Dec 4, 2008

I can manage



When the tide turns on me
When every step beholds a rock
I'll be fine
Cos I can manage.

When the world seems lost
And I grapple with directions
I'll be fine
Cos I can manage.

As you worry about your own
Go on with your life
Don't bother about me
Cos I can manage.

When I need someone
I'll hold my own hand
Don't look back at me
Cos I can manage.

But don't worry for when you are low
Or just need a push to go
It's you who I'll look at first
Cos my own I can manage.

- © HAEM ROY
Dec 04, 2008.

Dec 3, 2008

Paki media's views on the attacks

Politicians playing the blame game, countries speculating, Countries trying to attack on the pretext of saving other nations and the world, diplomacy jumping and then taking dips, everything going for a toss. The people are confused on what to believe and what not. The UN has become the force that it was before the World War - a silent spectator. Those in the know shut up. And the ignorant turn their beliefs into facts for the world.

And the world laps it all up. So that in the end, its a huge mess of views, opinions, diplomatic talks, personal grudges, vested interests, and confusion. And the facts are all hidden beneath, lost forever.

In the midst of all this, adding to the confusion is the Paki media. This bit of video clip just gave me a whole new perspective. I must say imagination is great for the media there. I could never have fathomed this angle to the attacks. But I will reserve my views and leave you to conclude whatever you wish from these clips:






Do let me know what you think.

Dec 1, 2008

Back to democracy

Here is something that can provide a ray of hope to us. A way towards change:

Rule 49-O is a Rule in the The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, which governs elections in India. It covers the procedures to be followed when a valid voter decides not to cast his vote, and decides to record this fact. Recording one's vote under Section 49-O is a choice that voters can exercise to prevent electoral fraud, and misuse of their vote. (for detailed explanation, check below)

An incident that happened some years ago where some fellow in Bombay itself decided to make use of this hidden rule and not vote for anyone and make that obvious is what motivated me. One person did it, and it was in the news. Imagine what would happen if even 200-300 youth decided to do this. It's what made me think, this is the way ahead, the way towards the change we are all looking for. And as I looked for more such incidents, I found another interesting article in the Indian Express online edition. You SHOULD read it. It is informative and shows how this was implemented somewhere.

This can be used very well to shake the governance. If even a few hundred exercise this, the politicians will take notice. And they will start talking. Maybe more can join in. And even a re-polling option can be asked for. It's a way to ask for change. A way to protest. Something that will show the politicians that yes we can do something. We are not a bunch of fools who get lured by their promises and blindly vote. We also have power to change the country and the system and if they don't buck up, they won't be able to hold onto their seats.

Let us start with this movement. As we go ahead with rallies and marches, mails and messages, this is one issue we can talk about.

I may be too ambitious. I may have wrong information. But then I have to start somewhere. And if someone has better ideas, better info, better views, you are welcome. Counter, agree, add, do whatever, but please react. Let us find a way to be active and do something. A way to actually create an upheaval.

Show that we still are a democracy. And it is the masses who have the power.

The rule*:
Rule 49-O is a Rule in the The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, which governs elections in India. It covers the procedures to be followed when a valid voter decides not to cast his vote, and decides to record this fact. Recording one's vote under Section 49-O is a choice that voters can exercise to prevent electoral fraud, and misuse of their vote.

49-O. Elector deciding not to vote.-If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form-17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark.

Present Implications of Rule 49-O
Since the ballot paper/EVM contains only the list of candidates, a voter cannot record his vote under Section 49-O directly. He must inform the presiding officer at the election booth. This violates the secrecy of the ballot.

The exact implications of Rule 49-O from the perspective of winner declaration are unclear. It may be, given the present state of The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, assumed that a winner will be declared irrespective of the number of 'non-votes'. However, a note of every 'non-vote' will be made with the Election Officer, and the total number of non-voters will, presumably, be available under the Right to Information, Act. Please note that the availability of this information has not been confirmed as yet.

Some recent articles suggest that in case the number of votes recorded under Section 49-O is greater than the maximum number of votes polled in favour of any of the candidates, a repoll is held. This is not explicitly mentioned in any of the sections of The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961.


*Info courtesy Dhawal Jain who was kind enough to source it for me.

More blogs that talk about this rule, the flaws and possibilities:

Please pass on this information to as many people as you can and create awareness about this Rule. 

Nov 28, 2008

On the city being one, and then not.

I don't know whether I should feel happy that everyone I know is safe, or sad that so many I don't know are no more. I feel guilty even feeling relieved at the safety of those I know. And I feel I know all those I don't too.

This one event has made the minds and hearts of all the citizens one. Everyone feels, everyone cries, everyone wants to reach out and wipe out the past, turn back time. As horrendous as this massacre is, it has definitely brought the fast scattering city together. Its one city, one issue. And we have all realised how much this city beats in our pulses. How much it lives in us as much as we live in it. And we feel one with the person on the street walking next to us, or walking in the other part of town.

There are no divides. No townies and suburbanites. No rich and poor. No North Indians or Marathas. Everyone is a Bombayite. (I still feel for this term rather than Mumbaikar, so I will continue using it). And everyone feels the pain.

And I could see it in office today, when people felt helpless. They were watching, commenting and then feeling bad about just watching and commenting. They wanted to do something. There were a few of us who wanted to donate blood and I called up the Bombay Hospital to register myself. But there were enough donors they said and just took my number before thanking me. Even though I was disappointed at not being able to help, there was a part of me that felt good, because enough donors meant the city was out there for each other indiscriminately.

And no, I am not giving some crappy schmeil about the 'spirit' of the city. Bullshit that is! I am one of those who believe it isnt spirit, its just helplessness that made the city go on. This is different. And i hope this time the city doesnt show its 'spirit' and comes up in arms against the forces that be. If not for themselves, out of respect for those that died saving the city from further mess.

Amidst all this 'city being one' talk, there is one aspect though that is the thorn. Obviously - politicians. I have a few questions to throw, openly to whoever wishes to answer:

- How is it that with so many hostages and so many victims, the politicians managed to literally saunter out if the Taj, unhurt, unharmed?

- Why did they not take any action whatsoever even at the slightest information of a possible attack or the boat leaving from Karachi?

- How did this happen exactly during the Sadhvi Pragnya episode and the people involved with the same were the ones to be killed first?

- Why is it that inspite of all this trauma, all the politicians can think is how to garner more votebanks, and when to arrive where, where to give condolences and how much compensation to give?

- Why are they behaving like this is an award function where they have to make their presence felt, wave to the public, walk on the red carpet (here, of blood), smile and get airtime and be surrounded by senior officials that could be of help to the city rather than protecting their pointless lives?

- The blame game is escalated to another height and instead of joining forces and saving the city and country as one, as Indians, why are they bent on destroying it further?

I may not have answers to these. Maybe some of these may not have any answers at all. But they are questions rising in the minds of many. They are the questions the masses need answers for. They are the questions that will turn the masses into the active forces, into soldiers, into revolutionaries someday.

