nostalgia

Summer Nights

There is this thing about summer nights, a nostalgia that doesn’t fade, be it months or years or even decades.

I remember the nights I spent at my Nani’s place, lying in the cot on the night under a starry sky, the rings of the mortein coil rising to the sky while the pomeranian who slept below my cot snored lightly.

I remember the nights at my Dadi’s house, when there wasn’t even a cot to lie on, just a hard plastic mat and sometimes it used to get so cold in May that we used to bring out the blankets from the trunk on the terrace.

It was an altogether different feeling, waking up to sunshine on your face and once in a while, to rains, when you had to wake up and rush inside, taking your bedding and covers along.

I remember the nights at my house in Lucknow. It didn’t happen often but when it did, I was surprisingly glad. No electricity meant darkness, which meant freedom, to go to the terrace, in the middle of the night or outside, to exchange some notes with people you couldn’t meet otherwise.

Summer,

A love hate relationship with you has given me memories which are equally bittersweet. There were power cuts all the time, but anything beyond the mundane life was welcome. It seemed like life got even more monotonous during your time. It was the same day lived, over and over again, specially during the vacations which we craved  for but within 10 days, got bored of.

Now, there is watermelon in the evening, followed by finally switching off the A.C., when Maa came rushing in to tell us to get some fresh air. We reluctantly go to the rooftop and listen to some music until it is dark and the mosquitoes attack. And then we go back to our artificially created atmosphere.

I do miss you, it is true. I miss the feel of heat on my skin when I came back from school, craving a chilled glass of sherbet. I miss sitting on the staircase playing cards with my cousins because we couldn’t watch TV. Most of all, I miss the darkness of the night, where everyone gathered around together, because they had no screens to look at, no instruments to distract them, and we could just be there, in the moment, waiting for the light to come back and at the same time wishing that it does not.

I miss you, Summer.

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Perks of living in a small city

As a child, I moved around a lot due to my father’s job. I have lived in metro cities and towns which had only recently upgraded from being villages I suppose. One such town was Lalitpur, also my little sister’s birthplace. So you could ask me, “Are there actually any perks of living in a small city?” And I would judge you and give you a look of pure horror because trust me there can be nothing better.

So here it goes: the first pro is that you know everyone and everyone knows you and when you are a child, there is nothing better than being pampered by every other person on the street. The people are kinder and more friendly and you can get things done your way because well, everyone is a friend.

All your school friends live close by and meet you every evening because everyone in the town goes to the same school, because the town has only ONE school. HAHA! I even had some teachers who went on to become family friends and I could just skip doing Home Work and get away easily.

The houses are bigger and better, the living conditions are great, everything is cheaper in general and the quality of living is good as well. I lived in a huge house rented by two tenants and the landlord lived on the first floor as well. All our families were close knit and we literally spent every waking moment together – playing or chatting or eating at each other’s houses. Ah, the joys of living together. Apartments suck!

Wherever you wanna go, it isn’t too far. Agreed, that there aren’t many places to go to within the city but then there are always touristy places within 100 kms of every city in India, I think. I could be wrong, but that has never happened to me.

I have had my share of living in villages and even tinier towns and it has always been a pleasant experience. Apart from the frequent electricity cuts, it always feels like a retreat. Its even better when its home away from home.

Life was fun and carefree and living in the hustle bustle of Mumbai, makes me miss those places. I never went back to visit once I left that town. I really want to go and see how much it has changed and if it really has? Because some things never do. 🙂

 

Gifts: Songs

So I was listening to songs on my phone, on shuffle. And suddenly this beautiful song starts playing, I had never heard it before. On checking, I found it was Bon Jovi’s “Make a Memory”. I don’t remember downloading it, so maybe it auto-downloaded from some whatsapp chat. But it was a beautiful surprise.

