!

Times are tough. For everyone.

Stuck indoors.

No fault of ours.

Lockdown here.

And also there.

Modern times, seem like another era from the past.

Parents so so far.

So are siblings. Three of us, in three different parts of the world.

Helplessness turning into sadness.

No guarantees. No certainty.

Will we live! Will we not!

What beyond?

Will we meet in next life?

Will we stay together then?

No foreign land we shall explore.

Or we do it together.

Promise?

Do you like me so to make me a part of your life again?

Have I been a good person for you?

Or just a burden for all?

No Regression. No Stagnation.

It’s right – “The only constant in life is change”. No change feels good to start with, but it becomes a part of us sooner than we think. It’s bound to. That’s how we survive and even thrive.

Change is sometimes voluntary (e.g. holiday, foods, friends), but sometimes enforced (e.g. jobs, illness, accidents, deaths, breakups) sometimes pleasing, other times painful. But all of these feelings are transient. They pass.

The things we woke up, looked forward to, slept with, no longer remain important. They are not part of our routine post change. The change becomes the routine. It starts to feel normal. Before long, the old routine is forgotten. The things we had to try very hard to forget become very hard to remember, and then they become a distant memory. We thrive under those new changes, exactly how we did when life threw the past change at us and we never wanted that to change. But it did. Like every other change before that. It made us stronger, better and flexible.

We shouldn’t become too comfortable in a situation, I think. So when change is imposed, we make the most of it and move on to another temporary phase.

We must remain ready to embrace the change. A time comes when we no longer want to step back into the past phase. We have to look forward to the future and the many changes yet to come.

Jhootha Apple

Today I got the news of yet another friend, roughly my age, die of a heart attack. I mean, so many deaths in last one or two years, like heart attacks were being sold over the counter. Buy one, get one free.

No amount of philosophical thinking prepares you for any death, let alone of the one you’ve known at some stage in life. People come close, become friends, part, never remain in touch, and so on, but they do remain on the back of your mind to be brought to the fore once in a while. Some will be remembered more than the others. Memories of some will leave you with pangs of of guilt while some will leave you in tears. Some will bring back beautiful memories while some will be talked about out of humanity. None will make you happy even if you ended with them on a bad note. There will be that one good thing they did you’ll remember that will moisten your eyes. And all you will ever remember after that day is that one admirable thing they did.

Why don’t we remember that one good thing when they are alive so we can continue to live a fulfilled life in their company, physical or not?

Ego? Hatred? Disgust? Arrogance? Pride? Disinterest? Indifference? Not thought or reflected upon their one virtue over their negatives? Or simply got too busy in life to remember them?

My personal take is… All of the above in different degrees.

My friend who died had shared with me her half eaten apple once when I was shunned from the group of bitchy girls when wanting to join them in Kabbaddi. We later separated after, supposedly, she snitched on me to the teacher. I was given a detention to remain outside the classroom. Very embarrassing experience that was. Other kids made fun of me. She never owned up to snitching.

Years later I realised that the bitchy lot probably lied to me. Why did I not give my friend benefit of the doubt? But I was only a kid myself. Maybe I could have called her after that to tell her that I believed she was wrongly accused. To make peace with her. To tell that I believed her now. But life had moved on by then. People usually don’t go back to those they left behind.

If you can hear me now, Arry, please know that I know you didn’t do it. That I valued you as my friend. But I was only a kid and couldn’t understand why other children the same age would lie. I didn’t know people can lie. I didn’t know lying was even a concept. My mother only taught me to be truthful. “Honesty” has been her buzzword. I wrongly believed all mothers taught their kids that. With the same honesty that I grew up learning, I say that you will be remembered fondly for doing, among other things, that one good thing for me, sharing of your jhootha apple, cementing in my memory, your kindness. RIP, darling.

Rajasthan and Agra

Photography Tour Of Rajasthan.

It was an absolute delight to be in the company of the Schusters and their in-laws Haas’. We were together for 13 days, on our feet during the day and watching the stars at night, sipping a wine or two, on the terrace of the haveli, our residence for those many days, except the time we were in Shekhawati.

The most haunted Bhangad Fort was an experience Lea will never forget for the rest of her life, but she wants to visit again, without Simon, only with me. In fact, most of us will not forget that unusual day when we came out believing in the existence of spirits.

We all had some great moments filled with fun, laughter, fear, anxiety, adventure, and exhaustion. We returned home with some interesting pictures and stories of each other’s lives and how we were able to relate to one another. We all seemed to have a few things in common – we were all independent willed, like minded, extroverts, and enjoyed travelling.

Taj. Wah Taj.

Exactly!

The last leg of the trip was Agra.

