Shades of green


Mask in place, I am off for my evening walk. There’s a lovely breeze that accompanies me. The late evening sun makes the shiny green leaves sparkle, imbuing them with magic.

The colours of the evening sky defy description. I am happy and smile inside my mask; this thought makes me giggle and I mutter to myself about how absurd this is!!

When I am about midway through my walk, I see this tree.

At the tip of each tender branch are young leaves, in a bright and energetic green. Being young, these little green leaves dance merrily in the breeze. They are living life on the edge, swaying and exploring the spaces around them. Little do they know that further up the branch are their senior family members, in a darker green, who are supporting and holding these young leaves together, indulging them, giving them time to savour their youth and to dangle precariously from the tips of each branch. For, the dark green leaves know that the days of youth will fly away in the flap of a bird’s wings.

Further up the tree are the oldest members of this family. Wizened, brown and wise. Their veins are stiff with age, and they gently sway with the breeze, looking down at the ground below, their final destination.

Each member – the young, the middle aged and the seniors are required to keep this family in harmony, and for this timeless cycle to continue.

Down on the ground, some brown old leaves have already crumbled and started merging with the soil, enriching it with their wisdom, and nurturing new life.

The bench


It is 5 pm in the evening, and I head out for a walk. The rain has spent itself, and puddles have formed everywhere. Silver water drops hang precariously on leaves and branches. Some droplets catch the evening sun and sparkle.

I walk down the trail, taking in the scents of flowers, rain-soaked leaves and wet soil. I can hear some birds calling out, but I can’t see them. There are beautiful flowers and buds. There is this group of mynas in front of me, their attention drawn to something in the bushes.

I click some pictures, trying to capture the beauty that I am experiencing. Ants on leaves, star jasmine flowers, buds filled with promise and hope, a flower that has fallen down on the trail – totally unmarred – and dried leaves that make squelching sounds when I walk through them.

It is an idyllic evening, and I stop frequently to observe the plants. And then, at about the midpoint of my walk, I see this – a beautiful wooden bench, surrounded by green foliage.

This bench is my pit stop. I sit and close my eyes, and focus on the sounds of the rustling leaves. I focus on my breath, I take long, deep breaths, and life seems perfect just the way it is.

Yesterday is gone, tomorrow seems faraway. I am in the here and the now, and a feeling of peace envelopes me.

Sitting on this bench, I ponder over the mysteries of life and its purpose. I am grateful for this moment that is totally mine, to look within.

The birds are heading home, the plants are settling down for the day, and I leave this beautiful bench, totally rejuvenated.

A walk down Howrah Bridge, Kolkata


It is only 4.50 p.m. and the sky is pitch-black! The city’s lights are glittering gems!

As tourists, we had spent the day taking in all the ‘must-do’ local sights – the monuments, the temples and the zoo, with a little shopping thrown in.

We are now out to experience the city by foot. Our taxi driver drops us off at the ferry terminal, from where a ferry takes us across the river to the Howrah Bridge.

We are the only tourists on the ferry. The rest are the locals; who are in a hurry to get back home. They smile at our excitement. For them it is business as usual. Another day, another ferry ride.

For us, it is the highlight of our day. As we get off the ferry, we are sucked into a huge wave of people that forges ahead towards the train station. At the train station, people branch off in different directions, and we head down a small alley.

The alley is filled with vegetable vendors, whose stalls are lit by candle lights and small lanterns. Business is brisk, and there’s a lot of haggling going on; veggies are weighed, put into bags, money exchanged, and the cycle repeats.

We observe the scene as tourists; for us ‘vegetable shopping’ seems so far away. Everyday chores and ‘things to do’ lists seem unreal.

We enjoy the bustle and walk up towards the bridge. Here, we see the fruit vendors. We stop to load ourselves with freshly cut guavas – crisp and tasty!

Further ahead, we treat ourselves to juicy oranges.