Then I thought about it. What happened to the mix tapes we used to make. A friend and me were reminiscing just a few days back about all the cassettes our parents used to bring home. My excitement used to know no bounds when I held the cassette of a latest movie in my hand. There were these stickers that came along with them to stick on the cassette which marked the sides A and B. How after watching the movie, we knew all the lyrics by heart and yet sometimes there were leaflets in the jacket with all the lyrics and the sequence of the songs. And there were times when you got addicted to one particular song and kept rewinding the cassette with your hand to listen to it repeatedly! And how many cassettes we wasted by recording our voices over it and then got chided by our parents.

My mother had bought a stereo with her savings. It was a magical instrument for me back when I was a child. We had a collection of more than 100 cassettes which included all the songs from latest movies and even the pop albums which were famous back then. My uncle used to make a list of his favourite songs, and sometimes added some of mine as a favour to get mix tapes made. Those were beautiful days.

Even many years later, after we had internet, but I didn’t really know how to use it well. I was addicted to radio. Every saturday night I waited to listen to Ryan Seacrest’s show and every sunday to the Bollywood Top 30. I even wrote down the names of the english songs which I liked to download them at some later point.

The effort that we made then, to listen to a particular song, really made us appreciate the value of it. Now that it’s freely and easily available to all, we miss out on good music because we totally forget about it after listening to it once.

-S.

Dussehra

When I was a little girl, every Dussehra I used to visit my Grandparents’ house. The festive season was celebrated in all its glory in the village. There was a local Ram-Leela held by the children of the village. My Grandmother used to give me 10 rupees to spend in the fair and I used to be so happy about going there with my uncle. I used to think about how I will spend my 10 rupees the whole day and then when I finally reached the fair I could never make up my mind. I usually ended up buying something stupid every time. I remember watching the Ram-Leela with what you would call pure amazement – the songs and the costumes, the lighting and of course the Raavan-Vadh in the end.

This year on Dussehra, I was on my way to Kasol and when I heard the sound of festivities, I was instantly reminded of this memory and yes, I made a note to write about this later. Right now, while I watch the movie “Inside Out”, I look at the way they portray the working of brain and memories and it all seems plausible. My own Joy, bringing up a memory from deep down the Memory Lanes. While my Sadness brings back the Nostalgia of those carefree childhood days. I wish I could go back and yet stay here. Life is full of such dilemmas ain’t it?

Kasol Revisited

Day 1 – 21st October

I make my journey from JNU to North Campus, to meet the people who are going with me. Our bus leaves at night from Majnu ka Teela. It is a little awkward since I have met most of these people for the first time. At night everyone packs and we leave after a delicious dinner of homemade khichdi. We wait for the bus, it keeps getting delayed but it finally arrives. And the journey towards Parvati Valley begins.

Day 2 – 22nd October

Almost half the day had passed until we reached our destination but the journey was beautiful, with mist floating down the valleys when the sun began to appear. There were tall trees and I knew we had reached when there was an evident chill in the air. Our hungry souls directly made way towards Cafe Bhoj. We ate to our heart’s delight and then looked for a hotel. After getting some rest, we decided to have a bonfire and we started walking towards the campsite with torches in our hands to ward off the eeriness that the mountains possess by default. We reached the riverside where we sat on a round table and talked and laughed and drank and smoked. Then we walked closer to the river, so close that our voices were drowned by the sound of the flowing water. It was cold, very cold and the fire didn’t do much in warding it off. It was finally time to sleep.

Day 3 – 23rd October

I woke up before everyone else, except S. The first thing to do was take a bath and dry your hair in the mountain sunshine. We had delicious lunch consisting of schnitzels, falafels, lafas, oreo shakes, ginger-lemon-honey tea, etcetera. We then made our way towards a place called Chalal but were never able to reach it. Instead we found a place beyond the bridge, among the rocks where hot steam rose like mist from mountains and I wasn’t afraid of feeling cold again. The moon was high in the sky, all around us there were mountains – snow capped. And even when nothing was visible, the snow was shining bright, reflecting the moonlight. The rushing pristine water of the river, threw up water droplets which shone like diamonds when they caught moonlight or light from a torch held by a passerby on the bridge. My words can never do justice to what I saw that night.

