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. 😊

The October Sky ( or Celebrating Diwali) 

I have a hard time deciding my favourites, be it a book, a movie, a song or a moment. I am always in two minds everywhere I have to make a choice but when it comes to my favourite month, I undoubtedly choose October. It is that time of the year when it is neither too hot, not too cold. You just get over summer, switch on your fans at daytime and use a light bedsheet to cover yourself at night. Especially here in my hometown, the air is mixed with the smell of ripe paddy, marigold flowers, and mild smoke from burnt crop residues. It creates an aura of its own. The sky is mostly clear and you could see parrots flying up above or perched on guava trees, enjoying the left over fruits. Everyone is busy with cleaning their houses and re-painting their walls before the festivals kick in. People are either travelling to their hometowns or are prepping up to welcome children, grandchildren, relatives. It is such a calm and peaceful month. Diwali, being my favourite festival, increases my likeness for the month of October. The whole atmosphere during Diwali takes me back to my childhood. And nostalgia envelopes me in a warm hug.

The preparations for Diwali are in full swing these days. This evening we put up fairy lights all around our place. Some of the lights have gone bad this year and I would probably buy more tomorrow.

Home sweet home!!!

This year I tried my hands at something new. Everyone in our neighborhood make idols of Goddess Laxmi using sugarcane, sticks etc every year. Owing to her disability, my mother can’t do so as it requires both hands to arrange all that stuff into an idol. So, I tried my best and built up this-

I made this!!!!! Can’t believe my eyes!

I know it’s a little childish but it’s the first time I have built something like this. I am not at all religious like my parents and stay away from such Godly things but I was so proud of myself when I saw my final creation. I know it’s lame but to hell with it. I built this. Haha…

I do miss old times when I was a kid and would wait all year round for Diwali and celebrate it madly with my siblings. They don’t come home for diwali anymore. They have their own families now. Yes, I do curse them, especially my brother, but I guess me and my parents have learnt to live without them. We don’t even expect him to come over anymore. All my life, living at rented apartments, government quarters, I dreamt of having our own house someday. A house, we could put up lights on, a backyard to burst crackers, an aangan to make  rangoli.  Finally, after my father’s retirement we did built a large house, one with several rooms, large garden, an aangan, a backyard but our family wasn’t as big as before. Two of the kids flew away to built up their own families.  I guess, I didn’t just want a house, I wanted a home but it never came into existence.

Argh, I didn’t want to make this a sad post but that’s the thing about writing here, it brings out your thoughts in ways even you can’t imagine.

I am a big Diwali freak so most probably this won’t be my last post about Diwali and this magical month of October. I hope you are enjoying the festivities with the ones you love.

Have a great Diwali!

That Thing Called Marriage

This February when I got the news of my best friend from high school giving birth to a baby girl, I looked at the disheveled pile of notebooks lying on my chair, the cobwebs adorning the corners of my study table, the always-ready-to-fall-down clothes in my cupboard and asked my roommate, how is it possible that people my age are taking out an entire human being out of their bodies and taking care of it while I am barely able to take care of myself! When I asked a mutual friend of ours the same question she texted me this,

Mujhe lag rha hai logon ke bachche bhi ho gye, bas mai hi peeche reh gayi, meri shadi bhi nhi hui ab tak. Kab basaungi mai apna ghar?

I was perplexed by her thoughts. Was I the only one who thought we were too young? I mean we are just in the 24-26 age group, what’s the hurry? But apparently everyone is in a hurry as is evident by the constant wedding updates on my Facebook feed. It’s like everyone I know is getting married. That innocent girl from secondary school who never talked to anyone, the Punjabi sherni from high school, all my south Indian classmates from college, almost every day I wish someone on Facebook  to have a happy married life!!!  And then I go into this deep depression mode… yaar hum itne bade kab ho gye? Seriously, I can’t imagine myself getting married.

Falling in love – OK

Having a boyfriend – OK

Live-in – OK

But Shadi- Kaise yaar!!!

There is this thing in our community where as soon as the bride reaches her sasural, she has to dance or show how to play a dholak, or both. No one considers that she has come there after spending hours, even days in those torturous wedding rituals. Everyone is interested to see her dance or sing. Every time I think of marriage, this dancing scene comes into my mind.  She is going to be a wife, not a reality show contestant yaar!!!

