Independence Day!

It’s that time of year again! Out come the flags and buntings, the patriotic songs that play on loop on the radio, the themed contests on TV, the patriotic status updates and cover pics…yup Independence Day is here…time to feel proud of flag and country! Time to celebrate ‘coz no matter how sorry the state of affairs, for once we have only ourselves to blame 😉 Oh yeah! This is our very own ‘Independent’ mess thank you very much! The Brits have been gone 68 years 😛 Perhaps I’m being overly and unnecessarily flippant – it’s intentional! It’s my safety mechanism…trying to, and inevitably failing to make myself feel better by being humorous about the stuff that in reality has me crying inside.

I’m the first to admit, that although I go through the motions of changing my FB cover & profile pic (the entire extent of my patriotism…a little sad that eh? I consciously didn’t do it this year though!), like a lot of fellow Indians; in my heart all I’m thinking is, ‘What a load of BS’! Not Independence per se you understand. NEVER Independence in itself, just the patriotic avowals that one feels compelled to make, as if to prove that on this one day among all others, our love of country is supreme and overwhelming. Before you hang and quarter me for treason – I do love my country. It’s inexplicable really. There’s not much to love on the face of it – India seen through my admittedly cynical eyes is sadly lacking in most qualities I prize and hold dear and want my son to learn and live. And although we love to blame our politicians for every catastrophe this nation of ours suffers, I blame US. We, the People. We – who tolerate and compromise and manipulate and teach our future generations to do exactly the same while all the time blaming a system that none of us raises a finger to change, coz it’s just too hard isn’t it? How on earth can we be expected to fight injustice and oppose wrong if it means putting our lives at risk? What will happen to our families that we leave behind? Heaven Forbid! No! That was another time – when people were still selfless and motivated. When they truly martyred themselves for Freedom. I’ve often wondered whether it’s easier against a definite foreign threat. Is it? Is it harder to rally, to unite when the danger is from within? When corruption, deception and subjugation come in the form of Indian politicians and goons and often our next-door neighbours, as opposed to the British? If it is, why is it so?

How many of us Indians are prepared to die for India today if that be the need of the hour? And I mean really die – take that bullet in the chest kind of dying as opposed to talking about being ready to die at the dinner table. I know I’m not. Hell, I’m not even brave enough to take a stand publicly for what I believe in. Mine is a closet bravado – I’m a crusader only within the safe confines of my home. Am I ashamed of feeling this way? Not particularly, no. Does it hurt that I’m not ashamed of being unashamed – maybe sometimes…but not enough to get off my butt and do anything about it. Honest to goodness. Not nearly enough. So why blame the politicians? Why blame Government? When the very fabric of our country is old and mouldy, whats the point of using it to stitch new clothes and wishing they would last longer, fit better?

I love India, love her like I love my Mom…it’s automatic. But liking her is a choice that often fails me. And pride?..I wish I could say that I had pride in my country, but I cannot. Not honestly. I had huge hopes when we returned home, to a country on the verge of exciting times or so I naively believed, and yes if success is to be judged by the number of malls being built, the number of cars on the road, the bevy of international brands that have set up shop here, then I suppose, yes, we’ve been successful. But I’ve reached a time in my life where I know for a fact that material success, attractive and desirable as it is, is just a minuscule part of true well-being. I feel like we’ve become selectively aspirational as a society, like money is now our only motivator, so that if we’re driving a ‘beamer’, who cares that that the road is non-existent! I’ve lived in Bangalore for a year and I can confidently say that the craters on the moon would be easier to navigate! The same goes for our education system…it deteriorates by the day and I watch as we continue to choose mediocrity over creative enterprise, marks over abilities and stereotypes over originality. We’re in the 21st century and apparently, with China, the next emerging superpower (this always makes me laugh and not in a good way), but in my state of Goa, one of the most advanced states in the country, we still don’t have enough drinking water and electricity for every citizen :/ The less said about states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Orissa the better. Why even the capital Delhi struggles with these basic issues! But we’re going to turn Mumbai into Shanghai. Meh.