Someday then earth will be destroyed entirely to begin the life cycle again.
Maybe.

Nov 27, 2008

The city that was... The remains that are

those streets that we haunted,
where we felt one even with strangers,
those streets have turned strange today,
raped by inhumanity, now haunted by fears.

I remember walking along Metro, or walking among the shaded trees from VT to College (St.Xavier's College), or just walking through GT hospital as a shortcut to Crawford, sitting at Leo's and having some good time, or walking along the shore opposite the Oberoi or the Taj...

all these places were within me... within us. they were a part of the Bombay that beats in the heart of every Bombayite.

But now, like a bubbly girl deflowered by a gang of villains, the city has suddenly turned quiet, lifeless. Its turned into a lifeless form, that continues to move, but not live. It lives in constant fear. In constant memory of what it has gone through. The scars will go, but this damage will stay in the history books.

Most of all this damage will remain forever for the families of the hundreds of victims, of the many martyrs who died defending the city and preventing it from much worse. The short-term memory of the masses will soon forget them, but their families will never be able to recover.

As my heart grows heavy and tears almost well up when I think of the state of the city that I loved; as I can't find words to describe my feelings about the massacre and the victims; as I salute the martyrs and wonder ceaseless about their mourning families and their unfathomable bravery; as I feel one with the whole city and feel its pain in me - I still feel helpless and handicapped. I wish I could do something for this city that resides in me.

Nov 25, 2008

"Look she is studying"

I was travelling by the train the other day, back from work. There sat a kid beside me, who kept staring at me with his little curious eyes. And try as I may, his curious eyes made me curious, wanting to look at what he was looking or wondering about.

As i sat reading my novel, he came closer and tried to comprehend what I was doing. And then his mother said -
'Bagh, abhyaas karte'. (Look, she is studying)

And that sentence somehow struck me. Instantly.

How we drill things into children's minds at such a young age. Reading simply means 'abhyaas' (study). No wonder not many kids grow up to love reading. After all, most kids hated studying. Making them synonymous, they lose out on precious learning.

And how we condition the young ones to live restricted. We show them our view of life. We push them in the direction of life that we have gone and feel is the best and safest.

Where is the spirit to explore? Where is life that is unpredictable, undefined? Why do we try to put life in this one box, and restrict it to that box we know. We are afraid to step out.

I just wonder. It may not look like a big difference, but it would surely make a big difference if the mother told he kid -
Look she is reading a story.

Oct 11, 2008

Cinephiles

Amazing article on cinema and those addicted to it by David Bordwell - his book was our bible when we began studying cinema... I am probably halfway towards becoming a cinephile, with regards to the discussions... The article was recommended by a good friend.
Do read it...

The Europeans have long been fascinated by the subject of cinephilia. The French supplied not only the word but the most outstanding instances, from the founding of Cahiers du cinéma to the passions of the Nouvelle Vague. (1) In the last decade particularly, French critics have often returned to the subject–worrying, for instance, that home video might have changed or even decimated cinephilia–and this has led critics from other countries to join in.

I was reminded of how strongly the idea persists when, at Il Cinema Ritrovato this year, I was invited to sit in on one of several lunches at which critics and historians talked about the subject. The discussion consisted mostly of recollections of the guests’ first encounters with cinema, of the films that affected them most powerfully, of the film-related activities they engaged in during their salad days. Some of us hadn’t done this exercise in autobiography before, but others had had practice. Jonathan Rosenbaum and Eric de Kuyper had both written a fair amount about the sources of their affinity for film. (Sometimes I feel I remember Jonathan’s life better than my own.)

What is cinephilia? Literally, the love of film. But everybody likes, even loves film, no? The term “cinephilia” connotes an overwhelming passion for film, even an obsession about it. And not just particular films. I meet civilians all the time who are devoted to their favorites—The Godfather, The Princess Bride, The Matrix. But they’re not cinephiles. So is it just a matter of quantity? Is it just that the cinephile enjoys a great many movies? Partly, but there’s still more to it.

The cinephile displays symptoms of cinemania, as chronicled in the film of the same name. If you haven’t seen it, Cinemania tracks five people who organize their lives around watching movies. As I watched it, some of my reactions ran to “Wow, that is really hard-core,” but every now and then I thought: “Well, that’s not so weird. I do that.” So I see the similarities...

(contd. here) http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/?p=2662

Oct 5, 2008

What's this?

Ever counted how many times people have pointlessly gone 'whats this?' when you have gone and done something radical or unexpected?

Starting from school when you would have doodles in your notebook and your teacher would scream 'whats this?' Doodles, what else!
And then at home when you return after enjoying the first rains, entirely wet - Whats this?
Or maybe when you wear a jeans at a wedding and you have the entire family going Whats this?
Or even better - I have a friend who would draw diagrams and pie charts for literature answers. As far as I saw them, they made perfect sense and in fact, I loved the innovative ideas. But as obvious, his teachers would go 'Whats this?' and threaten to fail him!
I have got red hair extensions now... and I have a volley of Whats this' coming to me.

Its something I felt like doing, and feelings can't be questioned, no matter how silly or radical or weird. Just something I like, simple!

Oct 1, 2008

The lonely bungalow feel


The sweet smell of grass envelops
dew hanging mid-air
mist tying you up all around
a gush of darkness approaches the ground

stars float about, having their siesta
the moon has just stopped bothering
the cottage before you stands in a permanent shadow
the trees covering its promiscuity

and as the crickets begin their speech
the tiny world silently listens
tip-toe, whisper or scream

No other sound will get ears

a wave of eeriness and you walk faster
wanting to get away, but being pulled back
as you crunch the gravel along the road
it's always a wide stretch - behind you or ahead

all your senses alert almost
your Mind wafting away
hushed whispers are all your mouth can manage
seems like someone's carried your voice away

your lonely cottage is your Den
the shadows around it ignored
a tiny lamp your constant companion
the trees sharing the secrets hidden from you
with restless peace your heart keeps beating
as you sleep enveloped by the Lonely Bungalow Feeling...
- © HAEM ROY 
1.10.08

Sep 19, 2008

Paradise Now

Thanks to someone at my office, I got hold of a copy of Paradise Now, by award winning filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad, a movie about two suicide bombers - Khaled and Said, in Palestine and an deep look at how they become what they become. It's their search for salvation, and their bitter realisation that they are just pawns in a larger plot. Extremely gripping, the movie is like a camera placed in life, and captures every emotion with such sensitivity that you can't help but get goosebumps. I can't comment about dialogues since I watched it with sub-titles, but I can say I didn't feel any lack of it. What I saw on screen compensated more than enough for it. What is even more interesting is this heart wrenching journey has hardly any shots of violence and still it just twists your insides. Extremely moving, very well shot and amazing performances, especially by Kais Nashif who plays Said.

Worth the awards, accolades and the Oscar nomination and definitely worth a watch or even owning it.

