Thursday, 8 November 2018

Life of An Emotional Fool

I have often heard people complain about how tiring it is to have a family member or friend who is too "emotional". Let me tell you, if you think being with someone emotional is tiring, then being one is utterly exhausting!

As a kid, I thought my mom was a bit melodramatic(she still is) and that I was above that, I was the calm and composed person who didn't care about people. I wasn't entirely wrong. I mean I still don't care about "society" or "neighbours", but I realize that with age I have evolved into this emotional person who cares deeply about loved ones- both family and friends. It matters to me what they say or do and that in some weird twisted way I am like my mom more than I believed myself to be.

Being an emotional "sentimental"person has its own pros and cons. We feel too much, both happiness and pain. A simple surprise phone call from a long lost friend makes us much more happy than what's expected at the same time a casual rude remark from someone would unnecessarily upset us. It's a rollercoaster life overall, rest assured there won't be a dull moment if we end up in your life!

One of the common feature of an emotional people is that they are easy to read. Maybe not the entire picture but you get a jest of their mood by a single look at their face! We tend to be a bit more expressive, of course everyone has vibes but I guess in case of an emotional person it's much more strong. Like when my mom gets angry and stops talking, it would be pretty evident and it drives the whole house mad. We usually end up apologizing even if we don't mean it just so she can get back to her chirpy self again(sigh!).

Unfortunately you can't make a "non-senti" person understand why our mind works the way it does. Sometimes when I brood over something silly and slouch gloomily, my husband tries to convince me saying I should forget about it and cheer up. As if I haven't tried it! I desperately want to, but just can't! We are just genetically built this way! I often wonder how blissfull it must be not to be bothered about trivial things like sentiments. But is it so bad?

Being an emotional person is quite challenging, it definitely has it's lows but I know deep down that I would never want to be any other way. We need all kind of people in the world, sometimes it's good to have someone who demands little extra from you and insists on doing the same. Because sometimes an emotional fool is exactly what you need in your life.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

My Roman Holiday!

I never believed in love at first sight, but as I sat there gazing outside from our airport taxi, I realized I was in love, in love with Rome. I am not sure if it was the constant honking at traffic, very expressive Italian language or the nostalgic weather, something reminded me of India. It had a very "non-European" feel to it and I mean it in a good way.

There are so many reasons why you should visit Rome. I want to get done with the architectural part of it so that I can obsess over Italian food for rest of the blog!

We decided to stay in Rome for five days so that we can absorb the essence of this beautiful city at a much leisure pace. The first haul was Colosseum and I had kind of mixed feeling towards it. My first reaction to be honest was "Oh! I thought it was bigger". I realized later that since it has uneven levels, from one side it looks bigger than the other. We went inside, sat there for couple of hours and as I watched the last of the sun rays receding from this two thousand year ruin I felt a warmth inside me. As if it had a soul, someone who has seen too much and withstood the testimony of time. Colosseum is kind of situated in the centre of the city, so for the rest of our trip we did cross it every single day. We saw it at early mornings, afternoons, a few sunsets and sometimes late nights. With each passing day I started appreciating it more. I remember when I saw it for the last time I thought "It is beautiful".

Colosseum at night
Rome has no shortage of magnificent grand sculptures. They are everywhere. From Trevi fountain, Piazza Navona, Pantheon and of course Vatican. You can randomly walk in any direction and would soon find yourself standing in front of a church and undoubtedly it will be beautiful with stunning frescos. But I would highly recommend you to visit the Vatican and see the work of Renaissance artists especially Michelangelo. That said, many a times the works of lesser known artists are as good as those of famous, so do keep your eyes open for those underrated gems.

Trevi Fountain
Fresco on a church we randomly discovered 
Although there are a hundred reasons I love Rome, the first thing which I would always associate with Rome is food. For the lack of better adjective, it was simply "mind-blowing"! No it's not all about pastas and pizzas. Yes, you would find both of them in abundance but it is so much more than that. In fact they have tons of option for vegetarians as well. For the first time I didn't had to worry about getting a large portion and those guilty feeling of wasting. In Rome, you have starters, first course and second course and lot of other speciality courses in between! No one is expected to eat all the courses. You can have them in any permutation and combination. As much or as little as you want. There were times when I ordered first course and after finishing realized that I have a tiny amount of space left and went ahead and ordered a starter! Although technically you can do it anywhere, there are a lot of unsaid formal ways of doing things outside and in Rome I felt somehow free of all those restrictions.

