Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Walk

A dark skinned non-oriental feature lone woman walking down the street. Shabbily dressed; a pajama and a T shirt, trainers and a worn-out hat to get some respite from the evening sun rays; looking around, taking in everything the eyes can register. From the distinct aroma of noodles and grilled meat, old men slouching on chairs and some crouching doing nothing, the muddy waters of the river, kids playing with sticks and lump of mud; unkempt and not a care for the world. I wonder when was the last time I saw kids entertaining themselves with nothing but their creativity. Not seeing them glued to a TV or a smartphone or a tablet was kind of shocking.

The twilight was contemplating; whether to arrive or just let this moment linger on for a little bit long. Centuries old Wats(Buddhist temples) stand alongside modern patisseries offering free WiFi to be connected with the world. The courtyards of the Wats are unassuming providing the perfect contrast to the gilded roofs and walls of red and gold of the main temple. Monks clad in bright orange robes trying to go about their ascetic ways; now seemingly tough what with too many things to indulge in. A young monk walked with a broom and started sweeping the street. Another one started taking snaps of the monk in action. It was amusing to watch and I so wanted to know if those monks who live an austere life by seeking alms every morning and evening have a social media account as well? Chuckled at the thought of Buddha's no desire principle clashing with Mark Zuckerburg's stay connected venture.

The heaven tries to open up; yet its hesitant. It decides a drizzle is good enough and the dampness in the air still does not budge. As I walk; crossing scenes after scenes - it occurs to me its all similar. There is sanity; if you observe amidst the cacophony and frenzy. Yet; in that sanity lies the confusion and madness. Thoughts in my head, two personalities debating over which one is true. Out of reverie; I see a tuk-tuk driver expectantly waiting to be asked to be hired. He asks - Tuk tuk? I smile and say no, thank you. On my right; is a public school compound. Empty; school for the day is done. And then; a knock on my head. I look up; a tamarind tree just decided to drop a tamarind on me. I bend down and pick the tamarind and contemplate what to do with it? I carry it with me; did not realize when and where I lost it.

As the twilight set in; the roads came alive with more activities. Street markets, street food stalls and more. Locals and visitors walking around alike. I walk to a nearby stall and inquire the price of a stack of handmade paper. The haggling starts; a couple of minutes later; price agreed and my item is packed. The lady then asks "You from?" I say - "India". "Oh!..with you?" to which I respond "just me". She asks "one?" I say "yes, just one. Me, alone." What did I see? A sense of pity on her face. She feels sad for me. "Oh! why? alone?" I smile and say "I like". I think she got my point. She then asked "You happy?" I smile and nod.

I continue my walk..

PS : This is one of my evenings at Luang Prabang, Laos.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Airport Diaries

The aircraft just touches the ground; "click" click" goes the many seat belt buckles being unbuckled simultaneously; in spite of the "Seat belt on" sign. Few get up from their seat and open the overhead baggage compartment and  hurriedly get their luggage down. A beeline is made already....the aircraft is taxing. The pilot announces that we are ahead of time and the gate is yet to be vacated. People are restless; bags shuffling, pushing and jostling as if they don't get out of the aircraft in the next 20 seconds it lands, the air plane will again take off without dropping them. You will actually start to feel awkward if you don't join the crowd and instead remain seated......

I love to travel; you guys know that by now. I try to make at least 2-3 decent trips every year and so airport is if not integral; a decent part of my life. The above one is one of the many amusing and irritating incidents I've come across while flying. These anecdotes warrants a dedicated diary. Its more amusing than irritating when most of them participate and when you are not privy to such an action; you get conscious of being the awkward among the group. Err..yeah! try it once. Try being calm, continue sitting even for a minute after the aircraft lands; the person beside you will definitely stare at you even if he/she does not utter a word. 

I get intimidated when I fly; when I wait at the gate; when I walk around the airport. Why you may ask? Not because of the unfamiliarity of the airport and the practices (I must admit I was scared..very scared during my initial travel days, not anymore); but because of the swanky gadgets and travel "necessities" that people around me carry and I feel so barren. Very recently; I saw 2 kids not older than 5 years having iphone 6s and playing games on it. I felt so ashamed to be "flaunting" my dented iphone 5s; I actually hid it deep in my bag. And those huge Beats headphones that kids have to listen to all those crappy music that's being made these days makes me go "whoa!!" . So yeah, I am made to feel how poor I am during these moments. 

