Thursday, December 13, 2012


Memories! Memories that consume your very being. Memories, that take you down nostalgia lane. Memories that make the past seem so much more beautiful than it actually was. Memories that remind you of all that and all those you left behind…sometimes willingly, some unwillingly, sometimes knowingly and some unknowingly, some painlessly and some with regret. It’s strange what clings to the deepest recesses of your memory walls…emerging when least expected as though someone decided to switch on a torch in a dark cave. Have you ever noticed how you revel in the good memories? Repeating the stories again and again and reliving them each time you tell the story. Ever wonder why you never talk about the bad memories? No brainer, right? Who wants to relive the pain? But what do you do when those memories choose to emerge and come to the forefront of your brain, consuming your thoughts, forcing you to relive the pain and the hurt? What’s the first instinct when that happens? Mine used to be to push them back deep into the deepest dark corners of my mind and forget them all over again. But as you would have noticed, that doesn’t quite work, does it? Because, sooner or later they do manage to surface again, seemingly stronger and louder…usually catching you in a weak moment, when the strength to fight them is apparently inadequate. Result? A bout of depression of varying degree, depending on the intensity of the incident.
I guess, as one grows older, there is an innate need to dig deeper within oneself and re-analyze one’s life-defining, life-changing moments and while you are doing that, it’s really hard not to go back to the bad memories…in fact, that’s where the major learning lies and so, it’s actually unavoidable. Once I realized this, I felt the need to find a better coping mechanism since depression is unproductive and always avoidable. I then remembered something that a yoga-teacher had taught me a few years ago while doing ‘shavasana’…wherein you lie like a corpse, slowly getting every muscle in your body to relax and let go. I remembered her voice softly speaking to us while we lay with our bodies at rest, eyes closed, trying to understand how to relax each group of muscles…once we were done with getting our body to relax, she would then tell us to feel the air go in from our nostrils deep into our lungs and become conscious of the path that air was taking as it went in and out of our body…and then she would tell us to focus on our mind…watch it as though it was external to our being…watch the thoughts that flit in and out of our brain and let them flow without holding on to any thought…and after that, she said… now, as the thoughts flow, pick one, as you would pick up a toy or any other object and turn it around exploring it, casually and then, without getting involved in it, put it down and watch the flow of thoughts again, until another interesting one comes by.
And so, I decided to try this with memories, especially the painful ones. It's turned out to be a very interesting exercise and pretty fruitful, if I may say so, for me at least. I find, that when I consciously open this box of memories and choose, which one I wish to examine, it gives me a sense of control and doesn’t flood my being with the intensity of emotion that I felt when it was involuntary. It also enables me to be objective and makes it possible for me to view the incident from multiple perspectives and that helps me come to an explanation of sorts and that in turn, enables me to put that incident into another box labeled “shit happens” J which I can now peep into from time to time, shrug my shoulders and smile and say “ ya well, you know, you can’t control all that happens in life” …basically, laying it to rest and say RIP. Often I find that it wasn’t as big a deal as it was in my mind and that by trying to shove it under the carpet, I had somehow given it a bigger role in my life, than it deserved. And even more often, I find, that something I had blamed someone else for, was actually more my fault then theirs…because I had been cowardly or not honest enough or wanting to get their approval or..or.. or.. basically I learnt, that I had ‘allowed’ a certain thing to happen because of something I had done, said or left undone and unsaid…so, having figured out that it was my mistake, I find it easier to forget it. It also makes it possible for me to grow some more as an individual, because it teaches me not to repeat the same mistakes. Since life is at another phase today, it imparts a new understanding of people’s behavior in the past… as an adult, a parent, a spouse, a teacher, a friend, a colleague … explains why someone in your life made choices that affected you and your life… you may still not agree with it, but at least you are able to understand it better now… once again helps me put it to rest…no more blame…no more regrets…no more feeling that you didn’t have control… it's done…in the past… and life today, is where it was ‘meant’ to be.
I don’t know about everyone else, but for me, understanding ‘why’ something happened is very essential for me to be able to put it behind me and move on. Of course, no matter how hard you try, some things will have no explanation, no matter which angle and which perspective you look at it…and then, you simply have to learn to push to the deepest corner of your mind and let it remain there…perhaps at some point in future, you may be able to address it…until then, let it rest. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

