Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Road to Rajasthan

Jaipur was like a childhood dream come true for me. The forts, rajas, ranis, pagdis and not to forget the amazing malpuas. Every second in the pink city was a new experience in itself. The splash of colours all around, intricate and breathtaking works of local artisans and delectable cuisine – in all, it is everything that one does not expect a desert land to be – refreshing, bustling and always welcoming.

For the traveller interested in the rich heritage of the city, Jaipur has an array of forts that are not only architectural marvels but also visual treats. 

The visit to the three forts – Amber, Jaigarh and Nahargarh – took us an entire day and was totally worth it. The magnificent structures, tales of the erstwhile rulers and the vast landscape would definitely sweep any traveller off his feet. At one of the forts, I even managed to become a Rajasthani chori for a brief while and got a photo clicked in the traditional attire. 

There are also puppetry shows that are quirky and fun. The dolls in the show that we saw were dancing to the tune of ‘Waka Waka’. 

The Sheesh Mahal (Palace of glass), Jal Mahal (Palace on water), baoris (step wells) and wax museum are a feast to the eyes like never before.

Then there is Hawa Mahal (Palace of winds), the beauty of which is inexplicable. The intricate lattice windows offer a beautiful view of the bustling city right below. Anyone who goes inside the numerous rooms would be pleasantly surprised by the cool breeze circulating inside even in the heat of the blazing sun. Let me remind you that there is no other way to believe it than by experiencing it all by yourself. 

City palace, the residence of the erstwhile maharajas, gives the traveller a first-hand experience of what the lives of royals are like. They have on display the various fashionable outfits worn by the rajas and the ranis, the cutlery they use, their weapons as well as the other finesse in the everyday lives of the rulers. 

Right next to it is the Jantar Mantar, an astronomic marvel, that delights those with scientific interests.

For the shopaholics, there are several bazaars like Johri bazaar, Bapu bazaar and Tripolia bazaar. We managed to pick up a few bed sheets with amazing Rajasthani block prints, Lahriya saris, razais, a bandhni suit and a few trinkets, all of it at affordable prices. You need to make the most of your bargaining skills and constantly be on the watch out for touts who try to trick you into buying cheap stuff at exorbitant rates.

Another unforgettable experience was the village resort ‘Choki Dhani’. The scrumptious Rajasthani thali they offer with generous helpings of desi ghee and butter is one that you will not forget for ages. Every time you think twice about having that extra roti or choorma, the Marwari waiters mock you in good humour and remind you of the traditional ways of eating well and eating healthy. Not only that, they even encourage you to have another glass of Rajasthani cola aka chaas or savour another bit of the yummy malpua. And for the albums, they let you wear their pagdis and help you click photographs.

For all the city folks like us who have had no chance to visit a real Rajasthani hamlet, Choki Dhani provides a glimpse of all things rural. Be it the traditional folk dancers or the magician, the resort has it all. All they ask you is to be their audience for the evening.

If you are too lazy and tired for anything after the sumptuous meal, you can just lie down in one of the numerous khaats and gaze at the evening sky.  Let me remind you that the village offers plenty to explore till your feet turn sore.

On the third day morning, we set out on our return journey with a heavy heart. More than the places we visited, we missed many. We also knew that the hundreds of new things we learned in two days was more than what we had learned from any teacher. Jaipur had just laid bare before us the vibrant soul of Rajasthan. 

With its warm people and colourful walls, 
the Pink City had really become ‘Aapno Rajasthan’ for us. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Swatting a Fly!

Looking forward to an exceptionally hectic work day when others would be happily enjoying the weekend can give you really crazy ideas to get over it. This feeling made me think that I should probably try my hand at absurdist poetry to get over the weekend blues. No logic, no reason, just poetry. And here it is:

I swatted a fly!
Really? Came the reply.
With my two fingers,
Right in the middle.
Liar, they called in disbelief!
I swatted again,
Their claims no good bargain!
They gaped in awe
At my enviable feat
For now, I proved invincible!

