Monday, 29 September 2014

Coming Home To Bliss

This place is crowded and chaotic. It is not even close to the elegance and charm that I witnessed during my week away on a trip. While I don't like the fact that the fun-filled week away from home is over, I feel hugely relieved to be back home, for the familiar roads and noises, sights and smells. 

This time we visited the sand dunes of Royal Rajasthan, a place which is beautiful and splendid, a place where I first set up home after marriage, and truly lived and loved my life. A place which occupies a little corner in my house, a good share in my wardrobe and a whole chamber of my heart. 
Though this vacation was really good, coming home was really soothing. The greenery around and the clouds looked a little shocking after a week of sun-burnt trips to the grand palaces, dusty bazaars and barren sand dunes. But coming home has its own comforts. I do not think that anyone on this planet can deny that coming home is the best feeling.

Though there is a lot of mess around which needs to be taken care of at home, its still full of warmth and happiness. A relaxed and rejuvenated me is taking note of everything that needs to be done while basking in the glory of all the shopping that I did in Bikaner to extend my Royal Rajasthan collection. 
What are you thinking? Nah, I didn't buy the above Bandhej saree, but it is just a glimpse of all the colour and beauty, and some more, that I saw when I went shopping with my lady friends. Could a girl find better reasons to be happy?!!

Friday, 26 September 2014

The Scribbler's Orchard: Part 18

Team Name: Scribblers' Orchard

Read the previous part of the story here

Tara was gathering her thoughts after the black hood was removed. Something about this place was bothering her. Had she been here earlier? Last month probably?  
This day was quite a handful. 
They were about to ring the doorbell when Shekhar’s phone started vibrating. Tara was on the other end.
She was at work, trying to resume her work, when they had called. ‘Talk to Dutta. Tell him you are going to lose your only child because of him. He should give us all the photographs and we will return her alive.’
‘I want to meet my daughter. I will do whatever you say after I see her all right. Please, I beg of you!’ Tara almost cried, her sobs drowning her words. The call got disconnected.
Tara left office. She had made up her mind this morning that she would be strong. But the call had upset her, giving her a rude shock that had fractured her facade of composure. They called up again after half an hour, while she was on her way to home. ‘Come to the car parking of Shopper’s Destination, alone, at 12:30. Don’t you dare to inform anyone, or you will be responsible for your loss. ’
Tara suddenly felt a rush of adrenaline. She dialed Shekhar’s cellphone. He was with Jennifer and Arjun, on Ahuja’s doorstep.
They retreated and waited for Tara to reach home. Their plan was ready by the time Tara reached. At 12:30 pm sharp, Tara was in the car parking of Shopper’s Destination, a newly built shopping mall, with many unoccupied shops and mostly vacant, deserted parking lot. She was wondering what she should do when suddenly someone grabbed her and put a black hood on her head, covering her entire face and neck. Then she was swiftly carried and pushed inside a car which sped away immediately.
The construction of the room looked surprisingly familiar to Tara. What was it? She glanced across the room. It was a medium sized room painted stark white, left almost bare but for a huge painting on a wall. A painting of fire, depicting sky high flames, engulfing all life forms, birds, animals, humans…no wait, they were actually being generated from the flames, rather than being engulfed. The painting was signed 'Raghav' in a stylish curvy brushstroke on right hand bottom corner.Tara remembered their fortnightly magazine had covered an exhibition a couple of months ago, by the famous painter Raghav, the theme being fire. His paintings had been a sensation and the exhibition was completely sold out on day one.
She looked at the only other feature of the room. The adjacent wall had a Rajasthani jharokha style mantelpiece. Her eyes widened with the shock of this discovery. Shekhar’s study had the same mantelpiece. She now compared the orientations of the two rooms and found that they were mirror images of each other.
The pen in her breast pocket kept recording everything.
Then, the door opened and Roohi almost stumbled inside. Tears rolled down Tara's cheeks as she hugged her. 

Back home, Tara recapitulated the happenings of this midday, as everyone listened wide-eyed. They were ready.

