Dawn and Dusk


In these Covid times, the words dawn and dusk seem to have taken on a new meaning. Where before they were beautiful words to be found in poems and books, these days they have merely become mechanical cues to pinpoint the transition between days; days that seem to merge into each other.

However, even in these difficult times life does manage to bring some magic into our lives. Enter Dawn and Dusk!!

Dawn and Dusk are two little mynahs that have been visiting one of our dear friend’s home for the last eighteen months.

What began as a tentative entry into the kitchen from the window ledge has now grown into a deep friendship. Initially my friend would leave small pieces of fruit on the kitchen ledge. As they grew comfortable with my friend and his family, the mynahs would walk into the kitchen or living room, following them and awaiting their fruit treats.

Even to this day they visit twice, once at dawn and then again at dusk – to claim their grapes, bananas, dates, apples and cashewnuts. And that’s how they got their names.

My friends tell me that Dawn and Dusk usually come in and remind them if they find that their treats have not been refilled. At such times they wait patiently, without making any noise, seeming to completely understand if my friends are attending phone calls.

Somedays they bring a couple of friends with them, confident that their friends will also be treated with love and care!

What a beautiful friendship indeed! While all of us may not be stepping outdoors as often as we used to, Mother Nature has her own way of keeping us connected with her.

Solitude


A few years back, we went on a trip to Leh, Ladakh in the Himalayan region of India. The rugged terrain was simply breathtaking, and at many moments during our trip we stood awestruck by the glory of Mother Nature.

We had to travel for many hours by road each day to visit all the tourist spots in the region. We had lots of time to take in the scenery, to ponder over the majestic mountains and to think about the deeper meaning of life.

On one such road trip, I saw a lone biker, going up the treacherous terrain, where the cliffs had sheer drops. As the road snaked its way up the mountain, the biker came into sight on and off, two or three roads higher than where we were.

I asked myself why he was braving this terrain all alone? But then, I realized that he probably craved solitude, a time for himself to take on new challenges, a time to rejuvenate in the cold air of the mountains, a time to climb higher and leave behind the trivia of everyday living.

Cut to this morning. When I was on my walk, I was stopped in my tracks by the image of a woman who was seated under a tree, reading a book; with golden sunshine spilling over all the greenery around. She was totally immersed in the magic of the writer’s spell, enjoying her time alone.

Further along my walk, I met a little bird, alone in the bushes, probably seeking some solitude from his busy day.

Even I do this sometimes; slink away to my room to enter the world of books and let my imagination wander, or go on long solitary walks with my thoughts, or just sip my filter coffee and stare into space with a mind empty of all thought.

Solitude, a much needed rejuvenation!

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.

Two magical minutes


It is 7 am in the morning, and I jump out of bed in a leap that would put kangaroos to shame. I am late, and in just 45 minutes I have to send my brood, with lunch boxes and snacks, out into the world.

I spin around the house, multi-tasking – slicing, boiling, toasting and frying. I curse my alarm clock for not being louder, and for not cutting into those thick layers of sleep.

The household is chaotic, everybody is packing their bags, looking for phones, chargers, socks, missing papers.

My menu is pared down to what can be called ‘basic, filling and healthy’, nothing creative, nothing that will cause my kids to go wow when they open their boxes.

Somehow, things get done, and the kids leave, their minds preoccupied with tests and friends. My husband leaves soon after, his mind already at work.

And me, I get a breather before I plunge into my day. I take my coffee and stand near the window. The sky is a bright blue, and the moon is still clearly visible.

The moon looks so beautiful and calm. So near, yet so faraway. Floating as it does high above, the moon seems serene and totally oblivious to all the craziness down below.

Looking at the moon makes me dream of the impossible; and makes me believe that a two minute break in one’s day can be magical – rising above the mundane and all the clutter, taking a deep breath, and sipping coffee.

A few minutes of bliss. Peace. Calm.