Sep 18, 2008

The political volleyball

I say, why don't they blast the whole country together and start over. That way, they will have their own votebank.

What exactly is the benefit of scare bombs all over the country, injuring some people and murdering the unfortunate few, I haven't yet comprehended. Maybe I am dumb, or maybe I am just not politically inclined. I was born without that mutation in my genes.

Blaming the whole episode on some perpetually constipated loser who couldn't figure out that he was being manipulated by the so called 'religion saviours' for their selfish power plays, and naming him the 'mastermind' terrorist reminds me of the scheming 70's villains and their sidekicks who had no other jobs than to plot such impossible blaming games! Have you even looked at the pictures of the 'terrorist' that is blamed? He just seems too meddled with his own life to even bother about saving his religion.

My view - its just the political parties who care a donkey's nail about anyone but themselves who plot these so that they can blame the ruling party for bad security, blame the opposition for facilitating violence, blame the religious groups for fanaticism, blame the atheists for misguiding the public, blame the moral brigade and blame the 'immorality inducers' and blame the masses for their confusion and indifference. All in all, they blame everyone but themselves for not electing them and not filling their pockets as much as they wish so that they can die in a gold trimmed suit and leave their spoilt children to fight over their illegal properties.

And its not that we choose the wrong people. I think there is some major scientifc advancement that we are unaware of. No matter how decent the person, the moment he/she comes in close vicinity of the seat of power, it's a transmogrification (the Harry Potter kinds) into a vicious, scheming, cunning, greedy and stupid funnel. (its the draining vessel!)

I truly endorse what Sir Douglas Adams *salute* has said in The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy about a planet of humans being ruled by lizards and they don't overthrow the tyranny cos they simply haven't thought of it. (To know more, go read the book. It's worth it).

And at this point I would like to quote a friend of mine:
"I prefer to be socially and politically ignorant. For as a smart (fictional) man said, I am plagued by the disease of being too intelligent (and hence aware of what a fuckall world we live in), and so to cure myself, I am posing as ignorant. And therefore, blissful!"

I second that.

Sep 11, 2008

Word power

Some years ago, I was an avid participant in many elocution competitions. I had many prizes to my credit too. But back then, no matter how much or how little I knew, I was still ignorant about the actual motive of a speech, or the power of one.

But just like you learn lessons in life when you are hit, you also know things slowly. Ever heard the 'I Have a Dream speech' by Martin Luther?



Or closer home, remember the speech J. Nehru gave as the clock struck midnight and India gained Independence?

There are many such examples - some that changed the world. Some that simply inspired you. It may have been your mother or your teacher saying something, that made a big difference. Words have that power, to move, to bring together. They throw Marx's theory back into his face and turn the 'simple masses' into an active force. Hitler may have been a tyrant, a cruel man, but no one denies that he was a master of words. He could bring life into every syllable and make it hypnotise every listener. And when you get that power, it is bound to get to you somehow, as it did with him!

And it's an unexplainable joy to play with words. And to be in a profession that demands that of you (though of course everything is not as hunky-dory since this is no fairytale).

A blogger has created a list of 13 most illuminating speeches in history. If you are keen to have some words smack you int he face, do have a look.

And I wish to make a recent addition to these - a speech J.K. Rowling gave at a graduation ceremony. May not be world changing, but it sure is inspiring:
J.K.Rowling's inspiring speech - part 1
Part 2
Part 3

If you have any additions or anecdotes, do drop them in.

I want to run away

I want to backpack...

Just pick a haversack, put in a few things, carry some money, a map and set out. Maybe decide the 1st location, only the 1st. And then go by the wind, or impulse. Explore the uninhabited, dine with the locals, hitchhike down roads, bathe in waterfalls and write by the stream. Breathe in the fresh air, read a story that the clouds draw, listen to the music that the little village boy with the flute composes... and sleep in a sleeping bag under the stars.

But... (there is always a fricking but), responsibilities, home... family to care for!

Ah well.. some day for sure. I know. And those wishing to join me are most welcome.

Sep 10, 2008

Straightforward or safe?

How well do you know yourself? Probably not at all. Maybe you are just someone with a big bloated head who thinks too much about himself (allow gender generalisations here). Ok, now that I have minutely poked your ego, let me get to the point.

I am not trying to be some sort of world hating prick. This is just something I concluded from years of interaction with people of all sorts. And it was nailed strongly just recently.

You make friends with someone. You believe they are nice. They are fun to hang out with. They say you are good friends, you think you are good friends. Then some doubt creeps into your mind. So you think, lets clear it. Since we are good friends, it would be better than keep it in your mind. After all, everyone likes straightforwardness right?

Wrong.

You just think you like that. When the doubt is voiced, your insides churn, your mind does a somersault and all the friendship sinks for the moment. "How could the friend even think that?" or "I that what you think? Fine, What's the point of having any contact now?" These are the thoughts that cross your mind probably. Why doesn't this thought come - "Oh well, now that I know, how do I clarify things?"

And then begin the string of events of anger, explanations, anger, sulking, awkwardness, discomfort, ego, etc etc etc. Friendship goes for a toss. And so do your belief that you can handle anything. Very obviously you can't!

This is not an incident that has happened once, or that has occurred only with me. The causes may be different, the doubts may be about the exact same pen or leaked information or hidden feelings - doesn't matter. The pattern is always the same. It is rare that I have seen anyone take things well. It's like a switch in them turns on and they transmogrify into jerks of the biggest order (let us mention, to save flying volleys, that probably I am one of them too!)

And whoosh, before you know it, the tornado vanishes leaving behind the wreck.

Now lets get to the other side. What if the doubt is not clarified? Then is it 'safe'?

I wish!

Then it starts a brand new family inside you, with a procession every two minutes. Oh and new babies every 5 minutes. It keeps growing until the population turns restless, jostling for space and turning everything else out. And there will be no peace - ever. (ok that's exaggerating but you get the point).

So then, which one do you choose? Would YOU rather be straightforward or safe? Or a better question would be - would you like people you know to be straightforward or safe?

Sep 8, 2008

Puppy dog face

Just a thought:

If I had a date in space among the stars, will I need to wear heels? Or will the gravity just make me look taller anyway!

Oh and the recent addition to my list of fetishes are shoes. Anyone wishing to donate some? *sparkling grin*

And an afterthought to the thought:
Farhan Akhtar is quite hot. And I somehow like his raspy voice. But well since I am not alone, I will have to do with some other curly-long-haired, guitar wielding, crazy minded, good-looking person.
Any suggestions?

Sep 6, 2008

The complex web of complexities

What if you suddenly realise you are introverted?

I did.

But well, not quite. I also realised I can get high on air and care a damn about the world around me, without any intoxication.

What do you call a heady mix of restlessness and caution?

What would you term a love of being around people blended with the inability to speak much when in a group?

What would you call being random at random moments and yet trying to bring some sense into the most erratic of thoughts?

Ah well... it can go on.