Acharya rang the bell placed in front of him. A middle-aged woman appeared, her hands firmly clasped into a prayer-pose.
‘Is she here?’
‘Yes, acharya ji’
‘I should see her now.’
The woman bowed and left. A few minutes later, she appeared again with a little girl with two pigtails, her face scrubbed clean and wearing new clothes.
‘Sit, my child.’
The woman made Roohi sit on a chair. Acharya motioned her to leave. She bowed and left, her hands still folded.
Acharya smiled and nodded at Roohi. ‘Do not be afraid, my child.’ He said in a soothing tone. ‘You are in your own home. Are you hungry? Do you like sweets?’
Roohi was looking at him with sad eyes. A few days ago, she would have been dancing at this proposition, the promise of sweet little surprises, chocolates, candies and cupcakes.  She gulped secretly.
Acharya slid a fancy little paper bag with little smiley faces in front of her on the table. ‘Take it. It is all for you.’
Roohi glanced at the bag with slanted eyes and kept still.
Acharya rose from his seat, came close to Roohi and softly placed his hand on her head. How he had missed his own daughter and her family. They lived so close to him, yet so distant. He remembered how he had struggled to find the whereabouts of his only daughter after coming back from his self-imposed exile. His only wealth, after he had lost everything else. After looking for her for years, he had found her, successful in her career, married and a mother. He had known her to be a strong person, who could win challenges, in her growing up years. All these years, he was sure that his daughter must have done something good with her life. Though he had achieved the ultimate knowledge, he was not proud of the fact that he had abandoned her in a desolate state. This stopped him from meeting her or her family directly. Though, he could see them coming and going from the neighborhood. That nobody was bothered about neighbors nowadays had helped him immensely in staying close to them and yet go unnoticed.  
Acharya came back in the present. The phone was ringing. He went back to his chair and picked up the receiver.  ‘What? ’, his smile faded away, giving way to multiple creases on his forehead. ‘But surely they cannot find this place. They have no idea of my reach.’ After listening for a few more seconds, he replaced the receiver and glanced at Roohi.
Roohi was looking on quietly. The little paper bag stayed untouched, the smileys on it appeared as if they were making fun of Acharya.
Acharya, a little unhappy, tried to restart conversation with her, smiling again. ‘Cheer up, child. Do you want a toy? I can get you the best toys.’
She remained silent. Fazed, he dialed a number on the vintage telephone. ‘The girl should not stay here. Make arrangements and send her away immediately. To Delhi.’


 Read the next part of the story here

 Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at
#CelebrateBlogging with us.

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Scribbler’s Orchard: Part 1

Team Name: Scribblers' Orchard

Shekhar woke up with a start. The doorbell was ringing, with urgency. He had fallen asleep on his writing desk, resting his head on the keyboard, thinking over the incidents that took place in the past week in his life.  He looked at the wall clock with half open eyes. Half past eleven. ‘Must be Tara,’ he inhaled audibly and ran a hand over his bald head. Nowadays, any ringing bells brought only bad news. Irritated at this thought, he got up from his desk to get the door.
‘Clink’ went the dirty tea cup left on floor. He ignored it and chose to answer the door first. But the leftover tea was spilling out on the floor, between cigarette butts and ash. He glanced at it sadly. He remembered how Tara hated his messy ways.  He hastily pulled a paper from his desk and covered the spill. Then he dragged his feet to answer the still ringing doorbell.
 Shekhar Dutta had wanted to change the world. He was the evolving face of courageous and dedicated fire brand journalists of India. He was already the established nightmare of corrupt politicians, exposing them on social platforms and brewing up quite a storm.  One of his recent posts on bringing back black money to India quoted a hacker’s post in a popular forum. It had revealed the details of many politicians and their bank balance which gained him more popularity and support. Tara used to worry a lot about him always inviting the ire of influential people. ‘Why don’t you join me instead?’ She would say. He would shrug and smile.
Even before he opened the door, he could smell her presence. Shekhar suddenly felt that his hands were made of jelly. He wanted to just leave everything and vanish into an abyss. Their eyes did not meet when she walked in. Crumpled business formals, mussed up hair, puffy eyes and slumped shoulders… Tara looked poles apart from her old self. Unhappy, accusing and angry. She walked off to the bedroom wordlessly. Shekhar stood there for a while, not able to decide what he should do. A pall of gloom had descended around them. Pictures on the wall in front of him were mocking him. Pictures of him and Tara, on their adventures, pictures of Roohi…
‘…Roohi,’… a numb sensation ran through his spine and as he stiffened, his hands nervously searching his French beard for answers. All the pain came back, suddenly pouncing at him and stabbing him with its many serrated nails. Roohi, their chubby, bubbly little girl, who had been the core of their lives together, was now the center of their two different worlds, like an amoeba nucleus.  
Of late, rather than being parents, Shekhar and Tara were acting like two contestants pulling at the opposite ends of a rope in a game of Tug-of-War. In order to defeat each other, they were using all their might. But it was Roohi who ended up being pulled apart. He looked at the pictures again, and his self-doubt rose up, high, like a snake’s hood, threatening his very existence. He wanted to give up his million twitter followers in exchange for little Roohi.