View from St.Peter's Basilica
A week before we left for Rome, I had stopped ordering pastas and pizzas because I thought for next five days we would be eating only that, but reality was far from that. On our very first dinner, I discovered grilled octopus. It wasn't rubbery or chewy, just grilled to perfection! I don't want to ever forget the taste of it from my mouth. I usually don't like fish, basically anything with "fishy" smell. But there are so many options in seafood other than fish and somehow Italians have perfected the art of cooking it! I did try their special fried pumpkin flowers, artichokes, gnocchi and all the amazing raviolis and tagliatelles. But I was drowning myself in clams, squids, mussels, octopus and yes sometimes even fish (which surprising were not so "fishy"). I think ingredients were basic, just lots of olive oil!

Grilled Octopus
As if the excelling in food is not enough, they have the most splendid wines! On our entire trip we didn't come across a single one bad wine, even if it was one of those super cheap house wines! These people really know how to have a good life. Another classic example is the way they will never rush you even after you have finished eating and there is a long queue of people waiting outside at street!

I have visited many destinations in recent years and very few places have touched me so much. There is something comforting about this mildly chaotic city where old and new has intertwined so beautifully. I think their language represent them very well, outwardly it may sound very loud with  hand gestures all over the place, may even seem like they are shouting at you but what's beneath is utmost passion and emotion. What makes Rome so great is not just it's spectacular art and sculpture, it's not just about tempting food or passionate people. It's the simplicity underneath this grandeur exterior. Life suddenly feels less complicated. La Dolce Vita "the sweet life"..yes, it surely feels that way in Rome.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

In Pursuit of Love

I am fascinated by love. I have spent a great deal of my time researching on it. As a young girl I wanted to know if all that's being said and all the fuss being made is actually true. I often found adults say, "these things happens only in movies and story books!". But that made me question how in the world did these people get such ideas to begin with? It can't all be a lie..there must be some truth in this supposedly fictional notion called "love".

As I plunged forward on a leap of faith, on a quest to find love, I came across more than what I had bargained for. I met some amazing people who like me where on their own quest. I wouldn't say that my journey is over, as long as  I am alive am sure I will want to explore love, but that said I would like to share few things I have come to realize.

Love is the most underrated and overrated emotion in the world. It may sound contradictory but that's exactly what love does, it creates scenarios which makes no sense. There is no logic or rationality involved. There is no right or wrong when it comes to love. It is what it is. That doesn't mean people can't choose to make rational decisions, but on it's own love defies logic.

Each of us share a unique relationship with every other person in our lives and none of them are replaceable. Suppose you have a friend, which means you share a certain companionship and share some experiences together. Now even if you drift away and you find a new friend, you will never have the exact same relationship as you did with your old friend. I don't mean it will be better or worse, or even similar for that matter, but never the same.

Similarly the concept of one soulmate is little difficult for me to comprehend. I do believe you meet people who are connected to you in much deeper level and maybe if you are lucky you will meet them. I read somewhere that "a true soulmate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything you have been holding back, the person who brings you to your attention so that you can change your life". There is something beautiful about this idea, because this means that you don't have to worry yourself to death thinking "what if I don't marry my soulmate?". You are not bound to spend your entire life with them. This means your soulmate could be your spouse or could be someone you took a bus ride with! It makes you appreciate each and every moment you share with a person.

Another thing which I have come to appreciate is innocence. I don't think you can ever love the way you loved when you are a teenager or that innocent age when you are untainted by life. There are many advantages of growing old, you are much more wise and experienced, you become practical and mature. But in all that maturity you lose innocence. As a grown up you can never be as free in love as you are as a teenager. You can never really stop using brains knowing all that you know from experience and world around you. So I think one shouldn't miss out in love at that age, even if it is unrequited or ends in heartbreak.

I often ask people about their experience with love and till now I have found something unique in even the most simple love story. I have come to realize that you never really stop loving someone you had loved once. But sometimes the moment passes by and like two ships sailing across the ocean in different directions, they drift apart. I think denying it confuses heart and more you try to convince yourself otherwise, more troubled you feel. But once you come to accept the truth, you will feel at ease and open yourself to move ahead in life.