Don’t get me wrong, I love weddings- new dresses, shoes, gifts, all the dhama-chaukari. One can actually see me teary eyed while watching those mushy wedding videos they make these days, and what can I say about the magnificent photography (simply wow)! It’s like if I could get married for a day, and then say goodbye to everyone, including the husband.

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          A Kumaoni Bride…

I can be in a relationship (much better be single) all my life, but marriage frightens me. I am in love with this guy for five years, and yes we used to talk about marriage and all when we were teenagers (hence stupid), but right now, I just can’t imagine myself in that red bridal dress.

When a childhood friend of mine got married two years ago, I kept staring at her pictures with that big kumaoni nath on her nose and a mangalsutra on her neck, and I was like,

Oh My God!! Why is she wearing a nath? Isn’t that for old people? She is just a kid like me. How can she get married so early? And so on…

I couldn’t get out of the shock of her marriage. I guess this is somehow related to my fear of growing up. I think I was twelve when I came to know that girls have periods upon reaching puberty. From that time, every single day I was scared to be an “adult”. While I heard stories of it from my classmates, I secretly prayed for that “period monster” to never show up. Alas, it knocked on my doors (hehe) when I was fourteen. And me, being an idiot didn’t tell anyone, hid myself and kept crying.

Well, that was the first phase of the process of growing up, upon which I had no control of my own. It was a natural process and it happened. But getting married would be like, aa bail mujhe maar, and I have no intention of doing that. I can’t get married and grow up again, not so soon, and hopefully never.

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Pic courtesy: here

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.

Sparrows

I was home last month and visited my maternal village after a really long time. I have written about my favorite place before. This time when I was there, I saw something which we normally don’t get to see these days in towns and big cities- Sparrows. My uncle’s place was filled with sparrows. They were everywhere- in the courtyard, in the walls, trees, making nests in the stone terrace. And I was following them everywhere to get their pictures though I couldn’t get close enough to get a clear view.

House sparrows are an endangered species in India. I have hardly seen sparrows in Bangalore,Bengal and even in the small town where my parents live. I hope these pictures remind us all to take care of these beautiful,little creatures.

Where There Is Light…

Diwali has always been my favorite festival, right from the time I was a kid. I remember the days I would emotionally blackmail my uncle, aunts and cousins to get me more and more crackers. Those days in my hometown…. wahan ki baat hi kuch aur hua karti thi. Poora sehar dikhta tha hamare ghar se, or wo multicolored lights se saje hue ghar, unhe khoobsurat kuch or ho nahi sakta. I just realized while writing this post that its been 10 years since I  last celebrated Diwali  in Pithoragarh. God, that was a decade ago!! I miss my place, specially during festivals like Diwali and Holi. Its not like I don’t enjoy celebrating festivals in other places, its just that, nothing is as beautiful and fun as it was in my hometown.  Sach mai, wo din or wo yaadein, baat hi alag thi. 

After celebrating Diwali in Bangalore for many years, which was sometimes good and sometimes very depressing, I was ready to see what Bengal has in store for me. This was my fourth Diwali without family and by this time I am pretty accustomed to celebrate festivals all alone. And since the day I’ve accepted this idea of celebrating things with myself, without depending on others for happiness, good things are actually happening to me. Unlike the times in Bangalore, where I used to cry all the time thinking about my loneliness, specially during festivals, I did manage well here. I guess that’s the way life is, it surprises us the day we stop expecting anything from it. I am trying to apply that principle to the other parts of my life as well. If I succeed in doing that, I am gonna be a really happy girl.

Right from the morning when I earned the first salary of my life ( from part time tuition), to the lazy afternoon, the dressing up and photo sessions in the evening, to bursting crackers and having home made food for dinner, it was a great Diwali. There are some dark, depressing situations in my life, but there are moments like these, the ones filled with hope and light, they brighten up everything. This Diwali was truly the festival of lights for me… overshadowing the worries and complexities of life.

How was your Diwali? Did you celebrate it with your family, went for a long vacation, or did something different? Let me know…

Life, Memories, Realizations…

Well, I guess I am back… Its been such a long time. I wrote the same thing last time too, but this time, trust me, I am gonna write regularly.To start afresh I’ve to clear out my mind of the things that have happened in my life in the past three months. If you are not a fan of personal posts, you can quit reading here. Its gonna be long and boring…

Here we go….. FLASHBACK!!!