Freebies! yeah yeah! who does not want one? That man beside me who flew from Hong Kong to Bangalore demanded extra wine; drank it and passed out! He was falling on my shoulder and I had to keep nudging. He passed out after just 2 glasses of wine! These are typical Indian behaviours; sorry folks, I am an Indian too but yeah we can drink even phenol for free. And how we demand those freebies as if its our birthright! and complain if its not satisfactory. Heights no? 

Another Indian trait is to push and cut the queue. While I was flying back from Srinagar; there was this "uncle" who kept pushing his trolley to be the first during baggage check. He had already knocked off an elderly woman and was now pushing my suitcase that could fall on the person in front of me. When I confronted; he had a shameless smug look of being "the man". I have no words for such morons. 

I do sound like a whiner! Well, we often remember things that are bad isn't it? I have had good things happen as well. Like the lady at the counter who let my baggage checked in without extra cost in spite of being overweight. She was very kind; yeah. Or the airlines that obliged and let me board their flight in Guatemala though I just rushed in just 3 mins before the take off. What bowled me over was they offered a pack of chips, a pack of cream biscuits and juice in that flight! Wow! I did feel like a queen. 

Fellow passengers have been kind too; especially if you are travelling alone and have to lift 25+ kgs of baggage. A Japanese man not only offered me a candy; he helped me with my baggage at the airport and left me with a pat on my neck long ago while flying from San Francisco. A person beside me picked up a conversation while I was flying to Casablanca, Morocco and actually gave me enough directions for me to get to the hotel from airport in the most efficient and cheapest way possible.

It doesn't end here....but these are few that I can recall. I am sure I'll have more interesting encounters in the future. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Pleasure Trip

The sun throws his final rays,
Glorious specks of gold,
Glistening on the lake.
Occasional boats pass by
Disturbing the calm waters.
The others tied to the quay; rocking to and fro;
They would all night; until set free in the morning. 
Beyond; the trees and the mountains
Form a silhouette; dark outlines, blurring details.
Are they sad? Seeing the sun go down?
A pup plays fetch; tail wiggling,
Jumping into the lake with glee,
His bum twitching and twerking,
As his owner throws the big orange ball.
His world so simple yet magical.
Night life starts along the waterfront. 
Food and drinks; in abundance.
Friends sitting by the edge, chatting. 
Lovers cuddling and stealing kisses.
Every few minutes; I see the drama of the sun
Displaying an aura of a master
Who has orchestrated the evening
And now ready to sleep.
I am here; in my own world
Watch the scene; sitting by myself.
Munching on tortillas; 3 of them with "no carne". 
Why am I here; alone? 
Should I've been with my partner?
Holding hands while watching the sunset together?
Should I've been with friends? 
Cheering up over beer? 
Why am I taking a pleasure trip alone?  

Thursday, September 1, 2016


An idiot! I am.
Ask me why?
Well I am; but don’t know why?

Want to go to la-la land
And sing the song of nonsense
To the rhythm of la-moron

An idiot bird on my shoulder
An idiot dog by my side
I’d walk like a total dunce.

We will roll and laugh
Throw dirt on each other.
Like a thorough nincompoop

I’d build a simple hut
And plant an idiot’s garden
Till and water idiotic plants

Bunkum! You say
But you are a blockhead too.
Why? You ask?

I know; because I am one too!!

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Another birthday went by....

I am often asked "What are your plans?"

Over a cup of coffee with my cousins when they come over to visit me or over a mug of chilled beer with a close friend; somewhere between the talks of bitching about a relative we share our dislikes for or discussing about a latest movie. How I struggle and meticulously talk along the borderline to just avoid "this" talk.

What are your plans? - its not a simple question. I dread it, have put up with this question for over a decade and would've to for long time now. What are your plans for life? There is always a pause as I take in that question. I look around and then stare blankly and shrug with the same answer as always -  "I don't know!"  Only that; I am not a teenager to give such an "irresponsible" answer. I am way past teens and 20s.

In my case, the question is basically when are you expanding your family? Kids? Am I thinking about it? Clock's ticking!!! Why am I selfish? What am I going to do in 5 years' time? Who will take care of me as I get older? And this "I don't know" knocks people off their minds; they can't fathom how can someone live their life not having a plan about their life. How? Why? They want to know if there a problem? Medical? Personal? Marital? Any problem? They want to help. And then - Are you not scared? is the next question. I again shrug and ask "Scared about what?" There! they lose it. I am thought to be a  weirdo, an insane, abnormal personality; a concerted conspiracy planted by force unknown amidst normal and conforming people to confuse them!