I have often been asked by my young cousins how do you know when you are in love? Does it really give you butterflies in the stomach feeling? Does it really makes you light headed when you kiss someone? And I have often found people laugh and say " Not in real life". But that's not entirely true. It is perfectly possible to feel all of the above in love, and it's absolutely possible to be in love and not feel any of the above. Love could be like a tornado, exceedingly overwhelming and scrumptiously overpowering, or it could be like a mild breeze on a damp summer evening. It doesn't mean one is better or more powerful than the other. Difference lies in what an individual wants and expects from love.

Even after spending a decade exploring the meaning of love, I am sure I still have lot to learn. But what I have understood is that it is indeed a gift, like sunlight it doesn't show any prejudice. Just being rich or beautiful doesn't qualify you to be loved, on the other hand most ordinary person may be extraordinary in someone else's eyes.

I think often think that because of our preconceived notion we can't recognize love even when it's right in front of us. Never compare your love life with others and feel unsatisfied, because you never really know their entire story. You don't know what they had to go through to reach where they are or what would happen to them in future. All you see is a glimpse of their life and you can't judge by it. If instead you try to focus on your own story you would realize how it is as unique and adventurous in it's own way.

And for those who have given up on love, be careful, it has a habit of coming at the most unexpected times, so keep your mind and heart open :)

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Why India is a Misunderstood Nation?

When I wrote the blog "Same love" about section 377 back in June 2015, I never thought that in just 3 years we would achieve this groundbreaking victory for gay rights. I am thrilled to hear that Supreme court has put an end to one of the oldest, unjust law of criminalizing consensual gay sex. Of course legalization doesn't mean that overnight people's attitude would change. I am acutely aware of how many stubborn, close-minded people exists in our country. But it definitely is a beginning, a legal restoration of basic human right.

We often find ourselves unhappy and dissatisfied because we compare ourselves with someone who we think is better than us, perhaps more rich or more successful. There is nothing wrong with that as such, in fact it is one of the driving forces which makes us ambitious and driven. But I feel there has to be a balance, after all what is the point of living if you never reap the benefits of your hard work. It is sad if you never had a moment where you stood and admired what you have, how blessed you are compared to the lower end of spectrum.

We as a nation are always comparing ourselves to the top most developed countries in the world (who by the way weren't born that way, they had to struggle and after few centuries reached this stage) and find ourselves constantly judging and complaining.

But once you broaden your perspective and get a complete picture of the world, you will realize that we are supremely blessed nation. Look at our neighbouring country Myanmar, which had been under brutal military rule for over five decades. During which it was completely cut off from outside world and even now people have restricted rights. Just two days back two of their journalists who uncovered a massacre of Rohingya Muslims were sentenced to seven years in prison for violating state secrets. When compared to that our press is definitely lucky! ( although sadly more and more people are misusing this right and craving for only sensationalization).

Similarly it has been made to look like that India is a worst place to be born in, if you are a woman. I agree we have some seriously psychotic sex addicts walking among us who don't even spare goats, forget about anything remotely looking female human! But strictly speaking in terms of legal right, we are way better than most of the countries around. For example India gave right to vote to women from the very first election in 1951-52, the idea was adopted without much opposition as soon as we gained independence. You will be surprised to know that in Switzerland, women gained the right to vote in federal elections after a referendum in February 1971. Not to mention the fact that many of the middle-east countries gave it only in very recent years.

Recently Iranian photographer Parisa Pourtaherian was in news for being the first female photographer in the country to have covered a national league match. She was banned from entering the football stadium (apparently women are not allowed to enter for men's football match), so she climbed up on a nearby rooftop to cover it. In India, we face such discrimination against women at individual level, like there are some families who are biased but you could always break away from family and escape. What would you do if as a nation, as a legal entity you are discriminated?

Another example for Indian forwardness is when it legalized abortion back in 1971, when many of the US states were yet to do it. As per a recent report "Among the world's 1.64 billion women of reproductive age, fewer than four in 10 (37%) live in countries where abortion is permitted in all circumstances and 6% live in countries where it is banned completely". I know there is still a huge stigma behind abortion in India and not to mention emotional pressure a woman is put through. But the fact remains that she can walk into a hospital alone and without anybody else's permission, take a decision and go ahead with it.