(The night was spent deciding who wanted to stay for one more day. 4 of us decided to stay back and then 3 hours were spent cancelling and booking tickets)

Day 4 – 24th October

Yet again, S was the first one to wake up and we once again made our way towards Chalal after everyone left post a hearty lunch. This time it wasn’t our lucky day. The police caught us but let us go without much hassle. We went to Jim Morrison cafe and the sandwiches there were to die for. The trek was totally worth it. I was too happy to register much. Happy because it was Kasol, for another day. Once you go there, you never want to leave.

Day 5 – 25th October

We went to Magic View Restaurant, didn’t really have the patience to look at the view because I was too tired from all the climbing. Who wants to work on a vacation anyway. This vacation was so much different from the last time when I was all sober and the weather was not so good. This time the water had completely changed its color and you could almost see the water-bed. It was a “good trip”. Can’t wait for the next one. Will put up the pictures soon.

Day 6 – 26th October

Back to Delhi. It was like some other world. Definitely not a good one after the serenity of the Valley. Well, all good things come to an end.

Break post Break

So after a long break, I finally have net connection and free time to continue blogging. I knew this time was going to come sooner or later and it is going to be quite a task to compensate for all the days I have not written. So here is a fresh start.

It was my little sister’s birthday and I have not been keeping well. I couldn’t do much but she sure had fun with her friends. I can’t believe she is fifteen already. She is a millennial quite literally, born in 2000, her age is whatever the year is. 15 in 2015 and so on. These 15 years have been a real learning experience. She has always been the brave one and whenever I took a step back, she was the one who said it is okay to walk on. She has definitely been the best gift ever.

Tonight after dropping her friends home – my friends, she and I went on a car ride and it was crazy! The music was playing on full volume and we were playing some songs that related to each person’s personality, that reminded me of some incidents and made me nostalgic. I wonder sometimes if there is anything that brings more nostalgia than music. In my case, I can never ever forget who suggested me what song. It is a boon and a bane because sometimes some loved songs are destroyed by bad memories that come along with it.

The song that reallly stuck was “Kya Karoon?” from Wake Up Sid. There is no telling how much I love that movie and this song could very well be the theme song for my life. The dilemma never ends.

So that was that! So much for writing again, it will never be a blog in the true sense of the word. Just a random rant on even more random things.
Signing off,
Shreya

Home is where the Heart is

So I am all done with my documentary on the M-ward of Mumbai. More about that later. For many days I have been planning to write on all the places I have lived in.  After reading Varun Grover‘s article, I was finally really inspired to do the same. So here’s a short personal account of all the places where I have had a temporary home in! 🙂

VARANASI

I was born in the city of Temples and Ghats. I was too little to remember anything but I have since visited it twice and it’s a beautiful city if you want to laze around and just sit at the ghats and read a book. The city in itself is a madhouse, too much traffic and too many people. But that is the beauty of old cities. There is a mix of culture and modernity that you just cannot find anywhere else. I have somehow always been kind of proud that I was born there because of it’s rich cultural heritage. Now, when I pass through the areas where we lived earlier, my parents point out those places to me, the place where I was born, the place where they came to have lunch every weekend, the temple they visited on their birthdays and so on.

