Category Archives: Travel

The Great Wall and Time

The sun’s heat is scorching. We walk at a steady pace, completely awed. 

We are at the Great Wall of China.

 Before we reach the starting point, our guide briefs us about the Wall and its history, and loads us with many interesting nuggets of information.  We agree on a time to meet, and proceed on our long walk.

The valleys on either side watch us in silence, as we walk, stop and marvel. How was this feat even possible!

At every turn, the wall winds up and down into the rugged terrain, an off-white line that stretches away into places that the eye cannot see. 

We feel humbled.  We walk up steps, climb down others, pausing for breath, pausing to take pictures, wondering, only wondering.

We can picture the soldiers at their viewing decks, and the invading armies. 

My son and I sit down, as we wait for the others. There is a deep silence. Except from two crows that caw on and off, all is quiet.  Our hats give us some semblance of protection as the sun’s hot rays reflect off the stones.

I look up at the clear blue sky and smile. A merry little jet is whizzing importantly across the sky, leaving behind a fluff of white lace. 

Time seems suspended between history and the future. 

The Wall is unchanging, a witness to thousands of years of history, culture and human development.  The jet is too busy to stop, it is after all, busy carrying people to appointments and meetings.

The word ‘time’ as I know it seems pointless, as I sit on the Great Wall, knowing that even after we are all gone, this architectural wonder will still remain.

On the road….

We are on a road trip in the state of Tamilnadu in India. We are visiting many old temples in and around Thanjavur and Kumbakonam.

It is quite hot, as our cab weaves its way through the most beautiful villages and towns, hidden in swathes of green paddy fields.

The paddy crops sway in the gentle breeze, as scarecrows watch over them silently. There are goats, cows and buffaloes dotting the landscape.

There are kingfishers on every electric cable, waiting to catch their prey from the water. 

Small shops, which sell a household’s entire supplies, flit past as we drive through these towns. 

Life is happening, children are cycling to school, men and women are already busy on their farms. In certain places, both paddy and sugarcane fields greet us.

We soon pass the small town of Tiruvaiyaru, famed for one of the greatest composers of Indian Carnatic music, Saint Thiagaraja. The driver points out various sites in the town.

He suddenly says, ” There is a must-stop place in this town.”

We look enquiringly. He talks about this sweet shop named ‘Andavan Kadai Halwa’, meaning God’s Halwa Shop.

For those of you who don’t know, the ‘halwa’ is an Indian sweet made of wheat, sugar, ghee, milk, cardomom powder and other ingredients.

Though halwa is not a particular favourite in our family, we agree to visit the shop.

The halwa shop is located on a busy street. It is a very small shop. The heavenly smell of ghee greets us. There is a display counter with pieces of halwa and other savouries on display.

We ask the man behind the counter about the halwa, quantities and prices.

He says, “Please taste some first.”

And as we watch, he takes a big blob of hot halwa that is floating in ghee, drops it on a banana leaf, and gives it to us.

We salivate just seeing it; the orange colour looks inviting. We cut off small portions and taste it.

My husband and I look at each other, as our eyes widen in delight. This is easily one of the best halwas we have ever tasted. The man smiles knowingly…!

We polish off the halwa. We order take away packets and walk out into the afternoom heat.

We finish our trips to all the temples, admiring centuries-old architecture. It is late evening as we head back to our hotel. It is a ninety-minute ride.

The moon flies across the sky with us, as the stars twinkle. The festival of Kaarthigai is being celebrated. Small earthen lamps have been lit and placed on the front porches of most homes.


We enjoy the gentle breeze, as the road winds and takes us back to dinner and other mundanities like packing and getting back home.

A walk on the Scottish moors

We are in a small coastal town in the Scottish highlands. It is a warm and pleasant day. The sun is out on a blue sky, and the waves are gentle as they approach the shoreline. Small families are scattered on the beach, young kids with their spades and buckets, trying to build sand castles; busily carrying water back and forth.

Behind us, the moorlands stretch as far as the eye can see. We set off on a long walk. There is a roughly formed path-of-sorts. We set off, a few adults and a few children.

The beauty is simply breathtaking. There is blissful, golden silence; a silence so profound that one can actually feel the peace within.

There are merry little bunnies hopping about and a few birds, who are hidden but whose sweet music brings such joy to the listener.

Image copyrighted to Simple Moments of Life

Dandelion wands beckon to the kids. We walk up one hillock, come down and then climb another. Cheerful little silvery mountain streams give us company, as they make a gentle gurgling sound against the rocks.
The grass is green and lush. Gorse bushes abound, their yellow flowers lighting up the landscape. Then again, there are these absolutely tiny flowers in mauve and white, making one marvel at the sheer beauty of it all.

Not a word escapes our lips. For once, we are so overwhelmed that even the kids have nothing to say.

The breeze whips around us, perfectly gentle and cooling. When we reach the point where we want to turn back, we sit down to soak it all in.

We close our eyes, and it feels like we are in deep meditation. So much calm and peace. The real world drops away; for this moment nothing but ‘this exists’, this beautiful silence.

I can well imagine Wordsworth penning the lines of his famous poem The Solitary Reaper, after walking through these highlands.

We head back trying to carry the silence and the peace with us. 

