Lockdown In Pictures

March: Wheat almost ready for harvest, cooler temperatures, blue skies.
March: This is where I go everyday to get milk. That is a Mango tree in full bloom. The scene, and the cows are more beautiful than they look in the picture.
March: A day after it rained heavily. The hills nearby looked beautiful that day.
March: Moon and Venus, too far, too small, too beautiful!
March: A lady bug sitting on a wheat plant. We used to call it the pass-fail insect. If it flies off your hand, you’ll pass your exams, if it drops down or does nothing, you’ll fail… Very easy method.
April: Wheat is ready for harvest..the fields are golden, the atmosphere is dusty and too allergic.
April: I took a sunset picture almost every single day. This is not the best one. Those are for an altogether different post.
April: Mulberry I stole from a silkworm rearing government farm near our place.
April: Wheat threshing …earlier it used to be done manually..now there are machines that finish the work in minutes.
April: Our neighbours are building a new hut.
May: This dog thinks she’s a calf. I am serious. Ever since they are born, she hasn’t left their side. The proximity increases everyday..
May: This is how it looked at 2 pm one day. It felt like the apocalypse. The sky went dark suddenly and it rained like cats and dogs. It was too too scary.
May: The scenes after the storm. A buffalo calf grazing in the fields.
May: Not the supermoon but a day after that. It was actually this red, I haven’t edited this a bit.
May: This is what a makeshift apiary looks like. It looks like a graveyard to me to be honest.
May:The weather is finally hot in here. Thanks to western disturbances, we haven’t had temperature touching 40°C till now, but summer is coming and I am already stressed out. I hope the monsoons are here soon.

All these pictures were clicked by me in the last two months since the lockdown began. These are all scenes near my home. I didn’t even have to venture more than 500m for these photos. This is how the lockdown looks like when you live in a small Indian village. 😊

Weekly Photo Challenge: I’d Rather Be

I’d Rather Be…

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Waking up as the first rays of sun pour into my bedroom,

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and watch this little one go moo moo first thing in the morning.

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Or make my knees green by rolling in these grass fields

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and sometimes build hay stakes on the hill slopes.

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Spend the noon counting unripe mangoes on the tree I planted in my childhood,

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and plucking strawberries from our garden,

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Or may be look around for wild berries in the jungle.

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I would watch the sparrows perched on our wooden terrace,

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and build a scarecrow to fly them away from the crop.

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I would spend the evening listening to the sound the river makes as it flows down the valley,

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and wait for another day in this place I once called Home. 

Lights, Camera and Fun

The festival of lights is here and I am more than excited. There is this vibe in the air that makes me feel so lively. Added to that is the feeling of being at home. Although I am super busy till December but my mother’s blackmail and my own homesickness brought me back to home. Diwali is my favourite festival. I like the lights, the flowers, the rangoli, the food, the crackers, the rockets, the weather, the cool air blah blah blah…the list is endless. Since the day I came back home I have been pestering my dad to put up the Diwali lights. But recently one of our distant relative from our village died which made us “impure”, so we were forbidden to do any sacred work during these ten days. (Yes, stuff like that happens, I am from a small hilly village guys!!!). Luckily the ten days got over today and we are all set to celebrate Diwali. I have forbidden my parents to take any call from our village now days so that no bad news reaches us till Diwali is over. Since two days I have been singing a song in front of my parents which can be roughly translated to, “every tom, dick and harry has put up lights, when would our number come lalalala?” (I am bad at translations, please put up with me)

My obsession with Diwali, lights and crackers isn’t new. I have always been like this. When I was a little girl, we didn’t have a house of our own, we either stayed at my uncle’s place or government quarters. I always dreamed of having our own home, a place we can put up lights on Diwali, a place with a small garden and a swing in it, a little room of my own where I could put up posters and hide my diaries. It’s only after my father’s retirement that we got our own house, but by then I was a BIG girl, who has to stay at random places, study and grow up. It’s only during holidays or festivals I get to stay here. And it’s a great feeling. Having a house of our own is actually one of my dreams that has actually come true.

So, my sister and her husband came to visit us today. He is actually the one who gets the duty to put up lights at our place. I had asked everyone to come wearing their best dresses since I was hoping to have a family photo session today. Well, I should have realized by now that it is extremely difficult to get our family in one frame. My dad didn’t have an ironed shirt; every time I asked my mom to smile she looked like someone is forcing her to eat something bitter; my nephew kept running here and there so most of the photographs had people looking in different directions. I did get some photographs but they look nothing like what I wanted. But you know, sometimes memories are more precious than photographs. For a long time now, my parents’ age and health has been a constant thought in my mind. Looking at them, I sometimes want to freeze the moment so that I could be with them a little longer. Taking more photographs, recording their calls is my way of freezing the moments.