Living here these past 5 years has taught me that much of the change I see is superficial, haphazard and poorly executed; so Mumbai gets a spanking new Metro but leaky-roofed trains! It’s a personal opinion based on personal experience, so feel free to disagree, as I know a lot of you will. I do believe that we must ‘Be the Change we want to See’ – but like most people I too am, at best inconsistent and at worst apathetic…easily swayed by my own moods and circumstance 😦 All I see is tons of wasted potential and a complete lack of motivation in changing status quo…from everyone concerned – government and citizens alike. If you have hope – well good for you. I don’t – not particularly. Not unless there’s a radical change in us from within. Not unless we give up this meekness (that so often masquerades as respect) and find the strength to truly stand up for ourselves, and by that I don’t mean FB status updates and more dinner table analysis. I mean a consistent, conscious effort to obey the rules – something most Indians manage to do only when they’re abroad! I should know – I’m one of them. Better than most, worse than others.

So the next time you break a traffic rule (of course you will! Don’t even bother to deny it!), it means not bribing the cop, not throwing around your connections (of course you’re the minister’s best friend) and doing it even when you know it’s going to lead to a whole lot of  pain and wasted time ahead. Would you? Could you? I know my Hubby won’t. He’ll think it’s a colossal waste of time that will achieve nothing, change nothing! The tragedy is that although I’ll argue with him, deep down I’ll know he’s right. When we’ve become immune to horrific rapes and endless wars, what’s a little bribe to the neighbourhood cop? It’s a Herculean task and I’m afraid one that we will have to achieve each one for ourselves without much support and few role models.

This has turned into a first-class rant eh?! Truly, I didn’t want to seem so negative and yet these are my deepest fears for my India, that I love despite everything I’ve just said, all the angst I’ve just unloaded onto you poor unsuspecting readers! So although I say I have no hope, I guess I do, even if it’s the tiniest shred, buried deep under a ton of cynicism, I guess I do. ‘Coz to utterly disbelieve is the worst kind of death and I’m not quite ready for that yet. Not just yet. I think the need of the hour is no less than a Renewed Freedom Struggle…this time from internal oppressors and from our own shortcomings – from weakness of character and the need to conform; from rabid materialism and defining success solely in terms of income; from vacuous dinner table conversations and the all-pervasive haunting inertia that I fear will be the death of a country with a glorious past and an uncertain future.

I feel like India is poised on the edge of a precipice, testing Her wings…I hope She chooses wisely. I hope She does what I believe She was meant to do. I hope She becomes truly Independent. I hope She FLIES FREE 🙂



My Two Shivas…

‘Shiva’ is a common enough name in India. It is after all the name of one of the major deities in Hinduism, one third of our Holy Trinity, Shiva the Destroyer. Along with ‘Brahma the Creator’ and Vishnu the Protector’, he tries to maintain ‘World Peace’ and limit chaos; tries’ being the key word here 😉 since he so often is responsible for creating it 😛 He’s like that is Lord Shiva – he means well but is quick to grant boons not always to the worthiest people 😉 And still I think in his wisdom, in granting these boons to the undeserving, he cleverly send them down the path that will ultimately lead to their destruction, by Vishnu the Protector – a supreme strategist in my view! A little heavenly Good Cop/Bad Cop action 😉

Today is MahaShivratri – his festival, a sacred day when he is especially revered and worshiped by millions of Hindus for a myriad of reasons. Me – I’m not into rituals, but I like Shiva! He’s rather likable – simple, direct, quick to love and quicker to anger – rather like moi 😛 Perhaps that’s why I identify with him. Or perhaps it’s because he’s fearless and wise and tolerant – accepting into his fold all the people no other Gods want! Uh huh! In Hinduism we have Gods that aren’t that different from us humans – discriminating 😉 Or perhaps it’s because he’s a God of extremes and contradictions, more than any other. As ‘Mahadev’ – loosely translated as ‘Great God’, a God for the Gods, like Brahma & Vishnu; he is the embodiment of all that is good and wise and honourable. He is gentle, tender, trusting, all-knowing, respectful of women and compassionate. As ‘Rudra’ – he is the destroyer of evil, an avenger of wrongs, a shield for the hapless. In a righteous rage, he dances the ‘Taandav’, his terrible dance of destruction which in layman lingo means “DO NOT MESS WITH ME!! I’M SO TOTALLY PISSED OFF!! I’M GONNA OPEN MY 3rd EYE and BURN YOU TO A CRISP!! NOW!!!” Or it could just be because he loves his ‘Somras’ – God-speak for liquor and you know I love mine! But mostly I think it’s because he’s all of the above and a family man to boot – with his loving wife Parvati (The Ying to his Yang), and his two sons Kartikeya and Ganesha (the Elephant-headed God). As a woman, I cannot help but admire his multi-tasking abilities 😉 Here is an older post I found on Mahashivatri, Om Namah Shivay, which might be of interest.

