Travel & Love

kl

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.

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The Silver Shine

sunderbans

The Silver Shine

Oh dear moonlight!

You are the true jewel of the night

I can never tell how sweet you look,

In your flowing silvery gown

That shines and paints a picture bright

Of a night so true, calm and quiet.

 

Your doting lover never ceases to wait

For the kiss of your soft silver touch

Upon the silken darkness of his skin –

A gift of the sun…

You never cease either, to please

Your sublime sylvan lover,

With a shy embrace,

A magical charmer that you are!

 

You fill him with your love

Flowing into his heart;

Or sometimes just playfully,

Engulf him completely

With your divine light

As you glide by relentlessly.

 

The wind stands witness and so does the sky,

The river flowing by

And that little faraway light –

To your passion and union.

Nothing that has not beheld your beauty

In the serenity of a night so quiet

Can ever tell the story

Of your endless love that is now and forever.

 

What am I?

Just a speck of mud

Or a tiny glow worm perhaps

Looking at your everlasting love –

A dedication that willingly takes

Upon itself all that he has to give.

 

Or is it something deeper in intensity?

A promise: to be there,

To hug and softly caress

Till the end of time when nothing remains,

But only your silvery threads –

Weaving the net to hold you tight

Into a completeness

Of filling each other with only yourselves.

Abode of Peace

Flower

I look around and all I see

Is the beauty in all things

Surrounding me –

The earth wrapped in silken green

Reached out to unite with the blue of the sky

The little heart of mine

Hidden inside

Is filled with joy and awe at the sight.

No mountains rise, there is no trace of the sea

No forests dense pass by ;

And yet there is so much here that touches deep inside –

The place is alive in Tagore’s tunes and lyrics,

In shadows of tall trees,

In ripen harvest of the season,

In the golden rays of the sun that touch fields softly

In the banks of the Kopai that bends gently

In the slow moves of bullock-carts,

In every grain of rice and every dew drop on leaves

In the rhythm of the bauls’ ektara

In the red soil of the narrow paths

That takes a lost soul home to its mother.

The white kaash dances in the breeze

To a tune of some unknown happiness

And the breeze takes a message with it

That brings a secret and fills me with glee

And takes away with it

All my pains, sorrows and grief

Birds fly, a child laughs,

Nothing to bind them, they are free

They do not dream, they do not have greed

All they know is a way to live

With all heart and they are happy.

My soul longs to know the way to live

As it is tired of being ground by city life

It longs to chase that bird high in the sky

Wants to run along the winding red path

To merge with the vastness of the blues and greens

Where there will never be any grief

No tears to fall or words that hurt

Where there is faith, a dream of getting back

All that was lost long ago, without knowing,

Where those little eyes wait for me

Eyes of my truest friend.

I want to meet her again,

There, in that place beyond life and death

In the deepest place of my heart

Where sorrow ceases to exist

A place I call – the abode of peace.

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

Sunset from terrace

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.

Life in a New City

Gurgaon House: Terrace

Gurgaon House: Terrace

A little more than a year ago, I had to leave my hometown for starting an independent life. My husband had to relocate to the Millennium city of India, popularly known as Gurgaon, for his work and I had to make a choice between: (A) going away from my family members as well as a stable life; and (B) staying away from my husband and letting him pursue his career in a new city, all by himself. The decision was tough to make. But when I had married, I had taken another decision – of being with my husband and never to leave him. I have always believed that marriage is more about “togetherness” than “stay-apart-ness”. The decision suddenly became easier and I packed our bags and all our memories and bid a teary “good-bye” to my dear old Kolkata.

The western world perhaps can never fathom the feeling of staying with one’s parents for almost 29 years and suddenly leaving them behind, unattended, lonely and sad. But in India, the scenario is quite different. Most of us not only stay with our parents for all those years before marriage but also, with the in-laws after marriage (this is mainly true for women). Leaving all the pampering and love behind and taking the first steps toward the unknown is not an easy task and so, it was not easy for me too.

Gurgaon winter was bad, when we finally arrived – cold and chilly and dry – everything that I detested. Filling an empty house with warmth is what we decided to achieve first. But my husband would go away for work, and I would be all alone – no one to talk to or share smiles with, no one to have lunch with and no one to give company but the emptiness of the rooms, the warm sun in the sky, the chirping of birds and the greens of trees nearby.

