A THOUGHT OF YOU

 

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I miss you every second of everyday. There are a zillion things that refuse to leave me alone; I don’t want them to. I look at your picture and I can’t help but be in awe of it. You were a man of a few words, but every word you spoke held a lot of meaning. You exuded charm that could lit up the dimmest of rooms. There was a class about you that I haven’t seen in another man. An aristocratic face, slim frame, confident gait, and a mysterious smile… you were a man who was way ahead of his time. There is no one like you and can never be and yet they strive to be you but in vain.

In you burnt a passion to learn the impossible. There was a restlessness in you to satiate both mind and soul. You took things apart only to put them back together with a touch that was unique to you.

I miss those daily talks over a cup of tea, or was it double whiskey for you and scotch for me over dinner? Our shared love for music specially the old songs that we sang together is something I miss the most. It was because of you I fell in love with all things vintage. But more than that it was your knack for fashion and love for luxury that taught me the value of finer things in life. You helped me grow into a beautiful person who learnt to accept only the best in life.

You were by no means a serious soul. Oh boy! You were a force to reckon with. I would rather call you a daredevil who broke the rules whenever you wanted and those who envied you called you arrogant. If I think about it then for a man like you arrogance added to your charm. The ease and finesse with which you used to speak your mind, increased my respect for you several notches higher.

Now, as I look around listlessly, cherishing the memories I hold close to my heart, I wonder how different life would be had you been with me.  Every thought of you leaves behind a sweet smile that is tinged with tears for what I can never have. I think of you when I am filled with despair for from you I seek my strength. I have never met you yet I wish with a burning intensity to bring you back; back from the place where I can reach you only after my last breath.

I miss you, Baba!

This is for my grandfather who lived a life full of love, conviction, determination, and dreams. My life feels absolutely incomplete without him and always will. 

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THE NAKED SOUL

I wish I could say I am back after a long break but it won’t be the truth. Yes, I am back with soul-searching thoughts, which are not mine though I wish they were. The words are so beautiful that you would want to be with someone and discover their naked soul. 

By Aanchal Mittal

She was strong. She worked like anyone else and enjoyed a glass of wine as much as she liked her whisky. She spoke her mind and laughed out loud. She cried too just the world did not know. She was a shoulder to cry on as much as she was the person to handle a fight. She stood for herself and accepted if at fault. She spoke her heart out very rare only not to have a listener. She danced to no music as much as she took a lonely walk. She was what she felt.

She was often called as the man in any relationship. All she asked was not to be insulted. She was a happy woman living her life not understanding how did it make her a man. Last she knew she was very much a woman in every possible manner. She went out on dates as much she took out a man as well.Yet each date ended up being friend with the intimidated men. She had men in life all just good friends.

She asked questions which wouldn’t be answered. She had all she made for her. She was different as they said but not knowing how. She was given the right to ask yet none had the courage to give. She loved with all she had and lost what she made. She still looked for that hand to guide her through. She still liked those stolen kisses every now and then. She liked getting flowers as much as she enjoyed roaming streets with balloons. Well, she was strong yet not invincible.

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THE COURTESAN

The room was thrown into darkness:  the kind that exudes a certain kind of peace. Once my eyes had adjusted to the surroundings, I saw a woman sitting right in the middle of the stage. She had an aura about her that mesmerized the ones present in the room while her voice and the lyrical music drew in its realm the people standing outside the room. That night I first learnt about the life of a courtesan and she was called Gauhar Jaan.

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Gauhar Jaan looked something out of a dream with her sharp features, which bordered on ethereal. She was draped in all white and her diamond studded nose pin gave her an air of regality that was fit for a queen. Her neck drew your eyes to it not for the glittering jewels, but its delicate curve that rippled with her every move much like a sinewy rope.

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She might sound like a figment of imagination but she is more than a beautifully carved fantasy. Gauhar Jaan is very much a reality that has been thrown in the dungeons of ignorance rather than being accepted as an integral part of our culture. The reality has been brought to the surface by the renowned Sufi Kathak Dancer Manjari Chaturvedi. She is also the genius behind ‘The Courtesan’. A passion for dance combined with the determination to reignite the memories of these beautiful women, she introduced us to the costumes, jewellery, and dance moves synonymous to them. She too drew her inspiration from the works of Wajid Ali Shah who himself was an ardent admirer of the courtesan culture.