Going and confessing to one of your crushes on an impulse but still very shy around the next one - shy enough to veer away.

Or, enthusiasm and passion intertwined with procrastination and dreamy-eyed-ness (is that a word or am i making up words again?)

Too nice to be rude but to short tempered to keep calm all the time.

Radical and unpredictable, so much so that even your best friends get shocked at times. And yet, very hesitant to chat up a stranger or even call a stranger for work.

How complex can you get? I still don't know, cos I keep getting complex by the moment.
And did i mention, I love it!

Aug 25, 2008

Ode to the brave train traveller

This was originally written for the Open Humour Blog:

To the brave train traveller


Thou brave child of Alexander the great
Thou who fights long battles with fate
O’ lucky bearer of the choicest insults
Enlightened thou be, by the foul-mouthed cult.

Ye rise early, crosst many roads
Before thy might the villains bowed
Ascending a wagon full of faces so vain
Thousands to battle, hundreds will be slain.

An umbrella beest thy sword,
With closed eyes as thou climbs aboard
Elbows be thy armour and shield
Thy feet danceth when the hands are sealed.

Protecting the land where thee sets foot
Forever it seems, thou will stay put,
Jostling and pushing hath no effect
Thy strong body suffers no defect.

None dareth rise up against thy might
For if they do, you are all set to fight
The teaching of years, the words in thy mouth
Flying like bullets, at those vagrants uncouth.

None can attempt a feat like thee
Hanging by a finger, avoiding that tree
Standing up to that army twice a day
It ain’t that easy, to battle everyday.

A salute to the master kicker,
The uncrowned king of trains
The soldier that bravely battles fate
And steps out alive, injured but not slain.


- © HAEM ROY

For those interested, the above verse was an attempt to parody the heroic couplet style of writing that was prominent during the Renaissance age. It is characterised by exaggeration and grandeur, making the subject seem almost divine. Another characteristic is the form which is rhymed couplets in iambic metre, though this one is not in iambic metre. (do you even know how tough it is to calculate it, let alone write in it!)

*Definitions*:
The heroic couplet, lines in iambic pentameter rhymed in pairs(aa, bb, cc), appeared early in English — it was Chaucer's favorite meter — and came into vogue in poetic drama in the seventeenth century, but in the eighteenth century, in the hands of masters like Dryden, Pope, and Johnson, it became for many years the dominant English verse form. Its name derives from its use in seventeenth-century "heroic" (epic) drama and poetry.

Alexander Pope's Rape of the Lock is an excellent example of a parody of heroic couplet, and very very funny too.

Aug 8, 2008

SOMETHING'S MISSING


a vOid - hOllOwness
Breeze drilling through you
It’s not just your ReflEction in that puddle
that’s restless, It’s a ReflEction of you.

An incomplete WhOLe you feel like
A leaking jar –
filled to the brim
You don’t know where that bastard piercing is
that’s draining the you out of yOu.


- © HAEM ROY 
[For the curious, the capitals and placement of lines is on purpose.]

May 23, 2008

Shake it baby!

Life is a cycle of wants and desires. There is always another long list in waiting after you have completed one. And it never ends, like one of those long toilet rolls in cartoons.

And one of the lines on that long roll talked about salsa dancing!

Salsa classes have begun IN office. And the experience is great. I realised how much i loved dancing, and how happy it makes me.

However much you love your work, and even if you are doing what you love in life, it is never enough. Humans are easily bored by nature, and monotony eats into the brain, slowly rendering it useless. And the only way to escape the trap is to surprise the brain now and then. Jump into things suddenly, follow your impulse, dive into something new.

And salsa did that to me.

Besides other things of course...

so here's a toast to shaking it all the way, and how!

Apr 10, 2008

Kuch Lamhe

Some nazms that I penned some time ago

KUCH LAMHE:
1) Taaron ki shaant timtimaahat
Aur andhere sannate ke beech
Uthti awaaz jo failaye madhoshi
Andhadhun samaa mein hai ye roshni ki nazuk aahat

2) Suryoday gagan ki rangeen chadar odhe
Raat ki thand mein garmahat ka aagman
Oas ab kho rahe apna astitva
Ruke nahin jeevan ka chalan, bas ab dikhai pade

3) Ped ke patton mein dhup ki luka-chippi
Kabhi kabhi vayu maharaj ki dakhal andazi
Thake musafir aur ped ka saath to suna sunaya hai
Par dhup aur vayu hi hain is rahi ke humrahi

4) Varsha mein paani ki boondein khelti ajab raas
Kabhi tez ya madhdham koi na keh pata
Josh mein aa gayee to sab Ram-bharose
Aas-paas na dekhti kuch… anjaam sarvanash

5) Phool jab pathjad ke hruday se khilte
Toh soonepan ko chod dete soona
Par gar hota na pathjad bahaar se pehle
Toh kya phool itni muskuraahat faila pate?

6) Saanjh ki lapet mein phir sab aane lage
Kuch jeev shuru, kuch thame, par jeevan toh abhi bhi chale
Bheeni mitti ki mahek ghulti raatrani ki sugandh se
Sab kuch abhi bhi sada-sa manmohit lage

7) Subah uthte hi palkon ke saamne chaye dhundhlapan
Sapnon ki duniya ke nishaan abhi bhi
Nidra aur jaagran ke beech ki ajab sthiti
Jab hosh dagmagaata, shantata ke dariya mein behekta man

8) Palkein jhapakte hi, oas ki boonden khaari,
Khud mein koi raaz samaaye,
Girte aur ho jaate hain ye toh nadaarad
Par de jaate hain ahsaas halke, jab ho jaati hain yaadein bhaari

9) Madhraatra… Kehte hain ki hai sannaata
Toh phir kya hai vo jantuon ki nishani
Woh tarraana, madhur awaazein
Aisa anokha shor kyon koi na sun paata?

10) Ant kabhi ho sakta hai samaapt?
Kya shuruaat bhi nahin anth ka aagman?
Chakravyuh mein ghoom, vipda mein phase
Gar yahi sochne baithe, toh kya manzil hogi praapt?
- © HAEM ROY 

Apr 9, 2008

21ST BIRTHDAY

Birthday... a purposeless count of purposeless years in a purposeless life!
Thats the existential in me talking.

Birthday.... FUN, pampering, a reason to demand and celebrate
Thats the child in me talking.

Birthday.... why is it so special when you don't feel special? When nothing different happens?
Thats the cynic cum realist me.

But hey, why are so many people butting in, when it is MY birthday!!! Celebraaatttteee!