We finally arrive at one end of the bridge. As we begin our walk, we soon realize that we are walking against the tide. Hundreds and hundreds of people are walking towards us. People scurrying back from work, people running to catch a bus or train. Men and women carrying baskets of vegetables and fruit.

We carefully thread our way through this maze of people, enjoying the liveliness and the chaos. We stop to click pictures. The water looks peaceful, as lights shimmer and dance on its surface.

When we reach the other end, we start looking for a cab to get back. This takes us nearly an hour, because it is peak hour and the roads are jammed everywhere!

We stop by the roadside to have a cup of masala chai.

We finally find a cab, and head back. We walk down the last hundred metres, and stop at a local paanwallah’s shop to enjoy the famous Kolkata Meeta Paan. It tastes delicious.

I have fallen in love with this city, Kolkata. So full of life and energy, though chaotic at times; a city that is a perfect blend of both the old and the new. The Bengali language sounds like music to the ears. The beautiful women with their big bindis and sindoor. The absolutely delicious mishti doi, sandesh, jalebis and rosagullas. The innumerable cups of ginger tea….!

And as we travel to our next destination, it is these beautiful memories of Kolkata that we carry with us – an evening spent on the Howrah Bridge, and soaking-in the spirit of this beautiful and warm city.

Condensed Cat


It’s 9.00 pm in the evening. My son and I step out of our building to sit by the pool. Warm, humid air envelops us, as we walk towards the pool. We are here to meet my son’s friend and his mom, for some school-related work.

We’ve been having rainy weather of late. The pool side chairs are semi-wet. 

There’s hardly anyone at this hour. Lights from homes all around us vie for attention. In some homes the flashing images from the television dance on the wall. People in some homes are silhouetted against the light.

There are the dark forms of people getting back from work. The sky is far, far above. The few stars that can be seen seem dull when compared to the white, glaring lights that we mortals use.

Two swimmers cut silently through the water; only a gentle swish can be heard. 

My son and I wait in companiable silence. My son wanders away for a bit, and I check my phone.

Two minutes later, my son calls out to me, and draws my attention to a cat. A cat that he has drawn with his fingers, on the water that has condensed on the  outside glass wall of the multi-purpose hall, where the aircon has been turned on within.

I smile. It is one cute cat. We share this moment, a cat on a glass wall. One moment of fun, snatched from a busy day.

Point of view on a lazy evening


It is evening, around 6 pm. I drag my easy-chair out, to the balcony. Pinkish golden clouds are flirting with the Sun, as he bids adieu for the day.

The birds in the trees nearby are chirping loudly, catching up on all the gossip in their world. The evening is still bright and golden.

The wind lazily makes its way through the coconut palms. I look down at the play area and lobby below. A few cars are parked. There is a small boy, all by himself; trying to run around, clearly missing his friends. He looks around to see why his friends haven’t arrived yet.

He swings himself on a metal bar, and suddenly lets out a whoop of joy, as a group of boys runs down to meet him.

The dynamics below change completely. They talk in shrill voices, discuss something, and then start playing.

It takes me a while to realize that they are playing a game of hide and seek.  It is fun to watch from above, because I can clearly see both the hunter and the hunted.

image

           Courtesy – http://www.123rf.com

But they are oblivious to me and crawl around the cars, benches and trees, in the park below. They move with stealth not knowing where the predator is! When they are finally hunted down, they giggle, and the game starts all over again.

I am fascinated by this. What is obvious to me from where I am seated, seems to be such a challenge to them.

That’s exactly how it is with life’s problems, right? When we are very involved, we cannot see the picture clearly.

However, when we step back and see the big picture, we definitely get a better perspective!

I dwell on this, and watch the boys playing soccer now. The birds have run out of things to say. Lights are coming on in some homes. The sky is taking on a deep hue. The clouds are mere grey wisps, cooling down after a long day.

In a while, the boys call out byes to each other and run home. I go back inside with a smile.