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The beautiful night has been dominant in my thoughts and it drove me to unravel the mystical story of the courtesans. Centuries ago courtesans were revered and considered the very soul of ‘tehzeeb’ (etiquettes) and class. It is said that the world used to come to a standstill in the presence of their timeless beauty, which ran skin deep. Courtesans were women whose company was sought by men of high stature and young girls were sent to them for grooming.

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It has always been wrongly assumed that courtesans were there to satiate the physical desire of these men. People couldn’t have been more wrong because courtesans were women of high intellect who had strong views about art, politics, culture, literature, music, dance, and a lot more. There was a time when they were looked at with respect and possessed a great social standing. The courtesans reflected elegance, beauty, and intellect that drew many admirers. It would surprise people to know that the courtesans put in a lot of efforts to create their dance routines and did not have any formal training. I believe it would be fair to assume that the dance forms in later times were born in the courtyard of the courtesans.

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Sadly, these factors did not hold much weight in the face of cowardly mindset and there on began the downfall of these beautiful women. With every passing generation the orthodox and warped thinking was taking over the liberal thought process that did not mind appreciating culture the right way. Time became a witness to the disgraceful treatment being meted to the courtesans. They were being considered as prostitutes and were being called by demeaning names; tawaif being one of them. The irony of the situation was tawaif wasn’t really a derogatory term, but it was given a negative connotation soon after these women lost the patrons who were real conoisseur of art. Later, men took it as their right to humiliate and exploit the courtesans while the women pulled them down with their acidic tongues and vile thoughts. People and time dealt such a cruel hand to these women that in a short while they were left to live a life of solitude peppered with insults and jibes. There was a time when they were looked at with awe but now it isn’t considered fit to be under the same roof as The Courtesans.

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The night ended with a thunderous applause and a standing ovation, but my heart bled for every Gauhar Jaan who was worshipped and punished for passion, beauty, and intelligence. Well, the essence of these women can only be captured by poets and lovers of art, while for the rest of the world they are like those tales that are reminisced over time and again, sometimes with love else nothing but scorn.

“Why struggle to open a door between us when the whole wall is an illusion?” -Rumi
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SIX YARDS LONG STORY

It is quite amusing for me to hear the saree woes especially at the weddings from friends and strangers alike. One of my closest friends needs hours to drape a saree and it is no small achievement for her. We are poles apart because given a chance I would build a walk-in wardrobe, which would showcase nothing but my sarees. I am already dreaming! There is something for every season and occasion when it comes to sarees. I haven’t had a problem in choosing one when dressing up for a happy time as much as when picking up a dress, skirt etc. By no means I am being biased or maybe a little, but it isn’t in my hands.

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The touch, feel, and smell of sarees is heavenly. I love how it falls and wraps itself around the body. However, shopping for fabrics for the blouse pieces is another experience in itself, which needs to be discussed at length… later.

Th 100 saree pact is the reason behind my rambling. I was quite surprised when I first read about it because why would someone need to be bound by a pact in order to wear the most graceful thing in the world. In case you haven’t heard about this initiative then fret not because I am more than happy to share the know-how with you.

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This pact – which has gone viral – came to life when two women Ms Anju Madam Kadam and Ms Ally Matthan realised that they had way too many sarees and had hardly worn them in years. The sarees saw the Sun and Moon or breathed in the polluted air only when there was a wedding in the family. More often than not with western wear ruling the lives, saree just didn’t fit in the picture. So, in order to make use of all the sarees they decided to wear 100 sarees in 365 days. Every time one of them would wear a saree, they shared the picture online with the hashtag 100sareepact accompanied by a small story, memory, or anecdote evoked by the saree for the day. They did not want to restrict it to themselves and decided to rope in friends, family, and friends of friends too. So, as soon as the word got out, the pact became the talk of the town (literally).

Since, I have always enjoyed wearing a saree and don’t really need an occasion to wear one, this pact wasn’t that exciting for me. However, it did get me wondering about the number of sarees in my wardrobe. They aren’t anywhere close to hundred but I plan to change the status soon. The thought of achieving that number has already given way to planning and buckets full of excitement.

