always argue about something I never understood about Lord Ram…why did he drive Sita away from the palace…it was unfair. I still have my moot point on that. My favourite was the Mahabharat somehow.

She peeps out from that hidden place deep inside once in a while. I wonder if I really miss her. Sometimes I think I do. Other times, I just am grateful I spent whatever time I did with her. I hope she is happy wherever she is and keeps her hands over my head as she used to…I would hold them, cover them with my own then and bring those wrinkled hands then to my cheeks, feel the warm softness of it, with a hint of Charmis cream teasing my nostrils, feel safe, loved.

I would smile. In my absolute childish innocence I loved her, completely; my Biji, my grandmother.

I am smiling.


- Sandy

(I found this piece I had written about two years ago. Doesn't change a thing today)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

When you grow in Friendship

It feels the best thing ever when your friends actually permeate your life in such a way that each of us grow as individuals, learning new things, attempting what one has never done before. As I sit, early morning, sipping my cup of coffee, an early morning cup which I haven't done in a really long time, I know this to be such a blessing. 

We cross paths with countless people, in parties, social gatherings, chance encounters in a book store or anywhere for that matter. You know, there is a difference in your life once we strike a chord and become friends. I keep saying, we all touch each other's lives for a purpose. I know that to be true. I, just as you, have been touched by countless lives. They do make a difference. It is always important to thank God for those who have impacted your life and are instrumental in shaping it the way it is going. 

You realise that there is a time and place for everything and definitely a moment when the path you take depends on what your friend has done for you and to you. There are no expectations and yet somehow, in its own unique way, there is a transformation. I am not speaking of the negative transformations. Why speak of the negative when one can get so much out of the positive? 

So, getting back, the trasformation comes in the shape of new lessons learned. In this unending institution called life, learning is often associated with going through all that hasn't fallen through for you and you learn a lesson out of it. The beauty of friendship is, in the class of friendship, learning is fun, it is an experience that nurtures a bond like nothing else, makes life easier to live through and in most cases allows you to grow. I know, and many of you whom I have crossed paths will, once you sit back and think for a moment, have felt this positive force. There has been this rush of feel-good factor every time you have met someone who gets you to look at life differently. I know I have. I am happy and blessed that I have had this good fortune to have been changed by so many special people. 

Not to forget, I also know, there is a certain amount of space my older friends, beautiful people I have known over decades, have given me to be me. I am forever grateful to that kind of unique relationship. May be all of it isn't half as cool as it sounds to be. So be it. Yes, there will be disappointments, pain, betrayal of trust, crushing of hopes and dreams, a certain degree of indifference and whatever else that gets us down. Sometimes, friends do it, sometimes lovers do it. It hurts like hell. The truth is, for every friend who hurts you and stuns you with unexpected, undreamt-of disdain, you will have one that pulls you through it. Ain't that beautiful?

Every friend of mine has changed my life in a way only they could ever touch or change. Every person I have cherished has made me who I am. There is a reflection of that, even if it's just for a period of time, (or shows up like a blue moon), in my life at some point or the other. I would have never done or attempted half the things I have done in my life if it was not for these miracles called friends. My heartaches and heartbreaks would have killed me by now, had these friends not been there to tell me (even when sometimes its too late) just where it was and reach out to grab my hand. I have hung on the edge of chasms so deep and yet miraculously I am alive.

Yes indeed! Your life is yours alone but it has been shaped, to a great degree, by the friends you love deeply. All I know is, without the strong support system of this chosen family, I would have long been dead. 

Thank you. May I help you grow in friendship as well....and yes, kick your butt when you need it as well. 

- Sandy

Thursday, July 5, 2012

That Thing called Love

Many have argued over the statement ‘love is blind’. Oh yea. It’s deaf and dumb too!!! I kept defying it over and over again all these years that love has its sensibility. Really? No, love really is well and truly blind. When you love someone, there is a point where how the person looks, rich or poor, how fit or fat he or she is, becomes insignificant eventually. All that ends up is the love and feeling you have for each other. Yea, draw out the brickbats!

No, all the girls do not get bad guys. Some get whoever they love, just the way they are. Lucky you know what!!! And that, my friend, is the beauty of love, the utter magic of it, the awe and wonder of it. Love has no shape or size. What matters is the size of your heart. Love is pure then in its feeling, in its hope and belief.

I am often asked, Sandy, we will grow old and be all alone. There is a degree of panic and fear in that statement. I am also told quite often, your relationship with yourself, if good, will suffice. Eh! Naah! There is nothing like an all-encompassing hug, an intimate kiss, a look across the room…Oh! For God’s sake, those goose bumps are worth the feel. Ever got that sinking fluttering feeling in your stomach? That’s something you want to not ever have? Yes, the wrong face on the pillow is insane but hey, the right one is worth all that trouble.

Ah! I couldn’t settle for a life where I did not feel these things. We will pass through this full time institution called life, fall in love, rise in love, cry and hurt in love and triumph in love. That is the essence of who we are. What’s the point if it is not mad, passionate love? Why settle for anything less when you know just how complete and perfect it can be? There is no guarantee that the one you love will love you back. Most of the time, one becomes the giver and another who takes it all. Reciprocation in equal measure, mutual feelings are a sweet balance in a world called Utopia. You my friend, you and I live in a world where there is a constant seeking of a love like that.

I am rambling. So does love. It rambles into your life, lights it up. Sometimes it stays, sometimes it goes. That is the nature of love in its essence. It needs to grow…and if it cannot, it seeks a person who will permit it to grow into a lifetime of affection, love and trust which will make every little thing count. Love also is that chaotic messy elf that can drive you up the wall with its frustrating wait and wanting to reach out.