In most of the communist countries being an artist, writer or anyone with free will is almost life threatening! Few days back one of China's best-known artists and government critics, Ai Weiwei's studio was demolished by authorities without notice. In India, even if such things were to happen it would be by a mob of misguided souls who "advocate" a party or religious notion. So you can legally file a case and complain, and even though you may run around the court without getting justice for years, it's still better than a country where government itself openly shuns your freedom.

I agree we are not a perfect nation, in fact we are made aware of it everyday and all day by news reports across the country. But we should acknowledge that our constitutional rights, the very foundation on which this nation was built, are just and admirable. It's we, the people, who need to work on executing these rights and responsibilities. Our problem has always been that we have a huge population, it's very difficult for us to follow the way most developed nations work. To add to this, unlike China we are trying to run it in secular, democratic way..which is almost an impossible feat but we are doing it. So let us be little patient, instead of always criticizing and creating this bad aura, have faith that we can bring about a change.

We never let an outsider bad-mouth about our family and friends on our face right? Consider your country as a family member! By that I don't mean to live in a delusional world and keep saying our country is the best and not accepting the issues we are facing. Instead we should work on those issues slowly but steadily. If we see our own country in bad light that's how rest of the world is going to see us. Can't help but remember something John Lennon said, "You may say I'm a dreamer.. But I'm not the only one" :)

Friday, 20 July 2018

Religion and Me

Religion is a very complex subject. It means different to different people. I for one believe in God, to be specific I am a devotee of Lord Shiva. My husband on the other hand believes in a Supreme Power but he thinks God doesn't care about us and is having a laugh looking at us! This is just two people, imagine how many "version" of God exists in this world.

I grew up in a very religious environment. My mom is a full-fledged Hindu practitioner, we used to have compulsory temple visits once a week and on every auspicious day. My dad believes in God too but he doesn't believe in doing anything about it! I don't think he was into following all those rituals but it's not as if mom was giving an option. We also had this ritual of evening puja and each of us were expected to stand when lighting the lamp. Me and dad used to be done praying in like 30 seconds and turn back to see mom giving us disapproving stare. Sometimes I used to just stand there observing the pictures! It's not because I didn't believe in praying, it's because for me there was no fixed time to talk to Him. I was constantly in touch, the moment something goes wrong I would ask Him to fix it, so I keep Him updated.

I remember when I was in class 6, our Hindi teacher asked us to pick "Isht Dev"- to basically pick a deity. Somehow even at the age of 11 it made a lot of sense. Instead of talking to 10 folks, make rapport with one! It was a less confusing too, imagine you are in crisis and you are randomly calling all the names, how do you know who is responsible for you?! That day I went home and stood in front of pooja room analyzing each and every deity. It may sound funny now, but for that 11 year old it was a serious commitment. After a lot of thinking I picked Lord shiva and have never looked back since then.

For me religion is a state of mind. Nobody can make you believe in something if you choose not to. You either believe it or you don't. It's a lot like love. Unfortunately with time my faith in the institution of temple started faltering. Most of the temples are commercialized so much that it's quite disgusting. More popular a temple, more monetized it became. Not to mention the fact that I found it hard to talk to Him at peace with hundreds of people shoving and pushing me! So I like visiting only those temples which are almost abandoned, preferably even without a priest.

Although back then I didn't like the way my mother enforced religious rituals on us, I realize now how glad I am that she did. Because I think, if your parents are religious and you grew up in that environment, there is a good chance you would believe in God too. Of course, there are chances that you will stray away and follow hardly 10% rituals of what your elders used to. But if your parents itself are not religious, most probably you will grow up to be an atheist. And there is nothing wrong with it. But I am glad I could understand all my options. I am glad I could believe in something more powerful because I have often found comfort in it.

I am glad I grew up watching Ramayana and Mahabharata. Even though I still question multiple aspects in them. That I grew up watching those old devotional movies on zee cinema, which didn't look silly back then. That I come from a background where it is not foolish to keep fast. Of course there is no logical scientific explanation behind all these, but I believe that the world doesn't always work in logical scientific way.

It is possible to have perfectly happy normal life without you believing in God, but I still choose to believe in Him. And I can't give an explanation for that because I don't have one. 

