Let us Walk

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If I could take you with me for a walk, I would take you to places that have mattered to me. All I have liked to do here in this town is to walk and to explore. I remember the energetic morning walks of my childhood with my dad who has been an avid walker. The air would be cool and quite a respite from the sweltering heat that swept the north Indian plains for much of the year. We walked in the deserted lanes which would soon be bustling with cycles, scooters, rickshaws and school goers. When we were lucky enough to live in the vicinity of parks, we would walk there, moving along at a brisk pace, walking the length many times.

We walked this way in each town we lived. When I went my way in the world after my studies, I continued to walk the places I now lived with friends. In times of crisis, it was the only way to keep sane. I walked miles, covered familiar and unfamiliar neighbourhoods, walked to the vibrant vegetable markets, walked through lively trimmed parks and superbly kept suburban streets.

There are days when I walk with a friend and catch up on all that is happening and the only way to do this is not in a stuffy restaurant, over stale buns and tea but in the cool, fresh air where nature’s vibrance brings alive the music in our hearts. We talk as we make our way back to our homes.

I also walk alone. I take in the sights and the smells, look at the trees shedding their leaves that slowly flutter down in the breeze and at the wild, blooming marigolds on the hill slopes. I hear the birds, the rustle of the wind in the trees and the temple bells.

And now, I would like to walk with you. I want you to see the bush where I first saw the lilies and the little kitten mewing. I want you to stand on the edge of the forest and hear the wind blow so hard that it sounds like a river rushing by. I want you to see the jagged ends of the houses teethering on the uneven hill slopes, the sun making the shadows dance. I want you to see the geometric poetry of the lodges with an old world charm. I want you to see the shuttered up windows of houses that are long abandoned. I want to walk with you to the fringe of the market where the porters bear the goods on bent backs and walk like mules. I want to climb the dated, pitted staircases with you, shadowed by the overhanging balconies of the buildings that had seen better times. I want you to hear the church bells chime competing with the psychedelic music from the new shops. I want to take you to the old book stores where time seems to stand still in the musty odour. I want to walk down with you to the ice cream parlour where the cool refreshment is accompanied by a hot discussion on the spiritual legacy of the patron.

Through these walks, I want you to see the place with my eyes. Maybe we can walk together often.

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A train of thought

Thinking of my countless train journeys, in my mind’s eye, I see a kaleidoscope of memories, of people I met and the places I saw, of the undeniable beauty that unfolded mile after mile, of the shouts and cacophony of railway stations and the silence of the nights, and the looking out of the windows through unseen eyes.

Recalling, I can almost feel the cool breeze when we are near streams and rivers, the wheels thundering over the bridge and I can think back vividly of the unbearably hot afternoons and the landscape broken occasionally by the lone tree. I remember the verdant meadows and the delicate yellow mustard in the fields. I can only imagine the swish of the golden sheaves of wheat as they sway in the wind, the clatter of the train drowning out the gentle sound.

I think of the times I had walked along the rail tracks with friends trying to get to someplace when we were not sure of where we were going.

I can recall Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina as she sets her eyes on Vronsky and her destiny for the first time on a railway platform.

I can think of the incredibly crowded trains where people jostle for space. I sit with Margayya of R.K.Narayan’s Financial Expert, watching as a man tries to enter the train through the window just to get a seat.

I recall the many snippets of overheard conversations on the railway station and on trains that have stayed with me over the years, my mind still turning the phrases around to make sense or to understand the context.

I think of the entire gamut of human emotions that I have been fortunate to witness in those places where humanity is bursting at seams.

Over all other means of transport, it is a train for me every time. I have had so much time to day dream during those journeys.

Metanoia

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Metanoia refers to a fundamental change in an individual’s life orientation. In psychology, it is considered a process of self healing and adaption. Metanoia comes from an ancient Greek word, which means “changing one’s mind”.

It is a journey and sometimes fraught with doubts but here are a few pointers to help us all move along towards where we want to be.

One, it is natural and normal to have doubts. We may or may not be able to find the answers we are looking for. There is no such thing as absolute truth. What is true for one individual or a particular circumstance may not be true for another. So, it is a vital skill to be able to live with doubts, searching for answers and be able to see what works for us.

Two, the catalyst for the big change in our lives is just that; a catalyst. We cannot go back to it again and again nor can we expect it to be the push for change every time. We need to know that there are many such people or places or things that can lead us to the transformation. The most important thing is an inner readiness.

Three, the biggest attitude change comes from the realization of being completely responsible for ourselves. It means we are the only ones who lead ourselves to our happiness, misery or contentment.

No matter what the change we embark upon, whether it be our hearts, minds, selves or the way we live our lives, change takes courage. What changes are you making in your life?