Manifestations of Shiva
The Manifestations of Shiva

Which brings me to my very own Xiva – yes this one’s spelt with an X! Yup – I have my very own Destroyer! Lucky me 😛 It’s  quite a meaningful name actually, the full form being ‘Xivananda’ – an amalgamation of ‘Xiva’ and ‘Anand’ meaning Happiness – and I can testify to the fact that this ‘Xiva’ has indeed been the bringer of much joy to me 🙂 He is an occasional granter of wishes and has two left feet, but in other ways quite similar to his Godly namesake! He is fearless (sometimes scarily so ;)), compassionate and pretty darn smart. He’s also notoriously easy to please – a fine whisky and some fish is all it takes to put him in a good mood! And he’s a family man underneath the workaholic exterior, although I need to remind him of that ever so often. I should know – we’ve been married for 21 years 😛 You see – not so different from his Godly namesake 😉 Oh I’m no Parvati either! I lack her discipline and steadfastness and much more besides. But I think in my own way I’m a good wife to my Xiva. In the family, he’s called Girish – another name for Lord Shiva! My aunt told me once, that my great-grandmother always wanted me to marry a boy named ‘Girish’, so much so that she had decided to change his name if it turned out to be anything else 😛 Imagine that! Pretty radical – the women in my family! She passed away before I even met Hubby, but I’m beginning to think it’s no co-incidence that he’s called Girish 😉 Stranger things have happened 😛

So just two days after we’ve celebrated women, why not make ‘Mahashivaratri’, a day to celebrate the ‘Shivas’ in our lives – Gods and Men? The men who have nurtured and stood by us. Who have danced with us and shielded us from harm and destroyed dangers that stood in our way? The good men – the heroes, the men who matter and the men who count. Fathers, brothers, sons, grandfathers, friends, teachers, mentors, husbands, lovers…Men who were there when we needed them and Men who understood that we wanted them to stay especially when we were yelling at them to leave. The ‘REAL’ Men! Let’s celebrate their goodness, their righteousness, their honorable conduct and their principled souls. They’ve earned our respect and perhaps in recognizing, honoring and nurturing these qualities in them and those who will come in the future, we will be able to better our crumbling world and restore the balance in our fragile Universe. Coz Lord knows that’s what this World needs – harmony between Shiva & Parvati – a balance that will allow us to be the best we can be. Who knows – Shiva might even help us! Lend us his wisdom and infinite experience 😉

This has turned out to be quite a ramble 😛 But I just needed to get some of the stuff that clogs my brain out onto paper! Also any excuse to share more Sanjay Patel pictures 😛 Feeling much lighter now 😉 Thanks for reading – those of you who do 🙂

Hope the Weekend has been good for you!

Kala Ghoda Arts Festival – II

Turns out my second trip to the Festival was much shorter than the first 😦 The one-hour drive from school turned into a 2-hr exercise in patience and restraint, as three humungous weddings in the vicinity led to a massive traffic jam!! How I hate these huge, ostentatious weddings which are all about appearance and not at all about the sanctity of marriage…uuuuugggghhhh 😦

Had time to browse a few shops that I had identified the first time – one being a stall by KEC Games – that deals with traditional games from all over the world done in wood! A great idea and wonderfully executed too! The games are beautifully packaged and contain instructions on handmade paper inside to help with play! They are very reasonably priced for the quality delivered 🙂 It took all my will power to restrict myself from buying everything on display 😛 I settled for some gorgeous Gond Art Puzzles (Gond are a tribe in India known for their intricate paintings), a set of spinning tops, and a cute as a button set of Tic Tac Toe 🙂 Thankfully they are online! Their products will make wonderful gifts for most children I know 🙂 

KEC Games

Another nifty little stall, 61c KIDS, had fabulous stationery and you know how I adore stationery (well, if you didn’t you do now)!! They had packs of Color Me In greeting cards, where kids can color in a printed drawing to give their friends and family! They had wonderful animal-themed magnetic bookmarks, innovative notepads and lots of other stuff that I have to check out online! You should too! I have included the links to both these websites so you can check them out from this page right here.


There were a lot of jewellery shops as well – each teeming with starry-eyed women of all ages 😉 Bags, clothes, linen, pottery, photography – you name it and there it was! There was a potter displaying his skill on the wheel and inviting us spectators to try our hand at it!


