Scribbled Benches

Posted: September 3, 2012 in kshitij ingle

Blotches of ink

Which make you think

Of what they had in mind

Logos and lyrics

And a few limericks

You know that song

Which they sang all day long

Look up, look around!

Compulsive cleaners contained in cluttered classrooms

Those are not marks alone

Those are countless thoughts

Which your minds couldn’t fathom

A lewd comment

An idea worthy of a patent!

A business plan

To change the face of man!

Scribbled Benches

Graffiti which you dismissed then

Is being sold for millions to the ten!

So don’t clean the benches

Let them remain as they are!

For you don’t want them to be

As blank as we are!

The orange of the evening sky

Man and woman say goodbye

As the day comes to a close

From my heart questions arose

Did I do justice to time?

Was my day worth atleast a dime?

Will morrow be a new story?

Perhaps my epoch of glory?

Well, I can’t see beyond the ken

Can you do so, oh dainty wren?

‘Tis so queer that I shouldn’t know

What path it is that I’ll follow

I think again and is it true

That I want to see a preview

Of what will happen latterly

And comprehend it utterly?

Maybe I do, maybe I don’t

Come to know, of course I won’t

But won’t it just be a delight

To have a wee little insight?

Enough said, enough done

‘Tis time to live and have some fun

Whoever knows, under the sun,

What lies beyond the horizon?

Grace Becomes Us

Posted: August 6, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

We hold each other’s hands

As we marry into our sincerity

In silence we breathe together

As we face our problems and insecurities

 

For we are experienced warriors

And have struck with many a weapon

But each time we sever the monster’s head

It easily sprouts another one

 

The behemoth only seems to grow

Unfettered and unruffled

There seems nowhere to go

It’s chaos; mixed up and muddled

 

So then we dream up a new plan

We step into the unknown

Where the skies are clear and empty

Where the bird of thought hasn’t flown

 

We decide to stick with the silence

Not craving or wanting and answer

And we just stand beside the problem

As we invoke a force much larger

 

Then just when all hope seems lost

The problem is bereft of its face

Our eyes cry only – Thank you!

All around us only grace

Reality Bites

Posted: August 5, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Once upon a time, there sat two friends, lazing around in the evening sun. The day had been tiring, and to be sitting there, under the cool shade of the tree, admiring the sunset was a luxury we seldom enjoyed.  Earphones plugged in, I sat oblivious to what my friend was doing. He must have been doing the same, for the tranquil peace still lay undisturbed.

Nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain.

Suddenly my earphones are yanked off. Startled, I look at the perpetrator, my friend, sitting facing me, my earphones dangling from his hands. He had been talking to me for a while now, evidently, he was no harbinger of peace or silence I imagined him to be. He was telling me about the nightmare that had kept him awake the previous night.

 

Nightmare. The word caught my attention.

Generally, when people talk about nightmares, you expect ghosts and phantoms to crop up, in a tale of vividly distinct attempts at the narrators life. Now that drama is something to look forward to, especially if you are jobless enough to be enjoying the sunset.

He had my undivided attention, at least till he got to the part where the ghost makes its grand entry.

Basking in the new found audience, he began speaking again. It’s funny how easily life can surprise you, challenge you when you least expect it, put you at ease when you’re ready to fight.  I sat there, expecting a child’s tale of the supernatural but what I heard was something so contrasting. In a simple line, he had described one of the most primitive fears of the whole mankind.

 In his dream, he had seen himself, albeit in a different form, more powerful than he was, fearless and unrelenting. His stature showed no hint of worries or regret. No hollow years to account for. Yet there was anger. And that scared him. Something so perfect, and yet so stark. He stood bare bodied, his ghost, his own reflection.

 He was scared of himself, he admitted sheepishly. I simply stared.

It was a day like any other.

This city, had traits that defined it. The people kept to themselves, hurriedly walking one way or the other, consumed in some thought of theirs, the birds chirped, the cars honked and the traffic moved at its never changing pace. The only unusual thing was me walking towards the bus stand at 2 in the noon, a time when I am usually sitting at my desk, sleeping away to glory. But then here I was, walking a road I had never set foot on before, wandering aimlessly, for a wise friend had once said,  ‘in order to be found, you need to be lost first…’

I for one had taken her seriously.

I had started from my office, in a moment of inspired action (read ‘receiving the salary check’) and proceeded to do the needful. That was how I ended up on that road, a few kilometres away from my office. Humming some familiar tune, I walked on, lost in my own thoughts, barely noticing the multitude of people walking past.

“Excuse me” came a not so distant voice, sudden and stabbing. I looked around, my world and my thoughts breached by three simple syllables. Standing beside me was a girl, cute in her office paraphernalia. Judging by her demeanour she could not have been more than a year senior to me.

“Excuse me, can you please direct me to the nearest ATM?’ she said again, looking at me.

It’s not often that you are stopped in the middle of the road by some girl, but it was an unusual day after all, and before I realised it, I was giving her directions to the one ATM that I had come across. In that moment I was no longer someone who had never set foot on that road before. I could hear myself tell her the exact distance and the name of the bank that she’d find nearby.

The aimless roving had its benefits, however small.

