Travel & Love

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If there is any place

I would rather be,

It is everywhere

Or no where will I be.

Snowy white peaks

Verdant lush of greens,

Cool caressing winds

Rolling surfs,

Lakes so pristine..

Soft sands slipping under feet

Ships on deserts

With Bells tinkling

Shiny sky,

Teasingly twinkling

Nostalgic history

And winding cobbled streets

Leading through time to

Saddened walls of ruins;

Smells and sights so intriguing,

Warmth of strangers touching,

Call of the distance

Tugging at heart

Time and again…

My feet will never stop treading

All paths and places unseen

But ever if my heart stops

Or feet never move

I will lie there –

Upon the fields of green

Under the icy blue of the skies

The soft white pearls

In my eyes

Till I am wrapped in

The neverness of everlasting life.

Kolkata: A City with a Soul

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Victoria Memorial

Long time ago, in a half-forgotten article, I had read a few lines that remained unforgotten. It said, in India, if one is looking for greenery, Delhi is the city to be in; if one is looking for money, Mumbai is the city to find a job in; but if someone is looking for a city with a soul, Kolkata is the place to live in. As I had spent all my life in Kolkata, I did not realize the true meaning of these words, until, one day Gurgaon beckoned and I had to pack everything in order to settle in a city I had never known before. As the flight hovered over Kolkata before soaring high up in the sky, I knew, without anyone having to tell me that I would return someday, for I was leaving my soul behind. A feeling of emptiness filled every part of me, where my soul should have been.

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Green Expanse of Maidan

A year later, when the emptiness could not be borne anymore, a decision was taken – to return to my hometown, Kolkata, the city that had occupied much of my thoughts for most part of the year I had stayed in Gurgaon. As I boarded the train, from New Delhi Station, my heart longed to be reunited with its soul – to feel complete yet once again. That night was spent in restlessness onboard and when at last the all-important new day dawned, I looked out of the window at the bright landscapes. The green countryside looked greener, the white clouds looked whiter, the chirpy birds looked happier. We went past the lakes and streams, the paddies and trees at lightning speed, faster than I had imagined. It seemed the whole world had been secretly planning to take me home and nothing could stop me now from going back to where I truly belonged. When the train gradually entered the station, I was not appalled by the filth on the train tracks or the stench on the platforms teeming with faces of poverty-stricken masses. Neither was I confused by the chaos nor put-off by the noise that filled every corner of the station. I knew I was back to the place I longed to be in – my Kolkata.

Durga Puja

Festival: Durga Puja

Upon my return, I realized that the soul of this city does not lie only in her picturesque skyline with the majestic Victoria presiding over it, the songs of Tagore or the world-renowned ‘Rosogolla’. It also resides in every road and corner of the city, a boat ride on the Hoogly River, the expanse of the evergreen Maidan, the bustle of New Market, the old world charm of colonial Churches, the madness of the maddening crowd, the revelries and festivities year round, the narrow winding lanes of North Kolkata, the calls of “Didibhai” (loving sister) and “Dada” (brother), the countless fast food counters, the unending rivalries between the football clubs: “Mohun Bagan” & “East Bengal” and innumerable other unseen elements. In Kolkata, one finds satisfaction in searching for tranquillity in turmoil, peace in unrest and conviction in confusion. If the hustle ever stops or the noise seizes to exist, if the roads are ever deserted or the hawkers stop screaming, if the tram stops running or the music loses its meaning, if the love for sweets and fast food dwindles, the soul of Kolkata with die with each one of them. The soul of the city lives in every heart living in Kolkata and everything that gives the city its distinct character, embalming them all with an unfathomable sense of everlasting companionship and completeness.

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Boats on Hoogly River

With the past disappearing fast, replacing much of all that is traditional with elements of globalization, many conservatives fear that Kolkata will lose her myriad façades in very little time. However, some hopefuls believe that Kolkata will never lose her soul as it will continue to live through its people, some of whom dare to give up brighter prospects just to return, live on and sometimes pass away in her arms.

Coping with Life in a New City

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Sunset from terrace

For someone who has lived in one city for more than twenty years, the going gets tough when suddenly that someone has to leave to live in a new city. I relocated but with it came depression and a feeling of “where am I?” The first few days flew with the blink of an eye as they were filled with countless activities – receiving goods, buying new stuffs for the house, setting up the kitchen and with all these, setting up my mind and getting prepared for whatever was about to come next. And what came next was not very pleasant: harsh winter in a dry city, which I was not prepared for. God seemed to be cruel and conspiring against me. The days were punctuated by long hours of power-cuts, which made living in the rooms unbearable due to the cold. I was forced to stay out on the terrace for much of the daytime, taking pleasure in the warmth of the bright sun. This is when I began to see things differently. I knew life had to go on and so suddenly decided to make the most of whatever came my way. The days that followed were spent by:

