Monthly Archives: June 2012

My Himalayan Story 2012

I was in the Himalayas this summer. Trekking upto almost 13000 feet, we crossed the Saurkundi pass in the Kullu valley through an expedition organised by the Youth Hostel Association of India. From reporting at the base camp to touching the base camp again after the trek it was 11 days in all.  As we climbed and went to each campsite, nature in all its splendour was revealed to us.

The thing about the Himalayas is that never ceases to amaze you. I have been to the Himalayas before while trekking on another valley, and yet, this time again , I was moved beyond words to see snow-peaked mountains. It’s incredible to see these shimmering white all around, except perhaps a few mountains far across that have black clouds hovering above and are shrouded in fog, and you know that it’s snowing there. The fresh sweet water, the wind whispering tales of where its been, green blades of grass uncrumpled, the kiss of the first few snow drops –  everything resides within me.

The wind is young, the wind is alive.

This time, we were the 15th group to leave from the Saurkundi base-camp at Babeli and were hence called SK15. Quite funnily, my younger brother was chosen the group leader and after two days of acclimatization, we set out for the top.  I have been on such treks before, but what was extraordinary was that 25 deaf-and-dumb students from a school in Bhavnagar(Gujarat) were trekking with us along with their teachers for guidance. Spending many days with them, they taught us not just the sign-language, but many more lessons. They were always so excited to learn and really see what was around them. They accepted their handicap as a part of something god-given and never were they upset about it. I remember, once I was talking to one of them in sign language and telling him that I love to dance. I asked him what he liked, drawing?singing? To that, he indicated, ‘yes, singin. But I can’t really sing because I have no voice.’ Thats when I realized. I had become so engrossed in conversing that I had forgotten his disability. A glass shattered within me as I realized that even our hobbies have so much to do with our senses which we so often take so much for granted. They could not hear music. I was distressed. I apologized to him and he just replied saying that god had made him that way. I also realized that its stupid that I was surprised at these children being able to trek. Ofcourse they could. They had their limbs, but more than that, they had the will. It was me who was disabled in the mind, to think that this was a great challenge for them. They had conquered much more, a long time back.

I suppose some disabilities are apparent, and others are not. In some way, we all are disabled. Or “differently-abled”, as its called in the parlance of our times.

Wes once told me something very remarkable. He pointed out how they laughed so uninhibited and with so much truth, when infact, they couldn’t even hear themselves or each other. Its been more than a month since this, and I haven’t gotten over what he said.

Well, getting back to the trek. We lived in tents at each camp and got simple yet nourishing food that will give us the stamina and strength to climb. It’s always fun at these treks. There are so many different people around, there is time to socialize and yet be alone and contemplate. Everything from politics to stupid toilet habits are discussed, and a new intimacy is found. This is a comfortable one, where there is not much hope of meeting again, though there are promises. This is an intimacy , that you think might soon fizzle out with distance,and so there is also an uninhibited-ness about the bonds formed. I met a lot of fabulous people here. Aparna, Minhaj and Wes, being the closest. Ofcourse, I found out once again, that my brother is a superb guy. At one of the lunch stops, a guy came along with the local attire and jewellery that women in the Kullu valley wear. He rented it to me for Rs 20 while I clicked pictures with it on. I even held a kid (baby goat) while I posed and learnt some steps from the local folk dance from him. 🙂

In one of the camps, Dora Thatch, I witnessed a sight we only see in paintings. Up away a little above, the hill we were on was silhouetted against a deep navy blue sky. In it, was a single large planet, the shining Venus. I had never seen her so large. On the hill, we saw silhouettes of ponies grazing and bounding around.  I saw this, and such beautiful sights that I don’t have the right words to describe.

I hope my brain and my memory, can forever recollect these sights and images and people in the exact shape and shade. I don’t want to forget the details. I don’t want to forget the water’s taste. Most of all, I don’t want to forget that freedom. I don’t want to lose it.

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Filed under Journeys and travels, La vie, Love and all, My favourite people, Stuff I like, Thoughts/ Ideas, World

Close your eyes and let yourself be led away in tumultuous waves and gentle ebbs, in this composition by L Shankar. Really beautiful piece, this.

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Breaking the ghetto

As I mentioned earlier, I am visiting my parents in Kuwait this summer. But honestly, it’s quite easy to forget that sometimes over here. Now, we reside in a part of Kuwait where mostly Indians and Pakistanis live. When we step out of the house, people on the streets, parks and malls looks exactly like the people back in India and it does not really feel like we are in a “foreign” country. The local shopkeepers and street-end grocers speak Tamil and Malayalam(south Indian languages) and you can be sure that anyone in the area will respond to your Hindi. Before we go ahead, I must emphasize to those who don’t know already, that Arabs (West-Asian origin)look quite different from Indians (South-Asian origin) in terms of facial features and physical built. Now let’s get to the point.

Why does an Indian or South Asian ghetto even exist here in the first place??! Why do people like to flock with others of a common or even a similar origin irrespective of whether they like the fellow clansmen or not?  This scenario is not just limited to Kuwait, every city has such spaces that can be said to be an area specifically populated by people of a specific races, countries, religions, regions, languages, ages.   All my parents’ friends here are Indians and as far as I can perceive , belonging to certain privileged castes(as such a problem exists in India), class and I suppose also largely vegetarian like my family. I remember meeting a particular Aunty who always always criticizes Kuwaitis whenever she speaks. She talks about how “they” waste food in restaurants, splurge money, ill treat maids, buy too much stuff at the mall etc. But how can a certain people be just generically criticized of a behaviour that I am sure exists even outside of them and I am definitely sure exists also in the people this Aunty will call her own brethren. She probably hasn’t really spoken to a Kuwaiti beyond an “excuse me” and not interacted with them at all. Don’t such preconceived notions definitely stop her and us all from actually ever really getting to know anybody who is born different from us.