What did I do on my 21st birthday?
  • Woke up early... no concession here
  • Came to office ... again no concession
  • Work and work... same story... in fact I got a birthday gift of more work
  • Get people sing, cut cake in office. Not to mention order an extra cake to splatter on my face... no wait make it rub on my face. (Yeh it was fun... but well...)
  • Meet some friends for sandwich before leaving at 7.30 ( a last minute substitute for dessert)
  • Meet Mariette and Priya at Candies, Bandra (the new one). I so love that place. ( will try and write a review soon)
  • Click mad pictures and then have an attempt to click a decent picture taken by P which ended up seeming like a Photoshoot! (i kept ruining pictures by making silly faces)
  • talk talk talk
  • Return home when M starts cribbing about getting late.
There you curious cats, you have my schedule for that day. Now anyone wishes to ask what I did?
PS: Oh for those who are still clueless, bday was yst - 8th April.

Mar 29, 2008

Conditions for unconditionality

I have been pondering (as usual)...
and this time I thought what exactly do we mean by unconditional. Is it just a Utopian term or does something like unconditional really exist. In a world where humans live, it is highly unlikely for the concept to ripen and prosper. Cos as we all know, human beings are greedy animals, selfish animals and if not for some of these vices that we call emotions, we would be nothing more than statues.


But returning 2 the topic, is it possible to give anything unconditionally? It always puzzles me when the world says love unconditionally, sacrifice unconditionally... somehow my opinion has always been that it is just theoretical. Consciously or not, we always end up forming some conditions in our mind. They may take the form of rules, ethics, good behaviour or anything else... but they are there.

When you have great friends with someone, it is important for that person to be friends with you too, to acknowledge your friendship. Imagine a situation where you say X is your best friend but X does not even consider you a friend. Will that make you think about retracting your beliefs or will you still consider X as a best friend? It is always a give and take. The proportion of the two may not be defined. But it is never one-sided. You expect the other person to behave nicely with you at the least. and even that expectation is a condition.

In fact, taking this a step ahead, i think that our closest bonds are with people where there are loads of conditions. The glue is not the lack of conditions, but the fact that the existence of them is not any obstruction. The conditions just make everything stronger. You will love you partner more if he or she treats you well, pampers you, and takes care of you. These are conditions but they only serve to make the relationship better.

Love but not unconditionally I say. Be nice not foolish. And while you lay the conditions, fulfill conditions other people lay!And everyone will be happier.

Oh just to add... this MAY bring world peace too! ;)

Feb 29, 2008

Comfort has to be sought

Comfort is naturally a very relative term by all means. Every person keeps aiming for his/her comfort zone at every point in life. The way one chases comfort keeps reminding me of how men chase women, playing all tricks, trying to woo her in all possible ways, trying to figure out what makes her click and leaving no stone unturned. Comfort is no less than the stubbornest of women, probably even worse, as it keeps eluding you, and just when you think you are settled in its lap serenely, disturbed not even by dreams, a humungous pin decides to lodge itself in your backside.

The problem more often is deciphering what exactly YOUR comfort zone is. It is misjudged and one is left scurrying about in pursuit of something which eventually is futile. Only on reaching do we realise that we probably seek something else, and the mad run begins again.

Thats the cycle of life. Comfort keeps eluding, wrong judgement manifests itself at every turn, and mirages keep blinding long sight.

But to look at it from a better perspective, even though the destination may not be a permanent comfort zone, it definitely is not worthless. One can treat it more like a pitstop, a refuelling junction. The bliss of reaching the mountain peak may not be there, but there is a definite respite from the endless turbulences of the journey, and the motion sickness. A nap for an hour, some food, a calming of the senses before you are back to the grind.

I found a similar 'comfort-post' recently. Something cliched yet unfailing - books. Sometimes the processes of our own mind are so complex and confusing, that you fail to keep pace with it. You don't understand what is happening and it is almost the verge of a breakdown. Everything around you seems like its spinning, and that its bent on knocking you down for sheer sadistic pleasure. Probably you can do something to stop this, but that would be possible if you grasp what is happening!

Those are time when you try and seek the comfort zone. You desperately need it. The chase obviously beings you to the 'nap and food break'. And i ended up with a book, that helped me drown the world around me. I shut myself to the rivers and island world of 'The Hungry Tide', an all-time favourite of mine, and revelled in the fictional characters and emotions the book offered me. The pace and gripping narrative of the book played their part in keeping me glued, even at a re-reading. And in time, the storm within me had settled, I don't know how, as I took things in their stride. The smile was back, and I was not being knocked down. (Even if I was, I probably turned into a huge, green giant who could not be knocked down!) As for the tiny pins that were being flung at me constantly, I learnt to deflect them in a way that they barely scratched me.

But I still seek my mountain peak
Momentary posts may refuel me
But my eyes are set on a destination I cant yet see
Till then I try to be happy with breeze that whistles by.


- © Haem Roy

Jan 9, 2008

RAJMACHI - A NEW YEAR IN A NEW WAY

(Special thanks to Rohit for the valuable insights and information and for the spell-check :)! )
Nestled in the midst of nature are many treasures that man has long forgotten in his quest for materialistic life. The daily routines and hustle-bustle has left thought being strictly limited to the concrete jungle that surrounds the vision and the luxuries within that pretend to rescue the man from it.

But it is only when the actual hidden escapades are discovered that the True meaning of life and living truly dawns. Ever wondered why being among greenery casts a strange calmness in your mind or why it soothes your senses and makes you smile without reason? Even your subconscious feels the presence of the original, the pure and the serene and it reacts pleasantly. And what better way to welcome a New Year than by spending it in the lap of nature!

Rajmachi is very famous fort near the twin hill stations in Maharashtra - Lonavala and Khanadala. Rajmachi fort is about 16/19 Kms from Lonavala, One of the ways to reach the fort is from Tungarli Lake, which is the route we took. Rajmachi consists of two beautiful peaks namely 'Shrivardhan' and 'Manaranjan' and is a fun, easy trek for beginners.

THE ASCEND - 30th December:


Preparation included packing bags last moment, and realizing I don’t have a small enough bag. Horrendous consequences emerged, as I had to lug an extra-large, sumo-wrestler sized bad along!! (Ouch!) I journeyed to the initial destination – VT station, where Lakshi awaited my arrival. We would catch the 2.30 Sinhagad Express from VT.

Meeting the others and after basic introductions, we moved into the train compartment. The architectural make of the compartment was not feasible for mingling and opening up and so the train journey was more of listening and observing for me.

Getting off at Lonavla station and after a small halt we started our walk at around 6 pm. We walked from Lonavla station to Gurukul High School for about 10 minutes, where Mango and Rajashree (or Mangee as we call her) joined the group. We walked ahead from there to Tungarli Village (Upper Deck) wherein began the trip towards ‘heaven’. Climb climb it was then towards the dam first and then on a mud track that got a little rocky at times. We walked from Tungarli(Patel Properties) to Thakurwadi in about 30 minutes, and as we got down from Thakurwadi, right there before our vision were the magnificent peaks that beckoned us। It seemed like they were awaiting our arrival, whiling away time talking to breeze till we arrived and tickled their senses.

