Friday, July 07, 2006

When the Clouds Beckon........

Clouds have always been a fascination for me since childhood. Especially in the monsoon laden months in Kerala, the clouds come in all shapes and colours, much to my amusement.

When I was a kid I used to think they were made of cotton wool, whole loads of them. And to strengthen my conviction, once when I injured myself, our maid told a reluctant and bleeding me that she herself had plucked the cotton stub dipped in dettol ( which she was holding) from the clouds outside. And since our “terrace” was a forbidden area for kids …I really thought that one could touch the clouds from the terrace and even collect cotton wool …as much as one wants….

When I used to accompany dad to drop mom for work, I used to be happy seeing her Hospital building which “seemed” tall enough to touch the clouds….My small brain was immediate to reason out the logic of why this building had to be tall when its neighbors were so squat…. “Tall so that the doctors can collect enough cotton wool to treat their patients!!!”

Fortunately or unfortunately I never got a chance to present my “derived logic” in front of any august gathering of grown-ups…who would have had a great laugh at my expense and then would have had an added advantage of making me understand “how far the clouds are…”

One night…long back…probably I was in my third standard when I dreamt of my brother and I playing on the “terrace” and a cloud came swooping down…I touched the cloud and it pulled me away…away from home…away from my family …away from the city I knew so well….I was startled and woke up. Then for a brief stint I hated clouds… “Child-catchers” I used to think.

As time moved ahead…I also learnt like a million other kids of my age, the science of cloud formation and the art of differentiating between a “Cumulus” and a “Cumulo-nimbus” cloud…

When I was in 8th standard we had an old, interesting Malayalam Sir who used to recite poems and passages from epics to us. I still remember the excerpt from Kalidasa’s legendary “Megh-Dootam” where the king who is a captive sends his messages to his beloved through the clouds…..I was enamored by this concept…how romantic would that be…a cloud outside your window whispering into your ears the message sent by your beloved who is in a faraway land.

In the past few years in Delhi, I almost forgot the existence of “clouds” in the sky…probably I was too caught up in the mundane realities to look up and notice. One proverb which I really held close to my heart all these years was that “every cloud indeed has a silver lining……” a truth which I often forget only to be reminded by Sorabh, time and again. A very optimistic thought when the time is tough.

Recently, I was lucky enough to get a chance to travel down the sub continent to Goa , just when the monsoons decided to storm northwards….and I couldn’t resist but click those wonderful amorphous forms and rich hues that would give any painter a run for his money. Those beautiful unknown landscapes through which the train moved were reduced to mere foregrounds to these brilliant tapestries of nature.

Be it “Bundles of Cotton wool” or “ Demonic Child-Catchers” or “Romantic Messengers”…the clouds and their silver linings have always had a special place in my heart.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

...And the Birds Flew Away....

Finally my thesis is over….
..another milestone of time conquered…making it 7 years in delhi.
….seven years …..
…I still remember the first day I walked out of Hazrat Nizammudin Railway station to find a sea of humans rushing out of the platforms…..
…never thought that I would stick on to this city for so long.....
Yet I did.

Life's been a maze all these years…
….so many souls walked in and out of my life…
….many left without a whimper…
…some left a few footsteps
…and a few left a heartful of memories.

And yet again the monsoons are on its way…
to drench everything that comes its way….
and yet again the birds have flown away….
….leaving behind a handful of colourful plumes….
plumes of moments well spent together….
which I have collected and kept in my box of memories.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mélange de Thesis:

A mélange of images from my thesis site at Bekal, a quaint little sea side village in North Kerala (former ly known as Malabar)……the sea, the beach sand and sand dunes, the gleaming Kalanad Backwaters dividing my site into two parts, the bright lateritic hills with sandalwood trees, the abandoned paddy fields bordered by the swaying coconut palms, a mystic Sacred Grove with flowering temple trees, a million birds and butterflies….

Monday, May 01, 2006

Beyond the horizon of reasoning

As the day slips into the robes of darkness,

Wandering through the turbulent waves of realities...

…beyond the horizon of reasoning,

My mind reaches the world of imagination…..

