...once in love

I have loved someone so intensely I almost forgot who I was; so deeply I drowned in the same waters I created to supposedly bathe him with a love I haven’t felt before; so big I lost all strength to carry it in my back alone, letting it crush me soon after.

So I have loved someone with all my heart only to end up being killed by its same enormity.
Artwork: Paula

And you can’t tell me love can’t harm anyone. Isn’t there a song about it already? That too much of it will kill you? Murder you? Torture you? Set you ablaze?

So I have loved someone in a way I myself haven’t understood quite fully. I just knew it was there, raggedly breathing, struggling for life every single day.

But then the worst storm came and the ugly realisation of being never loved back by the one you adore most hit me like the waves of Typhoon Haiyan striking the shores of the Philippine islands–obliterating everything in her wake, leaving nothing useful, almost unbearably and unbelievably leaving nothing for tomorrow.

There has been this one period when I seriously thought I wouldn’t make it through, when I just stare at the ceiling, laying flat on the floor, carelessly chasing my respiration patterns as horrible panic attacks came. I remember people looking at me with those puzzled eyes, eventually concluding that everything was an act for attention when in reality you beg for none but peace. I remember his unfeeling words that made me realise how tiny I have been for him–me and my feelings, me and my thoughts, me and my capabilities, potentials, tomorrows, and nows.

So I loved someone and got the worst heartbreak in the history of my life.

And then he came.

You know those days when you’re in the middle of a scorching summer and then the rain came? And it isn’t just a passing drizzle that’s gone just before you enjoy it. I’m talking about torrential rain pouring all of a sudden, not just moistening and damping the cracked and dried-up lands but more like nourishing it and washing away all the dusts and weeds, making it healthier, allowing it to be fertile for flowers to grow on.

That’s what it’s like.

It came almost instantly–the healing. You know when you’re in the worst mood of all time then suddenly you’re favourite vent song came in the radio and you can’t help yourself but sing your heart and lungs and oesophagus out? When you’re in a horrible day and then you saw the dusk and all its colours and suddenly you tell yourself it’s a great world and  a great life and a great time to start anew.

It’s like you screaming with all your might to declare you will never love again, and then suddenly, just suddenly, you did again.

That’s what it’s like.

So I have loved and had suffered the worst heartache in my book.

And then there came someone that washed away all the pain almost too snappily. Almost too sudden, too unreal, too unreasonably fast.

That’s what it’s like.

That’s what it’s like since he came.

Yes, Kangana is a WITCH

A newly married young girl, who smoothly adjusted in her new role as a wife, was once told by her in-laws that she had probably cast a spell on their son as he always supported her, sometimes much against their wishes. What they probably could not understand was that it was no magic that had won her husband over but the love of the woman.

In fact, it is not unusual to see women being labeled or called names. A recent controversy where an actress was called a psychopath and a witch in the same breath should not really shock us. In our society a strong woman who wins personal or professional battles without support is usually not applauded; instead, people busy themselves in finding a reason for her success as if there was a prize to it.

At work, when a woman earns an impressive increment or that well deserved promotion, people in hushed tones discuss why she had it so easy which usually ends up with an affair or closeness to the boss. Obviously, nobody cares to recall the long hours spent and the project deadlines that she has met almost every time.

In our society, the easiest way to put down a woman is to hit where it hurts the most. Point at her morality or question her sanity and you have instantly got a strong, independent woman questioning herself.

It is our society’s inability to accept and deal with women who know what they want and work to get it without playing the damsel in distress that brings out this insecurity. The fact that a woman can do it all and get what a man can get exposes a helplessness that can only be cured if it throws back the woman back to gallows of darkness. Where she must cry and beg for help. In this age old power struggle, it is scary to let any woman rise. It is because, a successful woman would inspire her clan and that can turn the tables overnight in our patriarchal society.
So a woman who expresses her sexuality and chooses her own life partner becomes a slut. A woman who has a sharp mind is usually the black magician who burns the midnight oil while pricking voodoo dolls. And God bless the woman with a sharp tongue. She is the worst of them all. For it is this woman who questions and answers back. No wonder, in this side of the world, everybody wants a well educated bride so that she can be shown off as a trophy but nobody wants her to speak!