Day 30 of Nablopomo

What happens when you commit to something?
What happens when you follow it through with passion and conviction?
What happens when you write every day?
In short, what happens when you participate in Nablopomo, and reach the end and have a ‘I Did It’ post to write?

A few things happen:

Commitment itself is reward. It is empowering and exhilarating. It is opening the door to potential and inviting your resources in to make it happen.

Once you are determined to see things through, no matter what, paths open up, obstacles dissolve, divine help materializes.

Dreams coupled with preparation lead to magic.

Your craft improves. You get to the place you are going faster. You discover your shortcomings and strengths and that is just so good because you know what to improve and what to capitalize on.

You start dreaming bigger because you could do this, so you could definitively do more.

You are happy and want to shout ‘I Did It’ or modesty resolve to go for higher peaks (depending on your personal disposition).

And as befits any speech, I must end with a note of thanks to my readers, dedicated followers, other excellent writers, my children who insisted on coming down with fever every few days, having birthdays and school concerts so that I was more determined than ever, WordPress mobile apps which made publishing possible in view of erratic internet connections and my tablet for providing the hardware and psychological support. Ah! also my spouse for going on a business tour so that I could feed the children instant noodles and write.

P.S. I am tempted to continue the writing streak, but I spared a thought for my followers who might already be feeling exasperated.

X.J.Kennedy: Master of comic verse

There is a verse of Kennedy that is lovely. It is indicative of the light humour that marks his writings. I read it twelve years ago and instantly fell in love with it.

To Someone Who Insisted I Look Up Someone

In three lines, it talks of travel, friends, pomposity. Brevity and humour marry!

X.J.Kennedy ( b.1929), was born Joseph Kennedy but he prefixed X to his name so that he could not be confused with the political family of Kennedys.

X.J. (Joseph) Kennedy has published six collections of verse. He has also authored eighteen children’s books and several textbooks.

His 1961 collection Nude Descending a Staircase won the Lamont Award and in 2001, Kennedy was awarded the Aiken Taylor award for lifetime achievement in poetry. The list of rewards and recognitions runs long.

He and his wife put together an anthology of children’s poetry,’ Knock at a star: A child’s introduction to poetry’ which is next on my must buy list for my elder child. The only other nonsensical verses I have loved are those of Lewis Carroll.

To read more about him and his excellent work, click here.

You can visit his blog here.

This post has been lying as a draft for more than a month. Many times, I had an overwhelming urge to share it but could not include any verses due to copyright restrictions. Thanks to Daily Post ,I have been able to resurrect it.

Thank You All

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My thanks to all. Photo Credit: http://www.rcapsolutions.org

Thank You. Big words. Sometimes, so oft repeated that they lose their meaning and relevance. But said at the right time (or even late) and with sincerity, they can warm someone’s heart… and a few months of winter.

I am grateful to Daily Post for providing me this opportunity to express my appreciation to all those who made the good in me and my life possible.

Well then, here goes. Thank you to all the people in my life-my parents, grandparents, siblings, spouse, children,friends, colleagues, enemies, strangers, guardian angels for feeding, caring, guiding, companionship, criticism, love, appreciation, gratitude, flattery, obstacles, difficulties, lessons…

Now that the living, breathing beings have been thanked, I am sending out special thanks to my pair of wooden parrots. Diminutive and green (obviously), they sat on my study desk at the time I was completing my post graduation studies. This table was in my hostel room which meant they were gawked at by philistines all the time. I had bought them while on a pilgrimage with my parents. Hidden away in the serpentine lanes adjoining the magnificent Gurudwara were the small and impoverished workshops of the artisans, eking out a living by crafting handmade wooden toys. Oh! We fell in love with them! So, back came the parrots with me, hundreds of miles, to where I was trying to contain my dreams till the world was ready to receive me.

I christened them “Yossarian” and “Godot”. Their names wee written down on their bases. Yossarian was the name of the main character in Joseph Heller’s book “Catch-22”. He is the soldier who is perpetually trying to escape the battlefront. It is madcap fun, reading the book. It is also sometimes called a tragedy by readers. Godot was the mysterious character(?) in the play “Waiting for Godot” written by Samuel Beckett. Godot is someone everybody (rather the two characters) is waiting for fervently but he (He?) never appears.

The parrots stood for the opposing influences in life, in our worlds, both physical and emotional. Yossarian was somebody who wanted to go and Godot was someone who never came.

I was asked by a friend, whom also I should thank after all these years, about them. As I enthusiastically told their names and their significance, I was met with raised eyebrows and widened eyes (is it possible to do that the same time?). I was told that I lived in an imaginary world. People whispered about my sanity. That made me all the more determined to protect my world of books, imagined characters and stories.

Thank God for that, it made my imagination richer and I learnt to put my thoughts on paper.