….to gather a handful of stardust……

... just a handful…to adorn my world…

the alley of dreams.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


Loneliness is but a blessing……

....a blessing in disguise……

….for without it ……

would one realize the value of friendship?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Day I First Fell in Love.......

Just a few days back, on a bright sunny day I walked to the ATM at the Community Centre market to draw out cash…a man’s biggest necessity to live in this world. Was in for a rude shock to find out that India’s largest public sector bank had gone into an indefinite strike….and the silent witness to the numerous disappointed faces of the customers were the ATM Dispensers with ‘empty tummies.’ As I walked back my mind was clouded with the apprehension of how to make both ends meet with the sole tattered 100Rs note in my wallet. Just to divert my mind from such serious and uneasy thoughts, I bent down at the roadside book vendor to muddle into his collections. Seeing my familiar face (and knowing by now how bad I am at bargaining), he flashed a bright smile. Soon I found myself holding a small black leather book with printed golden letters on it titled ‘LITTLE SONGS by MRS. FOLLEN’. It contained a collection of Nursery rhymes beautifully written and illustrated by a lady called Eliza Lee Follen in 1832…(174 human years back, Phew!!!)My heart missed a beat ….when I saw the Rhyme on Page no 6… the wordings were so familiar ….indeed it was the same rhyme I was taught on that fateful day…the day when I first fell in love…
Memories flooded back to one of the many days I had spend at “Sunbeams”, a day crèche near to my home…a quaint old building with a nice little verandah running all around and its tiled sloping roof covered with creepers full of flowers…red, orange, pink…. On this day, we were taught a new nursery rhyme …..a rhyme which I treasure in the depths of my heart till date….
Butterflies are pretty things,
Prettier than you or I;
See the colors on his wings;
Who would hurt a butterfly?
Not to hurt a living thing,
Let all little children try;
See, again he's on the wing;
Good bye! pretty butterfly!

I still remember Teresa maam taking us out to the garden and showing us the butterflies…there were so many of them that day…or probably they were always there…I noticed them for the first time then. And it was that rosy day which made me fall into a ‘love trap’ for life…indeed I fell in love with those colorful creatures which flutter by.
My sketchbooks were filled with heavily ‘crayoned’ disproportionate “frontal elevations” of butterflies…..the spindle shaped body in black…those four/two wings (the no of wings depended on how large the available drawing area was..) with a mélange of colors splashed on them and of course the 2 antennae springing out of the head like claws.

It was hard to believe when dad told me that butterflies are “cousins” of cockroaches and mosquitoes…. I agreed but was baffled at that very thought… can they all belong to the same “family”…..those dirty looking cockroaches and ever-hurting mosquitoes and my sweet little ‘flutter-byes’….
Got my answer, years later in one of the Zoology lectures delivered by a bald kinky Zoology professor on the world’s largest Phylum….Phylum Arthropoda…. Don’t even want to remember those names and diagrams…
Even today sometimes I rummage through my old books stacked neatly in my room. Those carefully drawn and meticulously detailed Butterfly drawings (under the heading of Order-Lepidoptera) in my Class 12 Zoology Lab Record Book, lack the real beauty and life of those roughly colored crayon drawings…Indeed those disproportionate, ‘never-symmetrical’, patches of crayons meant a lot more to me than these tediously detailed out diagrams where the labeling (with ‘Latin-turned-English’ terms) screams out for attention. But those blotches of colors did not make sense to the grown ups and hence were never preserved…may be some unsuspecting moongphali-wala would have happily earned his Rs 2 by wrapping a handful of groundnuts in the paper cones of those masterpieces…
I logged out from my Dream world to find the smiling vendor eagerly waiting to slaughter his bakraa…”Kyon Saab….. Lena hai kya? Sirf Assi Rupaiye…” (Do u want to buy it? Only Eighty Rs…). My extremely uncommon “common sense” jumped up and warned me to keep it down and walk away…Again serious and uneasy thoughts of realities started lurking their ugly heads in my mind…..eventually I left the book on the pile and walked away with a heavy heart.
And from behind Mr. Bright Smile was constantly calling out to me “….Saabji, Pachhas de do…Sirf Pachhas….” (Give me just fifty Rs). I hastened my pace pretending not to hear him…. and walked away….. past a Moongphali wala tossing a handful of groundnuts into a paper cover.