Laws of motherhood

Law of hunger

The amount of time that a mom delays meal preparation (for whatever reason) is directly proportional to the child’s hunger.

Law of efficiency

Whenever a mother cleans up her handbag and neatly organises it to include a first aid kit (bandaids and the rest) to prepare for emergencies, no child of hers will fall or hurt himself or herself till the mom removes the said first aid kit from her bag.

Law of company

When the kids are young, every mom wants a breather from meal times, nappy changes and other tasks that smell and spell ‘baby’, ‘toddler’ or ‘child’.  As the kids reach their teenage, kids need a breather from their moms.

Law of dropped items

This law merely states that ‘Moms have to pick up stuff (read towels, clothes, papers) dropped at various corners of the house, failing which they will remain as they are.’

Law of blame

This law states that moms are solely responsible for all missing items from a child’s room, after she has organized and cleaned the room.

Law of ‘let me be’

This law states that moms are not allowed to clean stuff in a teenager’s room.

Law of permanent hunger

This law states that as children grow, they are in a permanent state of hunger.

Law of arbitration

This law states that every sibling fight needs a mother arbitrator, whose verdict is always deemed unfair.

Law of hugs

This law states that moms are entitled to hug or be hugged by her children 24 × 7.

Law of love

This law states that all the laws mentioned above are actually sub-laws of the Law of love, which states that irrespective of whichever state the mother is in (anger, irritable, jovial, funny, cuddly) at any point in time,

Motherhood = love at all points in time.

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Courtesy-www.clipartpanda.com

Chic and smart…I wish

There is a heat wave in the region, and I feel irritable. Aircons, cold water and staying indoors are only temporary solutions. I sit in front of the TV, my mind far away, seeking some respite.

A light bulb flashes in my head, and I know just what it is that will help me combat the heat. I mutter to myself, “I need a new hair style”.

With more confidence I announce, “I am going to revamp my hair style.”

My kids merely glance at me and turn away; my husband gives me a puzzled look and goes back to the sports section in the newspaper.

Sigh!

Anyway now that I have a plan, I pull out my phone and search on Google for ‘hair styles for thick, wavy hair,  medium length’.

Google images does not disappoint. I see hundreds of beautiful hair styles, styled to perfection. There is the casual look, the formal look, the distressed look, this look, that look and many more.

I am smiling in excitement. I narrow down to four, but my eyes keep going back to one particular hairstyle. Medium, layered, casual, chic and smart.

I imagine myself with that cut, and I immediately give myself mental airs for chic and smart.

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              Courtesy -www.jantoo.com

Ok, so I save the image and call to check at the salon if they can have me. They give me a time slot.

At the appointed hour I present myself. The pampering starts soon after I am assigned a stylist.  The shampoo is relaxing. Soft music plays in the background. I am asked if I want tea or coffee.

Just water, I say. The water comes with an oatmeal cracker. A few fashion and lifestyle magazines are placed before me.

Soon, I am immersed in the world of fashion, mentally trying on accessories and clothes.

After the shampoo, the stylist asks me how I would like my hair cut?

I show him the picture on my phone. He says, “This texture and the texture of your hair are very different. Your hair is very thick and this won’t suit you.” (Did I tell you that the texture of my hair actually belongs in the coconut fibre family; so rough).

I feel deflated. I ask him, “What about a shorter length with layers?”

“Hmmm”, he considers, before letting me down again, gently, “You have lovely hair; however, because it is so thick a short cut would not suit you.”

“What do you recommend?” I ask, meekly.

“Stick to the same cut, I will layer it more”, he says.

An hour later, with more layers and less hair on my head, I walk home with blow-dried hair, feeling good about the curls.

I walk home. The scene has not changed. My husband looks at me and knows that he has to say something.

The best he can do is, “Oh, they curled your hair?”

My daughter says, “No change Amma. You look the same.”

Son doesn’t look.

I tie my hair up in a knot and it’s business as usual.

Mrs & Mr. Myna

It is about to rain. The skies are about to open up. Time seems to have slowed down. A cool breeze sweeps into the house giving us a heads-up about the rain that will soon follow.

The trees are swaying and whispering. I am sitting on the couch, between chores. The house is dark, with the sudden grey enveloping us. Outside, the green of the trees contrasts beautifully with the deep grey of the sky.

It is at this specific moment that two myna birds land on my balcony. They are quite vocal. Looks like they are husband and wife, and for sure, they seem to be arguing.

One of the mynas pecks at a wooden twig from my white orchid plant, and says something loudly to the other myna. They go back and forth, debating the merits of a certain twig, or a certain tree to build their nest in. They are oblivious to the breeze, and the grey, heavy clouds.

Their eyes and beaks flit constantly – possibly evaluating the strength of my orchid twigs. All through, they keep up their banter, now loud, now soft, now raucous.

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  Courtesy – http://www.wunderground.com

As the first heavy drops begin to plop down, the pair jump on to the balcony railings and swoop down into one of the trees. They are now beautifully camouflaged, probably continuing their conversation about where they can set up a stable and cozy home to welcome their little ones into the world.

Maybe, if the twig from my orchid plant passes muster, they will come back again.

The rain lashes on.