And I got to see some more installations…one called ‘Corruptus’ – that featured a horde of immaculately dressed white terracotta figures of politicians saluting a Flag that was a 100-rupee note! We were laughing out loud, it was so on the spot 😛

The Corruptus Republic!
The Corruptus Republic!

Then there was an ancient Ambassador car (remember those?), glittering all over with 1-rupee coins.


A turtle representative of defense strategy for humans…it’s body made of white marble slabs and each turtle limb replaced by organs representing one of the 5 human senses – an eye, an ear, a mouth, a nose, a hand and a foot! Rather a cool concept I thought 🙂


Another interesting installation was a coffin and cell phone combo that highlighted the obvious dangers of talking and driving at the same time!


And at the entrance, a large 3-D Display titled ‘Dhanda’ (Hindi slang for ‘Business’, although used mostly for notorious & seedy businesses associated with the underworld, prostitution, gambling etc.), a word that stands for the seamier side of this city of Dreams.


After a quick, delicious lunch of pasta and mushroom-stuffed brioches, I had to leave. I love the ‘feel’ and ‘energy’ of such an event, which gives us inhabitants a chance to amble along without fear of being run over while soaking ourselves in Art and its interpretation by fellow Mumbaiites! An interesting, enjoyable experience that I highly recommend to one and all and that I will look forward to next year 🙂

Kala Ghoda Arts Festival – I

Every year, a 9-day Festival of the Arts, ‘The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival’ is held in Mumbai. Initiated in 1999, it is a celebration of the culture and various Art forms of India, with an aim to involving the community and so helping in their preservation. The historic Kala Ghoda district is the hub of Mumbai’s Art World…lined with Art Galleries, Museums, Libraries, located in heritage buildings dating back to the days of the Raj. 


The Festival is a colorful spectacle of Art installations, street acts, musical concerts, movie screenings, and a myriad of workshops in various fields. The energy is palpable as families wander through the pedestrian zone, cameras at the ready, taking in the sights, catching the latest street acts, grabbing a bite to eat, jostling to shop at the many interesting stalls that line the walk, and studying the many installations that dot the landscape. I have happy memories of wandering here when we were last in Mumbai – it was much smaller then, less crowded although thoroughly enjoyable. Like everything else in this city – it has ballooned in size and scope and attendance so that it is quite difficult to walk around without stepping on anonymous toes and warding off strange elbows with your own, as we found out when we were there last Sunday! Since Ishaan was with us, I was quite paranoid of holding on to his hand, lest the crowd swallow him up!! There were scouts too – they approached us to ask whether we would be interested in Ishaan being a child model and Hubby, much to my annoyance gave them his number!! Not that he has a say in the matter. My decision is quite final and it’s a resounding NO!

We did however soak in the vibrant atmosphere of the street – it’s impossible not to! I took pictures of the various installations – the theme this year seemed to be skulls made out of refuse – which would explain this gigantic model made out of disemboweled computer parts!


A scooter shaped like a fly reminiscent of a recent Bollywood blockbuster titled ‘Makkhi’, (fly in Hindi);


A giant pair of glasses served as a showcase for the normal-sized ones ensconced within;


A shiny copper bicycle encouraging Mumbai denizens towards an environment-friendly lifestyle;


Totem poles made out of recyclable materials and a green map of India strung with fairy lights that lit up when cyclists pedaled hard creating energy!



The boys ate ice-cream and we all enjoyed a 20 min tightrope performance by a troupe of local acrobats! Ishaan was extremely excited but confused by the boy on stilts and utterly in awe of the boy balancing on the rope all to riveting beat of handheld drums! It was his first time watching a show like this and I’m so glad he was able to experience it, even in the 21st century 🙂 It took me back to my childhood, when there were several such troupes wandering around Bombay, usually families, where the children performed all sorts of dare-devilry and acrobatics! ‘Dombari’ they are called in Marathi and their appearance was always exciting if a little scary!

The 'Dombari' displaying their formidable skills!
The ‘Dombari’ displaying their formidable skills!

With the boys in tow, I didn’t get to shop or even browse, but I’m going back with a friend, during school hours tomorrow, to do exactly that! There are always a couple of stalls that are out of the ordinary 🙂

Wish me Luck 😀

The other Mr. G!

