On Thanksgiving

When I came to US, I was unaware of this tradition (well because it is not an Indian thing anyway, but now if you ask me I will tell you it is just another harvest festival and we have tons of those in India)

When I noticed a thanksgiving break in the list of holidays on my university calendar, I was curious and wanted to learn more about this blessed seven day break right before finals week and so I read and learned about how it symbolizes the celebration by the first few pilgrims who migrated to North America and is about being thankful for a good harvest (that would sustain them during the harsh winter). I liked the being grateful aspect of the celebration, though it is only symbolic now since people these days are not entirely dependent on the local produce anyway.

Besides these days, like I learned from experience and television ads, the thanksgiving Thursday is not just about giving thanks or eating dinners but  the weekend is synonymous with Christmas shopping and deals and more deals. For the first few years I would spend the last Thursday through Sunday of November sitting in front of my laptop comparing deals, reading reviews, spending a sleepless night or two, heading to the stores at midnight on Thursday, standing in line to enter the store, running around the isles, picking up things that are inexpensive and unnecessary, then standing in line at the billing counter, coming home, sorting things out, returning some, keeping some and so on. It was actually fun, especially since it was a group activity 🙂  Now, neither do I have a group that is interested in going shopping at midnight nor do I have the patience to shop like that anymore.

I still like the concept of black Friday and cyber Monday though. Businesses profit from it of course and consumers also get to feel like they are saving their hard earned money. No complains at all, a win-win situation. What bothers most people though  is that black Friday is slowly creeping into and eating up most of thanksgiving Thursday. So family dinners are interrupted by sudden “oh I have to rush to the store now” or “Skip the dessert, get into the car” kind of things. My guess is it  bothers the older generation who know the essence of the celebration and wish to pass on the tradition to their young ones. But is anyone listening?

And in situations like this I can totally imagine the elderly get together and discuss over elaborate meals, something on the lines of this conversation between Frodo and old Gandalf.

‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.

‘So do I,’ said Gandalf,’and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’  – Lord of the Ring

(A fitting quote for almost everything that we do not like or criticize about the world and the way things are going.)

Probably they then spend their time drinking more wine, discussing politics or in food coma while the young ones fret about what deal they missed and which store should they go to next. Who should decide which is a better way to be thankful and celebrate? Well isn’t that a personal choice ? 🙂

Oh as for me, I am thankful that I am able to witness and cherish all the different (both good and bad experiences) which sum up my life. I would not mind spending the night in food coma being thankful for a harvest that lets me eat that much or spend the night rushing through stores being thankful for the job that lets me spend as much. Oh and if I may I am thankful that the celebrations turned into a holiday (you will find that there are very few holidays in the US working calendar, especially when you come from a country like India :)).

My first ever hike :)

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Metacomet-Monadnock trail to Mount Holyoke
Walks I love, hikes were never my thing. Anything that sounds remotely sporty never makes it to my list. I have no clue how I bought into the idea of going on a hike on a Saturday morning but I am actually glad I did.
The good idea : going on the hike, the bad idea : hitting the gym right before the hike.
With only a peanut butter sandwich and some watermelon and the gym trip, I never thought I would survive the two-mile hike. Yea right! Meet Ms. DelicateDarling. 🙂 Well there were five others – Mr. FitnFineIloveHikes , Mrs. FitnFineIloveMyself, Mr. IThinkIamCool, Mr. LevelHeadedLowProfile, Mr. HappyGoLucky.
Thirty feet into the trail, steep and rocky, I just hoped my alarm would go off and this would all be that one bad dream I wake up to early morning. A few more minutes and I bet people at the end of the trail could hear me breathe. I thought I found the perfect walking stick, but guess the trees ran out of their nutritional supplements. With a broken walking stick, almost out of breath, everyone I was hiking with out of sight, I thought tracing my steps back may be easier. But guess what, they did not lay out all the hiking rules in the beginning. Walking down definitely seemed shorter but more difficult than walking uphill. So I just decided to keep going.

Occasionally some of the others would wait for me, but that was too embarrassing. My camera came to the rescue like it always does. I pretended to make a few stops here and there to click pictures and said I would catch up. So I could finally move at my own sweet (spelled slow) pace. Phew. Thankfully the trail was well-marked, rocky at times, mostly steep but well maintained. I found a discarded snake-skin and pretty bright red berries, smelled some wild roses, befriended some mosquitoes and of course enjoyed some awesome views.

IMG_9439IMG_9466Made it to the top a little after the others, and the view made the hike totally worth it.
We took the road back and I got a few more shots of ferns and the forest.

IMG_9509IMG_9491Hikes are not so bad after all, I might go back for more.

A frustrated non-smoker

To the guy who lives downstairs 😦

All through Fall, I could never keep my window open, because you had to keep yours open when you smoked in your room. I did not complain.

All winter you smoked inside the house with all doors and windows closed (a safety hazard of course) and my restroom and kitchen smelled of cigarette, thanks to the heating vent that we share. But you had no choice, so I did not complain.

And now all spring, you plan to smoke in the patio, now I can’t  keep my door open. Sigh!

Can’t you walk a few steps away from the apartment to burn a cigarette, parking lot? side-walk?  Its spring, you can do that can’t you?  Probably smokers should be given the top floor of the apartment, may solve some problems.

You know what I feel right now, that I should lock you in a room with no ventilation and have you smoke a cigarette every twenty minutes for like a whole day, You inhale what you smoke for one whole day or more,  sleep in the smoke, wake up in the smoke, because you love it so much, just do that, why not?

Does cigarette smoke irritate you? What do you do to keep it away?