KANPUR

So my next stop was Kanpur where I spent 7 years and changed 3 schools and 2 homes, as far as I remember. I made a lot of friends, my memories of which are really vague now. I am obviously not in touch with any of them anymore, but I do remember that I was close with a lot of them! Now a relative of mine lives in the same locality and it beings back so many memories. I was a single child back at that time and the games I played at that time alone, the swing in my porch and the bees that stung me, the neighbours I had and the cricket matches my uncle took me to, the mix tapes we made and the terrace without the railing, the diwali with my cousins, the hiding in the cupboards, the fun I had in dusting the corridors and then riding my bicycle (with stoppers) there, the rickshaw that came to pick me up every morning and the dreaded swimming classes, the hatred for school and love for cable TV, the visits to relatives’ houses and meeting and forgetting people, the sweets that Grandpa bought everytime he visited and the dosa place he took me to, near my house. Omg, I miss Kanpur. Now when I go back, I hate it, because of the crowd and the pollution and zero traffic sense. But now that I sit and reminiscence about it, those were beautiful days. The days of carefree childhood.

LALITPUR

Lalitpur is a quaint little town near Jhansi, and it is also close to maternal home, while Kanpur was close to my paternal home. My sister was also born there. I lived there for 2 years. My memories of that place are mostly of my neighbours, with whom I spent most of my time. We used to play all evening until it got dark. It was also the time when everyone had those video game consoles and I had one too and it was also the time when I watched Nickelodeon for the first time and went gaga over it, the first time when I made a best friend, Divya, only to lose her in a year, the first time I stayed with another family, all by myself, because my mother was in the hospital during her pregnancy. There was a guest house next to my home, which belonged to a relative. The garden was open to use for all and that is where I learnt to ride a bike.

BANGALORE

This was a major shift. We had shifted from a town to a metro city. The energy was crazy and so was life. I was juggling between classes and computer classes, book clubs and extra co-curricular activities and ace-ing everything except academics. There was a library right behind my house which  I unfortunately found out too late, there was a Punjabi Restaraunt near our house which made the most amazing shahi paneer ever. My father took us to new places every weekend and we travelled like crazy – to Tirupathi, Nilgiri, Ooty, Munnar, etc. I went to this amazing book club where they gave us cold drink and cake at the end of every session. I found some of my friends from those days on FaceBook.  Those two years were undoubtedly the best years of my life. I often wish that we had never shifted, but apparently my parents didn’t like living so far away from their own families so we had to come back to North India. Now, I think to myself, that maybe I did the right thing by shifting because I feel that Bangalore had given me what I needed in terms of developing my personality, but had I stayed, I couldn’t have fought for what I loved and figured out what to do in life without anything being imposed on me. It is difficult to explain, but being in Lucknow gave me much more freedom to choose whatever I wanted to do next in life.

LUCKNOW

Lucknow was a new low after Bangalore but I gradually got used to it. I have spent the maximum part of my life there and that is where home is even now. 8 years in Lucknow, and I was a grown person too, I remember almost everything but mostly I remember hating my school. In the last four years that I stayed there, I made some really good friends and that is the only redeeming fact about that school. All in all the city is a great place to live in. It gives me respite from the rush of the big cities I go back from every holiday.

DELHI

I had entered college and was living in the Hostel, a much different home than any I had lived in before. It was a big, bad city and I was a little girl. With time it grew on me and I began falling in love with the freedom I had got for the first time in my life. This thirst for freedom just became bigger and that is how I moved on to the next city.

MUMBAI

My present home, one year in a flat and this year in a Hostel. Mumbai has given me the freedom I could have only dreamt of, friends that I know I will cherish for life and memories and experiences that have made me who I am now. It’s only when you live here, that you will know why it is called the City of Dreams. Every other person is a walking and talking book, whose pages and stories will amaze you. Here I am to be another book in the library, hoping to be the one most issued and to be an inspiration for other writers. 🙂

Wishing upon a Star

I found a picture,
Between the tattered pages,
Of an old notebook.
It was a picture of you,
With your teeth shining,
Like the pearls sewn in your dress.
The colour of the sky,
And freshly plucked flowers,
Adorned the laces on your sleeve.
A prettier picture I had not seen.
I look back at those days,
When I asked mother;
“Why did you have to have
another daughter?”
How could I have been so ignorant,
I had always wished for someone magical,
To come into my life,
To fill in the vacant afternoons,
To be a partner-in-crime,
To be all mine.
What would have I ever done without you?
You are the greatest gift ever.
I never wished for anything again.