ख्याल था वह इक हसीन सा
जो बिखर गया रेत सा
ख्वाब था वह जो कर गया बेचैन
न कर सकेगा कभी तू उसे हासिल
उसकी जुस्तजू में न हो बेचैन
वह जो हकीक़त है उसकी करले कदर
न बिखेर यूं अपनी ज़िन्दगी को
माला से टूटे मोतियों सा
बस ख्याल ही था वह हसीन सा
छूट गया पीछे जो इक अर्से पहले
उस राह के पेड़ों तले
बैठा न कर अब हो कर मायूस
होगा वहां ठंडी छाओं का एहसास
न होगा लेकिन फिर वही साथ
वह तो गुज़र गया रात के नींद सा
बस इक ख्याल था हसीन सा
उम्र गुज़ार ली तूने इंतजार में
क्या हुआ हासिल इस जुस्तजू में
कहीं दूर जब गूंजी किसी की हंसी
तेरे होटों पर भी मुस्कान खिली
न जाने क्यों ढूंढता रहा तू
औरों में अपनी ख़ुशी
जलता रहा दिए तले परवाना सा
बस ख्याल था वह हसीन सा
जो बिखर गया रेत सा

Saturday, October 27, 2012

There was so much to say
And yet, she stood silent
Questions rose high in the air
And she stood silently watching
As they fell, scattered at her feet
Accusations, insinuations, assumptions
words varied, but all rooted
In the same old pain, the hurt
That had been inflicted
Needed to inflict hurt of its own
And so, she stood silent
Watching, love turn to regret,
Regret fester into anger
And anger explode into words
Of accusations, insinuations, and assumptions
Darts thrown into the air
And she stood silent
As they fell at her feet
She knew that she should respond
Perhaps react or protest, shed the tears
That clouded her eyes and engulfed her heart
But she stood silent
Waiting. For that moment
When anger would simmer down to regret
And regret would drop its pretense
to let the hurt surface
To hurl into the air a fresh new pain
As she stood silent.

Friday, October 19, 2012

बहुत देर तक फैला रहा ख्याबों का मंजर
नीद में जैसे चलते रहे हम मीलों बेखबर 
खुली आँख तो वीराने थे हर तरफ
अकेले थे हम मगर भीड़ थी चरों तरफ
ख्याबों की दुनिया को छोड़ जो चले हम
तन्हाई में अकेले ही जले हम 
मुस्कुराहाटों की लहर थी हंसी के फुव्वारे थे हर ओर 
ख्याबों के टूट कर बिखरने का हुआ कोई शोर
आँखों को मूँद कर कोशिश फिर की हमने
ख्याबों को भुला कर ज़िन्दगी को सींचा हमने
ज़िन्दगी ने इक बार जो जकड़ा हमे
ख्याबों ख्यालों का तो होश ही रहा हमे
इसी होश-बेहोशी में ज़िन्दगी निकल गयी 
पता भी चला के कब राहें बदल गयी
जो शुरू हुआ था ख्याबों से 
जाने कैसे हार गया हकीक़तों से 

कह दो पुरानी यादों से
घेरें न दिल-ओ-दिमाग को इस कदर
कह दो कोई उन लम्हों से
रह रह आयें न याद इस कदर
जिन्हें भूल चुके हैं
कह दो उनसे न आएं याद इस कदर
हमारी खामोश तन्हाई में
डाले न कोई खलल इस कदर
वह राह जो छोड़ आये थे
उसी राह पर चलने की ज़िद न कर इस कदर
ठहरे पानी सा जीवन है
उसके शांत सतह को न छेडो इस कदर

Thursday, October 11, 2012


It was a chilly early spring Sunday morning in the late 1990’s while I was still living in Sweden. My jazz loving friend, Nelson, decided that I needed a musical Sunday brunch and dragged me, a little unwillingly to a breakfast concert at a club in Lund, Sweden. I had never been to a club in the daytime and had my 5+ daughter in tow (because it was Sunday morning and it was usually our time together). I was not too sure what exactly Nelson had in mind, because as was his nature, he remained mysterious, only insisting that I come with him. 

On reaching the club, I saw a poster introducing Trilok Gurtu as a ‘world musician’ who excels in experimenting with different instruments. I, of course, as a typical middle class south Indian woman, had had enough exposure to classical music to recognize the name “Gurtu” from the erstwhile Shobha Gurtu who I admired greatly. But the skeptic in me refused to accept that any celebrity kid, especially one who ‘experiments’ could have even a shadow of his mother’s talent.

