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……a bunch of bright-eyed children walking down the street to the construction site around the corner {Sunday : a non-working day}, little bodies shivering in the cold morning gentle breeze, wearing faces that easily can break into mirthful laughter, competing with the warm-n-comforting sun, their tiny feet loosely held in over-sized chappals, squealing into quick catch-me-if-you-can runs…..try to share a bar of chocolate or a pack of biscuits with such kids, if you can, and feel that smack from an intangible yet precious body of cheer & goodness around you! God bless these kids! 

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He pulled this humble looking cycle-rickshaw closer to our office reception, not to disturb the constant in-flow of Hondas, Fords, Hyundais, as well as not to be an eyesore in this jungle of modernity crammed with hideous-looking tall buildings ….These sincere modes of transportation drawn by the poorest yet hard-working folks are an excellent way to move around in a city where one is not that familiar with its topography. Most rickshaw pullers, unlike their modern-age cousins, Auto drivers & Cabbies, do not charge their customers exorbitantly. And they are full of stories about the city, those meandering narrow lanes, strongly held opinions about displaced cows roaming out the traffic empty-hearted and the adverse effects of varied political dramas in the country. I love talking to them in my flaccid bodied Hindi, just the way I used to converse with the Taxi drivers in Mumbai. They are not just the simpler looking modes of transportation for the Indian Middle class, but carriers of the true blue Indian character, i.e. admiringly high levels of tolerance to other cultures & the ever-increasing global consumption pattern, an open-hearted acceptance to the winds of change, yet retaining certain fundamentals which usually define one’s core. When you sit in a cab, the driver immediately switches on the AC, the music system….but when you sit in this fragile looking yet comfortable rickshaw {the whole rickshaw looks like a not-so-tough metal body of inferior quality, held loosely by a few nuts & bolts, a bit of wood here & there} , you feel an immediate connect with the other human being, who is pulling the rickshaw (bare feet, in some cases pedaling hard) that bears your body weight, frail & under-nourished body clad in the oldest pair of shirt & trousers, which seemed to have gone under stitching quite a few times, almost closer to the junction called ‘Ragged look”, making its way through the rough terrains & maddening crowd of cars on the Indian streets.

Today, when I asked the rickshaw puller to give me his mobile no., so that I could call  him whenever I want to go out, instead of a cab that runs on fuel, he smiled vaguely, and said “Madamji, I cannot afford to have a mobile phone, as I earn a mere Rs 1000 per month. But you can inform my bhai who stays in the same compound where I live, a night before the ride. I will come to your flat ……he trailed off! I have been part of a progressive society, which, seems to have miserably failed to create some decent space for such honest & hardworking human beings….its, indeed, a sad development!

 

….In Chandigarh, on 11th April, 2008, captured by Nokia N-series…

this simple yet charming image may not compete with the whole lot of gorgeous spreads of nature that we usually lose selves in and find us back again rejuvenated. But I admired the moment which acquired a quaint and palpably engaging character because of this duo…..the whole sensation of stretching out and resting under a shady embrace of a blooming tree, after an exuberant bicycle ride down a steep hill, shrieking joyously to the verdant grassy fields around throughout, can not be woven into words. A beautiful tree with a book, blue skies wide open peeping through the branches, at the face & onto the pages of the book ? It’s a moment of pure happiness…

 

Chandigarh is a meticulously structured city built in the 1950s from a design by the French architect Le Corbusier. Carl Lindquist writes …”Although its arrangement of streets and sectors on a strict grid contrasts with the organic, intertwining streets and alleys found in the older sectors of many Indian cities, Le Corbusier’s design has a local historical precedent: Chandigarh was the site of an ancient city which had wide streets intersecting at right-angles, lined with neat, well-constructed buildings. In principle, this ancient civic design is not unlike the 20th century plan created by Le Corbusier. The visitor who walks the streets of Chandigarh senses the civic appreciation of beauty and order. Streets here are clean, wide, and clearly demarcated….”…..