You generally expect people to move on as soon as you have given them what they want. An occasional thanks, is the most you expect. But again, this was not a usual day.

She said thanks, and then smiling, she held out her hand. “Hi, I am Anshika” she said, smiling her disarming smile. I was taken aback. When something unexpected happens, people have the tendency to go into a mental lock down. I was no better. I could not help but notice the confidence that simmered in those pretty eyes, the way she could so easily find her way with words while I fumbled. Her hands were still held out, waiting.

“Kshitij”, I said, taking her hand. “So where do you work?” She asked. “I am interning at Disney”,  I replied, all the more aware of the ID card hanging around my neck, screaming in big black letters, the name of the company I was interning at. I knew she’d seen it.  Why did she ask then?

I guess that’s how random conversations follow. You ignore the assumptions and flaunt your ignorance.

Hours passed, as we stood in the middle of nowhere, talking about everything under the sun, strangers an hour back, and friends anon. We parted ways that evening, she with her directions, and me with a smile, each fostering a friendship that we’d never forget. Not in the many years to come. I looked at the number I had in my hand, still smiling, still amused.

“An unusual day”, I murmured, as I boarded the bus back home.

It’s a strange place, this world. And this I know for a fact.

As a 10-year-old growing up in Mumbai, Gudi Padwa meant feasting on puran polis, shrikhand and puri. It was also the time when Aai, my mother, gave me some respite from studies. I could stuff myself with loads and loads of Puran Polis and other savouries my mother used to make.

Gudi Padwa meant feasting on puran polis, shrikhand and puri.

Biting into flaky gram flour flatbread stuffed with jaggery, getting my hands on the luscious boondi laddoos, wearing new clothes and showing it off to my friends, was my idea of celebration. For a long time its religious connotations and the rituals didn’t make any sense to me. Frankly, neither was I interested.

As I grew up, I had to handle a fair share of the preparations for Gudi Padwa. It meant helping my mom in cleaning up the house, procuring the things needed for the puja. Since, I was interested in cooking, it also meant I also helped her in the kitchen preparing the sweets of the festival.

Looking back, I believe it was my mother’s plan to initiate me into the rituals and enlighten me about the importance of the festival. Despite living in Mumbai, rituals were a daily part of our family’s life.

I also remember the times I and my father used to venture out to pluck fresh mango leaves from nearby  trees especially for the rituals. We are not a very religious family to be honest, but we do take our festivals and the procedure quite seriously.

Also called Brahmadhwaj, Gudis were symbols of victory

Before every festival, our house went through a round of exhaustive cleaning. Cleaning the house was fun but I am sure my elation was never shared by my mother. I loved it because it threw up treasures, oft forgotten only to be discovered during the ritual cleaning.
Favourite toys which I had misplaced, pen and other odds and ends which I had dropped into the gap between the wall and the bed after I dozed off while studying, paper cuttings which I had planned to use for my scrap book and then completely forgotten and several other things. Mother was always in a hurry to complete the chore while I, whom she depended the most for helping her out, would wander away to savour the discovery of each treasure.

However, there was one thing which I hated about the festival as a child. Aai used to make a bitter concoction with neem leaves, flowers, soaked dal, cumin seeds, honey or jaggery. It was a must-have for everyone and as a child, I was coaxed to swallow it. As I grew up, coaxing gave way to silent threats. Rituals were followed with unquestioned faith in our house.

So much for making a good start to the new year! Years later, I understood the importance of the ritual. It was symbolic of the fact that life was intertwined with joys and sorrows. One had to accept it with equanimity. Sorrow and joys were transient just as the bitterness of the concoction I was made to swallow.

Gudi Padwa holds importance across Maharashtra. On the festival day, Gudis, festooned with brocade cloth and adorned with marigolds, coconuts, and mango leaves, were displayed in front of our house.

Gudis were hoisted to commemorate the victorious return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya after slaying Ravan. Bamboo poles were used to make the Gudis which were then covered with brocade cloth and adorned with leaves of neem and mango and flowers. A silver or copper pot was inverted over the Gudi and it was ready for hoisting outside the house. I learnt later that Gudi was a symbol of victory and it was to reinforce the fact that good shall always triumph over evil.

Gudi Padwa is also the first day of Chaitra, the first month according to the Hindu calendar. Chaitra heralds the advent of vasant rutu or spring. It is believed Lord Brahma created the universe.

Gudi Padwa is considered as one of the sade teen (three and half) auspicious days according to the Hindu calendar. Unlike other days when auspicious time has to be carefully selected, the three and half days have no such restriction. They are auspicious throughout the day. Hence, it is considered the best time for holding several functions like Munj bandhan (thread ceremony), marriage, etc.

Another ritual associated with Gudi Padwa, was the reading of the panchang or the alamanac. The photo on the cover of the panchang was worshipped before reading it.

The festival is celebrated in other parts of India too. It is celebrated as Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh Karnataka. Konkanis celebrate it as Sansar Padvo or Samsar Padwo and Sindhis celebrate it as Cheti Chand.

Over the years, Gudi Padwa celebrations have undergone a change. Swagatyatras have become a part of Gudi Padwa celebrations, especially in cities. Large processions are taken out in which people participate in large numbers.

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