Friday, 8 June 2018

My Paris Rendezvous

That's Notre-Dame in the background!

Paris was never on my bucket list. I always thought it was overrated. The only thing I was interested in was French food, but then don't we have tons of excellent French restaurants across the world? When it comes to visual pleasure the only thing worth seeing was Eiffel and what of it? We have seen so many pictures of it anyways that what new would you get out of it? In fact I distinctly remember asking my husband, "How different would be the view from what we saw over the London Eye?"

And that's why I am glad I married someone who doesn't share my cynical views on things and  convinced me that I need to take this trip. He assured me that I wouldn't regret it. Half-heartedly I obliged.

My first look of Paris was that of it's famous metro and it didn't disappoint me. There is a certain "old" feel to it, which I found quite charming. We stayed in a tiny apartment on 6th floor with beautiful French windows and lovely view. The only thing we had planned for was "Eiffel viewing" and the rest was supposed to be an impromptu vacation!

It was even better when it rained, unfortunately couldn't take a pic

So remember when I said Eiffel was overrated? Well I was wrong, by a large margin. No matter how many pictures you have seen you should still visit it. If possible till the summit. I insist you should spend the whole evening there, watch sunset and come down and watch the whole tower glow and glimmer like a dazzling diva in a crowded room! If you manage to ignore the innumerable clicks and flashes of camera and occasional vendor selling "water", you would actually walk away with a memorable sight and beautiful night.

View From Eiffel Tower

Once we were done with Eiffel, we were left to do nothing with 3 days in hand. So we decided to visit Montmartre. The obvious reason would be to visit Sacré-Cœur, a beautiful basilica on it's own right but I would be lying if I said I didn't have an ulterior motive behind visiting the place. You see Montmartre has been a base, at one time or another, for almost all of the famous artists who have lived in France over the last century. It had become the centre for all artistic and intellectual life in Paris. Maybe they were inspired by the spectacular view or cheap rents(not anymore!) or the fact that red light district was just around the corner! I mean how could you not go to a place where Picasso stood painting or a place where Hemingway had heated conversations with Fitzgerald! (OK that may be a stretch of my imagination, but who know right?) The point is the place still holds the residue of its glorious days and you can feel it when you sit on the pavements and listen to street artists play soulful music all day long.

These guys were so amazing that we end up spending an entire hour listening to them!

Sacré-Cœur Basilica
In two days we had covered two of the most prominent places and decided it was time we live like a true parisian and dedicate majority of our time to eating! So for rest of our trip this was our schedule -wake up leisurely-have a fresh baguette,build up the appetite - picked a restaurant - walk around exploring places near the vicinity of that restaurant till it opens - have a long 3 course lunch - walk into nearby cafe and sit around sipping wine till some food is digested - continue walking around till dinner - another fabulous feast - resume your wine drinking session till you are too tired to hold your glass and doze off!

After few(too many) wine everything seems merry!

On our first day we made the mistake of eating pizza from a "touristy" place and immediately regretted it. We were so ashamed of ourselves that we swore we will never repeat such a mistake, even if it meant we had to starve for few hours till we find a good place. When in France you have to experiment and try some of the local cuisine. At this point I would like to explain why I was wrong about eating French food outside France. The difference is that if you want to eat good french food outside you have to go in a really good fine dine, whereas in Paris you could walk into any of the countless cafes along the road and eat mouth watering delicacies for a fraction of the cost. Not to mention they make best baguettes in the world, which are served generously with every meal!

Along the Seine river

So I am happy to say that I was wrong about Paris, that it is indeed a romantic city. Not in the lovey-dovey sense, no, I mean it has a romantic soul. It portrays an idealized euphoric picture. You look around and in every street and corner you see the lights, the cafes, people drinking and singing. Yes, it is a good life.

Note: Just in case you are wondering why we didn't visit Monalisa in Louvre - although I am an ardent supporter of art, standing in queue for half a day, only to share the moment with jam-packed crowd pushing and shoving is not my idea of vacation. We did walk around the premises and looked at infamous Louvre Pyramid.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

New Girl In The City

It's been a month since we moved to Amsterdam. Often people have asked me why I have not written about this new experience in my blog and to be honest I was not sure about it myself. But now I guess I am ready to face my true feelings.