The city homes Nek Chand’s Rock Garden, a humble man’s unique way of observing the world around him. {link :Carl Lindquist writes ”Built of  industrial waste and thrown-away items, the Rock Garden in the city of Chandigarh is perhaps the world’s most poignant and salient  statement of the possibility of finding beauty in the unexpected and accidental.”} 

{Courtesy : Mosaicartsource} this picture of beautiful Bangle people is extracted from Mosaiccartsource blog {do visit this wonderful blog}

 

 

    

neglected.jpg….Bangalore, Jan 4th week, 2008 

The ground was light, dark brownish-red and undisturbed by random moves by human feet. One more fresh morning came here for a session of Meditation, as practiced religiously by its ancestors. The environ was free of disturbance of every kind, especially those humans are capable of. A sheer bliss, if one tries to understand the patterns created by the fainter and darker shadows of a partially chopped tree, the stolidity of a time-wrinkled, sun-stroked, wind-chaffed wall with a border of mosses, which may collapse soon after this summer.

The old wooden window, though look outdated, seemed to have retained the depth of color, a reddish-brown, a deep wine red to a pale, golden ruddiness, the suppressed intensity in a woman’s eyes glowing in the splendor of an autumn evening sun, albeit, toned down rigorously by the time. I, like the fresh morning, stood arrested, because there was something indecipherable, devoid of any kind of emotion, clinging to my skin, then a part of the window opened subtly, could be in my imagination. I was not sure, but I stared at what was in front of my eyes for a while, which usually is defined as “Ruined and Neglected space” in our world, but I felt an echo of time which appealed to me. … 210120081015.jpg

Links : Fabulous Photo Blog – Eye for India

Silk worms are fed Mulberry leaves and reared in these spirals.

Links : Outstandingly crafted journey across India : Blog – Windy Skies

Street Corner

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“If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience – Woodrow Wilson”

{link :mind is the key, way it melts away the world in its own mould. I continue…..  }

He was sitting on the pavement, he was not a fixture of that street. He looked unfamiliar to the people who were walking past, loaded with work place gossip, filmy gossip, entertaining banter, and excited feet to celebrate one more successful gully cricket match at the fruit juice shop around the corner. He may be a stranger to the street, but he had a look that was so familiar on his face. No one noticed him, the old dog crying in the broad daylight. He was suffering from the agony of infected wounds, skin disorder and hunger. Something was leaking down from his eyes, those pools of sadness. It was loneliness. His eyes became wide with some unknown fear, when I reached down to touch him, to talk to him. He seemed rather nervous of someone coming from the world he had been moving around, been aware of, the language of which he was not that familiar with, to the world he tried to offer his sincerest face and services, which in turn had given him miserable days and nights, which ill-treated and hurt him, consciously or unconsciously.

I felt, for a brief moment, he looked to me like someone understanding his loneliness. But it was such a fleeting spell. I could not forget the look on his face when he moved away from me when I tried to feed him. I wondered what kind of attitude humans would have displayed towards him for days to snatch away the characteristics, every dog is well known for, worldwide  – a gentle look of blind faith and trust, a happy thump of his tail on the ground and a lively spring in his feet accompanied with a vigorous twist of his body when he sees a friendly human or a human who he thinks could be a friend to him.  How many hits, how many quick snaps, how many kicks, how many glances of negligence, the dog would have survived to gather such a distant and empty look in his eyes ? Someone had stolen “the dog” from him. 

He walked away from me, limping painfully, with his head held down as if he was too ashamed to be around as an uncivilized living thing in a cultured world of people or too ashamed to be around people who are losing this ability to be genuinely moved by a dog’s doleful expression. I could not do much to him then and went ahead with my meeting. It rained heavily that night and I found myself thinking about that gentle soul, the homeless dog, which was abandoned by the world, and by me. He might have died of hunger the next moment, or the next day. This thought turns me cold even now, as I write this. Have I stared at death? Have I failed in comforting the dog? It might have been better if I had held him like a responsible human just for a few minutes. I failed, one more time, successfully, when life offered me an opportunity to be a human. I begin asking myself the same question that haunts me, always, why am I like this? why am I surrounded people of such kind? why are we so irresponsible? Am I becoming insensitive much to my chagrin, much to my dismay? What was I afraid of then? If I were not a human I would not be thinking of him every night? Then, if I were a human why did not I act like one when the situation demanded?161020077201.jpg