It had been two days since Roohi had gone…

Shekhar was nervously pacing his little home office. He checked the time for a hundredth time. He could not calm himself down since he had heard from Jennifer Joseph.
‘Mr. Dutta,’ a ringing female voice had addressed him on the phone, ‘I just might have found something very valuable for you.’
Shekhar could not believe what he heard. The entire episode had unfolded in front of her eyes. Being a photographer, Jennifer was trying to find the best angle to shoot the old church when it happened. She could see them from her vantage point without ever being seen.
Her words were replaying in his mind like an old cassette.
Shekhar could not stop himself from running up to the door when the bell rang this time. She smiled and Shekhar could muster up a weak smile in reply.
‘Hi, I am Jennifer. May I come in?’ Shekhar nodded, mesmerized, and slid to one side as if in a trance. She entered, all her bracelets tinkling, her heavy camera swaying delicately with its strap wound around her wrist, as she walked. The camera strap was half covering what appeared to be a tattoo.
She reached the center of the room and stopped, and then she turned towards Shekhar, as if asking where to sit. Shekhar, staring blankly, motioned with his hand and she smiled again. Then she sat on one of the lounge chairs, simultaneously placing her camera on the coffee table.
Before she could say anything, Shekhar blurted out, ‘Does anyone else know about it?’
She seemed ready with the reply, ’No. I know it is important for you and kept it a secret.’
 She immediately reached for her camera and switched it on.  
Shekhar suddenly realized something and asked, ‘Would you like to have a glass of water?’
‘Sure,’ she smiled.
Shekhar contained his impatience and went in to bring a glass of water. When he came back, she was shuffling through the images while her many bracelets jingled and tinkled. Shekhar sat down.
She picked up the glass of water and placed the camera in front of him. He picked it up as if on cue and adjusted his glasses to have a good look. The girl had captured pure gold! Shekhar smiled, for the first time in many days.
‘People must have seen you coming here.’
‘I am not scared, Mr. Dutta.’
‘The Orchard is surrounded by news-hungry people nowadays. ’
‘No worries, they can think of me as one of them, what with my camera and my casual look.’ Then she paused, and added as an afterthought, ‘I am leaving for Kochi tonight. May God bless you Mr. Dutta, and may you find your daughter soon.’
“ Read the next part of the story here

 Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at
#CelebrateBlogging with us.

Thursday, 11 September 2014


 Nowadays, I peep out of my living room window and get the absolutely green surroundings. The yellow miniature sunflowers are sprawling like wild bushes and are covering more area than they are supposed to...but they add a lot of flower power to the surroundings and that is all that matters, and works well for me. 
Nowadays, the days are bright and lovely here. Full of sunshine, pleasant weather, with little rain showers here and there.  

Adjacent to the sunflowers are the zinnias, the gorgeous, colourful and very durable flowers...that are capable of charming me into walking out of the front door at noon, without any purpose other than just gazing at them. There they are, beckoning me with all their beauty and colour, instantly transporting me to another world, where only we exist...those flowers and me!
I start walking towards them, and then the bright sun catches my attention. A look above, and there are cottony white clouds above huge forest trees, indicating the receding rainy season. Quite pleasant, combined with a breeze which is beginning to give that festive-wintry feel that comes only in late October in the great plains.
Receding rainy season, and beginning of wintry feeling...ooh, my favourite part of the year!
And those lovely-lovely the brightest of hues. Nature has the loveliest colours and designs. Ah, yes, it's all right there- at my doorstep. I guess, I can put everything else on hold for 5 minutes and admire the beauty around.

 Look at that colour, and the blinding sun adds another fiery dimension to this bright orange-red. So it is nearly impossible to capture the real colour, that too with a phone.
 I tilted this one a little so that it would show its real pink colour. Awesome, isn't it?
One more shot at the red-orange one, and... nah! It is just not going to happen...its so bright out here.
So we move to a cool shady photogenic area and clickety-click some more! Oh, it is so fulfilling, the company of beautiful flowers. Absolute stress-buster! Getting so much visual pleasure is certainly one of the best things about life in a cantonment.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

For That Sweet Smile!

I spent a few years of my initial life in a village in eastern UP, with hand pumps for water, no toilets and no electricity, only plenty of fun with a lot of village kids who would play hide and seek with me in and around cattle sheds and farm equipment.

One of the many vivid memories is how my mother tried to keep me well groomed and how I always ruined her efforts by playing with tractor grease.

I clearly remember how she took time off from her busy schedule, made me sit on a peedha (low wooden seat) near the hand pump and brushed my teeth with a simple kids' toothbrush and Colgate tooth powder. That made relatives make faces at us, mommy and me, for spoiling me silly. They would smirk and taunt 'There's one more of this kind, in my brother's house, a spoilt little brat whose mother brushes her teeth like this. Huh, so much Seva (service) for a Beti (Daughter).' (My mother did a lot for me, but I remember her brushing my teeth from my early childhood because of such comments from visiting relatives.)

Why am I saying all this? Because Coco has got his first toothbrush and toothpaste that look more like toys than toiletries. First of all we did not know that babies' toothpaste is different from adults'.Also, never before had my husband and I imagined that a toothpaste tube could have a cap that looks like a rooster! Welcome to the joys of parenthood, y'all! 

All that, and we keep them in the kitchen because Coco uses RO water, since he does not know how to spit and gulps down all the water that goes into his mouth to rinse it and we are worried  that the bathroom tap water might just not be right for him. 

Every time I make him sit on the kitchen slab near sink and brush his teeth, I cannot stop smiling...not only do I love doing it, I also remember the above story and my mom. Son or daughter, every child requires mommy's help. Coco, mommy at your service...happily always!