Visiting the awe-inspiring Moghul monument. As if all the centuries old monuments in the desert state were not enough. Seemed like they were not enough, we drove down to Agra to experience the ever-enchanting mausoleum, the epitome of deep and everlasting love.

Can a man really love a woman that much? Like Shah Jahan loved Mumtaz! To leave a permanent trace of his intense passion. It is not about the size of the monument or the cost. Shah Jahan was an emperor. He could commission anything. It was the thought. He wanted to do this for the woman he so loved. It would have been equally enchanting had it been made of mud instead of marble.

It was an emotional experience to admire the symbol of love, as I stood in front the tomb with the crescent moon right above the tamga cupped by the minarets from all sides, appearing almost sihouette-y as the day went down. I touched the wall of the tomb one last time before we drove off and felt the deep love like a current through my body, leaving me warm on that cold wintery night.

Back to Jaipur with a heavy heart, for the “enchanting” flight to England.

Note — If you are after touristy images of the region, Google will be your best bet.

For the rest of you..click the image below to go to the YouTube link to view the slideshow. Photo credits mentioned on YouTube page.

Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

Life Is Short, But Can Still Be Worthwhile

This morning I had stopped outside a shop when I saw a hearse carrying a coffin. It read “brother” on the funeral wreath. I felt sad seeing someone’s brother being taken for funeral that early in the morning. I paused to pay my respects (out of childhood habit) like my father taught me, “Say my hello to God.”

As I drove home a couple of minutes later, I saw a gathering of people outside a house. The hearse parked in their drive. I knew the people in the house. The lady’s children attended the same school as my girls. At first I thought her father-in-law must have passed away. We all have to go one day, I thought. I paid my respects again and continued driving.

But why “brother”?! I’ve usually not seen a really old sister requesting that when there are several family members in the man’s own family – wife, son, daughter-in-law, one grandson and two granddaughters.

Oh my!!! Is it possible that it was her husband? Absolutely possible, as I don’t even remember seeing her father-in-law ever. Maybe he’d gone long ago. Not sure. But her husband was not that old. He looked stressed though. Affluent guy, but stressed. He never smiled when our paths crossed. His stress probably killed him. I won’t know until I meet the lady again. There is only one kid of hers in school, and the kid is not a friend of my daughter. Kids usually don’t approach other kids to enquire such things. Never. Her other two kids are slightly older, and at university.

Oh my God, it later struck me!! Could it be the young boy? The “brother” of the sisters? Why not, some said! Anything is possible.

Of course, anything is possible.

Life is indeed very short. It gives no chance for goodbyes and yet there are people who would hold grudges, agendas, hang-ups, excuses. Many value monetary success over a successful relationship. I’m sure such people are built differently. They must surely find contentment in their actions, or they won’t take them. Until their chase for the kind of success they valued more consumes them. Like it did in this man’s case, if it’s him who died. Chances are, it is him. He took nothing he worked for with him in the end. None of us will. After some time, people tend to forget them too. That’s how the world is designed or one cannot move on in life. If we can forget people when they are alive, then so much easier when they are gone.

This is why I’m glad to be the way I am. My madness is for the people I love, not for what I can gain from them. In return, those who can appreciate my passion own me. I don’t want to die miserably like that man. I want people to say upon my death – “Sapna had plenty of time for us and she never made false promises.” This will make my life, and also my death, worthwhile.

Continue reading “Life Is Short, But Can Still Be Worthwhile”

We Forget How Good The Beatles Were

Waterloo Station, London

Waterloo Station, London. Time: 22 hrs GMT.

Thousands of people pouring in and out of London. Escalators, like conveyor belts, transporting people in all directions. Men, women, transgenders, children, all looking only ahead. Some carry coffee/tea mugs in one hand and Metro in the other. The modelling continues throughout the journey. There is absolutely no eye contact but every person is aware of their surrounding and the presence of others as they glide, wriggle, dodge, walk past without knocking into anyone. The whole scene looks like an alien experiment designed to study human behaviour after being injected with a soul-sucking drug. We seem to be all alone together. I am dispassionately humming Abba and switching to The Kinks’ eponymous number.

A piano busker comes into my view. He is playing and singing The Long and Winding Road that echoes in the tunnel. And as if the alien drug injected in me wore off just then….I feel a stabbing pain in my heart. My soul wakes up and moistens my eyes. Tears roll down my cheeks like broken string of pearls. McCartney wrote every single word for me, it seems. I walk past the pianist, mouthing the song as it peters out…

Many times I’ve been alone, and many times I’ve cried.

Anyway, you’ll never know the many ways I’ve tried.

You left me standing here…..

La la la, lalla laaaa…ta ta taaaah…hmmmmm..hmmm

– Sapna Dhandh-Sharma