Tuesday, 25 August 2015

A Date with Night

Have you ever had a night etched so deep in your heart that every time you think of it, you can see it happen all over again right in front of your eyes.

And that night happened to me in the year 2001, as I remember we moved out of Tezpur by next year. Now I would be lying if I say I remember the exact date and time of the event. But I do recollect vividly everything else about the night. It was a cold winter night. I was standing in my balcony covered from head to toe in woolen wear along with my dad, who did not show the same enthusiasm. Of course one can't blame him, it was around 1 AM and it was freezing. So what were we awaiting?

I was always fascinated by night sky. I wanted to be an astronomer. And I chased that dream till my college days when eventually I had to accept the fact that I didn't do too well in physics (I sucked). You would think that children would be more exposed to field of astronomy in a city like Bangalore but it would surprise you that living in a small town could bring you so much more closer to stars that one can't help but fall in love with them and pursue it. At least that's what happened to me. In fact, my love for stars was sealed when I saw Milky Way for the very first time! Yes, it is possible to see it even though technically we are part of it. And boy does it look stunning!

    Photo credit: Ohad ben Yoseph

Millions of stars flowing across sky, like a river, I can only imagine what our ancestors would have felt when they used to watch sky in awe. You would start believing in higher power. You would realize how minuscule you are in front of nature. To this day there are no words I can find to describe that sight.

Anyways, back then I was a amateur sky-gazer and used to rigorously follow all the celestial events. And on that cold winter night I was waiting for a meteor shower. I had never seen one and couldn't wait to watch it. After a long wait, something caught my eye. Just when I was doubting myself and brushing off the flicker of light as figment of imagination, there came another one! A star falling from the sky...it is one of the coolest thing in the world!

    Photo credit: Wilson Lam

It was like a dream come true..and it went on for a while...I counted 26! I was in daze the entire night. It is only in the morning that I realize that I forgot to ask for a wish with shooting star. I could have got 26 wishes!

But I guess I was too happy already, even today whenever I feel little upset I close my eyes and wish upon the shooting stars I saw that night :)

When we grow up we get so caught up with life that we loose sight of lot of simple things. We get so dazzled by lights around us that we never look up. So next time you find yourself spinning around crazy in life, press pause, walk outside and look up.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Confessions of a Substitute Gardener

    (A view from our garden)

I don't particularly enjoy gardening. In fact I don't like anything which results in me + mud + water. That said, I do love the end results. I love living in a house with big garden. So you see, it's inevitable that once in a while I get stuck with watering the plants. Here's a few things which any first timer is bound to face

1. Pray every night for Rain

A single most event which can magically get rid of all the work assigned.

    Photo credit: Swong

2. Twisted pipe syndrome

For some reason pipes love to get twisted and cut the water supply. So if water suddenly stops look for a bent or else next thing which would happen is worst.

Photo credit: theilr

3. Classic Water Burst

Sometimes as a result of high pressure (often caused from twisted pipe syndrome), pipe joints tear apart soaking everything on the way. 
On rare occasions, you may encounter motor burst and other technical issues in which case you may be forced to return to " pour-from-bucket" procedure.

 Photo credit : Nick Harris

4. Accidental Kill

No matter how careful you think you are, there are pretty good chances you will kill a plant. Most common cause - overwatering (who knew!). No matter how hard you try to root it back, you know it's futile. Sigh..all you can hope for is to find someone else to blame (rain -if you are lucky).

 Photo credit: Mark Robinson

5. Fall in love

No matter how cumbersome the entire affair is and how desperate you are to get rid of this chore, by the end of it you would fall in love with them just a little bit. Those pretty green things with colorful flowers and occasional bees and butterflies. You just feel good and suddenly your faith in nature is restored ( yes even with muddy feet). 

 Photo credit: Lalit

Monday, 17 August 2015

Tezpur - City of Eternal Romance

    Photo credit: Michel Foley

An ancient city on the banks of river Brahmaputra, soaked in legends, mythology and rich culture. Of course back then I wasn't aware of it, all I knew was that I was going to an unknown territory.

When I was 10 years old (around 1998) my dad got posted to Tezpur, Assam. I don't have much memory from the first night we landed there other than the fact that it was pretty dark and there was not a soul around. Luckily we found an Officer from Air Force who was also heading to the same base and hitchhiked (It wasn't the safest place to travel alone).

Next morning when I opened curtains I was left baffled. Gigantic grasses all over (which I learnt later were called elephant grass).