(Note please: Map courtesy Rohit Nayak and his Paintbrush skills)

At Thakurwadi village the darkness settled heavily and we paused plunging our bags on the ground. Torches became our swords as we battled the night to reach our destination. We jumped down a curvy mud road till we reached a quarry. Wandering in the dark seemed to take away the tediousness of the really really long walk along the winding path. Otherwise, we were told, this route is quite long, but relatively very simple. In fact, as Rohit puts it and I quote, “Only a fool could get lost here”. But then we did sort of almost get lost along the way as Hemant Da led us the wrong way near the quarry! Again to give them credit, as we were later told, not many of them had traversed this path and it was a new route that was being experimented. Moving left from the quarry after Rohit came to our rescue, we stumbled down the path for some time in the dark.

Though the night trek limited our view, it seemed to heighten the other senses as I could actually ‘feel’ nature and touch it. If someone had seen me then they would have been puzzled to see me grinning stupidly all along the way. Being the person that I am, I like to look at the stars, take in some cool air, smile at the wind that goes whispering past my ear and grin at the crickets that are attempting to strike conversations in the twilight. This, along with my stupid bag made me the one lugging behind as everyone rushed off ahead. Still, I did not want to just finish the climb without even feeling it and ending up all exhausted and cribbing, so I chose not to pace up. SK walked alongside me with umpteen patience, not shoving me ahead like a bunch of herds. What struck me was that he was walking without a torch in the pitch dark! In contrast, when my torch batteries dimmed, I actually tripped over for lack of proper sight of the path ahead.

Moving ahead and taking a further left at a fork, we reached a ‘C’, where we were told was a waterfall that flourished in the rains. It has a strong water flow and during the rains, extreme caution must be exercised while crossing it. It is even recommended that if the water crosses the boundary line, the place should be crossed only with help from the villagers. The scene can be quite a visual treat then as the monsoons rush to cover the area with a green blanket and pearly water drops shine from nooks. It seems like a game nature is playing and amuses us in all its playfulness.

After this is a simple straight walk and we just had to follow the mud path… ‘Follow the yellow brick road, ta da. Follow the follow the follow the follow the follow the yellow brick road!”

Parag Dada, Tapan and Sameer stayed back to wait for Leena who would arrive later. Rahul came on his bike with Nikhil. On the way Nikhil was made to get off as Leena got on the bike, and the four others walked up. They covered the route in 2.5 hours flat, while we took 4 hrs for the same!! Rahul and Leena met us on the way and then it was her turn to be dethroned from her seat of glory as the chillars - Aishu and Nupur were placed there.

Tired yet grinning we reached the village called Udhewadi, or more popularly known as Rajmachi, and the cottage where we would dock ourselves at around 10 pm, earlier than expected. Geeta Maushi, the lady of the house, lovingly prepared scrumptious dinner for all of us that we gorged on. Then was the laying of the mats or sheets for sleeping arrangements of the mob that had landed at the small abode. Thinking that everyone is going off to sleep when the arrangements were made, Lakshi and me went off to sleep inside. Sadly, little did we know about the late night sessions, debates and ghost stories that ensued outside later!

EARLY EXPLORATIONS:

Early next morning we rubbed off some sleep from our eyes as Sam woke us gently, which I am not quite used to! Then was the scramble up to the Shrivardhan fort. Rajmachi is a set of two forts – Shrivardhan and Manaranjan, strategically positioned on two adjacent peaks. They were constructed to overlook the routes of two important regions of the Konkan area – Lonavla and Karjat. They are constructed in a manner than one can view all the routes leading up to the fort and the chosen regions and thereby ensure proper security. It is even told that if someone calls out from the bottom of the mountain, the voice traverses all the way to the top, which is a useful device for alerting.

We scaled the initial path and reached a small Bhairavnath temple. Simple yet serene, the temple exuded a positive energy and calmness. Its lack of gaudiness and no ornamentation created an air of warmth that made it a peaceful retreat in the midst of creation. We then moved up to the fort. Looking back we could see the village below and on one side we could trace the route we had come from the previous night. It was a spectacular sight to actually gauge the way you had traveled and your reach.

Along with marveling at nature, it was also a marvel to reach a point from where it was possible to envelope this vastness in your mind. I just wanted to stand tall and grin at nature, speaking to it in an unspoken language. I wanted to hold it in my palms as I gaped at it, and let the experience ripple through my soul.

The bastions that stood proud on the fort’s exteriors and the small ‘chor darwazas’ that edged their way into the fort from unexpected channels; everything left a simple question in my mind: how did they build all this at THAT time? A technological lack withstanding, they managed to erect a stone monument that stands as a tribute to their undaunting effort and mind-blowing skills.

As for some piece of history, the word 'Machi' in Marathi means 'Plateau', this plateau is at a height of almost 2500-2700 feet. Shrivardhan and Manaranjan can also be considered as two separate forts. Shrivardhan is 'Bale killa' of Rajmachi. It is almost 3000 feet high. But it was mainly built to keep watch on Konkan area. It overlooks the Lonavala region and was built to keep a watch on trade route passing through the Bhor Ghats.

The other - Manaranjan is 2700 feet high. Manaranjan consists of strong walls, 3 doors and many water tanks. One can see the Ulhas river, Dukes Nose (Nagphani), Karnala, Matheran, Mahuli and Bhimashankar, etc. The old caves of 'Kondhavi' on Rajmachi fort are worth a dekho. One can see the entire railway route from Karjat to Lonavala from this fort.
And an added note, the place looks amazing in the rains as lush greenery seems to envelope you in its arms as if beckoning you to rejoice the game nature is playing.

Though we did not get the chance to witness the glory of Manaranjan, the view from its other half was worthwhile. Mindful of my steps, I simply could not keep my eyes off the region around, and as far as my vision could reach, all I could comprehend was beauty at its best. Reaching the top of the fort there was a flagpole with remnants of a flag that seemed to be fluttering in nostalgia and memories of its old glory. Something caught me (as usual) and I felt the urge to climb the pole. No, it was not the spirit of a languor, though the region definitely is known for a hoard of them (we even spotted one!). Anyway, after relevant permissions (or maybe tantrums) with the organizers, I climbed up, gazing at the sky and earth and all that was in between.

It was an experience that nothing can describe. Feeling the breeze on my face, I felt like on top of the world. It is strange how nature also ends up uplifting spirits, just like little children do. Maybe it’s the raw innocence, the purity and the simple purposelessness that makes their existence so joyful and the air infectious. They exist for the sake of existing, and not for money, or love, or luxuries, or career. They just live, bloom, laugh and share it all – that’s what I believe life is – living!

Following me were the other ‘ladies’ of the group while the kind gentlemen clicked away merrily. I cannot state how they felt, but they sure had smiles all the way!

We sipped water from a tank at the fort that had amazingly chilled and sweet water. The fishes swam in full abandon, but the water was pure as ever. Nature has its way of replenishing needs, without any harm to anything else, quietly paving a path for everything.