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The scorching heat calls for chanderi, cotton, chiffon, georgette and what not. Winter is not far and I am so looking forward to it because the beautiful weather will bring in its wake silk sarees.

There are two women I am in love with who made me fall in love with sarees. First one is my mom because I simply love her for who she is. I can’t help but swoon over her wardrobe full of sarees; it would be quite hard to pick a favourite. If ever given a chance I shall beg, borrow, and steal my mom’s wedding sarees. I feel that not even a single saree today can stand on the same pedestal with the ones woven decades ago. Since childhood I have preferred my mom in a saree not because of some archaic thought process but simply for the grace she exudes in a saree, which turns so many heads even today.

The second one is Rekha and that too the one in Silsila… it was quite hard for me to divide my attention between her and Mr Bacchhan.  I am in awe of them and will be so all my life. Oomph, class, and elegance are synonymous to her and I can talk about it all day long. The way she draped her saree in Silsila was the first time I fell in love with her and every time I watch the movie, she makes it so easy for me to fall in love with her all over again.

So, this pact is not for mere 365 days for me, but a treasure trove for a lifetime.

TRANQUILLITY

saree5 wm She lay quite comfortably on a raw carpet of cement and wrapped in the nine yards that was all grace but belied the haste with which it was tied. The sharp stones, sweltering heat, and a lone bulb in the spacious room mocked at the luxury she was accustomed to and pushed it in the far recess of her life; not forever but as long as she deemed fit. They were never allowed to transcend the journey of a few hours, which didn’t last even for a day. Nine yards She nurtured an indecipherable connect with the abandoned, trivial things, which usually escaped even the keenest of eyes. She was different! Her thick, beautiful curls jostled for space and revelled in the touch of her fingers as she drew them away in an absent fashion. But time and again they fell back, craving to caress her face. The thoughts underneath the captivating face charted their own course contrary to the words she read that painted a musical history. Nine yards She looked content languishing on the scattered cushions, but her eyes reflected the fragments from another lifetime that could churn a storm in the calmest of sea. But she smiled because she knew it to be the best way to be happy. A tongue and wit sharper than a razor had all around her on their toes: a fact in which she took much pride. Tranquility There was only one who could unravel the mysteries dancing in those eyes, which laughed at a lonesome joke, igniting within its depth the tinders of wisdom born from sorrows of the past. The wind blew so did her thoughts. The time flew and so did her wait. She lay there in tranquillity as the music filled the room she dimly lit.  

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I Do

Wedding Wedding anyway is such a hullabaloo right from the time your family starts their guy/girl hunt. Well, easy for everyone if you find someone on your own… At least it saves the parents the headache of finding ‘the one’ whose imperfections are perfectly in sync with yours. However, it doesn’t negate the fact that planning the big day will still be mind boggling. The bride, groom, and their respective families have a never-ending list of things to do that would have any sane person swear off wedding for a lifetime. But, we humans love to make such mistakes!

Wedding is equivalent to clothes and it isn’t just yours that you need to worry about but of the other side as well. If we are grown up enough to get married then why is there a need to choose clothes for others? I know we call them “gifts” but still doesn’t make sense to me. Don’t forget to add food, décor, jewellery, obscenely expensive gifts as well to the list. Amidst this and the courtship, how are the couples finding the time to flaunt on just one but a gamut of social media platform? *Just curious* Facebook, of course, has been the time tested way to announce your relationship status: be it single, committed, complicated, engaged, or married. In any case one does receive appropriate comments peppered by a few dumb ones too. Now, Facebook isn’t enough any more. There has to be a twitter handle with a dedicated hash tag for Instagram as well where it is mandatory to tell the world about each and every private moment spent. I am sure the satisfaction and glow comes only after all the oohs and awws.

There is no doubt that internet is ruling our every waking and sleeping moment too, but isn’t it taking things too far by creating a website about the couple and their big day?! It is an insider’s guide for the world about their love story, families’ thoughts, anecdotes, and what not. I find it quite amusing.

We have apps for food, travelling, clothes, décor, music, movies, and sex too. It still works, but an app for your wedding? Seriously?! After all this what’s the need for apps as well? Going a ‘little’ overboard aren’t we?