Letters for Love/Being Unwanted (Guest Post)

Before you wonder why I didn’t title this post ‘Love Letters’ or ‘Letters of Love”, I want to explain and ask you at the same time what Love means to you? To me it means so many things, even hate, but this is a letter written for Love, not out of Love, not about Love but just for it. Make what you can of it. 🙂

Oh and also Special thanks to our writer, i.e. not me but someone who I begged to write this for me, since I have been too busy with work. And he hasn’t let me down. I love your writing, I really do. Here it goes:

BEING UNWANTED

So today, I will like to confess one of the feelings that come to me more often than others. I, for some reason, always find myself with people who are facing some crisis. With time this thing rooted deep inside me. I started feeling satisfied with the knowledge that maybe people needed me sometimes even if it was only in their moments of sorrow. Call it a lame effort to be wanted by others or an attempt to hold some place important in others’ lives. Or maybe I think too much. Someone told me that I always look for tragedies, but this is just what I have become. I don’t mind tragedies a single bit because I feel that people reveal their innermost feelings at that moment. I wish I could take those moments of closeness, the belonging to merrier times also but almost always I find myself getting sidelined for someone else who simply makes their way into lives of others when the grass is green and when they don’t have to live through autumn. Then again I start looking out for the next estranged soul. I fully agree that my life may seem tempting to others. Some people have in fact asked me that why do I even get sad, but its ingrained in me. I try to be alone at times hoping someone will ask about me.

This feeling naturally comes, when I see people enjoying with others, I find myself looking at people’s happy faces thinking it would have been so fucking amazing if I would have been the one sharing that laughter, if your smile would have started from your lips and would have stopped at my cheekbones. I always try to find a crevice in people’s conversations to an untold secret which would act like a thread that would keep us entwined forever with each other. I love to gradually fade into the background watching how people react to my absence.

You have been a great support to me amidst all the negativity. As I have said a million times, a lighthouse in the cold wild raging sea, a drop of water in the scorching heat of the desert, that last breath for which a man craves on his deathbed, those last few  of oxygen in a man’s tank on a faraway planet.

P.S. – You are the one who I believe can take me out of this perpetual turmoil. Only you have the charm.

A Reply

I think I am cast in a very different stone. I am the kind who wants to be with people in their good times and their bad. If they choose to be with me only in either one of them, then I carve out a different path for myself, far away from theirs. For me, it’s always all or nothing. The only thing I hope for is that I make you a part of all my seasons. That, I think, could be the best gift I could ever give you.

P.S. Don’t talk about lighthouses, they drive me crazy! 🙂 ❤

Origami and Me Part 2/Bucket List Part 4

Attempt at Simple Snowflake Papercuts

Attempt at Simple Snowflake Papercuts

So for a visual design project (which I will be posting later) I was working on cutting paper snowflakes and other stuff. I realised how tough it was when I could’t even get the folds right for the first two attempt. I will be working on many more intricate patterns which are larger than these (these are only 2 and a half inches wide). I realised how amazing nature is! I mean I can’t even get these stupid patterns right and nature can “naturally” give birth to such beautiful snowflake patterns with none of them being alike.

For our next documentary, our group sat down together to think about everything that came to mind when you think about “CARROM”. We wrote it all down with colorful crayons on a huge chart paper. The technique worked extremely well because it reminded me of several old memories. Making these snowflakes reminded me of a set of encyclopaedia books that I had when I was younger. There were these pictures of snowflakes that had stuck to clear glass panes and I thought it was one of the most beautiful things ever. Never having seen snowfall in real life, this could just also be another thing on my bucket list. Soon, I hope.