So, having just wrapped up one Mr. G’s Birthday – 10 days of noisy festivities, we arrive at another Mr. G’s Birthday – equally revered if not as noisy 😉

Gandhi is very much a world figure – an icon of non-violence, and the Father of my country, India. A Mahatma – ‘mahaan’ = great, ‘atma’ = soul. I’m not a huge fan…but of late, I understand better and am also better at not passing judgment 😛 Here is an old post I wrote 2 years ago on his Birthday – untagged and certainly not much read 😉

Not much has changed about the way I feel…except that I find my tone 2 years ago more strident than I would like! More than ever today I find, Gandhi – his ideals, his philosophy, his example vanishing from modern-day India. We pay him the mandatory lip-service – politicians & citizens alike, as we as we go about our brazen ways, doing exactly as we please, adhering to no one’s principle’s except our own. And I don’t see things changing in my lifetime…If Gandhi’s watching, I think he’ll be desolate at the state of his country. I know I am…and although there is always hope, at times it’s as tenuous as gossamer – translucent and invisible, unless tested by the weight of a burden. Perhaps that’s what I’m going through – a test of my faith in my country, its people and in myself. It’s a tough road and yet here I still am…one foot in front of the other.

Perhaps there is indeed a light at the end of this tunnel – if not for me, then for future generations of Indians. That is my wish and I think it would be his too. So Happy Birthday G! And if you have any influence at all with the other Mr. G, ask him to give us humans the ability to do what is right no matter how difficult & Bless this country of ours, that you loved so well!

I’m not a huge Gandhi fan, never have been. To me, he’s always come across as a stubborn, egotistical, selfish man (his vow of celibacy being for me the ultimate example of selfishness), who was often weak when strength was required and had favourites among his followers, just like us lesser mortals! I dislike the way, every time Independence is mentioned, we keep hearing Gandhi rhetoric and non-violence as if he was the only reason, India is today a free nation. Can we truthfully claim, India’s Independence came through purely non-violent means?

What of all the hundreds of thousands of freedom-fighters that fought and sacrificed their lives, before him and by his side, anonymous and otherwise? Are Bhagat Singh, Azad and Bose and the countless others not as important? Were Nehru, Jinnah, Azad, Naidu and Patel not politicians of equal eminence in stature, strength and commitment? I believe they were. And yet, they are never given equal importance, rather always referred to as his followers, as if he were a saint and they his disciples! I get uncomfortable when human beings begin to deify one of their own! It upsets my rational self, I suppose! I think India would have gained Independence, with or without Gandhi and that’s why this whole ‘Mahatma’ worship bothers me, more often than not.

It’s not his fault of course. No, that dubious distinction belongs to us, the Indian people, and to our politicians, who have made Gandhi, big business! And that’s what he has been reduced to these days – Big Bucks! Think of all the money people make, printing posters and commissioning statues! All the mileage, politicians derive out of garlanding those very same pictures and statues! Hollywood made Gandhi and Bollywood went one better, with Gandhi, My Father and the now legend, Lage Raho, Munnabhai!

Gandhi, My Father, was very interesting. I thought it explored very realistically, the troubled relationship between the Mahatma and his oldest son. I was relieved to see that the Mahatma was human after all and made mistakes. Also that he then refused to accept them like all of us do. Rather reassuring that! Lage Raho Munnabhai was a hoot from start to finish! I enjoyed it thoroughly, not only because of a sterling cast and performances, but also for Gandhi’s characterization (Dilip Prabhavalkar was excellent!). He seemed ‘real’ and his ideals ‘attainable’. A 21st century Gandhi, a common man’s Gandhi! That, I understood, I identified, I rejoiced.

I do believe in non-violence though. Violence of every sort turns me off in a big way. I don’t see the point of it and I know for a fact, it solves not a thing! A look around the world is proof enough for me. Man is the only animal on Planet Earth that engages in violence, purely for sport! For pleasure! Frankly it’s beyond me – I have other ways of getting high and no they have nothing to do with drugs, sex or alcohol! Well – definitely not drugs! But it seems to me that though the man himself was non-violent and possibly never hurt a fly, his actions in combination with other events, certainly led to one of the most gruesomely, violent events in Indian history – the Partition.

I wonder, how and why a man so great, a Mahatma, has become irrelevant in society today. Yes, Gandhian ideology is still revered and being a Gandhi is certainly an achievement of sorts in India (beats me, as to why!), but seriously speaking – nobody gives a damn! Not the politicians who sing his praises and quote him at every rally, not the Indian people, for whom he was once ‘Mahatma’ and is now just another name in the history books and not me – though having said that, I did blog!

