Monday, April 24, 2017

जाईन विचारित रानफुला. भेटेल तिथे ग सजण मला !
भग्‍न शिवालय परिसर निर्जन .पळसतरूंचे दाट पुढे बन
तरुवेली करतिल गर्द झुला. उंच पुकारिल मोर काननी
निळ्या ढगांतुन भरेल पाणी. लहरेल विजेची सोनसळा
वाहत येइल पूर अनावर. बुडतिल वाटा आणि जुने घर विचारीत रान फुला। भेटल तिथे का सजन मला....

I had heard this song in childhood on radio and was spell bound by the voice, wondering who the singer was and waited till the end to hear that it was Kishori Amonkar.

It was the rendering that was the beauty.One of the most mellifluous voice of Indian classical.The name forever lingered and as I grew up was exposed to her various songs. I wasn't a great fan of classical or rather never had patience for it.
Recently I had the honour of attending her concerts (she only did few in recent years). One of my friends Rashmi Kulkarni is her ardent disciple and thanks to her I got this opportunity a year back. It was a few days after Rajesh had passed away and I had no desire to go anywhere. Rashmi literally dragged me to this one and I got a once in a lifetime opportunity to see her perform live.

Kishoritai's zeal and effort to get it right and then to flow with it reflected the discipline and the rigour. She first reprimanded the set up guys for incorrect setting of decibel and sound echoes. She lost it on her tabla guy who was apparently making a mistake(none which I think many of us even registered). Once she got it right then the evening just flowed from one raag to another. She was stickler for perfection.
She offered only classical singing that evening and me who had no understanding of it ..Loved it. Her contention was light music( sugam sangeet) you can hear anywhere.

I am sure she will now be singing for the universe and she will also be reprimanding them for may be not getting that perfect note on tabla.

R.I.P Kishoritai Amonkar

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Durga Puja!!!

This is the first one without Rajesh, it is going to be many years and so many memories. His enthusiasm for Puja was beyond words. Buying clothes, to driving late night to every pandal( after office), to eating out was just unmatched. Rajesh would wear his crispiest dhoti with a superb silk kurtas and look every inch a star. He knew how to dress!
He would drag all his friends, office colleagues etc to the puja pandal. His office friends too find it hard to imagine a Puja bhog without him.

It took few years for me to get into his madness of durga puja and the concept itself. I couldn't fathom why all bongs went from one pandal to other and looked at the diety( which to me looked the same) and commented or judged them. And that too so late at night. Me being a early bird this was a toughest part... to stay awake!
Once I met another friend who is also married to a Bong and his look was like why I am being dragged here...we had a private joke on this that we will start a "married to bongs"club where we can exchange notes.
I also couldn't understand the Bong fetish of planning for what to eat next while we were at it. But I guess it takes a while to get into this.

To combat that, I found a way out-
I started shopping at pandals, the sarees, the various designs of shakha polas ( I have at least 5 different pairs by now ) and indulgence in sweets. Being vegetarian, I couldn't handle non- veg and greasy food ( that seemed to be the highlight of pandal cuisine).
I am a great fan of the bhog and always wondered why couldn't they give some khichandi( for poor souls like me) also in the evenings and on the Dashmi day too.I went along with all this and I did it only for him.

Slowly the puja ferver seeped into my blood along with Rajesh's insanity of staying awake.  I started enjoying the madness and actually started looking forward to it. I also understood the difference in the art and craft of each diety( big one for me). I figured the Bengali script and translated some food descriptions for Rajesh at the pandals. My bong friends also teased me about it my Bengaliness. Often people mistook him to be the non-bong and me the other one ( of course they never heard me speak).
When I joined Yogoda, he always joked about finding a guru and that too a bong!! I loved the last day of Shidur khela, not so much for applying the colour to each other but for putting the sindhoor on the forehead of Maa. It was just divine feeling being so upclose with diety.

Last year, I knew that he was going...and there was a profound sadness  that he will not be there for the next one. He had bought me the classical red white saree to be worn at puja only, I wanted to at least apply the sindhoor to Maa...just one last time...that never happened (this is some part of me that I can't understand) . I knew that I could never do that again ...ever. He was so sick that I couldn't leave him for even for a short time.

Sometimes when I open my cupboard, I move my hands over the stuff that I have tucked away in the corner,the red and white sari, shakha- pola- and tears start flowing down, unceasingly..

I still haven't wrapped my head about how to go there or whether I can even bear to go there at all. It's all him there at every corner of those places...

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Girl on the road

It was the second day of Ganapti, I was in cab and the traffic was moving at snail space. I saw a girl unsuccessfully flagging down cabs. A typical rush hour where no cabs were empty. I had moved may be a distance of 5 minutes. And again I saw this girl in the rear view of the cab, now walking up. I realised she was talking on phone with headsets as tears were rolling down. I asked my cabwala to pull up on the side.

When she came close to me , I offered her a ride. She got in and thanked me. She wanted to get off at closest destination and hence obviously wasn't any getting cabs for such a short distance.

She had got off the phone and was still in her own grieving space. She was hardly 24 years old. perhaps a Young joinee types. I asked her "can I say something to you, I am almost 2 decades older to you and having seen fair amount of up's and downs. I can say this with conviction that everything in life can be sorted unless it is death, then it can't be helped ".

She sat quiet and listened, nodded her head and then just her silence spoke. We connected in that silent moment.

She had to get off and she did with a very quiet Thank you.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

#Mussorie on my mind

Recently I went to #Mussorie, and came back all new. Hills rejuvenate me. I don't think sea has that kind of effect on me or may be seeing the grey Mumbai sea every other day, has something to do with it. Out of the three elements, if I had to pick, it would be hills, sky and then sea.