I love candid photography and also the short beautiful films to cherish for a lifetime. However, capturing these beautiful memories is an art that only a few people have mastered, but no one can paint the canvas like The Wedding Filmer. There aren’t enough words to describe their work, which is nothing short of a masterpiece. But there are many out there who with imitation and poor conceptualization make it look like an animated video rolling on fast forward.

The entire fiasco seems like a product launch where we tend to use any and every means under the sun to inform the world about the new thing in the market lest someone misses it. So, wedding is no longer an emotional affair but something commercial that needs marketing gimmicks to create its place in the rat race and also, keep the world entertained.

Hope you have a beautiful life ahead!

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CAUTION: DISASTER AHEAD

Kid

I am not a mother and the only experience (s) I have had with babies has been with my nieces and nephews. I have changed diaper, crooned a few lullabies till they wandered off into the dreamland, and enjoyed the blabbering and mind blowing singing as well. My love for them is unconditional. Sure, these experiences and the time spent do not form even the tiniest particle in the Universe when compared to what moms and dads really do. Actually, there is no comparison. Yet, I feel that it is high time that we stop and think because kids are being put in the fast lane from the very day they are born. It is time to slow down.

I sit and reminisce the days when in the evening my eyes used to be trained on the clock and ears perked to pick the slightest of sound or movement outside my room. You see 6 pm was the time for me to create insane amount of ruckus with my cousins.  There were 11 of us… Beat it! The games we used to play where fights ensued only to be forgotten the next day. We too owned the hand held video game on which we used to play ‘Tetris’, but it was Ooch Neech ka papda, chhupan chhupai (Hide ‘n’ Seek), Bandar Chhoo, Hopscotch and the likes of it that we preferred over the tiny screen.

Today, when I look around it saddens me to see kids as young as two years old hooked on to the gadgets. Now, it is a must to own an ipad! We used to sweat, huff, and run to score a basket through the ring on terrace that served as our makeshift basketball court. However, the kids these days have a different way of playing and excelling at sports. The other day my 7 year old nephew was boasting about being an ace at basketball. Quite intrigued by this my sister asked him that where exactly did he play every evening and with a straight face he replied, “On my Ipad.” I pity them because their world seems quite restricted by gadgets.

Who said that fashion was meant for adults only; now we have kids walking the ramp too. It is hard to resist those adorable bow ties, suspenders, jumpsuits, tiny skirts, dresses etc. I for sure love watching the little ones trotting around in all their glory. A few months ago I was invited over hi-tea to celebrate a year old kid’s birthday. It was quite a cosy affair with close friends and family. After a while, in marched women who looked like they had stepped out of Page3 followed by their kids being escorted by the maids. I must say that mothers today know how to create a statement and make sure their kids do so too. The little girls there wore chic dresses, glittery hairbands, and carried handbags as well. Handbags? Seriously? Quite appalling if I may say so. I sat there watching the little girl nibbling onto finger foods and I couldn’t believe my eyes because her nails were painted blood red. Little boys on the other hand have it easy except during formal events where they are too dolled up in sherwani, suits, and what not. Seriously, they do not need to grow up but the parents do.

I really want to ask the parents out there that why are we forcing the children to grow up faster than needed? Why aren’t we letting them cherish the small moments and wait eagerly for the big changes rather than burdening them with something as superficial as make-up, bags, latest trends etc.

An acquaintance’s son prefers the maid’s company over his parents’. It was quite hilarious to see the way he threw a huge tantrum when the maid left him with his parents for a minute or two; they looked on helplessly because the kid refused to settle down in their arms and continued to howl for the maid. A story that most parents won’t be too happy to share or probably they just might! Babysitters or maids have become an integral part of all most every kid’s life off late. Funny thing is that be it a celebratory dinner at a high end place, wedding, or  much needed vacation  – the maid is omnipresent. I agree that life has become extremely fast paced and parents are required to multi task like never before. But then is your kid equivalent to a precious piece of luggage whose presence is quintessential albeit there is keeper round the clock to keep an eye on it? If yes and you aren’t too keen on altering your lifestyle for this lifelong responsibility then contraceptives is the way to go.

All said and done, we need to stop and reassess our logics and thoughts because the fast lane in which we have left the kids to fend for themselves will end up in nothing short of disaster.

Hope you have a safe drive ahead!