 

 

तुम आज भी अजनबी हो

घड़ी को लगता है कि तुम्हे कुछ कुछ समझने लगी हूँ
और फिर घड़ी में यूँ लगता है तुम आज भी अजनबी हो

इतनी मोहब्बत कैसे लेते हो तुम लोगों से
इतनी सफयी से फिर कैसे मुकर जाते हो ?
अपनी खामोशी में इतने लफ्ज़ समेटे चलते हो
फिर न्द बातों में ही बिखर जाते हो

नफ्स्परस्त होने का दावा तुम करते हो
और गैर के कुल्फत से भी मुज़्तर हो जाते हो
मासूमियत ऐसी कि तसव्वुर में खो जाते हो
बसीरत इतनी कि वक्त रेहते संभल जाते हो

बीती बातों कि जमीयत अज़ीज़ भी है तुम्हे
माज़ी के ख्याल से डर से जाते हो
दिन को रेज़ा रेज़ा बाँट देते हो यादों में
फिर एक लम्बे अर्से की तरह गुजर जाते हो

घड़ी भर को लगता है कि तुम्हे कुछ कुछ समझने लगी हूँ
और फिर घड़ी भर में यूँ लगता है तुम आज भी अजनबी हो

कृत्या

Haunting words

I scribbled them on the calendar. A new month arrived and the page was flipped, and I thought the words would be lost in the layers of time. But I press too hard as I write I guess (how gently can you write words you hate anyway). They showed up month after month, year after year on every page that was flipped, on every calendar that was changed.

I stuffed them all up  in a trash bag abandoned them in a deserted place in the middle of a moonless night, but they still found their way back to me. I shut the door tight, every piece of furniture I could find, resting against it. All in vain,  they managed to sneak in through the heating vent, that crack in the wall, an unfastened screw in the door hinge or that kitchen window that was carelessly closed or carefully opened.

I wrote them down on the mirror, and punched them in the face, shattered sharp shiny pieces, scattered, a bloody mess, only to see the bits come together in perfect order, with that evil grin they read to me every word, interrupted at times by the red stains, but no missed phrases, no skipped sentences, making sure I remember everything I wanted to forget.

I put them down on a piece of paper and set fire, watched every sheet, every slice go from the dazzling white to curling red to the dreary gray. At last, they are gone, a faint smile escaped my lips, and just as I was about to leave, a gusty wind from nowhere, blew all the ash onto my face, into my eyes, it was hard to see, even harder to breathe, I slipped, I fell, suffocated, panic-stricken, trying to crawl away from the ash, but that wind followed me all the way and when I could move no more, it engulfed me, whispering every scorched and charred word right into my ears, again and again, as it moved around me in a perfect circle, no chipped edges, no leaks, no escape.

I tried to forget, to disown, to destroy, to kill but they somehow come back to me every time, every single time. I despise them, but they love me. I torture them and they give it back to me. I kill them, and they haunt me.

There is only so far I can run and so much I can fight. I don’t even try now.

I can never find a place, a moment with myself anymore.  I want to be left alone I tell them, but they never get me, I wish I did not get them either. They just walk in whenever they want and  most times they never leave. Words, haunting words…I hear them all the time, I just live with them now.

 

Remember…

 

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Remember this road A. Remember that day we walked in silence. Remember how we walked together all the way to the end of the road, but we never reached the end together. 

How is that possible one would ask, it makes no sense. But you know too well what it means, and so do I. 

तुम्हारी निगाहों में सूनापन बेपयान, तुम्हारे तर्ज में खला बेइंतिहा थी
दिल में ग़म के अल्हान, होंठों पे अनकही दास्तान थी
रह रह के तुम्हारी साँसें  कुछ बोझल सी हो रही थी,
एक बार को लगा कि जैसे रूह भी तुम्हारी रो रही थी
कुछ कहना था शायद मुझसे, जाने किस हिरास में जल रहे थे
हम दोनों साथ थे मगर, तुम तन्हा ही चल रहे थे
ख़मोशी के एक कोहरे में जैसे दोनों खो चुके थे
इतने क़रीब होकर भी अजनबी हो चुके थे

— कृत्या

 

In search of a wonderland

Wonderland

She was looking for her wonderland. They said there is a wonderland somewhere in the forest. It was a long walk to the forest. She started early, but it was almost noon by the time she reached. The sun was almost overhead, sun rays trying to find their way through the labyrinth of leaves and branches to meet the dandelions that covered the forest floor, rays travelling from that one sun above to the several below.  

And that is where she found him, a cup of tea and a book in hand. And that is where she found herself, a pink diary and a half chewed pencil. They wandered around for a while, he, trying to find a place where he could sit back, relax and read his book, she trying to find a place to unwind, rest her tired legs, take a break from her search for the wonderland.

They ended up  choosing the same spot in the forest, right beneath that tree whose shade was bright enough to read a book and dim enough for a nap in the afternoon sun. She rolled her stole into a little pillow, put her diary and pencil away, and lay down closing her eyes trying to sleep. He sat down, finished his tea and started reading his book aloud.  She was not complaining, if anything she was surprised, how does he know, that I like the soft murmur of people talking as I fall asleep, she thought.
And so he read his book to her, a book he had written. It sounded so familiar, she woke up with a startle thinking for a moment, he was reading her diary to her, she checked for her diary, it was right where she had left it. So it was his book, his book and her story. She went to sleep not worrying about her diary anymore. It was all the same. 🙂
She fell asleep and he kept reading. One beautiful line after another. “I’ve never seen a dove sleep, but I wonder if this is how it looks?”, he thought
“I have never heard angels sing a lullaby, but I wonder if this is how it sounds?”, she thought
She had not slept such a sound sleep in ages. Was it the endless sleepless nights or was it the voice reading her a book, and the chirping of birds in the background or may be she had found her wonderland.