P.S. The poem is my take on how the desire to gain social acceptance lies behind even the simplest things we do. Having swatted flies perfectly between two fingers, the protagonist feels a sense of invincibility. In retrospect, this is very much like the race that everyday life is. At a later point of time, all this may prove really absurd just like the swatting of a fly.
All credits for the idea behind this poem goes to my colleague and friend Uday Singh Rana whose post I chanced upon while browsing Facebook. Mind it, he managed to perfectly swat not one but two flies between his fingers. He even has a photo to prove the same. Kudos to you, Uday!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Shiuli, the flower commonly known as Coral jasmine, Parijat or Pavizhamalli. Several myths revolve around this beautiful flower. A popular one among this is that of princess Parijataka who set herself ablaze unable to bear the sorrow of her unrequited love to Sun. According to mythology, Shiuli tree grew from her ashes. Legend has it that Shiuli blooms at night and falls in the morning unable to face its lover, the Sun! Probably that's why it's aptly known as the 'Tree of Sorrow'!

An attempt to portray Shiuli's grief in words!

 Once more as Shiuli trees bloom
My heart is nothing but an empty room,
The gentle breeze, mild fragrance it spreads
Essence of its soul, my heart dreads!
The night of the full moon
Like happiness gone away too soon,
Shiuli in its full bloom
Unaware, of its impending doom!
In first rays at the crack of dawn
Shiuli's death I mourn,
An ignorant lover's fate
Did the wilted flower await!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

An Apology

Forgive me, my child
I have only these tears to spare.
Bygone are the days
Of thy childhood's mirth, I learn!

Facade of life's soaring heights
Blinded this wretched soul.
I have loved you,
And still do,
Much more than the dreams
In my heart!
For my womb's fluid desires
Speak to me
In every breath you take!

Life shall give me
No better joy, than
The joy in your eyes!
Yet, forgive me, my child,
For your sullen eyes
Tell stories of my guilt.

I did not know
When night's strangest fears
Scarred your soul,
I did not listen
When pangs of your teen heart
Cried for help!

Before the dusk sets in
Let me sing
Lullabies long forgotten,
To you and to me,
Or may be I never will,
Who knows,
Which child sleeps too soon!

I carry dreams
She says!
I'm a dreamer
That's what I call me!
A dreamer you are?
The world looks in doubt.
Yes, happiness I carry!
My bag is full
Full of smiles I share!
Oh darling! Such venom you carry,
What you call dreams
Those poisoned apples in your satchel
Leave it here,
Give it to me
Throw it far away for good!
Throw it away for good?
Oh no! Don't break my heart.
I shall keep them safe
Safe from every evil.
You devil, listen! your
Dreams shall make you
The worst of sinners
Those colourful dreams
Shall make you sin!
Oh reader, do you see
The happy smile
That slowly fades?
I don't, oh which smile?
Ask the readers!
Did you forget, oh reader,
The satchel full of happy smiles?
I see an empty bag
The girl kneeling down,
Sunken eyes, lifeless smile!
You looked too late, oh reader,
She has thrown them
Away for good!
Oh my darling! Look now,
Can't you see
The most beautiful sights,
Beauty? She wondered.
I have heard it once,
Oh what do they call?
Routine, yea routine,
And not joy.
May be I am wrong,
She thought,
My dreams, they
Might have tricked!
Let me call it joy
Joy as they have called it!
The routine in joy
The joy in routine,
She thought!
Soon to forget
The colourful dreams
The happy smiles!
Oh look there,
The girl is there again,
The girl with the big satchel!
Smile on her face
Weight in her bag,
Let me look into her bag
Just a glance
Curious I am
As curious as you, the reader!
Oh alas! What weight she carries,
Heavy too much
For the little girl in her!
Listen oh reader,
Murder it is
To kill the dreamer girl,
In the name of joy
You looted her,
Her satchel now
Heavy with lifeless dreams

And stoic smiles!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Song of Love!