First two days were chaotic, it felt like the whole of Delhi had descended there. But as the week began to pan out, the only crowd we saw were locals and some honeymooners.

The hills are majestic and magnetic, they draw you into their folds and the mist envelops you at times. Its like magical scene unfolding in front of you. You are taken in for say 10 minutes and then it all clears out. Something mysterious happens in that deep 10 minute recess.

Just walking up the hills changes life. The breathlessness first makes you realise how out of shape you are. The fitness of pahadi people is astounding. Second thing that hits you is the freshness of the air and the beauty around the place. Especially if you are from Mumbai where the air is equivalent to smoking 200 cigarettes (so they say). On second thoughts, I think my poor lungs can't cope with so much fresh air. Just not used with so much good air.

Coming back to beauty part. One can catch stray exotic flowers growing randomly anywhere, which makes me go ballistic. Imagine a cluster of peach coloured roses or orangish pink Gladioli's swaying in the wind.

I have seen some fuchsia pink dahlias as well. Oh man! I can dance with joy. The tress are covered with ferns from top to bottom and they look almost electric green. So fresh!

Hills have a discovery angle, a lovely house on turn. a snake trap like plant on the other, a flight  of mouldy steps that lead up to a haunted guest house... Dalhousie lodge. Tempting me to check out if there is a ghost. Or the beautiful church with stain glass. The floor was amazing black and white tiles. I later discovered that this one is the same church also seen in Saath Khoon Maaf movie. The Christ image is in stain glass. Simply divine. I love the silence in a church. A prayer in whispers can be heard.

The roads are all like winding, so you keep going up and down. So breathlessness is accompanied by cramps in the legs. By the end of the day you are finished. Its heartening to see the young people cycling up and down.They seem to have field day while you are just about managing to catch your breathe.
Some of the eating places are designed beautifully. The Travern, Clock Tower, The Ivy Inn and the Dommas Inn. All these places are visually treats, I am not so convinced about food though. Dommas has full Tibetian interiors. It also had superb Harley- which has Tibetian motifs, parked right outside.

I discovered an antique shop on Landour Road. Bought copies of some famous painters. The guy has amazing collection of blue pottery but how to cart it is a million dollar question.

We saw Ruskin Bond's house up in the hills. Half wondering if we should go knocking at the door. Then prudence decided against it. Went to Cambridge stores and bought his autographed books. Spent a whole night and morning reading it in one go. I had stopped reading for some time for last whole year but this trip changed it all.

I left Mussorie wanting to come back again. To breathe the air. So embrace the mist. To fill my lungs with Deodar scent.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Wind in my hair...

I was in Pune for just a day. Had to run some errands. Previous day was a mad day to travel on expressway. Huge serpentine traffic jam. Not that the next day was any good. But it was about 1 hour in the ghats.
In the evening , I borrowed a scooty and went riding to my friends place and the wind in my hair ,the scent of rains. Certain freshness that life offers in Pune.

Plus, I think half the Puneities went out of town, hence traffic was peaceful. The lane I stay is lined with all bungalows so it is peaceful and serene compared to the hustle -bustle of  Mumbai.

There is literally a carpet of flowers of Parijaat on road. Gulbakshi flowers growing in plenty.

I sang to myself and couldn't care a hang of what people thought.

Nature and Music and heal any broken soul.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Doing my bit for Robin hood army

A little thought for someone less fortunate

This was two  days back when I was on my way from Delhi. As usual they served us dinner in flight. Among the other things, they served a bun and also some butter, I was terribly hungry and  ate most of the meal but left these two out. Now normally I am very particular about not wasting food, so was feeling a bit guilty .I also know from my past experience that airlines throw all the leftovers out as garbage. They don't sort it. Then on the spur of the moment, I decided to pack it with me instead of letting it go. I collected same items from my other colleagues. They  were very supportive. I decided to do the Robin-hood army thing. Collected the  3 buns and 3 small cubes of butter all in a carry bag. I must admit I was embarrassed to do so. Then I had thought, at least 40% of people must have not eaten this bread butter. Not to mention the sugar and creamer that we all wasted. So  much food would have made  any poor  family  happy. Almost 40 sugar packets. That was a lot. What if we made an  announcement  and collected all leftovers, wouldn't that be a great idea. But then I wonder, we are all so conscious about how  people will perceive us and I am no different.

The flight was  delayed and I  reached home past midnight
By the time I reached home, I realised I was still carrying them. I decided to give them to my watchman. And can't tell  you how happy he was to have perfect bun pav along with his chai

Friday, July 22, 2016

My frangrant treasures

I got up very early today and couldn't sleep. Stepped out in the balcony to see the new flower on my Madanbaan Mogra and a mini Tagar( moon beam) fully bloomed.

I smiled joyfully. Life suddenly started feeling great. So decided to take Teio for a walk.

It had stopped raining and was misty and looked beautiful. I met a lot of school going  children on the way.
Children are lovely to watch. Some smile, some are talking to themselves, some are in awe of me (me having the dog actually). Others are being dragged to school. And some just side step when they see me ( these are the ones who are told that dogs bite you ). There is a certain freshness to them. Unlike adults who walk to offices. Adults are dead people with worried looks/frowns/ burdened in life look. No joy watching them.

I passed by the regular road and suddenly there was on heavenly fragrance. I looked around and then up, there was an Ananth - Gardenia, blooming with many flowers and I was mesmerised.

It lingered with me, enough to keep me smiling through the day.