Thankfully, the new breed of  women have developed a strong immunity towards all this name calling and are striving harder than before to attain their individual potentials, while the world is left gaping too awestruck to call her anything but a STAR, and a magical one at that!

Happiness is…that inward journey

The other day I woke with a voice in my head. “No words” it said, over and over. Accompanying the voice was a sharp headache, which sent shock waves through my being when I moved too quickly. The message seemed clear to me. “Slow down, shut up and listen!”

However exciting, the noise, activity and distraction of city life can be overwhelming. Whether a brief visitor or a long-term resident, we often lack the resources to carve out quiet time. A friend of mine, who is an artist in New York, once gave me some advice. “In the country, there is lots of space outside, but in the city, I find I need to create more internal space.” It reminds me of a question once asked on a meditation retreat. “How can we “go out” whilst “staying in”? How can we be in and of the world whilst maintaining the equilibrium and peace of mind we need to negotiate our days with grace and clarity?

I felt I needed some air, so I took myself out into the street and sauntered into the square nearby. At the stroke of noon, a tinkle of bells began to peal and I couldn’t help but follow the sound. Still walking ever so slowly, I felt my feet connect with the cobblestones, my hands reaching out to stroke ancient walls. I found myself led to a garden, where fresh water flowed through an ornate fountain. I was drawn to the way the light fell into the courtyard, spilling shadows over ornately-carved doors. Bustling tourists hurried past me with cameras, clicking and moving on, clicking and moving on, while I paused, breathed, contemplated.

My journey that day led me to take a seat in the sun and enjoy the music from a talented busker playing music in the nearby chowk. An ancient palm tree told tales of long ago merchants and scholars…a centuries-old synagogue offered up long-held secrets…an intriguing mural gave insight into a local community and a hidden school yard sheltered children playing freely. I was moved to regard the older residents of Pune ambling through the place they know so well, and for a moment, my mind stopped its ceaseless racing and my senses gathered in close. For a while, I tuned in to a different pace and time. More at home, both within myself, and without.

A Rosy Tale of Winter

This city has started taking place in my heart. With the green monsoon, here comes the winter!

There comes a day when the early rising Punekar will step out of his house, pause in slight surprise, and try to clear his eyes. When the blurriness remains, the he realizes that the light fog is to blame for the reduced visibility and that winter has arrived on padded feet.

Winter arrives quietly in Pune and is greeted with relief by the city. Pune has always lived, figuratively and literally, in the shadow of a metropolis that makes much of its monsoons. But winter is a season Pune can lay claim to as its own. Unlike the disruptive machismo of the Bombay rains, Pune's winter is gentle in both arrival and tenure, mirroring the  happy and laid-back ways of the place. A trip down the sleek Mumbai-Pune expressway through the misty Western Ghats more than amplifies this difference.

In the Pink The phrase that the locals use to describe the first month of the winter says it all. Punekars bask in “gulaabii thandii”, literally the “rosy cold”. During this time, citizens, in their light woolens, can be seen bearing a light rosiness of both cheek and demeanor.

Since Pune's winters are temperate, especially in comparison with the frigid bitterness of many North Indian towns, they can rouse residents to action rather than cause them to cower behind a thick quilt. Once the indolence of the early cold morning is defeated, a walk in the balmy ambiance is the best way to kick off a day. Given that parts of commercially booming Pune are sometimes be-deviled by smog towards the evenings, the mornings remain the best time to soak up the sun-kissed winter at the 'tekri'.

A favorite‘ tekdi’ or hillock. Pune is blessed with an abundance of these easy-to-climb hillocks, which offer vantage views of the city, especially in the late evenings. Many of these tekdis have a temple at the summit, providing the spiritually-minded with a reward for their exertions. For the more material at heart, tekdis also offer flat summits for exploration and the pleasant company of fellow wanderers.

A favorite variation of this is to walk up the nearest

Winter is also Avian Season for bird watchers. Many lakes in and around Pune receive several varieties of migratory birds. Pune has inspired many as amateur ornithologists.

Since winters in Pune rarely descend into single digit temperatures, the city is never hobbled by the weather. As January ends and the sun becomes less oblique, winter fades away just as gently as it arrived. Each year, the hard-to-impress Pune old-timer will insist that the city was not what it used to be. But come next November, this sentiment will be assuaged by the winters of Pune's content.