 Growing up is difficult thing to do. That’s why I still like to be a child in few occasions. And festival like Diwali is such a day for me. Do you have days when you feel like or want to feel like a child? Let me know.

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Lights and Happiness

Being Homesick

I remember the day when my parents left me alone for the first time. I was 18 and my dad was transferred out of Bangalore. As I was in my first year of college, I couldn’t go along with them. I had to stay back at my college hostel.
I remember how devastated my mom was  with the thought of leaving me alone in a big city. For her I have always been a kid who is unable to look after herself. Even after eight years she probably thinks the same. As for me I am not very clear about my thoughts of staying alone. In the initial years I probably enjoyed all the freedom I got. I remember, I didn’t feel like going home that often during my graduation days. However things took a turn when I was in post-grad. I would eagerly wait for Durga Puja holidays so that I get a chance to go back home. I used to make a sheet with the number of days left for holidays and strike a date everyday. The more I was growing up, the more I was getting homesick.

Now that I am in Delhi and thus, a little closer to home, I do have the option of going there as often as I want but I still do miss being at home on important days such as festivals. In the last eight eight years I have been home for Diwali only on two occasions. The same is true for Holi, Rakhi, new years, etc. Apart from the festivities, food has really been a major problem. Every day has been a struggle to find food. First there was the hostel mess, now either restaurants or self made food. It’s like as soon as it is lunch or dinner time, my search for food begins. I feel like I am living in a pre-agricultural society where you can’t get food until you hunt an animal. Added to that there is the struggle of finding food with as less money as you can spend. I have probably spent more money on food than on clothes, and there are more food apps on my phone than photo editing apps.

You know I am just tired of living a nomad life. I have always been a girl who likes to be alone, a little isolated from people but I do crave for a family sometimes. Sometimes I close my eyes and relive those moments of the past;the fights over dividing a five rupee chocolate using a proper scale, buying new dresses on Diwali, and clicking a customary Diwali photograph with my siblings, running to Gandhi Chauk to buy an ice cream worth one rupee, asking for a two rupee commission for anything elders ask you to do.

Ah! I had such a great childhood. If only life had remained the same. But then I wouldn’t have valued it so much. It’s only when you lose something, you realize how lucky you were to have it.
Cecelia Ahern, one of my favorite authors has rightly said, “home is not a place, it’s a feeling.” For me, home isn’t just a feeling, it is probably the best feeling I could ever have.

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Two Hilly Girls In High Heels

If only I had the money,

and you had time

We would travel,

off to distant lands,

and roam around streets,

valleys and mountains,

just the way we wandered,

around the narrow lanes of Dharamshala,

after school, in childhood.

If only I had the money,

and you had time,

We would be two hilly girls,

in high heels,

hitch hiking to Ladakh,

dancing to the tunes of

Rajasthani folk music,

and eating at road side dhabas,

just the way we did,

with our pocket money,

after school, in childhood.

If only I had the money,

And you had time,

We would go back to,

that place called home.

sit under the stars,

giggle over boys who broke our heart

and reminisce about,

good old days that passed us by,

we would be two hilly girls

in high heels,

reaching up to touch the sky…

Image courtesy: www.favim.com

Image courtesy: http://www.favim.com

Homecoming

Climbing down the bus I saw my old uncle walking down the steep valley to receive me at the station. As he walked towards me he said, “ Mahadevi, you still look the same like you were eight years ago, you are exactly like those 14 year old girls I used to teach at school. Why haven’t you grown up? You still look like a kid to me.”

And I realized why I travel long hours to visit that almost forgotten village to see my uncle and aunt, a village without internet and mobile networks: It’s because of the way I get to feel like a child again. It’s because I relive the life I had almost a decade ago, to see the beautiful sunrise between the mountains, to roam with my old uncle in search of our dog, to have the fun of shooing away monkeys from the fruit orchards, to sit and watch my aunt milk the cows, to be away from the busy real world, to live a life filled with beauty and peace.

In those two days I spent there, I realized how my village is my favorite place on earth. How it is the love of my uncle and aunt that calls me back there every time. I realized how love is what makes us do things….beautiful, crazy, stupid things.

Home...sweet home.

Home…sweet home.

{ For a reason that I don’t know, my uncle calls me Mahadevi since I was a kid. He’s the only one who calls me by that name. Mahadevi was the name of a great Hindi writer, and somehow my uncle thought that it suits me the best}

Writing 101: A Place Called Home

Far away in the abode of the Himalayas, lies a small town, a place where I spent my entire childhood. That was the time when I didn’t know that something exists beyond those mountains. Even when I am miles away from that place I still feel it, I see it in my dreams almost every day. I’ve a different kind of connection to that place, a connection that has remain intact even after a decade I left it.