Let's first get over with the fact that the place is beautiful. When we landed here winter had just departed, leaving the stark silhouette of trees against the clear blue sky. And their canals are absolutely gorgeous and I don't mean the main tourist attractions like dam square, infamous red light districts or world famous tulip festival. They are quite charming and thousands of people seems to find them so, but what moved me the most was those nondescript pathways and calm canals away from bustling crowd. My first thought was," This place is perfect for a grieving lover!". I know that sounds silly considering Amsterdam is a place world comes to party but I thought the place had a touch of melancholy.

Before coming here I had done extensive research on Dutch people and wouldn't lie was a bit scared by what I read. "Dutch people are rude" came quite often in what I read, so I would feel guilty if I did not defend Dutch hospitality. I found them very honest and helpful people. Most of them are friendly if the situation arise for a conversation. Otherwise it's mostly like any other city where people are constantly running around with their heads and hands full!

But none of these felt exceptionally new to me mostly because after visiting UK last year I was accustomed to that initial "big" difference you feel when you travel from India to a developed sophisticated countries in the West. I mean the usual "cleanliness"," efficiency of transport", "technical advancement", "politeness and mannerism" these were expected. So for a long time I wasn't sure how I felt about living here. I thought I felt nothing.

A lot has changed since then, spring has arrived and with this sudden rush of life, a cloud seemed to be lifted from my heart as well. As a kid have you ever visited your rich aunt's or uncle's house? Do you remember how it was? Initially you try to  soak in all the differences, you admire all the finesse and comforts of the new house. Everything in their house was bigger and better, more comfortable and definitely better looking. And not to mention they were always very polite to you and tried to make you as comfortable as possible in their home. But, it was always "their" home. Somehow even as a kid you realize that nothing can make you feel as secure and comfortable as your own small rusty house, where no one cares if you turn the whole place upside down or if you break a vase or two. Even when your parents scold you for making a mistake, you never truly feel threatened from inside. So for the first time I understand why they came up with the term "Mother India".

I thought that when I left India, I would miss my family and maybe it's too early for that. I mean even in India, I would go and visit them only once in 6 months or so. And nowadays thanks to technology we can constantly stay in touch with people across the globe. But I never expected that I would miss someone who technically does not even exist. After all what is a country? If it is the people, you find tons of Indians abroad, you get most of the Indian food and products. Then what exactly is it that you miss about your country?

When I walk around here, I don't feel the same as I do in my country. And it is not because I am scared of anyone or anyone has said or done anything to make me feel so. It is as if there is an invisible force which keeps reminding you that you are not welcome here, you are only tolerated. I feel guilty to be here, as if my being here is acceptance that my country is not good enough. I know it sounds over exaggerated and would be shoved aside as initial home sickness, which is highly probable. After all this is a global era and people see themselves as citizens of the world. As someone once said, We must do what we must do. But I really hope that I don't ever lose this feeling, this pain I feel when I think of my country because this is what makes me who I am.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Our Bajaj Chetak


The other day whilst stuck at one of those never ending traffic my husband casually pointed out a fellow traveller who was in bike with his entire family (wife + two kids). He observed how unsafe it is to travel like this on a two wheeler in such a traffic and although I did agree with him, a small part of me empathized and I couldn't help but feel a bit nostalgic.

Growing up in a middle class family in a small town, comes with it's own share of adventure. My dad was in Indian Air Force and ever since I could remember we had our trusted scooter "Bajaj Chetak" with us. And what a sturdy vehicle it was! Even when we moved from one part of the country to another, our scooter would follow like a loyal family dog and within a week would be parked majestically outside our gate. Back then everyone around had a bajaj especially in Air Force campus and till I was 14, I didn't even know there were other brands of scooters!

Those days it never struck us as unsafe to travel all aboard in a scooter, maybe because back then roads were never crowded or that there was no other option. There were hardly any cabs and bus routes were very specific and never accessible to every nook and corner. To maintain the balance everyone has to sit strategically, the youngest in family (which in our case was me) has to stand in front. Of course as I started growing tall I had to start squatting, for hours sometimes! Because having just a scooter never stopped us from taking a family picnics or trips often to far off places.