In my heart’s gentle cage
I have locked you
Far too deep
Bound by shackles of iron-like faith
So that in life
Lights you shall never find.
Ah! Look who’s talking
Of a life illumined aplenty.
Yea. The lights.
This light has blinded me
Of a love so-called!
It pains my eyes.
It blocks my sight.
And in the middle of it
Look what I have lost.
I have lost you
And my dreams
And time’s countless cheers.
I dare not to look back
I dare not to look at what I may find.
Love and only love.
Yes. Our love.
Love that shall haunt
Much like ghosts of a deadly past,
Yet breathing so hard
Every day. Every night.

  And when the world slips
Into a silence of slumber,
It sings lullabies
Those that I so much dread.
I fear the tune.
I fear the score.
I fear every note of it.
In all of them I hear
Songs of love.
Yes. My love.
Our love.
Songs that shall go on
Now and forever!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fighting Cancer. 
A spunky student's tale.

“I want to fight my battle with cancer in such a way that each and every one around me would become so envious and silently wish ‘this is what I would do if I had the same disease’.” Does it sound like the words of a philosopher or a saint? If yes, you are mistaken. These are the words of Chandni G. Nair, a third year diploma student at the Government Polytechnic, Pala.

Commonly perceived as the killer-disease, cancer has breathed new life into Chandni’s otherwise introvert soul. She had been a silent yet active girl during her school days. She participated in various competitions held as part of the school youth festivals including Thiruvathira Kali, Margam Kali etc.
Things took an entirely different turn when she was in the second year of college.

What would sound like a night mare in any person’s life had happened to her too. She was diagnosed with cancer. The initial days were that of despair both for her and the family. The intense chemo therapy and radiation sessions were draining the life out of her. She felt sick in the stomach and had extremely painful head aches every now and then. She felt as if the world around her was falling apart. She says, “I did not want to eat anything and at times even wished that I would die instead of having to bear the gruesome pain.”

To add to the suffering, Alopecia slowly set in. It is a medical condition where the patient loses most of the hair due to the chemotherapy and radiation sessions. Unlike many others who would slip into depression owing to the trauma that hair loss would cause in a society like India, she put up a brave face. She hoped that the better things were yet to come.

Her already financially-overburdened middle class family was too poor to afford a wig for her. When she finally got one through the ‘Hair for hope’ hair donation campaign, she was ready to donate it to another much-deserving patient. “It was okay for me to go out with my short hair inspite of the constant stares and suspicious glances in the bus or on the road. But there are others who lock themselves up in a room because they cannot face the crowd without their hair. I had a feeling that my wig should go to a much more deserving person than me,” she notes.

The troubles had not really ceased as her health condition deteriorated like never before. She was admitted in a critical condition to the Carithas Hospital, Kottayam. The days in the Intensive Care Unit and the frequent visits to the cancer ward after her discharge showed an entirely new facet of life to her. She saw the suffering of the young children who were too young to know anything but cry and the old people who were barely sane. She saw people who were abandoned by friends and family just because they were affected by a chronic disease. She realised that the world has so much pain and grief in it and her suffering was merely a drop in the ocean.

The counselling sessions as part of her treatment were showing positive signs. She made new friends and things started slowly getting back to normal. The treatment days gave her plenty of time to read books and turned her to a writer. Now, she looks forward to publishing her life book of experiences. Her little group of friends visit the pain and palliative care unit of Carithas Hospital once or twice in a week.

She wants to do whatever little service she can do to help the needy. Also, she acts in an album that is being produced by the students of her college and dreams of making a documentary on cancer patients. During free time, she makes artificial jewellery for sale. Her diploma in computer science engineering has secured her a job in an IT firm in Kochi.

Fighting the ordeal, she has learned to shed the introvert self in her and come out in the open to inspire others with her story. She says,“There are so many people who lose everything just because of this disease. I feel that it is our duty to help them. A healing touch, a consoling hug or even mere presence would mean a lot to the suffering people.” “I sing. I dance. I read. I write. I act. I have a job. I have a family. The disease has helped me discover my real passion. The life which would have ended up in the coccoon of a cozy life is now chasing dreams. I love me.” she adds.
This article was featured in the news website The News Minute
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