You will make mistakes in choosing the right one. So be it. Every heartache will teach you stuff no school will ever do. Every stolen look will do exactly the same.

Worth a try?

Worth every dare. 
 
- Sandy

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Insanity called Friends

When life brings you changes, embrace it. For, there is a beauty to it you will see only when you have given your life a huge polar bear hug. Why a polar bear hug? Oh well…is there any that will be warmer than that?

Life brings you chances with changes. You may remain single for a long time or be someone who simply finds ‘the one’ real soon. However, what happens in between that is entirely up to you. If you embrace it all you will find yourself drawn and crazily hurtling into a wonderland like Alice did. There will be madness, inane conversations, weird sense of self and those around you…oh wait! That comes when you hurtle down into wonderland with a bunch of crazy strangers like yourself that turn into friends.

After all, who is a friend? A friend is a stranger you ought to know. Not in all cases but heck, you have brains to figure that out. I mean, figure out which stranger to befriend. It helps to have fairy godmother to help you out a bit here as well. It doesn’t mean you always need a fairy godmother to bring you to people like yourselves and magically run the wand over all your heads and make you friends.

Friendship is more than that. Friendship is an epidemic of sheer insanity that is bonded together with a lot of love, care and affection. It is that burst of joy that will touch your life and make you feel this is really heaven and then when you go your own way; there seems no hell like that either. But hey, I am talking about the joys here.

Why do some people end up hanging around each other and boy, before you blink an eye, the insanity of the conversations end up making you think Pidilite got its idea for Fevicol from here? Well, that maddening conversation can be utterly annoying for those outside the periphery of those bound together by this bond. It does not take the same kind of people to become friends. It takes an insane bunch of absolutely different people to make this shine.

For the past few weeks this insane affection and thoughtfulness, masked within the folds of utter indifference in conversations, has allowed me to breathe a little easier, washed away some of the pain that afflicted my insides, made me smile and forget stuff that makes my heart ache.

Appreciate the friends you have in your life. Be there for them. There is no tomorrow to mend a broken heart or soul. There is no mending it alone without the support of friends. Cherish them. Treasure them. Do not take them for granted ever. They are God’s little miracles that happen to you. If you do not given them the importance and attention they deserve, they will fade away, like dusty abandoned books on your mantelpiece…they will be there. But, they will, irrevocably be in a state of feeling abandoned, unwanted and slip down that chasm of self-confidence. Hug them. Pull them up. Kick their ass once in a while but don’t forget that they need a pat on their back and loads of appreciation.

Dollops of sunshine and happiness to those who have lit up my life in the past couple of weeks -The darkness was bearable because you were there. I love you all – you know who you all are. 
 
- Sandy

A Walk in the Rain

For the past two days, it rains early morning and while I have sunk deeper between my sheets wanting to stay put forever and enjoy the pitter-patter outside, I have a pooch who probably hates it as much as I love it. This morning, when I woke, it was the same. The rain’s steady drizzle, a bit on the heavy side, made me want to just stay in bed and the pooch, oh, he so wanted to go out. It’s not for the love of rain for him. For me, it is.

It’s not possible to sleep after you wake up to the phone ringing so I thought hey, why not. Yes, I ventured out. Out we went, coordinated (which I noticed when I got back home) in black and white and heck, what’s the worst that can happen? The rain is not going to kill us and we can always dry up. Yay!

The rains make me happy and they make me pensive. You can really think there are so many new things that tend to creep into your head. I wondered about something. I am not sure if I should speak aloud but then, let me squelch that restrictive wondering and get on with it. Has it ever crossed your mind that when you meet new people, they touch your life in a way only they can possibly touch? That is, I believe, because every new person you meet has a part (no matter how small) to play in your life.

What really happens when you meet a new person? Make a new friend? Do you go looking for old familiar things that are similar to other friends you have or do you find yourself drawn to new things, new pleasant things you did not think existed, new lessons, new discoveries? I realised that the bunch of people who have lit up my life recently have done that. They have brought into my life, a refreshing newness that makes me smile, a sense of wonder at the amount of stuff I do not know, a burst of joy into my life when I really needed it the most. You have no idea just how much. But I needed it.

So, here is what is happening now. I am learning new music, singing when I feel like, seeing and taking pictures in a new light, feeling proud to discover my kid has grown up so much that she is becoming more of a friend, laughing at the irony of life, shaking my head at the emotions I am going through, understanding better, realizing that one needs to really let the sand slip through your fist and leave your fingertips (it frees you hand and makes it alive again).

The familiarity of the old in my life still remains. Some of it will make way for the unfamiliar as much as it scares me and makes me want to run and hide or cry. Rains are cleansing. Somewhere, it allows me to wash out a lot of things that have grown like a moss on me. All it needs is a little scraping and hey, that’s done when you have a hand to clean up with.

What has the rain got to do with it? Everything. Well, mostly everything. Maybe it appears to be a dumb thing to say things you really want to say sometimes. When it’s raining, like it is now, you could ask me anything right now and I would say it. All it will take is a cup of steaming hot coffee snuggled between the palm of my hands, its warmth seeping in, the cool breeze caressing my face and a deep breath to begin. It would be such a perfect time to share feelings. A lot of feelings and emotions in our lives take our breath away and with it comes a burst of loving comfort. It may last. It may not last. I do not know that. When it rains, it feels like hey anything may work or not work but should an opportunity arise I would not want to miss a chance to feel the things I feel right now.

Rains. They make me want to take chances. That is what being alive is all about. 
- Sandy