1. College ( Socha tha kya, kya ho gya) : The very day I stepped into my college, I knew it for sure that the first structure to collapse if an earthquake hits Bengal would be my college building. The Biotechnology department brought back memories of those dark, holy caves in my hometown. There were more spiders than microscopes in labs. The autoclave (an equipment used for sterilization) is kept on the terrace, as there is no space to keep it inside. Every time it rains, we have to abandon the experiment ( yes, it does feel like India Australia cricket series sometimes). Such is the condition of one of the so called best engineering institutes in our country. Initially, everything was depressing, nowadays I’ve replaced that tragical feeling with comedy, I laugh at it, and enjoy. This is our condition after securing all India ranks within 400. Life’s good. 😛

2. Hostel ( Chan se jo toote koi sapna) : Surviving the attack after seeing the college, I stepped ahead to see my new hostel. Thankfully, it was a new building. I hove a sigh of relief. I had always wished to get a single room during post graduation, as was the case in many colleges. Well, all my dreams were broken when I had to share one room with 3 other roommates, and all of them Bengali, haling from the same place, class and having the same mentality. Unlike them I didn’t get any cupboard, table, study lamp, as I was the last one to join hostel, I had to adjust. That’s what I am doing from 3 month: Adjust. 🙂

3. Love ( Kabhi haan, kabhi naa) : I broke up, I patched up, I broke up again, I patched up again, and the cycle continues. The condition is so complicated that my friends ask my relationship status everyday, yes, every single day, as one day I am single, another I am not.( Of course with the same guy) Saala pyaar na hua, Jharkhand ki sarkaar ho gyi, tikta hi nahi.

4. Life…etc (Zindagi kaisi hai paheli haaye, kabhi to hansaye kabhi ye rulaye ) : The day I reached here, I saw girls, and even boys around me with their parents.  I came here alone, travelling for 40 hours by train, with my huge luggage bag. Even now, girls in my hostel identify me as the girl who came without her parents, carrying a bag almost her size.All my life I thought I was the only girl who was bounded by family, traditions, hypocritical rules, and now I see a different world. I am free, independent, and strong, girls around me are not. They don’t even want to be. Yes, there are things I still can’t imagine to tell my parents, things I don’t dare to do but I am taking one step at a time.  I go out, I meet strangers, I travel by myself, I scream, I break rules, I rebel, I lie. And they are changing too. Initially they would never let me travel alone. Now I scream aloud that I’ve grown up, and ask them to let me be. I ask them to give me a chance, to show them that I can do something, as and when I prove myself right, I am free to experiment again. I’ve come to a conclusion that if you are an Indian daughter from a conservative family, you have to lie to live your own life. Otherwise you are just passing your time, you are not living, you are breathing. Oppress unhi ko kiya jata hai jo oppress hona chahta hai. I know its wrong to cheat your parents, but trust me you can’t argue with them, you’ll always be proved wrong. I am not asking people to turn into criminals, to be alcoholics, or spoil their lives, just do what you feel is right, what is the right thing to do. A friend of mine gave birth to her daughter recently, got married last year, against her wishes. She’s just 22. Other people are getting married, engaged, sometimes forcibly, sometimes because they were programmed to follow the set of rules laid down for good Indian daughters. What the hell! They are my age. I can’t imagine myself being a mother. I feel pity to see smart, highly educated girls being emotionally forced into marriages. Am I being irrational here? Do people actually want to get married at 21-22?

Anyways I’ve gone beyond the topic. Coming back to my life, I don’t know if I am happy, I am screwed professionally, but I am trying to figure it out. I am confused as always, I miss home and my mom, that one year I spent there and did nothing, even that makes me cry sometimes.  I laugh with people, I crack jokes, to them I am the happiest person they have ever seen. My roommate once told me that she wants to be like me. haha… and I still don’t know what I want to be. I am living it, smiling, procrastinating, crying once the lights are switched off, trying to find out a purpose. I guess, I am okay.

I’ll be 23 in the next 3 months, and as I look back to my life, I realize that I have come a long way since the days when I was a little girl running in the lanes of my small town, to capture the cut kites drifting in the sky. I feel, I’ve grown up. 🙂

Aur jabse maine badiyan or aachar bnaya hai tabse to meri maa ko bhi yakeen ho gya hai ki mai badi zimmedaar ho gayi hun. Sachi…. 😛

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*