Update : All dogs, whether or not they are familiar with her, jump in her lap after an introductory session that lasts only a few seconds. We usually end up standing in a corner of the street chatting with people we know. But, things are different with her. Dogs say hello to this girl whose fingers spell a magic on animals and plants, they  greet her with enthusiastic smiles, wagging their entire bodies…….desertdog.jpg Edith Wharton quoted — My little dog : a heartbeat at my feet. How very true! 21042007033.jpg

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Can anyone participate with a stranger like this –  such a natural flow
of energy from irregularly formed yellowed teeth, from skin wrinkled
by not so comforting life of hers? she is being herself, she is proud of a
day’s hard labour. That’s all she cares about. She does not care much
about glorifying herself. When the masses cease, for a while, to throng
the stone corridors, humbled by the realization that they are in the much
celebrated adobe of the gorgeous Goddess, to gape at the grandeur of
sculpture and the profusion of stucco craftsmanship, 31082007542.jpg

she takes a respite 31082007543.jpgwith other women who sell

flowers of different colours – loose or in garlands, jasmines known for 
for their bold arrogance, slim jasmines with slender waists, 

resplendent marigolds, lilies, water-lilies, 31082007549.jpgmixing their
natural fragrances with home-herbs tulsi, etc. she stuffs a wad of betel
leaves crammed with nuts into her mouth, settles down to talk about
her life or to listen to those better things or tormenting worse developments
in others’ houses with thatched roofs. Red stains appear in the street
in a few moments, generous bouts of laughter are spread across the
tiny shops set-up near the footsteps, the entrance gates of offices.
Is there a better way to celebrate than by hurling things through the air?
The fragrant blossoms amuse at this celebration of life from their respective
wooden baskets, at these simple-minded women who demonstrate this
profound piece of wisdom to passers-by as always. They free their world of woes,
effortlessly, put a blind faith, unflinchingly, on someone who resides in
blue skies whose representative came down a few eons ago, to reside in
elegantly crafted stone houses – Temples. A gentle rhythm appears to embrace
everything, everyone like that thin swirl of saambrani smoke. I realized
that I am alive. To meet women who can smile at others with so much ease,
whose smiles filled with warmth vendorofflowers.jpglift that unknown heaviness

from strangers who stop a while at their little shops which disappear in the nights,
who remind most of us those wonderful trees which blossom early in the fading
darkness of mornings. I want to know, how does she drape dignity in one
of the corners of her home? Does she turn away her face, a gentle profile is
thrown at the world, with her nose adorned with a big ring of stones embedded
in Gold, which shines in the daylight brilliantly? But I do not mind if she does
not tell me her secret. But I am glad that I met her and part from her with a promise
of seeing her again. In the sunset years of her life.  Someday. When her beautiful
smile lives on her eyelids, skin over them wrinkled further with a few more
memories. But her dignity to be revealed in a much richer robe hued in many
vibrant colours of life- borrowed from the horns of the cattle painted, from
the fields where flowers bloom everyday without fail , glass bangles, wooden
puppets, from the bazaars of common traders who thrive upon the nature’s designs.

{from my Travel notes – Madurai Meenakshiamman Kovil  & the last image of flower vendor is borrowed from}

{courtesy:travelblog.org}   

I have always loved Trams, the regal simpletons, chugging along the main lanes,the by-lanes of Calcutta, displaying charm and a life of their own. Trains, buses, speeding autos, arrogant cars with an assertive tone scare me a bit, I find them a bit intrusive. On the contrary, I felt, Trams invite me into their old, charming world where “only basic things were revered as they were created, devoid of unnecessary elements of comfort that pamper one’. I wanted to capture as many Trams as I could, but failed to do so. Since my day was spread amongst cubicles of free-flowing conversations with homemakers, (we term them Consumer research groups), dressed in creamish white lightweight cotton saris adorned in varied designs hued in the vivid colours of life- both simple and sophisticated, jewellery that hug their necks, a large red bhindi made with vermillion powder, flowers in their long and black tresses, who are highly articulate about their lives with apt pauses coming from the “clink-n-clank” of their glass bangles, a blend of reds, creams and whites…I wonder, conversations come to them with so much ease.

Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Prize laureate, wrote in Potisar (Padma, downstream of the Ganges)

….for some time I have been remarking that man is angular and incoherent , women rounded and complete. Woman’s way of speaking, dressing, moving and behaving is an integral harmony with her duties in life. And the main reason is that for ages. Nature has defined these duties and modified these duties and moulded her feelings to fit them. …in all her being and doing she united grace and skill, her nature and her work, like a flower and its scent. She acts without conflict or hesitation….

at the end of the day, I, somehow, found self revived from my sadness as uplifted from these light-hearted interactions (part of consumer research we are doing for our client), yet mentally exhausted due to the suppressing tendency of the humid weather in Calcutta. And my tired eyes were searching for Trams – sluggishly meandering like tapeworms through the streets, oblivious to the cacophony of life littered around. They always seem throbbing with a smooth and silk glide of unread poems …..I finally captured a Tram, almost empty a body on the move  ,{link: but I preferred the first image as captured by the Travelblog}. A gentle talk between a tired day darkened with irritants of many kind {dust, furious sun, sullen mutterings of thin rains leaving a humid layer on the skins} and a fresh night that’s poised to invade homes gathering around the dinner tables, glowed inside the tram. A pair in love – the girl must have met this boy in her neighbourhood, that evening when he came down to his friend’s place, who was about to enter the house, but felt a shadow of glances targeted at him, his eyes must have met her beautiful pair of eyes, and since that moment their lives may have been busy in writing a fresh chapter. I could sense a bit of turmoil in her eyes now, perhaps, the same wave of resistance from her family to her wish to be in a married relationship with him.  There, in that corner, an old gentleman seemed to have lost in a world that was lonelier than mine, more zig-zagged with sagged lines. The whisper of rain accentuated the silence further, fortunately, it was broken by the “ting” of the bell came from some corner of the Tram. I do not know which home was this old gentleman heading to – his home where his wife who has been loyal to him for years, sitting amidst the smells of cooking in a small kitchen – warm with the light from a lantern, the hiss rhythm of vegetables spelling out a heart-warming meal soon- a bit of boiled rice, a pinch of sweet-pickle, a small piece of fish left by their son, previous weekend,  who is currently living separately. Empty trams still thrum around with a few stories that could be read by those who are interested in plain and simple lives. You can also watch them and tell me a story that’s so different from what I understood from.        

  

I met a Tram around the corner of a by-lane, holding faces that are still, faces that are afresh after a siesta, faces that glow with a desire to fight and survive in this harsh world, faces that hold fast to the way of living that’s become a chapter in books, arranged in organised piles across brightly-lit stores.  I met a tram that called out to me to join lanes, which curved through wrought-iron gates, the high walls, the trees grew taller than the walls, huge bunglows with large rooms where sunlight, breeze heavy with the scents of rain lived with people. Yes, Trams tremble with short stories from the lanes. Like others, I do feel like taking a pause from my life with no meaning and spend an evening with the Trams. I may be moderately rich, I may hesitate to sit in the wooden benches inside the Tram, I may smile at the old conductor, I may stretch my neck to have a glimpse of the Tram driver who stands throughout the journey, with a pace that would never match today’s modes of transportation. But a journey that beckons one into a world, which is not mechanical and efficient, but HUMAN in every aspect.

Talking about a world that is lonelier, that is beyond one’s comprehension, that looks so far away from all of us, that humbles the onlookers with its silence, one treads softly lest one destroys the painful tranquility lingers around….Sadness adds newer supplementary angles on our faces, and which surprisingly elevate the beauty of an ordinary situation.

{My Nokia N-series always come in handy, though I have Sony Digicam. The image of old gentleman was captured when I was driving to Britannia. The images of first batallion of monsoons were also captured through Nokia N-series}

benches_digi_sm.jpg{link:I met them}…. mind is the key, way it melts away the world in its own mould. I continue….….

“…The brown dog watching the world goes by, his
head lying on the dusty ground, his eyes meditating
over the chaotic life humans lead.

The old man at the traffic junction, a crazy child of life perched on
his rickety old cycle, reminiscently playing a song of mild winter on his 
mouth organ, wobbled his feet to the pitch, oblivious to the world around

The little child dwarfed in his oversized trousers, pulled a halt and
then hurried through the hard road between his home and school,with 
his sister, trailed his little fist along the wall to the joyous beat of his heart.
 