  • Watching birds, especially the tiny ones that chirped all day and the green free parrots that spoke relentlessly, giving me company
  • Smelling the air that brought in nature’s fragrances
  • Admiring the white cotton clouds that changed shapes every now and then
  • Watching amazing sunsets that painted the sky purple and red
  • Interacting with stray dogs, feeding them and making them the closest friends of lonely times
  • Talking to a pigeon that made a nest in the chimney, hearing her feed her chicks and seeing her teach her babies to fly with utmost pleasure
  • Shooting images of all kinds of subjects like abstracts, nature, insects and candle light
  • Reading books, especially the motivating ones that helped me gain more confidence

When the lights came back and the interiors were warm enough, I tried out innumerable recipes – a new one each day

Between all these activities, I tried to learn something new every day – about blogging, about freelancing, about marketing, about animals or new destinations and about the goodness of yoga. I also took up work from home options and enjoyed the freedom of working independently. The relocation helped me gain valuable experience, which in turn gradually taught me to cope with life in a new city.

My Pigeon Friend

My Pigeon Friend

People around the world get caught in the web of depression and often take their own lives when they go to a new city or are left on their own.  I wonder why? There is so much to do, so much to learn, so much to take care of, so much to change and so much to love. One lifetime is not enough to delve into the depths of all that the world has to give. So we must always try to search for all the gifts hidden in all that is mundane.

Stop thinking! Start Clicking!

Last year when I gave my mother-in-law a compact camera on her birthday, she got very worried and said almost immediately, “O My! What will I do with this? I do not know any thing about Photography!” But we just smiled and reassured her that she should stop thinking and just start clicking!

 

A surprise awaited us when we went back to visit her this year and found that she had managed to take quite a few good photographs of things she liked, some dishes she had cooked, some events she visited and some every day items. We were overjoyed and so was she. Proudly she said, “I did not know it was this easy!”


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I am no professional in the field of photography and perhaps worse than an experienced amateur. But I am just someone who loves to capture moments that may not be there for me the next time I blink. I do not know much about aperture or shutter speed but I do know a few simple things that allow me and many others to simply click. In this world of smart phones and tabs and all the other gadgets, taking a picture is perhaps no great deal. Even with all those gadgets around, for me, nothing can beat the feel of a camera hanging around the neck, the different buttons that let you do so many different things and the very sight of it inside my travel bag. Somehow, the presence of a camera gives a sense of completion to my travel plans.

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Many around me, including myself, have wondered what can be done to make a picture – perfect. But often trying to think and putting that thought into the moment of shooting kill its beauty and magic. A baby monkey might be sitting right there posing for you, but when you try to think too much about the angle and the background and everything else except that main object, the pigeon will be gone long before you know it! Not everyone is a professional model! No matter where you are, or where you go, remember to keep your shooting (photo) machine handy – as you never know what is coming.

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Starting to click, overcoming all the fears, is important and everything else follows. Until you start, you never know if you really love photography or have a passion for it. Until you start you will not learn more because your experiments will open up new challenges and questions and then you start asking. No one can teach you how to frame a picture through the lens of the camera. It is your heart and the image created by your mind’s eye along with the know-how of basic usage of the camera that will guide to at every step. And yes, if you have bought a new one, never forget the user manual at home. A steady hand, an open mind and eyes for details are all you need to start. Don’t wait for 60 years like my mother-in-law, to let your heart see more than what is on the surface. Start now – the world awaits you!

 

Travel and Camera linked forever

 

When I was little, I loved posing for my uncle to click a few nice pictures and when I traveled with my parents, I saw them carrying cameras although they were not photography enthusiasts. I asked myself, “Why a camera?” Much later when I had one for my own, I gradually realized that camera is is much about documentation – at least for all the lesser mortals. I started clicking every time I traveled and sometimes, even when I didn’t – to document what I saw. But somehow I felt something was missing.

Then, I met a friend – my husband – a photographer, who not only made me fall in love with him, but also with the way he saw the world. That is when, I saw through my heart – all things that were not meant to be seen through the ordinary eyes, the patterns in things that were not otherwise pleasing, the symmetry in things otherwise asymmetrical, unseen beauty in things otherwise too plain to be noticed. The wild flowers, a tiny insect, the droplets in rain showers, the love birds’ secret, the sun setting in the eye, the stars moving slowly in the sky, a stray dog I loved and perhaps will never find again, the harvest and the pretty grains, the moss that gathers on walls, the bird sits in a little tree hole and calls , the hopeful smile of a hungry child, the squirrel with its fresh new find.

Now in all my travels, my camera is linked forever as I wait patiently for that one moment that will make me smile suddenly, that one moment that will let me discover a whole new world where I least expect it, that one moment where I will feel blessed to be part of a world that has so much to give and so much to see. Travel is incomplete with a friend and there is no better than a camera. Yes, you can appreciate everything around with your eyes but the human memory isn’t strong enough to keep all the memories and moments safe inside. When the moment is long gone and forgotten, when age has taken its toll, you will come across the pictures and suddenly all that you forgot will come back rushing in and you will travel back in time, re-living all those moments yet once again.