India: Every Corner Shares Its Story

The Aryans walked this land so prosperous
Civilisations settled and thrived and grew
Hunters, gatherers and nomads wandered
And centuries later we hear their echoes.

The capital shifted and the people followed
Sultanates and practices shaped society
Coins were minted and monuments constructed
And centuries later we learn their importance.

Descendants of Timur expanded their empire
The heirs sat proud on the peacock throne
Harem ladies looked on from zenana balconies
And centuries later we feel their presence.

‘Firangs’ emerged from the shadows of the west
They were strangers to our exotic country
The threat posed was greatly underestimated
And centuries later we realize our mistake.

Deception and distrust became common practice
Too blinded to see that demise awaited us
Unwilling to look beyond individual interests
And centuries later we know the cost.

Turned into mere puppets by the British
Unity seemed like the only way out
To protect our sovereignty or die trying
And decades later we emerged victorious.

Battles were fought and blood was shed
Father of the nation used the unconventional
Mentally and physically our heroes fought on
And decades later we have respect.

Bharat rose from the ashes of war
The fight for independence and identity
Leaders of the nation stood tall before us
And decades later we feel their pride.

A country that’s shaped by its past
Every corner softly whispers a story
For those who listen will learn
And years later we can trace it all.

Monotony is rarely felt over here
India seems to dream but never sleep
A medley of lives, of thoughts and aspirations
India is the country known for its ambitions.

Sari draped in a hundred ways
Nehru jackets and Prada blazers
Our dupattas colourful as our scarves
India is the country dominated by fashion.

Holi colours mark the end of weary winter
Diyas chase away the darkness of the night
Customs are followed and festivities occur
India is the country in constant celebration.

Signs translated into multiple languages
Caste and creed no longer a barrier
Each stands in a crowd with people from all over
India is a country of diversity and integration.

Spices and essences tingle our tongues
Flavour bursts from every bite
Confectionary melts in our mouths
India’s cooks try every combination.

Followers of Islam turn toward Mecca
Temple bells sound new beginnings
Gurudwaras and churches present in abundance
India is the country with every religion.

Madhubani and Warli art of the tribals
Pottery and sculpture and paper craft too
Even the graffiti symbolises urban design
India is the country filled with imagination.

The diligent doorman smiles as you enter
The cobbler works in the scorching heat
The rikshaw drivers share their tales
India is the country filled with dedication

Metro as fast as our heartbeat
The policies establishing superiority
Development has reached and is here to stay
India is the country of reformation.

A country that’s shaping its future
Every corner shares its story
For those who listen will learn
And years later we will trace it all.

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The Beauty Left Unnoticed

‘Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it’

-Confucius

This realisation has come to dawn upon me, things don’t lose their charm, we simply become ignorant to their magnificence. After a certain point of time, we become used to beauty. It isn’t that the beauty of something has faded or that it’s any less amazing, it’s just that we no longer look at it the way we used to.

The first time I got a glimpse into this matter was in Phuket, where I stood enraptured on the beach, unwilling to peel my eyes off the turquoise coloured waters just to find a local staring at me in the same manner, making no attempt to hide his utter amusement. Upon inquiry I found that he’d never gazed at the sea for nearly as long, despite having grown up there. ‘It’s nothing to me,’ he said, much to my amazement. I soon realised this man wasn’t alone in thinking this way, rather, it was me who was the solitary individual finding it strange. I once expressed how lucky I felt this woman who lived in Norway was to have the opportunity to witness the Northern Lights on most nights, to hear she rarely ever went out to see it.

