A pair of black pumps


I am peering at my laptop screen, my eyebrows furrowed in concentration, trying to comprehend what I am reading.

My phone is on silent mode, but from the corner of my eye I can see the screen lighting up – it’s a call from my daughter.

She is out shopping with my niece for a formal event at school.

I pick up the call. She says, “Amma, I’ve sent you some pictures of formal footwear. I have marked the ones I really like, I am unable to make up my mind. Please see if they are ok.”

I quickly open my messages to check. The black pumps that my daughter seems to like look elegant, but I am worried about the height of the heel.

Image courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com

My daughter has never worn heels before. I call her and ask her if she’d tried them on and if they were comfortable. She replies in the affirmative and says, “I have to get used to them, Amma.”

Motherly love and practical concerns about posture and back pain run through my head, but I realize that I have to let go.

In a few hours, she comes home, bubbly from all that shopping. She puts on her pumps and walks up and down the living room.

She suddenly looks so tall. She walks – awkwardly at first, and then finds her rhythm. There is the odd, shaky step where she fumbles for balance, but she manages. Up and down she goes, getting more confident with each step.

As I watch her, I walk down memory lane to the time when she was a baby. I was at work one afternoon, when my father-in-law called to tell me that my daughter had taken her first steps, his voice suffused with excitement.

I remember rushing back home from work that evening, eager to see this little miracle for myself. But, it was another two days before my daughter attempted to walk again.

And then, over the next few days, she would constantly attempt to get from one place to another – wobbling and stumbling frequently. I stood and watched, clapping and encouraging her each time she made it from one sofa to another, or from the living room to the study.

I come back to the present. Nothing seems to have changed. Time seems to stand still. And just as I did then, I let go now, so that my daughter can walk into the world confidently.

Thatha (grandfather)


He was six feet tall, and she was a tiny two feet. At precisely four pm every afternoon, after their siesta, the pair would leave our home. The grandfather and his three-year old granddaughter.

Courtesy – http://www.istockphoto.com

He would wear a cap to protect himself from the afternoon sun, she would carry a water bottle slung across her shoulder, her mushroom cut gently bobbing up and down.

Soon, they would go exploring the complex. The grandfather would patiently point out ants, beetles, insects and plants. He would share anecdotes from his childhood, and relate it to the plants or birds that he pointed out to his granddaughter.

They would observe neighbours’ pets, and talk to other children. Playtime for this little girl would come later in the evening, but this walk with her grandpa was sacrosanct. They would stroll to the neighbourhood market to pick up vegetables or fruits for the house. The grandfather would indulge his little princess with chocolate or cake from the local bakery.

After about an hour of this, they would walk home, each revelling in the company of the other.

Back home, the pair would play board games and jigsaws, and read books. Before their walk, the grandfather would patiently prepare a small cup of dry fruits – almonds, pistachios, dates and cashew nuts, which the little girl would eat with relish.

The granddaughter grew into a school girl, and moved away to another city, but telephone calls and video chats kept this very special bond alive.

Where once the grandfather taught his granddaughter many, many interesting things, it was now the granddaughter’s turn to teach and welcome her grandpa into the world of smartphones and computers.

They would exchange calls frequently, and they would laugh at silly things. She would regale him with stories of her high-school life and her studies. He would always ask about her future plans.

And now she stands, looking at his empty bed, knowing that one of her best allies has gone – the person who rooted for her all through, who showed her unconditional love, and to whom she was always a princess.

She has brought back one of his caps and has placed it on her study table – a symbol of the love they shared – my daughter and her grandfather.

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.

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.

10000 steps in Kaziranga


We are shivering in the morning cold in Kaziranga. We are on pins to get started on the Elephant Safari that will take us through the thick bushes and grasslands, to see the famed One-horned Indian Rhino.

Nearly a hundred people await the arrival of 32 elephants. The sun has started its journey across the sky; the early morning mist is slowly clearing.

Soon, the four of us are on our elephant, a beautiful and majestic creature. ‘Tara’ is her name, which translates to star.

Our Mahout has been with Tara for nearly 15 years. Man and elephant are one. He gently prods Tara into the grasslands, as she stops to pull out grass with her trunk, on and off.

We soon see the beautiful One-horned Indian Rhino, majestic, graceful; and oblivious to all of us. Some of them busy chomping down their breakfast, while some others are staring away into the distance.

Enroute we also see deer, jungle fowl, eagles and huge water buffaloes.

We enjoy the safari thoroughly and get back to base, after two hours in the grasslands.

We are famished, and get back to the hotel and settle down to a heavy breakfast and many cups of hot Assam Tea.

As we prepare to get back to our room, I casually glance at my phone.

My pedometer shows 14550 steps walked, and the day had barely started. I am puzzled. My first reaction is that the App has stopped working.

I try walking with the phone, and the App updates the steps taken just like it always does.

Aha…..then it strikes me, the pedometer has also counted the steps taken by Tara, our dear elephant.

I laugh out aloud, and realize that my 10000 steps for the day are yet to begin.

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.

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.