Friday, April 14, 2006

When the Laburnum Blooms...........

Today is Vishu, the festival of prosperity and hope, the festival that promises better tomorrows as days go by. The ‘Vishu kanni’ or the coiffured ‘Omen’ is the first thing seen in the morning as the first rays of sunlight touch the earth on the Vishu day. The Vishu kanni is arranged on a bronze platter whose glory tries to reflect that of the sun. Rice, Fresh fruits and vegetables, bunches of golden Laburnum flowers, a bronze mirror, a gold bordered piece of cloth and Collyrium, are all arranged as salutations offered to Lord Vishnu, the protector.

Vishu has always been a much awaited day in my life since childhood. A Typical Vishu day starts with my mom waking up my brother and me reminding us ‘not to open our eyes’ (funny it might sound to those who’ve never celebrated Vishu). We are led to the Puja room with our eyes closed. And then, the opulence of the Kanni is silently revealed to us. As our eyes take their time to adjust to the radiance of the oil-lamp lit kanni, the elders give us money as a token of good fortune….the only day when kids are legitimately showered with cash. This is followed by fire works and a sumptuous lunch.

On the eve of Vishu, our excitement would be to procure the ‘Konna Flowers’. Konna tree (Amaltas in Hindi, ‘Indian Laburnum’ in English, ‘Cassia fistula’ in Latin) is considered to symbolize Prosperity and happiness. Years back it was easy to procure the flowers since every other house had a laburnum tree. Now my parents along with millions of other malayalis feel the pinch of the changes triggered off by ‘development-gone-wrong’.

Firstly laburnum trees are hard to find in Kerala now-a-days. Secondly even if there are a few trees left….they refuse to flower during Vishu …almost like a silent indignant protest. The science fraternity claims this phenomenon of late flowering of Cassia as a product of the recent climatic changes due to global warming.

This may be just one of the many irreversible shifts in the course of nature…many of which are not readily visible and hence conveniently left unnoticed. Yet…. year after year…. the cycle goes on…. and millions of malayalis wait in vain for the laburnum to bloom in time so that they can auspicate another new year….. another year of fresh hope and good fortune.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Out of the Dust of Dreams......

Yet another morning has broken.....
....the dawn of another new day....

Today I woke up unusually early...6'O clock is not a time which I usually see in my day-to- day life. May be that’s why I felt today's morning extremely beautiful....

…..the golden sunshine washing the mellowed brick walls. …
…..the light breeze playing naughty games with my ever unkempt hair….
…...the cacophony of a million birds…..

Strangely, I felt my hostel room balcony the best place in the world.

Don’t know why…..I got reminded of a poem which mom used to recite to me when I was a kid.....

"Out of the dust of dreams

Fairies weave their garments.

Out of the purple and rose of old memories

They make rainbow wings.

No wonder we find them such marvelous things!"

Times have have I. From that naughty kid who could hardly remember the spelling of 'Two" to a post graduate student lost among hard bound volumes screaming concepts of ecological sustainability and rolls of deceptively colored butter sheets scribbled with McHargian Analysis (Phew, God save this world ! ).

Despite the number of years which have faded into the pages of oblivion...I still find myself searching for those good old days...days when ‘tasks’ meant meticulously shooing away the crows from the kitchen yard, ‘music’ meant the clamor of my Xylophone, ‘Discovery’ meant opening mom's wardrobe to fish out a necklace, ‘Best friend’ meant the milk man who cycles down twice a day, ‘Life's greatest challenge’ meant sneaking on to the terrace evading the watchful eyes around….

Don’t know why am I on a nostalgic drive today?

May be somewhere behind those verdant boughs, a fairy must be weaving and singing away to glory

'Out of the purple and rose of old memories…..”

Friday, April 07, 2006

A journey down the alley .........

Finally....... here i am ........another drop in this ocean of blogs. A traveller embarking on a journey down a path less travelled by....the alley of dreams. Where will it lead to? Only time can tell.......