We’ve become people who can never be satisfied or amused. The moment is wasted on reliving old times in our heads or thinking of ones yet to come. We assume we’d be stunned if we see the view from the top of a mountain or go snorkelling or go to some exotic place, but this isn’t necessarily true. The truth is that all the could-be breath-taking moments are missed trying to make a record of them to put online or share or even worse, they’re ignored and completely missed. Caught up in the need to post the photo or video, we barely witness it ourselves. Also, we don’t look at things the way we used to, with the same fascination a kid would see it with. We’re so caught up making a living, we forget to make a life. In our busy schedules, taking time to admire how pretty something is rarely fits in and we figure we’ll stop to look some other time, after all it isn’t like there isn’t an opportunity to right? No. This is how we spend our whole lives without taking any time whatsoever to just stop and appreciate the world around us. Sunsets and sunrises occur every single day and are perhaps amongst the most glorious things this universe has to offer. What could be more remarkable than seeing the sky split into shades of orange, crimson, pink and purple as the sun makes it’s ascent or descent behind the clouds? Yet, most people go their entire lives without taking a few minutes out to actually look at this marvel. Perhaps if it only occurred in one remote corner of the country, we’d all be buying plane tickets to witness it, but since it takes place every day, why even see it.

It rains in my country on a semi-daily basis in most months of the year and I find everyone hiding away from it and refusing to even look as if it was an epidemic rather than a sign that even the universe breaks done and pours every once in a while. They’ll spend crores on arranging rain dance parties but never set foot outside and enjoy the smell of the rain in its whole.

I spend hours looking at the night sky every time I travel just to look at the spectacular glistening of hundreds of stars as growing up in my metropolitan city barely gives opportunities to star gaze but I know the people living in regions where the stars are more visible, areas of less pollution and clearer skies rarely do the same.

We undermine our own beauty, we undermine the beauty of the world we live in and then we undermine the concept of beauty as a whole, deeming it to be a misnomer as it’s difficult to come by. However it is us who walk right past it on a daily basis without even noticing. We don’t notice the way the orange, purple and pink coloured flowers appear on trees in spring providing brightness after the cold and harsh winters. We don’t realise how beautiful it truly is when our eyes light up when we smile or our cheeks flush with colour to show embarrassment. We don’t notice that perfect reading spot in the woods because we never made the effort to go there. We don’t look at the seemingly ordinary things in life with enough fascination to be able to see how glorious it all is, if only we look at it. It’s not usual at all, rather it’s beautiful and extraordinary and beautiful if only we make the effort to see it so.

Everything around us is beautiful if only we open our eyes and look at it as if it’s our first time seeing it, or rather, the last time we’ll ever see it. There’s beauty everywhere and I can’t be the only one who feels so.

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Let The Bridges I Burn Light My Way

There’s a flaw embedded in the human race;
Vulnerability, love, attachment it is said.
It may be our spirit, the way we leave our trace;
But it eats our souls, leaves parts of us dead.

Not always is our love reciprocated;
No one has a reason, even the interrogated.
Caring so much, giving it our all;
For those who leave us broken and small.

We’re bound by our choices, good or bad;
Yet we choose to live in misery for other’s sake.
Our own lives are put on hold, it drives us mad;
In an era of transparency, our feelings aren’t opaque.

Past relationships stay and leave us bitter;
No matter what we try, we can’t run away.
We’re left stranded in the piles of litter;
With memories of those who didn’t stay.

I realised this isn’t how I want to be;
All I desired was to be set free.
Between caring too much and not at all;
I’d take the latter no matter the fall.

Let the bridges I burn light my way;
The walls I build keep the pain at bay.
A life not defined by anyone else;
I’d rather learn to love myself.

Perhaps this race won’t end well;
Before the numbing fades and I’m caged in a cell.
Being happy in the moment beats forever in sorrow;
I’ll live for today, leave worries for tomorrow.

The clouds move out and I finally see clearly;
The shackles of feelings for those I loved dearly.
Prevented me from reaching for the stars;
They held me down and left their scars.

I know this is a race I cannot win;
But even running from the bad requires skill.
I know my worth and know what I deserve;
I choose not to accept the rubbish they serve.

I bet you’ll find independence fulfilling;
To not give a damn, a pence or a shilling
Living by my own terms no need for validation;
Every action I take does not require justification.

There’s a time to care and time to move on;
But often people miss this train.
I’ve seen too many distraught over the gone;
Filled with sadness, spending time in vain.

No tears, no promises, no words fill this void;
They let others in believing it wouldn’t hurt.
But once they’ve fallen they’re dragged with the tide;
Slowly beauty fades and even smiles take effort.