Incy wincy spider


The late afternoon sun is casting long shadows on my walking trail. The humidity is stifling, as I plod on; on my long walk, step-by-step, not thinking, just moving, till the endorphins kick-in, and make this walk enjoyable.

But for the next fifteen minutes it is just this. To distract myself, I observe the tall buildings, the vehicles, the blue sky, the lone bird that’s braving the heat, the faraway trees in the forest trail that I have to reach.

Plod, plod, plod. Stop.

I am stopped in my tracks by an enormous spider that is on a huge web. The spider has spun its web between the metal railings on one road and the metal railing on a small overbridge. The overbridge is a few metres above the road below, where traffic is quite heavy.

The gentle breeze is causing the whole web to shimmer and sway. I worry if the web will snap, and if the spider will fall down on the road below.

I stand and watch, fascinated.

The spider is clinging on firmly. But, what I observe is that while it is holding on tight, it is also flexible enough to sway with the breeze. The spider is confident about itself, and also has tremendous faith in the web that it has spun.

There’s a lesson here for us. Sometimes, we cling on too hard to our efforts, and are not flexible enough to let go and take in suggestions or inputs that our friends or family give us.

If we just do our best, remain open to suggestions, and also have faith in our abilities, we would be just like this beautiful spider hanging on a shimmering web on a sunny day, totally unperturbed by the traffic below.

Change


It was a Friday evening, a few evenings ago, and my kids were home, ensconced in their rooms. I walked around the house, clearing and putting away stuff, room by room. I suddenly looked out of the window, and was stopped in my tracks.

The late evening sky was a breathtaking sight. Trees were silhouetted against a canvas of pinkish-orange; a shade that defied description. I felt transported to another world. Time seemed to stand still. How did I miss this, all these days? Did this magic happen everyday? I was sure it did.

Sometimes work pressure and chores take over your life; where there is simply no choice except to run this race and get things done.

Cut to a few days later, another Friday evening. Mother Nature gets busy, she is racing too. She has no time to show case her verdant beauty. The skies open up and heavy rain lashes all through the week. Rumbling thunder and lightning take turns to make announcements.

I watch this spectacle from my bedroom window. Lashing rain that splatters forcefully on the windows; raindrops who seem to surrender all their energy to the window and slide weakly down the glass in thin streams, joining their brethren in rapidly forming puddles.

I realize that nature has her busy and calm periods, her emotional and peaceful moments too!

Soon, my husband walks in; a spring in his step simply because it is the weekend. He asks if we can go out for dinner?

I am game. The kids…..they want to order-in and do their own thing. The rain has stopped, and the rays of the late evening sun are draped across the sky.

So, it is just us in the restaurant, the kids have ordered pizza at home. We laugh incredulously. There was a time just after marriage when we went out like this, then came the phase when we stayed home and ordered-in for ourselves and cooked healthy meals for the kids at home.

Then came the phase, when we went exploring the world with our kids, from insects to animals to the sky to toys to the movies; when we took them to restaurants and helped them try new foods. We learnt more about them, their preferences and their behaviour and likened it to ourselves and genetics.

Then, now, this! Where the kids are ordering-in and we are out. We talk about this and laugh, we also know deep inside that this will be the norm a few years from now. We talk about our day and the conversation veers back to the children. We laugh and joke about it, but that’s the truth. Because that’s what gives us meaning and purpose.

When we walk out, the skies have opened up again. There is a steady downpour, and lightning streaks illuminate the sky in bursts – now here, now there.

The wipers in the car work overtime to give us a clear view, but the raindrops continue to fall relentlessly.

Everything is constantly changing, the rain, the sun, the children, their parents…..!

We head back home. The evening quickly flies away.

My pedometer shows 10500 steps, but when the clock strikes twelve, even that will change and will be reset to zero.

Another day will begin, filled with hope, possibilities and more changes.

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.

