Recycled wisdom


When I was growing up, every Sunday, at 8.30 a.m., either my elder sister or I had to accompany our Dad to the vegetable market.

We usually took turns. The trips to the market had a fixed beat. We would set out with two big wire bags. These bags, one a bottle green, and the other a navy blue with pink, were so big that one could fit the entire market in them.

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        Courtesy – http://www.flickriver.com

First, we went to the coconut seller, then to the lemon shop, and then to the bakery, then to the English vegetable market and then to the local vegetable market.

These same bags were used to carry our school books from the bookshop at the beginning of every academic year.

In addition to these two behemoths, we had two smaller ones, one red and white, and the other white and red. These two served as our school lunch bags.  My sister and I carried our steel lunch carriers and water bottles, and a fruit, in these bags.

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          Courtesy – http://www.flickr.com

These bags were designed for rough use, and for wear and tear.  They lasted  from Grade 5 through high school.

The speciality of these wire bags was that all of them were hand-made by our mom. My mom bought plastic-wire bundles of different colours. After finishing her numerous chores, she would sit down in the afternoon, to weave these beautiful wire bags. When any of these bags had to be replaced, she would start working on a new one.

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             Courtesy – http://www.ebay.com

There were other smaller ones – one for the milkman, and one that my grandma used to carry to the temple everyday. 

These bags made trips to the hospital when my aunt gave birth, witnessed our family picnics, brought back crisp, ironed clothes from the laundry and carried lots of things over many, many years. They witnessed our growing up years, mute spectators to blossoming friendships, school graduation, sibling quarrels and lots more.

I remember how we eagerly waited for a new bag to take shape. At some point, all of us learnt how to create those rows of flowers using wire.

There were no plastic covers or bags then. So, these bags went with us everywhere. Little did we realize that we were reusing and doing our bit for the environment.

When I see the number of plastic bags we use these days, I realize the value of what we had. Maybe I should get my mother to teach me how to make one.

Actually,  when I look at them now, they look quite cool and trendy!

The Beach


The long stretch of beach stretches on either side. The sun is hidden by clouds. Not too many people around.

I take off my footwear and walk on the soft sand towards the water.

The first wave washes over my feet. My feet sink-in further, as the sand from under my feet, gets carried away by the water.

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I look out at the waves and at the majestic ocean. A feeling of timelessness grips me. These same waves must have been pounding these shores for centuries, tirelessly.  They show no exhaustion or fatigue as they crash on the beach, recede, build up new vigour and come back – again and again.

Every new wave that washes over my feet is magical. When I look at the horizon in the distance, I know that thousands of miles away there is land somewhere, and maybe someone standing there, just like me, dreaming and imagining.

This timelessness that I feel at the beach calms me; life is beautiful and unfolding the way it should.

Just like these waves here, we just need to keep trying to do our very best every single time. Sometimes we may not form the perfect wave, but if we hang in there we will definitely emerge stronger.

Here are some pictures I took.

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That perfect, precise moment


Recently, we were at Lake Chilika, South Asia’s largest salt-water lake spread over an area of 1100 sq.kms.

We hired a boat to take us bird-watching on the lake. Hundreds of thousands of birds from different parts of the world migrate to Lake Chilika to escape the harsh winter in their homelands.

We saw many birds, some up close, some from afar (like the Siberian Crane). We saw the Blackcapped Kingfisher, Brahminy Kites, Purple Moorhen, Black tailed Godwit, Egret, Cranes and many other birds.

We were also quite lucky to see the famed Irrawady Dolphins, a couple of them, cutely dancing in the water, right in front of our eyes. Now there, now gone!

The boat ride was peaceful. I love taking pictures and I was busy clicking away, trying to capture different birds.  At different places in the lake, fishing nets were put up on stakes. A few birds were perched on this one area on the wooden poles.

I focused my camera and took a few shots. Sadly, I couldn’t see clearly what I was shooting, because of the Sun’s glare. I clicked anyway.

In just a few seconds, my husband and kids whooped in excitement.

“Mom, did you see that?” asked my son, hopping with excitement.

“What?” I asked not believing that I could have missed anything in such a short span of time.

“Did you see how that bird swooped down and caught a fish?” asked my daughter.

I was quite disappointed that I had missed seeing Mother Nature at work.

But I had a surprise waiting for me when we got back to the hotel. In my rapid clicking of pictures, I seemed to have captured the bird’s swooping, catching a fish and flying away. I was so happy. Sharing these beautiful moments with you all.