I cannot spend my life being a cliché;
I can’t stand the mundane, repeating everyday.
Better to leave than be left, it may sound silly;
What’s the point of dying peaceful when you can live dreamily.

I want to take the leap and then build my wings;
I don’t want to be stopped by people saying things.
I want to experience, to fly and not be held back;
I’ll be the only one responsible if life gets off track.

Let the bridges I burn light my way;
And guide in my journey to live each day.
Not wasting time depressed or grieving;
There’ll be others entering for each person leaving.
– Suhasini Vira

A Lot Like Summer

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

There is a certain truth unanimously accepted by every high school student around the world- despite there being 365 days in the year, our lives are marked by only 45 of them and the rest are merely collections of 24 hours before and after the aforementioned. These 45 days constitute our summer vacations.

It is the period of time in which most of our dreams and goals lie. It is a mixture of freedom and excitement, a rich concoction brimming with the feeling of youth and joy. It is the break we wait for, just to have it slip away from our fingertips too soon for the realization to strike. Summer is marked by flip flops, forever21 outfits, tans and dip-dyed hair. Days are spent by the pool or the beach, nights with our loved ones, rolling into early hours of the morning. There is a certain sense of feeling infinite which accompanies all these; we can do as we please, meet who we want, live the way we choose to without the fear of being judged or nagged.

It would be wrong to say there is a certain way in which summers are spent by us all because there really isn’t. Each one has their own way of utilizing these days. Some choose to reinvent themselves, either physically or emotionally and transform in a way which leaves others startled at their ability to undergo metamorphosis , usually for the better. Others indulge in a summer romance, short-lived flings fueled by attraction and coupled with passion. A few choose to kick back and relax, enjoying watching the days go by with comfort of knowing there isn’t any school for a while. Many work hard at college applications, internships, volunteering opportunities; investing their present time and building towards the future. There are individuals who spend their days meeting others, socializing and catching up with old friends. A bunch of teens decide to dedicate this time in finding comfort in solitude and going down a path of self discovery.

Me? I guess I’m a blend of all these people. I know the days left of summer will diminish ’til it’s almost over but my summers aren’t usually marked by a certain theme, they’re marked by moments. It’s the moments of running around in the rain with my closest friends, the feeling you get when you laugh so hard your stomach hurts and the holding your mother’s hand while watching a movie with her. My summers are marked by days spent by the pool dipping my feet in the cold chlorine water, reading till way past midnight and still getting up early to watch the sunrise. Drinking ice tea till my throat aches, devouring ice cream, painting when my whimsical personality fancies it and not carrying the burden of constantly being connected to everyone. Summer is usually the time where I try new things, spend time with the ones I care about most, indulge myself completely and live my life in the purest form possible.

Before we know it, the summer’s over and all we can do is carry souvenirs of it on our skin and our diaries. A few items never fail to send us into a nostalgic state, memories flooding in like an overbearing river. Very soon, summer won’t hold the significance it once did in our lives, it’ll be just another season. While I cringe at the very thought of such an occurrence, I’m forced to face the reality that contrary to our feelings, our youth is finite and these days are too. Very soon they’ll all be memories which will bring a smile to our faces or that lopsided grin. I don’t want such a day to come but all I can hope for is that when it does, I’ll have an endless memories to be happy about, endless stories to share and endless emotions which need to be lived to be felt.

Phuket- The Beach Paradise

‘Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air…’- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Indian music blaring from the speakers of our vehicle marked our arrival in Phuket as we drove from the airport to our resort having taken a connecting flight from Bangkok. It’s funny how having traveled for six hours, we were still so close to home. I peered out of the window and saw the way the bright, tiled roofs glistened as they caught the sunlight and little bits of the sea were visible between the buildings we passed. As the buildings gave way to the beach, I saw the marvelous expanse of water which constituted the sea in its entirety and it was breath-taking, just like every experience in Phuket turned out to be.