One of my most cherished memory is that of us going to Balachadi beach in Jamnagar around 30 km from our home. The place was spectacular and famous because during low tide the water recedes and all you can see is sand but as soon as the high tide comes in the evening the entire place is engulfed by sea. As if there never was a land and that the whole day you spent on those sands was just a dream. What a glorious day, all thanks to our scooter. Of course throughout the entire ride I had to squat or sit on knees sometimes but not for a single moment it felt uncomfortable or tedious. To this day my husband doesn't believe I could do that and rightly so considering now I can't squat for 2 minutes! But things were so different back then..

Among other such fond memories is the one from Assam where the mirror of our scooter was regularly used by monkeys to admire themselves! Huge clans of monkeys used to walk around the campus as if they ruled the land and the mirror fascinated them. At any point you would find 3-4 of them sitting on scooter and fighting to catch a glimpse in the mirror!

But my absolute favourite memory is that of me waiting in our balcony awaiting my dad to come back from work in our Bajaj, he would always look out for me and I would wave at him, he wouldn't wave back or anything, in fact he would hardly smile (dad is a serious sort of fellow) but nevertheless he would always look up. It was our thing and I believe even though he never said it, he looked forward to it. Would it have been the same if he would have drove back in car? Maybe or maybe not..

I consider myself lucky that I never felt the sting of money even though we didn't have a lot, that my memories are not tarnished by lack of luxury but instead are filled with joyful and beautiful moments which will bring me happiness till my last breath. And I know for a fact that my childhood wouldn't have been the same without our Bajaj Chetak.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

In Ruins And Relics

When was the last time you visited a museum? The mere mention of the word "museum" has become synonym to "boring". No one takes their date to a museum or friends don't hang out their for "fun". It is observed as a solo activity mostly kept aside for geeks and weirdos. Of course, there was a time when it was an active educational tour for kids but I somehow find it hard to picture current internet-savvy young generation looking forward enthusiastically to something like that. But why are Indian museums so "boring"?

We are one of the oldest civilizations in the world. We claim to be the land of Ramayana and Mahabharata. It's the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. We have been raided and invaded by Persians, Mongols, Spanish, Portuguese and British. I would definitely not called history of India "boring"! But unfortunately we don't have enough interesting souvenirs to prove this point. And our museums are devoid of the glory it deserves.

If you visit the website of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), you will find this notice "Hon'ble Prime Minister of India made an announcement on Independence Day, 2003 for setting up of a National Mission on India's Tangible Heritage. Accordingly the National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities was launched on 19th March 2007. The National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities proposes to launch its activities throughout the country with independent functional strategy in each state and union territory. It is envisaged that mandate of the Mission should be achieved within a stipulated time frame of five years i.e. 2007-2012." You will find no further update and if you try to find out more online, there is a press release on 8th feb saying how the mission is extended till 2017. I am not implying that nothing has been done, but I think after more than a decade people deserve to know what exactly has been done till now. But then again the problem is, no one cares.

Even though we are a secular peaceful nation, it's like a live wire. The moment we get a whiff of any religious controversies like excavations on Ayodya or finding a lost submerged city near Dwaraka, our ears perk up. Here religion is so deeply instilled in every aspect, that from politics to archeology nothing can escape it's choking grip. In fact I think most of the activities of ASI are monitored so as not to cause any controversies. We are too scared to find the truth. We keep saying Lord Rama and Krishna were real, rather than finding actual evidence to prove it. Because what if we were proved wrong? Are we ready to accept the truth whatever it may be? Isn't it much more easier to mix religion with mythology and seperate the entire thing from scientific approach,even if it's at the cost of being dubious?

But religion is definitely not the only obstruction in the path of archeology, it's something much more basic. People feel a developing nation like India doesn't have the time or money for investing in relics from the past. In this age of technology, every parent want their kid to be engineers and doctors and they do have a point, right now it's not a lucrative career. But it need not remain so, just like Egypt, Rome or Paris we have enough material in our disposal. If we invest a bit more, gear it up with latest technology, make it audience friendly, do a bit of make over to the entire department (which has a typical "government office feel" to it right now), we can resurrect this dying industry and convert it into a profitable venture.

We may not be a rich nation anymore, but we have always remained proud of its rich culture and vast diversity. We have much more to offer in this world than software engineers and chicken tikka masala. I hope one day people across the world would admire ancient India not just as a mythology but as a legitimate proof of our spectacular history found in ruins and relics.