The most depressing sight at the fort (yes there was something depressing) was the sight around the fort. A lot of greenery had been burnt and destroyed by what seemed like a forest fire. Black soot was all around. We were later told that this was the misdoing of some ‘trekkers’ from Pune who disposed a lit cigarette that triggered a huge fire. Their carelessness is astounding, as they did not even claim responsibility and the very villagers who rescued them from the fire had to bestow the blame!

RETURN TO INNOCENCE:

It was then time to return to the cottage for breakfast. We were pleasantly surprised to see Rohan and Aarty already there and rubbing sleepy eyes when we reached. They had reached before expected! Maushi had made some yummy sheera that was gobbled down the moment it appeared. Next we were rounded off to a grazing ground (which no longer had any grass!) for the ‘events of the day’. The theme, well-selected, was ‘Going back to childhood’. It started off with us being tied up, literally, so that we don’t run away. I mean the three-legged race. We thought we might be able to choose our pairs (evil grin). But alas, Hemant broke all our illusions and paired me with Girish, and Lakshi with Shirish. I, for one, was trying hard to keep my leg in place because everytime he moved his leg, mine inevitably flew into the air! I almost thought I would either end up flying to the finish line or just fall flat and break my nose. But, yaay, that did not happen.

Unfair mention: Others were NOT randomly paired after this!! Grrrrrrrr!

The race went great with some ‘nadas’ breaking off (Sameer and Rahul), some surprising sprints (SK and Vijay running off like their asses were on fire), and people wearing 3/4ths or shorts complaining of the nada cutting into their skin rendering them unable to run faster!

And to top it all, we had CHEERLEADERS! Yes, of course. We had the audience enthusiastically standing at the sides, with dry cowdung in their hands, hurling it at the ones lagging behind. Obviously this was to encourage them to run faster! J

Next came the chamcha nimbu. And even before the race began we had a string of spoons breaking off as people assumed it to be candy-sticks. Plastic I say! There were attempts to scrutinize and select nimbus (by a certain Miss Lakshika), but ha!, hail Hemant as justice prevailed. He actually checked every participant to see that no one was cheating.

It started with the boys as they walked with noses in the air, minding their nimbus (no pun intended). Cowdung of course was the highlight. The girls next, chose to pose for pictures first. Not surprising. Then the funny walks happened, as half the nimbus decided they did not like their owners and chose to ‘drop’ out.

The best part was the winners – Mango and Rajashree! What a sporty couple! Out the sudden sporty mood erupted an impromptu race. And surprise surprise, the winners were - Mango and Jayashree!!

WE GREW FINS:

My favourite part came now as the sweaty lot headed to the lake for a dip and more. Fatafat changing and then was the relaxing swim in the heavenly waters. Did I tell you how much I love the water and how eagerly I await these ‘swimming in a natural pool’ sessions? It reminded me of Rural Camp where we swam under twilight, with only the stars providing necessary illumination. We could hardly see who was next to us, and so much the better, as any torches switched on at the ‘girls side of the stream’ then would be met with shouts as everyone preferred bathing semi-clad. Talking of rural camp, a lot of things here made me nostalgic about it, and I longed to experience it again!

But since its not that we are talking about, I come back to the swimming. The ones who unfortunately had learnt only to drown stood at the shallow part, carefully trying not to slip. The two kids – Aishu and Nupur could be seen making merry with the water splashing all about. Some preferred to just sit on the side stone and let their feet do the bathing. While some of us had a diving session in progress as we went on the scan the lengths of the lake. It was fun to have a diving sequence with everyone, as I dived for the 1st time ever since I learnt swimming eons ago.

Everyone’s favourite part was Parag dada washing clothes religiously – the Kodak moment! Rohit was conspicuously missing and Anu kept flitting away. We later realised what they were busy with as we puzzled at the ‘cryptic clues’ and dug around the village!

Time for delicious lunch that hardly took any time since everyone was so famished. And lunch means sleep… and people fell flat on the verandah for a nap. Some enjoyed their 40 winks while the rest of us playing a game of bluff. The game had to be finally abandoned when Rohit, Rajashree and Aishwarya just could stay off the cards and wanted all of them!

TRICK OR TREAT – JUST GET THE TREASURE SOMEHOW! :

Treasure hunt then, as the teams were divided under the ‘able guidance’ of very intelligent leaders – Sameer and SK. Competition spirit became evident from the start itself as everyone strove (or fought) to get the points. The game was explained to one and all, and the point system described to ‘Math-allergic’ people like me. Then came the 1st ceremony – a reading of the 1st cryptic clue. Nicely worded and even rhyming, the clues were a surprise fun to even hear. The 1st clue led us to the solar panels, as everyone scrambled to find the hidden card.

It was the haunted abode next, looking for the clue card. I think Rahul was even spotted chatting up the ghosts asking them for hints!


The treasure hunt took us from there to the Shiv Temple near the lake as this clue was solved:

“Spirituality is like Underwear….have it but don't flaunt it
I m one of the ways to get to the pearly gates
My Monolithic structure stands the test of time
Find my Lord and thee shall shine”


Discovering the card from amidst the rocks, the two teams moved on to a certain ‘mango tree’. Here we were out of breath even before we reached the tree, as the ‘adarniya nyayadheesh’, Sri Sri Hemant ji, decided to keep us miles away from the tree before we started the search so that there would be no unfairness. Sigh! Pinak’s height brought him glory here as he reached the clue perched high on the tree before we even stepped in the tree shade.

(What I wonder is who the hell put it there and how? Rohit can climb trees???)

Panting we trudged to the next spot – the minaret near the temple. A rectangle of dug ground and so many directionless people inside. Chotu wonder, Aishwarya found the clue but a controversy emerged. Now it seems like reality TV finally! Debates about who spotted the clue first and who has claim over the points had the two teams at loggerheads. Oh my, I think I spotted Pinak sporting horns and ready to strike! Ok ok, the issue was calmly settled thanks to our ‘team leaders’ (didn’t I mention they were able and intelligent) who emerged generous, humble and the perfect exemplars of sportsmanship!

Next was digging the mud around the nearby well, as the clue puzzled more than half the junta.

“Depth is something that cannot be fathomed
I know ur pissed with the word game so keep aside the sarcasm!
A circle of stones amongst the brown
Why do I see a lot of brows frown?
Take another swig minus the twig
U will have to search for me cos I aint big
A swig I don't promise but a visual treat
Near to me lies a ruined piece
A Symbol of hope and belief
Run to me and cleanse ur soul
Near to me in the finger bowl
Lies the card that will lead u to a goal”

Stupid me, so used to wordplays and hidden meanings tried to find an interpretation of the ‘fingerbowl’, whereas it turned out to be an actual fingerbowl! Meanwhile, footage was being recorded of Aishu digging the mud, or people running helter-skelter like there’s been an earthquake or me trying to find a hairpin in the sand!

Card found, it was the cowshed next. With nightmares of trying to uncover the card from within a dung-pile, we moved to the spot. Thankfully, our ever so gracious leaders took over the mantle of the job and for security and protection of the cattle, the rest of the monster-herd was not allowed into the shed.