The food of Thailand is supposed to be among the best  in the world and it certainly lived up to these standards. As I sat in an open mall and bit into a mango and custard crepe, I decided- if there was one dish I had to eat for the rest of my life, it would be this. Despite having been to France, it’s in Thailand that I ate the best crepes. After we’d walked around the mall, tiredness got the better of us and we’d decided to sit. Globalization has struck Thailand too and I went and sat in the most comfortable sofa in the nearest Starbucks I saw, sipping my favourite Java Chip.After this I wandered through the street markets, which differed from the ones in India greatly as in Thailand the shopkeepers won’t run after you begging you to buy like they do in India. On the contrary, they passed rude comments and asked me if I was mentally stable when I inquired if they’d be willing to sell at a lower rate.

Perhaps the best thing about holidays is that they pass at the pace you choose. The mundane morning showers gave way to long evening baths in the tub. The nights I spent there were just as remarkable as the days. The one I shall never forget for times to come is the first evening I spent there. I ate dinner at an amazing restaurant positioned at the roof of the building, with an amazing view of the stars. I spent most of the dinner gazing upwards and refusing to peel my eyes off the mesmerizing night sky. The chef did us the honour of joining us for drinks and his recommendations fit each of our preferences perfectly and the enticing flavours awakened our taste buds. It’s sad how most people spend their evenings in front of TV screens rather than enjoying them and how facebook group chats have so easily replaced actual interactions. One of the things I enjoy most about traveling is connecting with new people.I sat transfixed to my seat as the chef described his journey from a kid aspiring to be a stuntman in Australia to the world-class chef who followed his culinary dream. He spoke of the limited days we all have and of taking chances and living life.

As I peered to my right, I noticed Thai lanterns ascending higher and higher to the abode of the Almighty. It was a sight I’d marveled at in travel brochures but to see it up close was another thing altogether. Just as I thought the evening couldn’t get any grander, fireworks lit the sky up with their glittery colours upon being ignited. It was as if the city itself was welcoming us in the most glorious way possible.

The second day in Phuket was equally magical though my eyes opened with great reluctance that morning, my body having been overcome by fatigue. 

We waited at the docks for the commencement of our Phi Phi Island Boat Trip and anticipation built up inside me. We finally started our journey and despite having seen the Andaman Sea before, the beauty I witnessed outweighed everything else. The water was an unrealistic yet enrapturing shade of turquoise, the kind which you think has been edited when you see it in movies, the kind you imagine when you dream of escaping to paradise.

The islands themselves lent great character to it all, being oddly shaped and as we passed many, the hills appeared to be undulating, rugged masses shaped like gigantic icebergs. 

As I put on my flippers and got into the water to experience snorkeling for the first time, I was overwhelmed in the most beautiful way known to man. The feeling where you know you’ve never done anything which makes you feel quite at peace with yourself, quite as alive and quite as wonderful and you just want to savour that moment forever. Not being a great swimmer, I was facing my fear of water head-on. As I looked down I got taken aback seeing the sea bed so far below and had to resurface to take it all in. Going back in, I got a chance to admire the exquisite marine life; the coral beds and the school of beautiful fish and as the rainbow fish and butter-cup yellow coloured swam past me, unbelievably close, it felt as though I was dreaming. 

We visited Monkey Island and Viking Cave (from where the famous Bird’s Nest Soup comes) before stopping at Maya Bay. Maya Bay is where movies like ‘The Beach’ and ‘Jurassic Park’ have been filmed and I can’t think of a more perfect, pristine and enchanting location. 

Swimming in the ocean holds a charm incomparable to any other. As the sun beat down, the salt water wet my hair and I saw an infinite pool of glistening water stretch out behind me, I knew that in that moment there was no place I’d rather be.

Our final stop was Khai Nai Island, a minuscule strip of island mass which had been turned into a tourist spot. I sat on a rock on the beach and sketched before snorkeling some more. The waves weren’t as strong there so it was an easier task and though there was no coral to be seen, the variety of fish amazed me. I took a walk on the cushiony sand and admired the alluring scenery before we had to head back to our hotel. 

Among several other things, I will forever remember Phuket as the place where I saw then most glorious sunset. I watched as the hills suddenly grew darker with the spread of shadows but before that, the sky split into bands of magenta, crimson, magenta and orange, the sea caught the reflection and the dancing sunbeams. I stood almost captivated for several minutes till I had to leave as our tuk-tuk to the beach had arrived.