Volley of questions. For some reason, people think I am behind everyone in growing up or that I am refusing to grow up. I don't want to take up responsibilities. But my "plan" does not go beyond weekends. Do I think I have "lot of time" or do I think I am "20 anymore". No I don't. Of course, am I not a qualified adult? I hold a responsible position at workplace, answerable to critical deliverables, pay my taxes, cast my vote, do charity, face economic hardships having to make tough decisions at times, drink responsibly and above all - president of my apartment association and heck! I am a responsible mother to a puppy dog...(hope so!...have to get it confirmed with Gypsy).

I do save a bit, but I want to spend what I earn on my passion - traveling and exploring the world. I want to travel as far and as much as possible before my body gives up. Catch up with friends and jam and laugh a bit before the invites stop coming.

But when I see around; I see folks getting married, having kid, having a second kid....thinking about future, retirement, savings....A lot has happened in this past year for me. I changed jobs; went back to my old company. I saw familiar people who I last saw 8 years ago before I quit still hanging around. Some of them now with gray hair and stooped shoulders, few who joined as a new college graduate as me are now showing signs of aging - belly, under eye bags and a hunch. I came across a couple of classmates from school - I knew them as young innocent girls stepping into teens but now moms with 2 kids. When I saw them first; I saw myself in them - young, energetic and carefree. But now; they are old, tiring and full with responsibilities and commitments.  I don't see myself in them anymore; or have I also grown up to be tired, old and stressed?

Perhaps; my problems are different. I do discuss at length about these evolution and cycle of life with few of my young friends; and I've started to notice that we are reducing in number. Few years ago; friends got busy with their life as they migrated to different country or got married or committed and got busy in their life. Now I am in that "those friends are having second kid" phase. Everyone are happy with those new phases in life; while I am still clinging on to that "old" one which people believe is not right. Perhaps; I will not know. They don't know that I am comfortable in my skin; I am not fretting over it now and hope I won't wake up one day and regret that I missed the boat. Self doubt is suffocating; but let me live with this thought and this too shall pass.

But I am glad to be not growing up just like everyone else does and seems its the norm; I revel in what and how I am. I also very well acknolwedge that I am growing old and respect it with grace. This becomes very important to distinguish because most folks think growing up and growing old are one and the same. I'll accept the aging factor; don't wish to disguise that trying to and blend in with 20-somethings around me. Should I grow up?

I don't know.....

Friday, August 12, 2016

Through Central America

My absence has been due to business related travel to California. Well, the schedule was hectic with having to deliver right on day one while dealing with jet lag. Day after day; I turned up in office sleepy and groggy; dark circles growing bigger and darker around my eyes. I had to be in two different locations; and then the ask was to spend few more days at work.

After the work was done; I just booked a ticket to Guatemala. I wanted a break and Central America has always been on my list; especially the Mayan ruins. So Guatemala to start it was; no plan and no itinerary. I wanted to keep it flexible and open so that I could just plan each day as it comes and go where I wanted to as I traveled. Left my luggage at a friend's place; packed 2 sets of clothes and bare essentials in a backpack and started on a 9 day travel.

Well, whenever I have traveled solo I have ended up meeting other travelers in between and have tagged along; so it was never solo completely. However this time; it was all through solo as I hopped across 3 countries starting at Guatemala through Belize and to Mexico and finally back to USA. The experience unforgettable; the places I visited were nothing short of paradise; the people of course curious of me and I of them. It was totally a new thing to me; challenges due to language barriers were abounds; but thats where the thrill is right? I'll journal about this trip on my travel blog; meanwhile a sneak peak here.

The Half Moon Bay, California. I went straight from the airport as soon as I landed.
No need of an introduction I guess. The so famous Mayan ruins at Tikal, Guatemala
The serene scene at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
The Spanish colonial town of Antigua, Guatemala
Laguna Bacalar off Costa Maya in Quintana Roo, Mexico

Monday, July 18, 2016

String of Jasmine

A rhapsody of scent, unexpected. 
Welcoming; in an otherwise dull reception.
I turn around to spot a lady unassuming.
A string of jasmine flowers
Coifed on her long silky hair.
Ah! a refreshing aroma.

Jubilation; to see a lady
Clad in brightest of saree with
contrast of blouse; unmatched.
Muffled jingles from broken bells;
On her silver anklet. Assorted silver rings
Straining her slender toes.

The face; as innocent as it could be
Is the innocence just outward?
I know not; not that it matters.
Bright big red dot on the forehead;
And a tiny smear of vermilion;
Middle of her neatly parted  hair.

Glittering gold with rubies accentuated
Earrings , bangles and necklaces
The elegant lady was all decked
As if she were to attend a wedding.
Realized I was in hospital only when;
My name was called to consult the doctor.