And so we walked into the club to find scattered seating as you have in any normal café (well, it was a breakfast concert!) the sight of which made be doubly sure that this was going to be one of those non-serious concerts, where no one is really paying attention to the music.. you know, the kind you saw in slightly pretentious restaurants in India in the 80’s and 90’s where in a corner, on a small dais sat a small group of classical/semi classical singers/musicians singing in the background trying to be as unobtrusive as possible so as not to disturb your dinner conversations….THAT kind!!! The only redeeming factor seemed the fact that all chairs faced the stage and the buffet was laid out at the back end of the room… so well, at least someone was pretending to be serious about the music! AND, the room was full… although, I questioned whether it was for the breakfast or the music?

We found a table as close to the stage as we could, grabbed our breakfast and settled into the chairs, waiting for the performance to begin. Nishita, of course, refused to stay in her chair… and just as I began to freak out over her running all around the place, Nelson pointed out some dozen toddlers doing exactly that. “Let her be”… was his favorite phrase every time he saw me restricting her from doing anything, anyways! So, letting her be… I focused first on the breakfast and then on the hitherto empty stage. About 30mins after we had arrived, the stage began to be populated with different instruments, some I recognized as Indian, some Nelson recognized as African and the rest remained mysterious. Some 10mins anticipation and Trilok Gurtu took his place on the stage, alone!

The next couple of hours were one of the most mesmerizing hours of my life, as he proceeded to first, introduce the instruments, individually, and then in combination, bringing out melodies and sounds that were unbelievably evocative. He was playing some half a dozen different instruments, by himself. Slowly the stage became populated with 3 other artists. Each entry was a short solo with whichever instrument/s they would be playing followed by a blending of sounds from those already present on the stage. I cannot even begin to describe how wonderfully seamless the whole introductory episode was. And what followed left me filled with incredulous joy and enlightenment. It made me change my taste, my views about non-Indian, non-classical/semi-classical music. The music itself was rooted in classical Indian, blended with folk music from India, Africa and other countries/continents that I could not identify.

It was an amazing experience… the fusion… of music, of melodies, of cultures, of colors. It made me realize once again, how closed we Indians tend to be… so sure that “OUR” music, our food, our way-of-life, our beliefs ARE THE best in the world… we forget that if we close the doors of our minds and our senses, the outside world may have progressed far far beyond us.

The room, that day was filled with Scandinavians, for whom, in reality, this kind of music was very very far from anything that was familiar to them and yet they were curious and open enough to want to come and listen to it. And through the two hours of the concert, there were no murmurs that drew your attention away from the music…no screeching chairs, no crying toddlers…nothing! Even though the little ones present were running around and playing, I have no recollection of being disturbed by their presence. And although there was an Indian at the center stage, the only Indians present were my friend Narmada, Nishita and me. That day, I promised myself that I would always be willing to experiment, willing to expose myself and my senses to new and unfamiliar experiences…. And have never regretted that… it has added dimensions to my character/personality that would otherwise not be part of who I am today. All this I owe to this one, unforgettable experience.

I have heard fusion music and artists who are way better than Trilok Gurtu, since then…but as my first exposure to this genre, he deserves all the credit…

Monday, September 24, 2012

They were “just friends”
For a very long time
No one ever understood her,
As he did
And no one touched his soul
As she did
And yet, they lived far apart.
Afraid to explore
Afraid to feel
Afraid to lose

We are better as friends
They say to each other,
As their minds wonder
How it might have been
To be in each other’s lives
Loved and respected
Understanding and accepting
That’s what a marriage
Should be all about.
Or is it just that,
That a marriage destroys?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

This one is for my nephew, who celebrated his 22nd birthday a few days ago...

Happy Birthday, Nannu!!

It was the first time that I had held anybody so small, so fresh, so wonderful, so lovely... I can close my eyes and be transported back  to the moment when I held you in my arms for the first time ever... a feeling so unique and so unforgettable... and never relived.  You were the first  of the new generation, the first of many new things life was to bring to all us... and each time every one of us looked at you, our hearts filled up with a love that was hitherto unknown to us.

As you grew older, taking your first faltering steps and then beginning to run at a pace that your grandmother could not keep up with, the air filled with your laughter and the house with joy. You have always been special ... because you were the first... the first to teach us how it feels to have a little bundle of joy in the house ... the first to make us aware of every small thing around us, that could affect you ... the first to fill our hearts with joy each time you smiled with a twinkle in your eye...