We walked along Patong Beach in the evening, guided by the streetlights which illuminated the crowded alleys. I got a glimpse of the chaotic yet exciting night life of Thailand.

A woman close to the shore offered to help you light a lantern for a small fee and I jumped at the opportunity as lighting one of my own had long been on my bucket list. Wish Lanterns are properly called Khoom Loy or Khoom Fay in Thai and it is considered good luck to release a thai lantern with the belief that misfortune will fly away with the lanterns. The offering of lanterns is also said to symbolise knowledge, their light guiding revellers on the right path to follow in life.

As I was asked to make my wish, I closed my eyes and prayed for more amazing days like the ones I’d just spent.

The truth about travelers

Beautifully written ❤

infinite satori

Press play first.

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We have been called many things. Travelers, by default. But we like to be called nomads. Explorers. Vagabonds. Adventurers. Wayfarers. Modern gypsies. Wanderers. We’ve adopted them all. A growing breed of humans with restless feet and the inability to stay still, the inability to stay in one place.

That is who we are. And that’s just the gist of it.

We come from all walks of life, from bustling gray colored cities, sleepy beach towns, snow-covered metropolises, small villages nestled in between lush green mountains, we come from everywhere. But our inner gravity always brings us to the same place… the road.

We deem courage weighs more than money when it comes to travel. We’re not rich, not financially well-off and we don’t travel for luxury. Our money does not come from rich parents, trust funds, or whatever privileges you think we have in order to maintain…

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I think I’ll go to Boston… I think I’ll start a new life

‘I think I need a new town, to leave this all behind; I think I need a sunrise, I’m tired of the sunset’

 The lyrics to Boston by Augustana play and a feeling of familiarity dawns over me, the tune is embedded into my soul and with each note, a new wave of emotions swells up inside of me. It’s funny how a few words can describe so many people at the same time, and that words often leave traces so much deeper than we can fathom.

 

I sometimes can’t help but think of how bizarre the way we live is. We all lead these lives which are uniquely ours. We have our routines mapped out, our friends and companions identified, our interactions occurring within a certain fixed pattern and yet on some days, all of it ceases to make any sense.

 

Over time, all these things have become part of us and part of our hearts; but occasionally, they don’t seem to belong to us at all. I can’t be the only one who feels disconnected at times. It’s like my body is moving and my mouth is speaking but those actions and words just aren’t mine. The reflection staring back at me in the mirror gets more unreal every time I see it and in a crowded room I can’t make out who it is that I am and who it is I want to be. It’s strange to feel uncomfortable in my own skin, to feel like an outsider in my own life and yet I can’t seem to help it.

 

Life moves on like it should and yet everything seems to belong in a stranger’s world. Perhaps at times, I want to be that stranger. The monotony gets the better of me and I can’t help but be overwhelmed. When I no longer seem to belong in the place I am in, when the people seem unfamiliar and the conversations stop making sense due to their repetitive nature, escaping seems like the most appealing option. There’s a desire to move to a place where no memories have been made and where I can be anyone I wish to. There’d be no one to remind me of how I’m meant to act and I’d be bound by no obligations. In such a place, my story hasn’t yet been spoken of and my existence itself hasn’t been felt.

 

In life we become like characters in a play with set attributes and fixed expectations and to some extent, this happens to everyone. The mistake we make is letting these perceptions actually define us despite there being so much more to each person. Maybe, that’s why starting over seems like such an exciting idea, we will get a chance to become whoever we want to be and get a chance at a new kind of unexpected- our kind. In the sea full of people we’ll finally be lost but yet found at the same time. We’ll discover all those emotions we long suppressed, we’ll see all our stories finally belonging only to us again; and we’ll get a chance to really meet people for the first time, people who haven’t already made their minds up about us; we’ll get to break free of the person we’ve been forced to become and transform into anyone we choose to.

 

I think at times we all want to start over, we all need a new beginning, we all want to become just another person finding their way through. We all want a clean slate and not let our pasts haunt us or rumours define us. Maybe we all need our Boston…