    Photo credit: Souparna

More greenery than I had ever seen in my entire life. Even the rose bush was unusual, there were like a hundred roses on an average, I couldn't even see the leaves! I rushed out to get a closer look only to come face to face with a monkey! I screamed and came running back and decided to watch it from safe distance. It turned out to be a good decision because there was a big troop of monkeys walking through our garden. I was in the middle of a jungle ( or atleast that's how I felt).

    Photo credit: anshu_si

The more I explored the more I fell in love with this new world. It was as if this place had somehow fallen to a wormhole and remained untouched by time. Soon I got used to our monkey friends, snakes, wild boars and occasional elephants.

Just outside our quarters (that's what we call our residence) there was a village. I used to sometimes accompany my dad to the weekly vegetable market in the village and it always left me awestruck.

    Photo credit: Travelling slacker

Villages in east are nothing like what we see in other parts of the country, even a tiny mud house is surrounded by beautiful flower bed! Such an immaculate place and people.

    Photo credit: Andrew Codrington

It was a perfect place for a kid to grow up. You could spend your days picking cotton from cotton trees and spend night chasing fireflies! And I don't mean one or two isolated fileflies which gaze around here. I mean hundreds of them around you just a touch away. No picture can capture that moment.

                            Photo credit: Takashi ota

There were some ups and down and times when I just wanted to run away from that place ( especially after a very disturbing episode of being chased by a crazy macaque) but when you wake up to something like this

    Photo credit: Chris

you forget all your rues and look forward to a better day...

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Chronicles of a Wandering Child


It has not been long since I started saying unhesitatingly that I am a Bangalorean. After all I have spent most of my adult life (14 years to be exact) in this beautiful city. Till then whenever addressed with question, " where are you from?" my answer was something like, "I am basically from Kerala but I grew up in Punjab, Gujarat, Assam. I have never stayed in Kerala except vacations."

I was born in a defense family. My dad was in Air Force and for the rest of my life I will always refer non-defense folks as "civilians". As a kid I never felt home sick because I was never attached to a "home". We moved around a lot. My dad would be posted at a station ( for future reference it means air force base) for 4-5 years and even when in a town we shifted house every now and then, sometimes even weeks apart. Of course that included shifting schools. I am a " KV product" . Made lots of friends, lost many and still in touch with few. Life was different as compared to "Bangalore days".

The best part was to visit all these places and become a part of their culture which somehow you never get to do when travelling on vacations. I miss all of it. From Punjabi hospitality to Gujarati chaats to mind-blowing beauty of Assam. Looking back I see my childhood filled with colors, laughs and experiences which I would have never had if not for our travelling.

I don't want to forget any of those moments but sometimes when we bury memories too deep inside they get lost. So I want to log at least the most notable memories I have...Hope you enjoy..

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

How much is too much?

We all take risks. Whether its on high adrenaline activities like bunjee jumping,a ride in amusement park or something as mundane as crossing a road. We know a lot of things we use in our everyday lives are not good. But we don't take it seriously. We know cosmetics ( including soap, detergents, shampoos) are harsh on skin. We know plastics are harmful and possibly carcinogenic. We know all the smoke and pollution around is making us unhealthy every second. We know radiations from cellphones are doing us no good. Then why are we not reacting?

Few of the reasons why we brush it off -
  • Change is difficult - We hate to come out of our comfort zone. We have got used to all these commodities. Mere thought of life without mobile is insane!
  • It's not my problem - It's a normal human tendency to worry about only things which concerns them. As long as me and people I care about are fine nothing else matters. I mean why should I worry if my neighbor gets sick.
  • What other option do I have? - I do dislike plastics but how else am I suppose to survive in supermarket? Or wash my hair without shampoo? Or go out without a sunscreen?
  • UnAwareness - We think knowing whats harmful for us is enough. But are you aware how harmful they could be? For example if I were to go to a smoker and say that smoking is bad for health, how seriously do you think he is going to take me? But if instead I said, " There is a 75% chance of you getting lung cancer" Now that message would be heard louder. If only we had numbers to prove these theories.
  • Everything is destiny - I, for one, believe in it enormously. So every time I read one of these statistics about growing health crisis would say, everything is fate, if I am destined to fall sick I would. We cannot live our lives thinking about all these small issues.

But I was WRONG.

Recently I watched a documentary called "The Human experiment" and it brought back all nightmares which I had consciously buried deep inside. And suddenly all the above excuses didn't make any sense. I know it's not going to be easy and changes I make would be tiny at a time. But I am ready to do that. Maybe I can't completely avoid plastics, but I want to reduce it to minimal. Use eco-friendly products as much as possible. Even a minor contribution could cause massive change to environment in long run. I don't want to wait till I become a victim. Do you?

Getting drenched in an unexpected rain is destiny, on a monsoon is careless.