There are memories associated with every single thing, each one igniting a beautiful emotion within me. You know, a particular smell engulfs my hometown, a different kind of smell. It’s a mixture of the smell of wet mud, smoke and wood. No place that I have ever been to equals the aroma and ambiance of my place. I feel like, we the natives of that town, somehow own that aroma.

And the air, it has a different kind of calmness to it.  The way it flows and touches your skin, you can feel the tenderness; you can feel its love for you.The unending sky especially during the months of October or November takes your breath away. You can spend hours just gazing at it. The picturesque nights during Diwali when the entire town is lightened with different kind of bulbs twinkling all over the valley are mesmerizing, nothing could be more beautiful than that.

Winters are the best times of the year. I can’t describe the way I used to wait for the snowfall each year and the moment I would see one or two snowflakes in the sky, I would shout with joy, “oye barf padne lag gyi”. It was fun. Every day was a new day, every moment filled with a little surprise.

All those memories are still there in my mind: Shopping at Gandhi Chauk, running through the streets of Siltham, our school bus going all around the town, walking to school sometimes through the narrow lanes of Dharamshala line, the crowded markets during Diwali, the fairs at moshtamanu , all those pahadi Holi songs, Kumauni folk dance at school, the chilling cold in winters, those plums and peaches, kafals and hisalu (local fruits), that bhatt ka saag and gauhat ki daal (local cuisine). How can I ever forget that? After all, those were the best things and the best moments of my life.

On the eve of leaving my place about a decade ago, I sat on the roof top and looked all around the town, trying to capture everything on my mind. I was sad but didn’t cry until the last moment when I got to see the last glimpse of my town. That was the moment I actually realized that my childhood is over. That was the time to enter the real world away from my paradise.

My hometown taught me to see dreams, to rise above those mountains and to cross every roadblock. Its beauty, its culture, its authenticity, all made me a peaceful person, as calm as the winds blowing during winters, as soft as the snowflakes falling off the sky.

 For me it’s the best place in the world. And I would love to go back there someday and never leave again. Life would be so much more beautiful.

Photo A Day: Here Forever

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I used to wake up to the view of Himalayas every morning, walk thorough those uneven paths, dance to the tunes of local songs, love and live life in my small hilly town. Those memories of childhood never leave my mind. I left home back in 2005, with tears in my eyes, and remorse in my heart, I bid my place goodbye. The career I’ve chosen forbids me to go back, the tiny rural place has no scope for bio-technologists. But every time I see or hear of people going there, I want to run and take the first bus home. I want to breathe that fresh air, smell rain drenched soil, and burnt wood, pluck fresh fruits from our backyard garden, stare at those stars in the endless sky. I want to stop worrying about my studies, job, love, life and everything else and just stay there forever- happily amidst greenery, calm and peace. 

September Photo A Day Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

“If tomorrow will be the end of the world,I’ll spend my today by looking at the pictures of my past!” -Mehmet Murat ildan

In the Himalayan foothills, amidst vast forests, lies my maternal village, a place i fall in love with, again and again. I miss it so intensely that I find myself there almost everyday in my dreams.

I dream about this house we have, which is almost two centuries old. The fireplace, the traditional Indian mortar and pestle, the Himalayan view from the terrace, the balcony which is my favorite place in this world- the memories of childhood.

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I dream about the enormous fields, and fruit orchards, my aunt cutting grass with a sickle, the water canals, and the smell of burning wood mixed with that of green leaves, and mud.

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I dream of the school my mother attended, the one built by my grandfather. I visualize the stories my mother told me of her childhood, the pranks she played, her mischief and adventures.

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I dream of the pet cat we have, the tiny one who is scared of rats. and the cows we own, the new born calf which would have grown up since the last time I saw her, almost four years back.

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I see those temples in my dreams, the Shiva temple located atop a hill, the one I visited with a little girl, who by some complex relationship was my aunt.

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There are places which become a part of your identity, a part of what you see yourself to be- my mother’s village is such a place for me. I can go places, see big cities and metros but I’ll always be  a village girl in my heart. I long to visit that place, to spend quite evenings sitting at the terrace with a cup of tea, lay back and enjoy the beauty of nature, without worrying about the rest of the world.

I’ve a wish-  to be able to live the last days of my life there, to attain peace as my life comes to an end.

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*Weekly Photo Challenge*

HOME

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An old scanned pic

                                                                An old scanned pic

Door ek gaon hai,

Wahan thandi chaon hai,

Behti nadiya hai,

Jana hai nadiya ke paar…

[Some of these pics are clicked by my bro, and if someday he stumble upon this blog, he’s gonna sue me for using his pictures. So i am giving him the credit here. Please don’t mind bro… all in the family.]