Carpet of flowers


This afternoon, as I rushed to complete a few errands, my eyes saw that the road was filled with beautiful pink flowers that had fallen from a nearby tree. And, as I watched, the flowers continued to fall, swaying gently in the wind and gliding to the road. There were many.

They had served their purpose, giving generously of their beauty, expecting nothing in return. A few of these flowers had also fallen on some green bushes that lined the road. And even after they had served their purpose, these flowers still decorated the bushes and brought them to life!

My attention then shifted to the tree. It was in full bloom, wrapped in pretty flowers, gently swaying in the breeze.

I paused to take pictures. This got me thinking.

Life goes on. Days fly past. Morning quickly becomes night. ‘Things to do’ lists grow, shrink and expand at an alarming pace. Life’s pauses are few and far between. Technology rules. Necks are bent forward in a permanent posture of seeing and experiencing the world through one’s smartphone. Fingers are so used to touchscreen technology that we even try to zoom into physical copies of photographs.

Mother Nature is busy too! But where is the time to notice her beauty or her generosity? The miracle of sunrise and sunset are only used to pace our day, time our workouts or fix our various appointments. There is no time to enjoy the appearance of stars on the dark, velvety sky every night or appreciate a glorious sunny day! Weather reports are again to plan one’s schedule rather than to appreciate the lashing tropical rain or a grey, cloudy day!

We need to take small breaks – to stop, to appreciate, to rejuvenate and to be grateful!

A Pigeon’s Point of View


Most afternoons, when a gentle breeze sways the curtains, and the sun shines high above, I have company.

Pigeons visit my balcony, and sit on the railings. If the house is quiet, and I remain perfectly still, the pigeons sometimes brave it into the living room, walk around, and then disappear in a flutter of wings.

This afternoon, there is a pigeon on the railing. He looks at me, and seems to peer into the living room.

Image courtesy – Wikipedia

I try to guess what he sees. Does he see the laptop on my table, and wonder what that strange noise of typing is? Does he see the bits of furniture we have lovingly collected – beautiful bits of wood that once stood as majestic trees.

Does he see the porcelain birds on my TV console? What does he make of them? Does he wonder why they remain static?

Does he hear the music that is playing on my laptop? Does it sound anything like the song birds he knows?

What does he make of the huge coffee mug, from which wisps of steam are rising up and vanishing? Does he think about evaporation, about the sun’s heat and about all the water bodies that are drying up ?

When he sees the rotating fan, does he compare it to the wind whipping through the trees, and the joy he feels when he swoops down on a sunny day!

Does he see the water jug? Does he wonder why the water is contained?

I smile, and watch him. He looks wise, as he ponders over the mysteries of my home. I look at my home through new eyes.

He hangs on for some more time, and then flies away. He joins two other pigeon friends on a neighbour’s window ledge.

As I head back in, I wonder if he is sharing his thoughts with his friends.

Sunset


We are lounging on reclining beach chairs, staring at the ocean that stretches beyond one’s comprehension.

Waves vie with each other to play tag with the beach – the younger waves, smart and nimble, as they compete with each other in a race that has no end; the older waves, sedate.

The sun, which was a bright yellow ball till a few minutes back, slowly takes on a warm orange hue that defies description. Within this beautiful orange are a million shades of pink, red, yellow and orange.

The clouds form molten orange streaks across the sky, basking in the sun’s reflection. The sun’s outline can now be seen, a huge golden orb that is moving down the horizon.

Silhouettes of birds dot the sky. Faraway coconut and palm trees sway in the evening breeze.

The waves catch the reflection of the golden sun and throw up a stunning light display on the water’s surface. The play of colours is superlative.

We settle down with refreshing milkshakes; to ponder upon the mysteries of nature – of the indefatigable ocean and the dancing waves.

In a matter of minutes, the sun slips out of sight into oblivion, into other faraway lands. The crickets set up their nightly chorus.

The waves are calmer now, winding down for the day; for the same cycle will repeat tomorrow, and bring with it another day full of promise.