I see them so clearly wish I could touch them.

How long will they, do you think, remain alone?”

In life, such an adorable complication, nothing lasts forever. But a few gentle images leave an impact on us in an unassumingly simple way. I could not hear the tune my dear woody old man was playing on his mouth organ, some tune that has the potential to tug at frozen hearts like mine *well, mine is not so frozen!..But he stood there as an image of serenity. I was amazed by his verve, his stance towards the world, as if he does not belong to the idiotic world I exist. UNBELONG! Would I ever be able to place my palm on his soft, withering and gnarled skin? Would I ever be able to meet life in his failing eyes ? My dear woody old man has not got much time left! Will I meet him again? I am not so sure about the incidence, but I regret that I left him there. I could not even turn back to have one more glimpse of him, a lovely human being….Nevertheless,I am glad that I still have a heart that beats for all these amazing vignettes of life, which I stumble upon  in the streets and I wish it would remain the same!    

Life is not just about big achievements, great presentations, fabulous conversations, compelling strategies and reading thinkers & feel a morsel of that universe. ..but it’s all about little gestures!Finally, I got a wrap- a sense of fulfillment around myself today morning, when the nip in the air was busy shedding down its maturity! he could not do anything but to follow his friend who suddenly dashed off to the other side of the road leaving him *all alone. One had to see his eyes, those beautiful eyes in the tiniest fraction of second became pools of sadness. He looked at me, who was exploring many ways of parking the car stylishly (suppressing a giggle). While one side of the MG road stayed reluctantly inactive for a while enough to gather momentum, the other side started bustling with the breakfast time traffic…I approached him and in some felt language made him understand  my genuine desire to help him out of the situation  so that he could go back to prancing around with his mate around the boulevard..oh, his mate was waiting for him over there!ah, the state of predicament between the human and a generous living thing….Gods must be crazy, finally, he trusted me and did agree to listen to me, and there we went…we both successfully crossed the road, with the human’s hand waving fervently at other humans riding varied vehicular moves …I turned back this time and he was looking at me with his friendly tail smiling….my dear brown doggie! I  walked back to my car like a cow-girl…work it out, work it out baby! But I had the “time of my life”! Good, I am getting better! many dogs get crushed under fast moving vehicles….

straydog.jpg“I met them with my eyes

-above the clinking of the loose pebbles
coming up and hitting the bottom of my car

I see them so clearly wish I could touch them

A poor woman as neglected as a piece of rag,
she is there with her baby, lifeless in wind and heat
her eyes plead everyone for a few coins.

The brown dog watching the world goes by, its
head lying on the dusty ground, his eyes meditating
over the chaotic life humans lead.

The old fruit vendor under his aged umbrella,
His face is lined and grimy, the bright light shining up
from apples and pomegranates drilling his eyes even deeper.

How long will they, do you think, remain alone?” (WIP)

“Being lost to the evening of a long hot day
as the sunset quickened its dark shadows
across the smog shrouded streets,

I gazed at the disheveled and dirty kids
dark and hunger-driven faces gleaming with
the exciting sounds of street pebbled cricket,
at the team of skinny and weary laborers
trudging slowly,dirt streaked sweat drenched
bodies, haunting an image of existence
fighting hunger, humiliation and pain;
a fleeting moment of glance left me
with disturbing and hazy reminders
of troublesome and grim lives

In silence I walked past them,
my voice muffled in grief and
unrecognizable hope of a brighter
day and night for those battered souls

I left the street crowded
with toil and struggle
regretfully!”

tried to capture the essence of the grime and dirt of a Big City Life. Though I detest Mumbai, the commmercial capital of India,”A GHETTO”, I always find this city throbbing with energy, vibrancy and it seemed to demand a lot from an individual..it drives one!
‘What is this life if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?’ -William Henry Davies
A city that never sleeps,
A linear landscape that offers contrasting views of life
A city counters time, not bound by the dimension
Surprisingly, both the poverty and squalor of this city enable most of us to illustrate our vignettes with refreshing openness and candor, not the lifestyle/prosperity/progressive attitude of the city. In fact, we have seen most well known n well read books set against the backdrop of middle class/struggling class of Mumbai,while candy floss remained the property of Bollywood

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