Author: Diya
•11:30 AM
It's been ages since I have written anything, let alone blogged :-( Excuses galore come to mind to save face, but I hate excuses . . . And it's such a disadvantage to me that I live by so very many [??!!??] not-to-be-broken rules :( It's high time that I stop myself from sinking deeper into the habits that I have been wallowing in of late, and get going . . .

Here goes...

We had a beautiful vacation a fortnight back... And there is simply one word to describe it... Royal !!!!!

The beauty of the stark desert landscape that I had pictured was shattered :-) Apart from Jaisalmer, parts of Bikaner and en route to these places we hardly saw sand anywhere !!! And I have my perception of a desert altered forever now :-)

The first thing that struck me on arrival was the trees !!! Yes, proper trees with tall gnarled branches; just like I see in and around home... And this when I was expecting to see cacti everywhere :D

Another distinctive memory is of the colours... The lovely colours - all made from natural dyes... fast colour Madam... full guarantee [as eager shopkeepers and salesmen assured me !!!] - used in turbans, sarees, lehangas, art work, quilts, bedspreads... Name it and you will find all the colours of the rainbow being used in that article . . .

The sheer beauty of the landscape is accentuated by the wonderful forts and palaces dotting every city... My favourites were the Udaipur Palace and the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur...

The stunning architecture, the use of colours, the ingenuity of designs and the sheer splendour simply took my breath away..... Every tile, every mirror, every wall, every ceiling had stories to tell . . . Every step we took seemed to me to be steeped in centuries and centuries of history . . . The excellent audio guides brought before us, the scenes from history. I am now tempted to take a tour of the Mysore Palace with the audio guide :-) The tidbits and trivia were informative and very well presented in most places.

There was a palanquin designed for the queen's visit to London, which had an amusing anecdote associated with it. The paparazzi were hounding the Indian royals to catch a glimpse of the queen. At one event, they happened to catch a glimpse when the queen was climbing into the palanquin after exiting the car. The photos were splashed across the front page of all the tabloids... It was great news... The Indians were extremely upset, lest this become known back home. They went around London buying every single copy of the paper, and burnt them to ashes...

Surprized ??? Well, don't be... At least not yet... The picture the paparazzi had managed to take was that of the queen's ankle !!!!!

Anecdotes such as these were what made the audio guides so enjoyable, and really worth their money :)

Mirrors, coloured glass [very reminiscent of churches], the jaalis in the zenanaas [Zenanaas were the women's apartments within the forts and palaces. For women those days, purdah was a way of life. However, their apartments consisted of jaalis or meshed screens which enabled the women of the royal family and their attendants to observes the goings and comings of the people, without being observed themselves !!! :-) ], the 'Sheesh Mahals' in every palace . . . They are so rich in history and architecture, so beautiful and majestic, that I have no words to describe them... They should not just be seen once in one's lifetime, but should be experienced . . . . .

My first camel ride, my first sunset in the west, my lovely puppets, finding a welcome board in Kannada in a Jaipur shop, finding similarities between V and his camel Raja [ :P ], mehendi, the lovely place we stayed at in Bikaner, the lakes and temples, the forts and palaces, trying to understand the workings of the various structures in the Jantar Mantar, laughing over the spoon specially designed for a king with a bushy moustache, and marvelling at the beauty and royalty surrounding us . . . every bit is filled with sweet memories...

The most breathtaking sight was that of the Jain Temples at Ranakpur . . . Carved out of pure white marble, the architecture of the temples are stunning... The serene atmosphere inspires reverence in the most atheist of minds... The neighbouring Sun Temple, is no less in grandeur . . . We spent an entire morning here and were still left with the feeling of having missed out on so many of the amazingingly intricate carvings !! Well, that's what the next time would be for ;) I hope someone's listening :-)

The paintings, the handicrafts, the handlooms, the blue pottery . . . and the musicians . . . The musicians defined Rajasthan for me... Their soul stirringly powerful music, still rings in my ears... One finds musicians playing away without any seeming care in most of the tourist attractions and hotels... Apart from a stray flutist, the music of all of the others touched my heart . . .

Kesariya baalam aavo ... padhaaro mhaare desh ... A royal welcome ... A royal experience ...

A family of folk musicians who were performing at Bikaner... A young boy playing the rawanhathha at the Jaswant Thada... Sand dunes, a camel ride, and a desert sunset... A knight riding on Raja and his queen beside him . . . A land, truly of the royals . . .
Links to this post
Author: Diya
•9:04 AM
Associations . . . Every memory has an equally if not more indelible association ... Is it any wonder then that though the memories can be held at bay, any small association opens the gates for a roaring flood to sweep you back again???