Gradually I began to rediscover my relationship with my husband, now that only two of us were together. Cooking, cleaning, washing and watching loads of movies – I found the new side of my husband – a true friend who would help me in the kitchen, in buying groceries and even drying out clothes. Very few Indian men would do what my husband has done, and there were days when I felt a great sense of gratitude toward him for being by my side.

Winter went by and a new season made our lives miserable: the unbearable Gurgaon summer. Skin burns, burning water, burning room, burning air – the world seemed to be on fire. My days at my new work place eased out difficulties but the city seemed to be asking for life’s blood. The scorching heat gave way to flooded streets during monsoon and the city seemed to be afloat perpetually. I longed to get back home to the monsoons of Kolkata – the misty mushy smells that emanated from the wet soil had been a part of all my growing years.

The monsoons and heat seemed to linger for eternity. The discomfort was accompanied by fears of the hungry monsters lurking around the dark corners waiting for the first evil strike. And then, suddenly the tide changed for the better. I got the news of the possibility of our return back to our hometown. Today, the possibility has changed into a reality. My home beckons me with love as I await to paint myself, yet once again, in the color of its warmth.

Camera Camera Everywhere but which one to get?

English: Cameras from Large to Small, Film to ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I walk into any electronic store and see a plethora of cameras, no matter where I go. Sales persons try their best to convince, but buying a camera, is not always on my mind. After one of my shopping sprees, a thought occurred to me. With the market and stores flooded with new models of cameras for every camera brand, how would anyone decide on which one to buy?

The decision of choosing a camera these days is difficult, especially with the starters. My uncle bought a DSLR a year ago just for fun but now it has found a long-forgotten stature. I asked him one day about his best buy of the decade, to which he simply shrugged and said, handling that camera is something he will never be able to do! I was stunned. To spend so much, only to leave it in state of negligence was very unfair, especially when there are millions of people around the globe craving for a DSLR but cannot afford it.

Out of my personal interest, I studied a few more people to check out the camera buying trend. It was amazing to see that some people bought one only to flaunt whereas certain others got it to compete with their friends. A few of them, of course, were genuinely interested in capturing some good shots, but directly jumped for the big fish and thought it would be really easy. Unfortunately, these people moved on and the poor pretty cameras were left behind, dumped.

Camera specifications are usually difficult to understand and differentiating between products based on these is tougher. From my observation, I could derive a few very basic rules to  ponder over before picking up the next camera and what to do after.

Rule No. 1: Think of your requirement over and over. Do you really need to buy one? Will your dad’s or brother’s or sister’s or mother’s camera not suffice?

Rule No 2: What is your purpose behind getting a camera? Do you want to click just one or two pictures when you are out with your family and friends? Or do you want to click droplets when it rains? For the first purpose, a simple low-priced very basic camera would be enough. But for the second, a professional camera – D-SLR with close-up lens or high-end compact with good zoom, will be needed. The second category is heavier on the pocket, so you will need to check your budget.

This image shows a "Nikon Nikkor AF 50mm/...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rule No 3: Just don’t run for any brand or any product of any brand simply because that camera looks great. Ask the people around you, who have been using cameras, for their valued opinions. Later, ask the sales person in details about the features of the two or three cameras you have short-listed. Sales persons are quite clever and know their targets well. They will usually be full of praises for a specific brand they have been asked to represent. So, be wise while judging!

Rule No 4: Read – and this is very important – read the User Manual thoroughly before heading out to your first photographic venture with that particular camera. Many times, you have numerous features in the camera that you may not be aware of unless you read about them. Perhaps, all that you end up doing if you are not thorough with the theory, is shooting in AUTO (the easiest) mode, oblivious of the magical things your camera can do.

Rule No 5: Attend photography schools on weekends, if you are pressed for time, to learn the art better. Join forums and communities related to photography and learn new things about your camera and other cameras. This will build your interest further. This can even help you understand your requirements. As you explore further, you will know if you need a better one or more accessories.

Rule No 6: Before ending up making a hole in your pocket trying to purchase a high-end camera from the shops and camera zones, try to find out if any of your relatives, friends or acquaintances, are associated with a camera brand. You never know – you may have the best buy on an employee offer!!

My house is now home to many different types of cameras – from basic compact to high-end compact and DSLR. But after numerous trials and errors, I have now zeroed-in on my favorite camera as per my requirement!