Its really strange that what people consider “community” changes in different places and often depends on how far they are from a place they consider their “home” or the place they belong to. For instance, back in University, the Tamilians, Bengalis, Assamese, etc made what they call cultural associations so that others of similar origin and language can gather and mingle, celebrate festivals, eat, date , etc. Delhi also has a Bengali ghetto called Chitaranjan Park and Okhla has actual territories that are divided as Hindu and Muslim where people belonging to the other religion don’t even enter. 😐  Yes, so grave is the situation in the capital of India.

But boss, you should see an India v/s Pakistan cricket match. The most recent of these stand=offs was the ICC World Cup 2011 Final match and it was just crazy how the Indians rooted for the Indian team and rejoiced when Pakistan lost. I suppose the situation is the same on the other side of the border as well. The tension between the countries remains and is quite bitter and aggressive especially when there are unfortunate acts of violence in either country. As for me, I am of a delicate heart when it comes to this, and wanted Pakistan to win that cricket match simply because they needed the victory.

I emphasized the tension between India and Pakistan because I have seen that Indians and Pakistanis bond with each other when they are in Kuwait. The other day we went to an amusement park here and met another family who looked “very Indian” and on speaking we got to know they are Pakistanis and we hung out for sometime and there was not an ounce of bitterness. I suppose that for a lot of people , meeting someone from anywhere near where they are can kindle a sense of brotherhood. I wonder why a brown skin among a sea of white faces should make someone feel at home. (Ofcourse, the same could be different or the exact opposite perhaps for say, Indian who is born and/or brought up in America.)

Guys, so please, just ‘unghetto’. It could make a world of difference. It is actually going to make for a safe interdependent neighbourhood because that is how we could begin to deal with trust issues that have enslaved our minds and bound us from new experiences.

May be I have no right to say all this because I haven’t lived in another country for very long periods, but so far, I have noticed that for me “people are just people”. hah, that’s a line from Regina Spektor’s song, Ghost of Corporate Future. She also says “the world is everlasting, its coming and its going.” So I want to make the most of this world while I come and go and know that I could, without any preconceived paradigms, experience all the people and things that make the world as wonderful as it is. I hope that when it comes to it, I don’t run to some Indian ghetto in whichever part of the world I live in and mix it up bitches!

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Filed under Issues, Thoughts/ Ideas, Why?, World

what is love

what is love timblr

came across this, shared on someone’s blog a long time back.
Its nice and fuzzy. a full void, thats what it feels like to me.

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June 24, 2012 · 9:34 pm

what I am doing nowadays

I have been on vacation since the second week of May and ofcourse I have been on vacation from this blog forever now. Anyway, the holidays have been great and eventful enough to have gotten me thinking about a lot of things about myself and the world.

Right after I handed in my last term paper in JNU, I had my sweet little brother come to Delhi and together we went on a great Himalayan trek. I met some brilliant people, saw some of the most beautiful sights I have laid my eyes on and had experiences that I hope my memory can bring back to me in its exactitude till the very end. I shall write about that sometime, hopefully.

So after the trek we came to Bombay together and spent a week here with mom.Little Bro had to report back to college by the last day of May so he left and mom and I went to Kuwait.

So here I am, in an air-conditioned room in the middle of a desert country with a lot of time on my hands and still not really doing much with it. Its really hot out (obviously desert terrain in summer) during the day and it gets just about bearable at night, so its not like you can chill outdoors over here. Through the newspaper classifieds I applied for the position of assistant editor of a magazine here so I was employed in a week after I came here. oh and boy, let me tell you that the currency here is awesome so I am going to feel quite rich when I convert this to Indian rupees, especially now that the rupee is falling. 😉 

kacchingg!

Unfortunately or fortunately, the people who write for this magazine are not so great at English and write like they never heard of grammar. Its only a monthly magazine so I am marginally busy for a week or ten days at the most after which I get to chill for 20 days. What an say, suits me real well, eh!

I have been getting back to running in the evenings to make sure that all the mayonnaise I eat here doesn’t stay put inside me. But I am sure some of it will decide to reside within, always does.

Anyway, since I don’t run with music or with any company, my mind wanders about a LOT. Many developments have taken place around me, at home and in the world, so I end up thinking about my future, imagine alternate universes where I am Greek, about being a superstar marathoner, and a ballerina , living in Europe and being existential, being a blip, then being a galaxy-like important person and what-not.

I have been trying to watch one movie a day for the past one week and have come to the conclusion that Woody Allen and Edward Norton, both, make me go bonkers. I feel all woolly and rain-like and imagine cobble-stone streets in the rain, downed in yellow light, with gentle string music floating up to the fairy lights in the trees, and a thorough realization in every breath that this is now and that is all we know. 

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PUBLIC NOTE TO …

PUBLIC NOTE TO SELF:

Must keep priority

Must stick to it

Keep Sticking

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June 7, 2012 · 5:34 pm