Are these associations stronger for the more painful memories??? Those memories that you would love to push away into a corner you are unaware of at a conscious level ??? The memories that you recall in moments of solitude... In the depths of despair...

I do not know how to push away memories into a corner... I do not know if I could try to learn that... What I would like to learn though is the 'art of dis-association' . . .

Maybe then I would not have to relive all my memories... Maybe then I could find some acceptance...

Maybe then I could take a teeny-weeny step to move ahead... With a heart filled with one more locked door . . .
Links to this post
Author: Diya
•12:25 PM
From as far back as I can remember, I have always questioned why we cannot help those less fortunate than us to reach a level matching our own... Be it when I would see a really bent old man begging for alms near the temple, or when the sweet lil girl with cute dimples would come hobbling on crutches at a signal close home...

And from the same times I do not remember having a satisfactory response to my questions either. On asking my granny she would simply say that what we are doing would help them so very much, much more in fact than we would imagine it to. As to matching my expectations of the levels, she would say that it is God's will and the fruits of their 'karma' [karma here being 'deeds']... My parents would most often than not reply that that was the way of the world, and what we feel as the little would go a long way in alleviating their miseries... Not always can we do for others all that we ideally feel we should, they would say... After all, all said and done we don't have any illusions that we inhabit an ideal world, do we ?????

I have come a long way from that idealistic and maybe impractical kid... My questions however remain to haunt me . . . Alongwith the old, familiar feelings of powerlessness...of helplessness.....

Everytime I come across a less fortunate soul than me, I am moved by their plight... More so by my helplessness in the face of their misery and situation... The powerlessness I feel as I know that I cannot simply wave a magic wand or wish for better things for them and make all of it come true...

I am not a sop, who is easily swayed by every beggar on the street... Nor do I open my purse and donate generously to every beggar who comes knocking on my door [be it at home or at a traffic signal ;) ]... My feelings of helplessness and powerlessness spout more, when I see adversity in the lives of people I interact with every day...

On the eve of 'International Women's Day', I am hearing about the adversities someone I know, [P], has been facing everyday, from the past 4+ years... I know that there is very little I can 'do' to make her feel better, and even less to improve her situation... And the feeling of being powerless overwhelms me again...

A cup of tea and a listening ear . . . Are these really the only substitutes I could find ???

I will be reading about the marches and rallies that scores of Women's organisations will be taking out tomorrow... There would be a few tales of exemplary courage and fortitude shown by some women in overcoming their situations... I will read them all and wonder at the plight all the other unsungs would continue going through...

I will wonder as always, whether we really need to 'empower' our womenfolk... As I see P move about with a small smile on her lips tomorrow morning, I will wonder and marvel at the innate strength she possesses in such abundant measure, without even being aware of it... I will ask myself then, if she really needs to be 'empowered' . . . . .

To me tomorrow will be a day when my familiar long time companions - the feelings of being helpless and powerless - will take a backseat, at the least for a day...

I will see P and scores of others like her... I will read about hundreds more...

I will salute their innate strength, their spirit... And then I will realize that my being helpless and powerless, is in a way responsible in me recognising in them this spirit...this strength...

Tomorrow, I will lay aside my personal failings and salute the true spirit of a woman... In P . . .
Links to this post
Author: Diya
•9:24 AM
Concerts . . . The soothing flow of one song... The foot tapping instrumentals of another... The soaring notes, the lilting tones and the haunting melodies..... The simple grace and elegance of the different ragas... The subtle nuances that each singer brings to his / her singing which makes the song uniquely theirs . . . The list is endless :-)

Add to this the fact that the said concert is by a singer whom you have been hoping to hear live for long... And the fact that the venue is conveniently close to your house ;) And the programme for the evening is decided upon without much ado :D

We had been to the "Swara Smarane" concert by M D Pallavi @ Chowdiah Memorial Hall, last Thursday...

And what an experience it turned out to be . . . !!!

A courteous security person, directed us smilingly to what proved to be a comfortable parking place... Yeah I know !! Smiling security guard, and comfy parking in the heart of Bangalore really do sound too good to be true ;) Consider though that it was a weekday :-)

And for the said weekday, the hall was quite well packed I felt... [Of course, I am no expert, this being my first indoor concert...] The programme did start a lil late, but not too much to cause annoyance . . .

And what an evening it turned out to be !!

I was amazed at the flawless diction and natural mannerisms that Chitrashree possessed, as she conducted the programme. Her command over the language left me with a very warm glow in my heart... Nothing high brow, yet the simplicity of the words and the conviction in her voice created the right ambience for the evening...

And as for Pallavi... Well... Hats off !!! I loved the way every musician on stage was acknowledged by her, before she began each song... I do not know if this is the norm in most concerts, but it really touched me to hear the 'star' performer giving such eloquent introduction to the musicians... The lil tidbits about the musicians who for the most part go unsung [esp by the masses], spoke volumes to me...