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Tender Coconut


Our car is parked under the shade of a few big trees. We are on a road trip in the State of Odisha, in India.

The late afternoon sun casts long shadows. The kids and their father have gone to buy some supplies. I stretch my legs and randomly take pictures.

Close to where I stand is a banyan tree, its buttresses reaching out to the ground below.

Under the huge tree, is a man selling tender coconuts. The coconuts huddle one on top of the other. People keep stopping by for a drink to refresh themselves.

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The tender coconut seller deftly uses his curved knife to chop-off the green cover on the top of each tender coconut. He carves the top, and with precision and skill, manages to nick the top, just enough, to provide access to the coconut water inside. He grabs a straw, puts it inside and hands it over to the customer.

His customers savour the cool and sweet juice, their eyes faraway. The moment they finish their drinks, he takes the shell back and cuts it open. Using a piece of the cut-off shell, he scoops the white and tender kernel from within and serves it to them.

He catches me watching him. He asks me if I want to have a drink. I nod in the affirmative.

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I walk up to him, and he works his magic on the coconut shell again. Soon, I savour the first mouthful.  I begin to understand the difference between ‘cool’ and ‘cold’. Refrigerated soft drinks are cold, this was sweet and cool.

He scoops out the kernel and I wolf it down with relish.

The sun is setting and the seller clears up the huge mound of shells that has gathered through the day. I ask him what he does with them. He tells me that a lady buys them from him. Soon, the said lady comes by with a gunny bag to collect the shells. The seller sweeps the area clean and walks into the street, nodding to me.

The Smart Generation


There was a time, long ago, maybe not so long ago, when smartphones did not exist and videogames used to be faraway things that you only saw in the movies!

There was a time when happiness could be contained within a chocolate given to you by your parents.

These days, it is difficult to motivate children with simple things, those things that made up our childhood. 

From what I observe all around me, today’s children love the games on their iPads and their parents’ smartphones. They are easily motivated and enthusiastic about these games, much like we were about chocolates and picnics.

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         Courtesy – http://www.ctvnews.ca

My son is no exception. He loves this game called ‘Minecraft’ (hope I’ve got the name right! 

We spend a lot of time talking to him about the ill-effects of playing continuously (exaggerating sometimes, for good measure).

To reach a win-win without his getting addicted to these electronic devices, we have worked out a system where he gets to play the game thrice a day, for 10 minutes each. This seems to be working very well.

Last week, while we were at the airport, we heard an announcement that our flight was delayed by two hours. I went back to my book, while my husband napped. My daughter and her grandma were busy chatting. My son paced the airport floor, back and forth.

After a while, his constant pacing got to me. I called him and asked him why he was pacing?

He said, “I am actually working out how to move to the next level in Minecraft.”

I rolled my eyes and said, “Is this game all you can think about?”

He knows I get irritated by game-talk, so he worriedly asked me, “If I am only thinking about the game in my mind would that count as strategic planning or as an addiction to the phone?”

Hmmm..Strategic planning eh? I quietly went back to my book.

Tree-top Walk


We are on a tree top trail. It is late in the afternoon as we ascend the few steps that take us to the start of the trail.

The late afternoon Sun is quite strong, as we walk with a sense of purpose. As the trail snakes its way upwards, the sounds from the highway below gradually fade away and the delicious smell of crisp, fresh air fills our nostrils. The only sounds one can hear are the rustling of leaves, the chirping of birds and the dull thud of one’s own footsteps.

There is a drop of bright blue on the branch of a tree. A kingfisher resting on a swaying branch. We stop to look at him. He is oblivious to all this attention.

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We climb higher. We are level with the tops of trees – in every shade of green possible, some shining metallic in the afternoon light. We see squirrels and orioles, playing inside the foliage. A rustle here and a flutter there.

Otherwise peace is the norm. We stop to drink water. The trail goes on and on. Beautiful, lush trees on both sides. Flora and fauna humming to their own rhythm.

Up here, the real world seems far away. We drop our cares and worries, soak in the peace into every pore of our bodies, and inhale the oxygen-rich air.

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We spot some shrikes and monkeys. As we reach the top of the trail, the wind whips past our faces, slapping our hair about, and carrying away the sweat from our faces.

We stretch and sit awhile, then head back. The downward walk is easy. When we near the end, the real world greets us – with bustling activity and vehicles. We flow into the main artery of everyday life, to be sucked into the mundane once more.

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At least till the next trek….!