Finally it was the water tap and the flow of points ending with a rush of picture-taking. The ‘treasure’ was yummy roshogullas, chocolates and chocolates and chocolates. Slurp! Yaay, the ‘winning team’ (which was not us, even after efforts and a catapulted race forward) shared the delicacy. Cheers to all!

Treasure hunt over, tea break. And did you see Lakshika holding 4 of those kismis biscuits and gulping 2 cups of tea. Hah! This is entry is also for secret-revealing!

SINKING ISLAND:

We then tried a hand at a game suggested by Hemant – three islands. Brilliant game as some of us agreed, since it required a lot of mental exercise. Me loves such games. But the rules weren’t clearly understood and that created a lot of confusion. Also, the day long activities had drained everyone leaving behind an air of exhaustion. Thus the game was abandoned as everyone committed ‘suicide’ by ‘jumping into the sea’.

We had a small session then with Vare kaka – Geeta Maushi’s husband, who told us about the fort, the village and everything. He told us of the villager’s efforts and the use of solar energy for producing electricity. The villagers had worked hard and achieved the resources. And their dedication to the environment along with looking after their own needs was commending. No harmful substance or method had ever been used.

Dinner was next. It was a welcome treat for the non-veggies with chicken. Delicious potato bhaji compensated it all for the veggies too. Oh and since I finished by gulping in the 1st round and was helping with serving, I also made some papads in Maushi’s chulha J Yaaay!

I INDIAN:

The girls moved to the middle room with 2 watch-guards at the door, so that changing could take place. Sudden transformation occurred, as it seemed like the Fairy Godmother had done her bit with the Cinderellas. The theme was traditional and all the girls strutted prettily in dresses, earrings et al.

We then moved with our torches to the temple to prepare for the diva lighting. It was New Year’s Eve and the night was chilly. The calm and the softness was unseen of otherwise at this time of the year. The ripples in the lake could be heard till the temple and it spread a certain feeling of belonging, of being someplace divine.

We arranged stuff and started lighting the divas as the other came along and everyone joined it. It felt grand and extraordinary to begin the New Year in such a glorious way.

THE HEART OF DARKNESS:

The temple was lit with 84 mud lamps. It spilled the light all around and everyone’s faces seemed to be throwing out the light too. In moments the dark area was transformed, as we looked how it stood majestic and proud.

The temple is very very ancient, about 600-1000 years old, as Rohit pointed out. In telling us the glorious history of the temple, we could see his enthusiasm and interest showing up on his face.

The existence of the temple was hidden until a few years back. All that could be seen was the top as the rest of it was buried in the mud. The temple was then excavated very recently and the rectangular pit around the minaret stands proof to it. The temple dates back to the Hemadipant era when all the structures were created out of stone. The pillars in this temple too were all carved from a single block of stone. The pillars had flat spaces at points, which were for placing the ‘pantis’ or mud lamps.

The other unique characteristic of the temple is the Gow Mukh or ‘Nandi’ from whose mouth the water flows, placed at the entrance. A constant stream of water flows there even during summer, which is also the source of the lake. This is the reason it is called a ‘live lake’, and the water is extremely useful. The water from the underground stream always keeps it full, and a few other such underground streams and reservoirs feed the people and resources of Rajmachi.

Vare kaka
, during his session told us of the plans by the villagers in association with the local authorities to clean up the lake and turn it into a drinking-water reservoir. The lake would be fenced and no one will be allowed. This will also solve a lot of problems since the villagers have to walk carrying water pots on their heads in order to get drinking water from far away places.

In the midst came along Hemant with his ‘bride-to-be’. Unmistakably it was Rohit, decked up in a skirt and scarf and grinning all along. This was the finale to a prank that was being played all along with the entire group. In fact, in curiosity, the boys had even carried Hemant on their shoulders the previous night and walked around parading so that he would reveal her name!

After the lighting of the temple, we exchanged New Year greetings. And everyone sat around the tank as fishpond was played. Fun chits and messages had everyone in a burst of laughter, till we could no longer play as the cold was getting to us! We headed back to the cottage for some sweet sleep.

HEADING HOME:

Next morning was supposed to be a trip to Manaranjan, but sleep did not leave anybody as everyone overslept. Leena, Mango and Rajashree left the night before. We got up and readied ourselves so that we could leave after tea.

The downhill journey was via the Karjat route. This path was shorter and a little more rough as it was not ‘prepared’. For those not used to trekking, it may have been easy to get lost. Thankfully, as Raj showed me, there were arrows on many of the stone that previous trekkers had made for directions.

I was slow, and my stupid shoes did not help. And to avoid further delay or a mishap, Parag Dada caringly assigned Raj to help me descend. And I was grateful, as he walked ahead helping me at any tough patch, and teaching me some tricks along the way. He told me how walking cross-legged helps and how keeping the balance towards the mountain side helps in case you fall as you don’t drop into the valley. I did trip quite a few times in the mud and was laughing at my own constant clumsiness that did not leave me even here!

Everyone moved ahead in groups and the organizers had walkie-talkies to communicate. This route is a steep path down the mountain, interjected by 3 plateaus along the way. Just before the last plateau I sprained my feet and couldn’t walk straight any longer. It was really nice to have the organizers concerned and worrying as I tried to gather myself and be normal.

The route ends at the village of Kharaundi, from where is a straight walk along an isolated road. It can get monotonous but the scenic view of the whole mountain on either side is quite exhilarating. Also, for me, it was a different experience as Sameer pointed out the fort for me where we were, and I comprehended the distance. From here we walked to Kondivade and were treated to Pepsi-colas by Sam again. We then took tempos to Karjat station and the way we fit into one was a sight to be seen. It seemed like anyone would just fall out any moment!

FAREWELL THEE MY FELLOW TRAVELLER:

Karjat station and ticket-buying, and Lakshi and me ran for the 12.15 train, but missed it. Fortunate for us as the entire group then traveled together. Train had its own share of fun with the hoax palmistry session by Baba Lakshikachandra. On the other side were Tapan, Girish, Raj and me involved in profundities and theories about life and a lot more.

One by one everyone got off at their respective stations and bid adieu to the group. Tapan, Sameer, Parag dada and me traveled together in the train to Borivli.

I returned home, with hurting feet, aching back, frizzy hair and a huge smile that was filled with memorable moments and a great time. It was the joy of having spent a New Year in a unique way, of feeling nature and of letting myself go loose in the wild. I made new friends, and though there may have been intimidations on this trek, a bond was formed that cleared the way for communication and a stronger friendship. We all were united in our passion for nature, for madness, for exploration, and yet we are different in how we experience it. Our experience is ours, yet it’s incomplete without the others. And this network of independence due to dependence was what gave me great moments.
(Nature pics courtesy Rohit Nayak and Sameer Patel. Other pics 'lifted' from albums of Tapan, Sujay, Hemant and Rahul. Thanks guys!)