V always wonders about the 'support' staff behind every successful artiste... This time though, we were both pleasantly surprised..... There was a family sitting behind us, and the Uncle was a very avid fan I believe... And not simply because he could recognize the songs by their introduction, or that he clapped harder than most people sitting around us... I say he was an avid fan, because he clapped the hardest when each of the musicians was being introduced... He knew which shows and stars the musicians had performed in and with, which were their best performances, added to the who's who they performed with, and also added his 2 bits about the various composers, ragas chosen et al... And all of this was shared in a very carrying voice... :-) Thanks to him, we no longer completely believe that all of the 'support' staff is almost always unknown and unappreciated by the masses :-) Thanks You, Uncle !!!

In the age of cell phones beeping every minute, it came as a surprize to me that throughout the programme, there was very negligible cell-noise-pollution ;) The fine sensibilities of the audience was reflected so evidently...

Midway through however, the girl sitting beside me turned on her laptop and proceeded to complete checking her mails and also finish a presentation ;) Apart from the fact that the light from her monitor was distracting, it should not have caused much annoyance to others... It did irritate me to no end though :-( And I turned my head, only to find another person busy working on his laptop too :-(

If office deadlines are so important, I wonder why people need to attend programmes and show disrespect this way... :-( Sad :-(

I also got to see some of the stalwarts in Kannada literature and music... Not up close... Just a long way ahead of me ;)

What can I say about the music??? It flowed so seamlessly, effortlessly pulling me under it's spell... Beginning with "ಉದಯವಾಗಲಿ ನಮ್ಮ ಚೆಲುವ ಕನ್ನಡ ನಾಡು" to the "ಸೋರುತಿಹುದು ಮನೆಯ ಮಾಳಿಗೆ"... From "ಮಡಿಕೇರಿ ಮೇಲ ಮಂಜು" to "ರತ್ನನ ಪದಗಳು"... It was truly a delightful journey...

"ದೀಪವು ನಿನ್ನದು" and "ಎಡೆ ತುಂಬಿ ಹಾಡಿದೆನು", brought to an end a truly memorable concert...

Apart from the half an hour or so in the midst of the programme, wherein there was a CD release function, the evening was filled with notes - rich, melodious, lilting, haunting, joyous, brooding, contemplative . . . . . . .

We left the auditorium with many memories refreshed, and the tunes still playing on our lips...

The only thought in my head then was . . . When 'live bands' have official permission to play till the witching hour, is it in any way fair that 'concerts' are asked to wind up a good 2 hours before the bewitching hour?????

PS: Special thanks to my friend SG, of Aviratha who told me about this concert... :-)
Links to this post
Author: Diya
•8:05 PM
It's been ages since I wrote anything... And I mean write... Not just blog :-) It's not that I have a case of the writer's / blogger's block... Thoughts teem in my head... Stay there awhile, patiently hoping to be captured... And then one fine day.... Whoosh....................... They drift away untracked, to territories uncharted...

It makes me wonder, how it is that certain thoughts simply don't stay the course with us, while those we would sooner forget stay entrenched...

Negative thoughts, thoughts and emotions that make one feel sad, morose or distressed... Why is it that these thoughts have so much power over us that they do not seem to even reduce in intensity??? Such thoughts for me are as crystal clear, today as they were when they actually came up... A thought which I had when in PU, almost 10+ years ago, still evokes in me the same rush of intense emotions - almost always negative and debilitating - today... The thought still being as clear today as then...

It is not that I have been brooding all along on these thoughts... However, when faced with a difficult situation all the negative thoughts in my mind's arsenal come to the fore, with the single point agenda of confusing / confounding / distressing me more than ever . . . The harder I try to escape these thoughts, the sooner they find me...

Pleasant thoughts on the contrary, seem to vanish away all too fast . . . Compliments, adulation, praise, a heartfelt wish, gratitude . . . I never seem able to call them all to the fore to battle the stronger negative thoughts . . .

And once the difficult situation is past, I have no trouble recalling all the pleasant thoughts :-) The rush of emotions they bring along though, is a pale imitation of the initial rush . . . :-( It feels more like a memory resurfacing after ages . . .

How I wish that the power to recall my thoughts were not wired this way :-(

"Thoughts define the man" . . . . . I wonder how I can define myself, being the recipient of this weird thought wiring system . . .
Links to this post
Author: Diya
•10:05 PM
Am back after a much needed vacation... Full of new found energy and a lot of plans and resolutions :-)

I was struck by a lot of things during our vacation, this time around... More so than usual... Maybe exploring places on our own and discovering some hidden treasures along the way had a lot to do with it... Or maybe it was the fact that this was the first trip we have taken wherein we relied on our instincts for pretty much a lot of things...

