The Lily Pond


Most fairytales that have frogs or other water creatures in them always have lily pads, where the characters plot the next moves, sing songs to each other, or watch the first drops of rain fall and roll around the pad!

As the hot, Saturday sun moves purposefully across the sky, I am sitting on a park bench. Stretching ahead of me is a huge lily pond, filled with lily pads and flowers.

At first glance, the water’s surface seems to be calm. On closer observation, I realize that the pond is teeming with action.

Cute little otters are popping in and out. Tiny turtles are swimming about, lazily, coming to the water’s edge now and then.

Water insects are busy amongst the reeds, and colourful butterflies flit about. It’s the weekend after all.

All around me, ‘water-colour artists’ are seated, capturing a slice of nature on a piece of paper. What each artist sees is different. As I walk around, each paper narrates a different story, coloured only by the artist’s imagination.

The big boughs of trees touch the water’s surface, engaged in a good gossip with the water plants. What are they talking about, I wonder! Cute pigeons join the conversation, bringing stories of far away places that their flights of fancy have taken them on!

The constant hum of traffic somehow fades away, as the lily pond works its magic on me. Buildings surround the pond – adding to, rather than detracting from the beauty.

A small slice of peace on a day that will soon get chaotic.

Connecting the dots


In many South Indian homes, the day begins when the lady of the house goes to her courtyard or front porch, washes it with water, and draws a kolam, which is artwork that usually uses dots. These dots are connected together, in many ways, to create visual treats.

Kolams are usually drawn free hand, with rice flour. The rice flour is gripped between the thumb and the pointer finger. As the hand makes the required movement, the rice flour is dropped at an even pace! And lo! In less than three minutes a beautiful kolam is ready.

When we were children, we took turns to draw the kolam every morning. As the first rays of the sun fell on our little town, one of us would take a pail of water, and wash the area around the threshold of the house. With a broom made of sticks, we would sweep the yard and remove all excess water. Then, we would get the bowl with the rice flour and start drawing the kolam.

We were usually taught these basic designs by our grandmoms or aunts or moms. As with any new art form, the kolams we created were distended and uneven, with fat lines. With practice, we got better.

We were given free rein to draw any kolam we wanted.

Starting off with 2 x 2 dot matrices, we moved on to 3 x 3, 4 x 4….and then 10 x 10, and to other shapes like triangles and circles!

Some of the designs are so intricate that they require a lot of concentration- one wrong move, and the whole kolam needed to be reworked!

Courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com

The satisfaction from learning and completing a kolam was immense.

The kolam is usually drawn as a sign of welcome to visitors, and also to bring prosperity to the home.

Kolams are also believed to have provided food to little birds and ants, so that they did not have to go too far away in search of food.

There are special kolam designs for festivals that we celebrate. These kolams are usually made with liquid rice flour. I put special kolams at home for every festival!

In the city of Chennai in India, there is a kolam competition every year, in the month of marghazhi in the Tamil calendar, which falls between 15 Dec and 15 January. People participate enthusiastically; and the whole street reverberates with creativity and excitement!

Sharing two pictures of this year’s competition that were shared by my cousin and my friend.

Wedding Kolams are elaborate, and usually every home has an aunt or grandma, who excels at wedding kolams. Such kolams can be nearly 3 feet in diametre. It is back breaking work for the woman who usually draws the kolam.

Courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com

When my mind wanders far away, and my hands start doodling, it is mostly kolam patterns that I end up drawing. Last night, I did precisely that!

My kolam doodles from last night…the inspiration for this post!

Kolams are much like our lives. There are dots and lines. Dots are like the important milestones or stages in our lives. The lines represent our journey. Sometimes life is smooth, sometimes life gets knotted and complicated, sometimes all the dots connect beautifully, and then life is perfect!

Digital simplicity


Last year, one of my treasured possessions – a hard disk with my complete digital photo archive – crashed.  I do have backups, but this was the ‘Mother HDD’, with every file slotted, tagged and organized by date, time, folder. When it comes to my digital archive I suffer from a serious case of OCD, and then some.

I was miserable but was lucky enough to be able to retrieve most of the data – over 9 GB worth of photographs.  But sadly, when I opened the new hard disk, I realized that I had to reorganize, re-tag and re-slot every single file.  Most names and references to date and time were gone though some files were untouched.  It’s been a long year. Phew!

However, through this entire archival journey, I got to relive some of the best moments in my life –  working life, marriage, children and friends.  When I look back, I realize how many wonderful moments life has thrown at me, and the many lessons I have learned along the way.

Thankfully, I am on the last leg of this arduous re-archival journey.  Very soon, I will let out a whoop of joy and probably weep tears of sheer relief from the monotony of this task, that has bitten-off huge chunks of my free time.

This afternoon, as I sifted through the last 2000 files, I chanced upon these photos.  These are photos of my son’s Grade 1 school notebook.  The teacher seems to have rewarded my son with  ‘smileys’ for his efforts in writing.  My son has converted the teacher’s smileys into a couple of cute animals, with ears and tails.  Sharing these photos with you.

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My digital drill seems to have been worth it.  After all, such simple moments are the ones that need capturing.  These are the moments that make up the mosaic of our lives. Simple moments of love, joy and innocence, captured for posterity.