I have distinct memories of hugging you.. you felt so good in my arms... I miss that feeling.

I remember the look on my mother's face each time she watched you running around happily... I miss that look and I miss that happy child who would come running to hug me even before I could completely enter the house.

I remember you being the big brother, trying to get Nishu to sleep with a complicated bedtime story... you elaborate story-telling and her rapt attention.

I often wonder, how much of this do you remember? Someone once told me that memories are nothing more than stories  that have been repeated to you way too many times... the mind sees them and believes that they happened... if that is true, then you would have no recollection of any of these as they were never told to you... I wish I could change that.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

 इक   अरसे  के  बाद  जो  हुई   कल   उनसे  बात 
यूँ   लगा  मानो  कल   ही  की  थी  वह   मुलाक़ात 
कुछ   न   बदला  था,  थे  वैसे  ही  हालत 
कुछ   उन्होंने  कही,  और  फिर  से  की  मैंने  अनसुनी वह  हर  बात 
एहसास   था  मुझे,  लेकिन   कर  न   सकी  बयां  वह  बात 
जाना  जब   मैंने,  यादों   में   गुज़रती  है  उनकी  हर  रात 
इस  उम्मीद  में  के  ख्याबों  में  अब   भी  होगी  मुलाक़ात 
वह   यार   मेरा,  वह   बिछड़ा  हमसफ़र 
कैसे  कहूँ ,  वह   करता  रहा  सदा  ख्याबों  में  बसर 
उस   गली  चले  न   थे  फिर  भी  उसी का रहा ज़िन्दगी  पर  असर 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


It has been one of those days (or is it weeks, months...even a year perhaps) when the mind has been restless while body has been at rest. The New Year dawned and before I could even blink a month had passed by. All the New Year resolutions remained (so far, at least) simply as resolutions...showing no inclination to move into action. The mind kept trying to mentally shake the body out of its lethargy, but to no avail. Surprisingly, when asked, the body kept insisting that the mind was not co-operating!! And in this tug-of-war of the mind and body, days turned into weeks and months into a whole year. Am I leading somewhere with this? Rest assured, I am.
One would wonder what this tussle between mind and body is all about... it’s about recovery, convalescence, recuperation, rejuvenation...or whatever else you may wish to call it. While we spend a lot of time, effort and money on curing the illness, we seem to forget to factor in the time required for convalescence which is the time it takes for the mind and body to work in tandem once more. Something the family and friends and often even the patients themselves seem to forget. Any serious illness, takes a toll on the mind, body and spirit...leaves behind self-doubt and fear...can I do this? Should I do this? What if... and similar such ridiculous concerns seem to surface in the mind, giving the body all the reasons it needs to stay put and not make any effort.
I remember one of my nurse friends in Sweden telling me that the female brain works only at 70% its normal capacity post-delivery. As many of us have experienced, post-delivery there is a feeling of a brain fog and its impossible to remember the simplest of things...and yet, very few mothers forget to feed/clean their babies in time, or miss its cry. It appears that nature has somehow ensured that a new mother focuses essentially on the needs of her baby and renders all else into the background of her mind. So think about it...even nature felt the need to give a mother’s mind a little time to catch up with the her body after the trauma of childbirth, which is such a natural, normal and frequent occurrence. Yet, we, forget to do so when our own bodies or those of our loved ones undergoes the unnatural trauma of a serious illness/surgery etc.
Any recovery process is not merely a physical phenomenon... the physical recovery, or lack of it is still visible and’s the emotional and mental recovery that most people struggle to come to terms with and often tend to neglect...leading to depression or stress of varied kinds. The effort it takes to fight the ailment, to remain in a positive frame of mind and to try to be cheerful all deplete the emotional reserve an individual has. Emotional reactions and breakdowns happen after the worst is over...almost  similar to weeping in relief. A patient who has borne the pain stoically suddenly seems to become impatient and irritable once the worst is over.
Add to this the basic expectation of people around, that, now that he/she is physically fit, they should run around as they did before and behave exactly as if nothing had happened. “Put it behind you” is the simple adage that is often thrown it so easy?  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

वह तेरी याद ही थी जो मेरी रूह में बसती रही
वह मेरा इनकार ही था जो तेरे ज़ेहन में थमा रहा
तुझे रहा होश के मैंने क्या कही 
मुझे रहा इल्म के तू मेरा रहा 
वक़्त का दरिया बह कर भी थम सा गया
तेरे आने से यादों का ही मंज़र रहा