One of the first things to catch my fancy was the colourful flags . . . Of all hues and colours, they were welcoming delegates to events the city was hosting, advertising certain products or simply fluttering from atop a temple or a building... Reminded me of the days when cities would be decked up to welcome their heroes :-)

I have grown up watching my granny and mom conclude their puja everyday, after praying to the 'tulasi' in our backyard... From the lush and abundant tulasi plants in my childhood, to the tulasi which struggles to survive in a pot today, the tradition has remained... What amazed me during my vacation, was the colourful 'kattes' or enclosures [???] built around lush tulasi plants in front of every house :-) Apart from being colourful, the kattes were multi storeyed too... Figurines of Gods, Godesses and serpents being the main figurines on which the tulasi stands tall . . . Maybe that's the secret behind such lush plants too !!

On our way, at a small crossroad we found 2 petty shops with the name 'Sai Tea Stall' and 'Lakshmi Wine Store' which were sharing a wall !! People sure do know which side their bread is buttered on :D

Fragrance . . . A vastly under rated sense . . . The floral fragrance which greeted us on our arrival went a long long way in soothing my anxieties, and set the mood for the wonderful time we had there . . . I should have asked the helpful handyman about the fragrance they used :( Could have been put to some inventive use ;) Well, maybe the next time . . .

Nature... She looks so different in every city... Driving to the night market on the day of our arrival, the nearly full moon was pale silver in an almost starless patch of sky... Returning just before the witching hour, we looked up at the sky and found the moon shaded a delicate gold, and surrounded by a smoky aura... Beauty !!!

The market !!! The sights, sounds and smells, alongwith the vast variety of wares on display, was a shopper's paradise... I was amazed to find all the sellers speaking in fluent English :o I heard better English being spoken there, than at offices, schools, restaurants et al . . . It was both amazing and heartening to see even old women conversing and haggling over the prices with the tourists [who were predominantly foreigners] in good English...

Another fact that left me all agape with surprize was that there were more temples than churches :D U can find a temple in almost every street . . . Churches though, are mainly clustered in and around certain areas... We found a lot of churches abandoned, in bad shape, derelict, overgrown with weeds . . . U name it, and it was there...

And the temples??? Most of the major temples were being renovated, and I did not find even one that looked abandoned . . . :D

Since we were fending for ourselves, we could afford to drive down small seemingly deserted, cul-de-sacs and found museums and churches lined all along :)

A wonderfully noisy cruise, finding a lovely cafe 'Aunty Maria's', shopping at the markets, finding our way to various places on our 'to - be - seen' list [they have wonderful directions prominently displayed], spotting a peacock on our way to see a fort and finding yet another beautiful but sadly abandoned church before it . . . All these and so many more memories were woven . . .

Sunset at the beach . . . A book in hand . . . A cup of tea . . . My man beside me . . . Each of us relaxing and enjoying nature in our own ways . . . And . . . Silence . . . Of being in perfect harmony . . . Of being totally understanding of the needs of the other . . . . . And what could be more perfect for the last evening of our vacation ? ? ?

Bliss !!!

PS: Thanx for having the energy and josh and enthusiasm for the both of us combined . . . For the first leg of a wonderful vacation.....
Links to this post
Author: Diya
•9:40 AM
For a long long long time, I was in a phase where I would always question everything... Everything that would happen to me, that is... And the question in my mind at the end of the day would always be "Why me???"...

It took a lot of growing up for me to stop asking "Why me???"... The questions though have not ceased... And they always always begin with a 'WHY'.....

Why are Sunday night's the shortest always???
Why am I always late the very time that I promise to be on time???
Why are there not enough hours in a day for me to do all that I want to for myself???
Why are there too many long hours in the same day, when I am at work???
Why is the week before your vacation the longest???
Why do we feel so helpless when we are unable to take away a loved one's pain???
Why does the rest of the world always see me in a light different from my own???
Why do people drift apart as they grow older???
Why should we wear 2 rings on each toe, if they are single silver rings???
Why is it that a 27 year old, loving Enid Blyton's books raises eyebrows everywhere???
Why is it that 'well meaning relatives', are almost always never on ur list of people who care for u???
Why do elders frown when I ask them the rationale behind a certain age old practice or tradition???
Why is it that people always ask about the person who is not present at a social gathering, rather than first welcome the ones who have graced the event???
Why can't I find the right clothes or the right anything when I'm in a blue funk??? [Most especially 'clothes' though]
Why do I feel all alone and lost at times, even when I'm surrounded by all the love in the world???

And the list is endless...

I just wish though...

Why can't I find answers to any of these questions of mine . . . ??? . . .
Links to this post