Hey Ram! Now that he would have understood…

Teachers Day


Every year, India celebrates its teachers on the 5th of September, the birth date of its second president Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, an educator and statesman of the highest calibre. I must confess I knew next to nothing about him and I’m glad I took the time to find out a little more. Like most famous Indians born in pre-Independence India, he came from humble beginnings and rose to great accomplishments on the back of his intellect and integrity, the latter so dreadfully lacking in the present generation of us free Indians 😦 Here is a great quote attributed to him “When we think we learn we cease to know.” Personally I would like to add, and vice versa! “When we think we know, we cease to learn.” I firmly believe my country is in dire need of better teachers – teachers of the old school, selfless, dedicated and passionate about their vocation. Not the cash-crazy owners of tuition classes that have sprouted all over the country 😦 

Today is the day and inexplicably my son has a holiday! No celebrations in school which is rather disappointing and the card we made sits rather sadly waiting to be happily received by his class teacher tomorrow. Well, be that as it may, these are some of the thoughts running through my head on this Teacher’s Day…

I’m remembering my 5th grade teacher Ms. Olive Callan, in Stella Maris, Kobe. She was a wonderful human being and an excellent teacher. She was loving and yet could be firm, even stern without ever being demeaning or cruel – in my opinion the hallmark of a great teacher 🙂 Her warm smile could light up the most miserable day and she loved us unconditionally as we did her. She left school the same year I did, me to come back to India and she because her son had been diagnosed with a brain tumor 😦 I can’t remember details clearly, it was so long ago, but I remember that that was an important reason in my wanting to become a doctor and a neurosurgeon! Didn’t do the latter, but did eventually manage the first! I tried looking for her recently through random searches on FB but I know nothing about her or where she lived except she was from the UK. How I wish we could connect again! Thank you Ms. Callan for a fabulous 5th Grade and for planting the seed that flowered into my present life-path 🙂 Love you!

And then there’s Teacher Lydia…my brother’s teacher…a woman who mentored him through some of the most difficult times of his life and I’m not talking academics here. My brother had Duchenne’s and had to be home schooled. This is why I believe in miracles people…at a time when my parents were exhausted from looking for a teacher that would agree to come home and teach him, Ms. Lydia entered our lives and nothing was ever the same again! Before we knew it, she became a valued member of our tightly-knit family & continues to be to this day 🙂 She’s one of the most positive people I know and although she was my brother’s teacher, she taught me a thing or two about life and attitude! She loved him, scolded him, cajoled him and loved him some more and I know he adored her. We all did. My eyes are tearing up just thinking of their bond – they were lucky to have each other and me, I was lucky to have them both. I’ve lost him and I don’t see Ms. Lydia as often as I should anymore (what with me being in Bombay and she in Goa, battling arthritis), but if you do happen to read this Teacher, I want you to know, you are never far for my thoughts and I love you always. Always.

My favourite ‘Teacher’ movie has to be ‘To Sir with Love’, starring the inimitable Sidney Poitier! I adore him and I adore this movie…the scene where he finds the sanitary pad burning away in the fire is forever etched in my memory. I first read the book when I was in school myself and I remember thinking how terrible those children were and how brave and strong their teacher! I remember wanting him for my teacher! Much later I saw the movie as an adult and the feelings came flooding back. Again and again in my life, the best teachers have been those that combine a healthy dose of discipline with genuine concern for my well being. It has often taken me a long time to acknowledge the latter in the face of the former! It’s a failing I’m happy to report I got over with time, age and experience 🙂 There have been many teacher films made over the years… great ones too…but this one remains for me the Gold Standard against which I compare them all.

Another ‘Teacher’ memory is crying copious tears while reading ‘Goodbye Mr. Chips” by James Hilton, a slip of a book borrowed from my Dad’s bookshelf! It’s such a poignantly heart-warming tale of a teacher who struggles to connect with his students initially and then goes on to become an institution of sorts! I remember him reciting the names of his students and at that time thinking it rather funny and silly 🙂 He was that sort of teacher Mr. Chips was…unintentionally humorous, sensitive and quietly affirmative – the best kind!

Goodbye Mr. Chips – Cover of the 1st Edition

And of course I have my very own ‘Teacher’ story given that I married mine 😉 Oh don’t get all het up! Nothing illegal I assure you 😉 Hubby was a senior resident in Preventive & Social medicine and took classes for us when I was a student in my 2nd year of Medical College. He was an ok teacher I suppose but I’m not really the best judge of his teaching skills now am I? Given that I was busy concentrating on his rather sweet smile 😛 We were married after 3 years of courtship and have been married now for 2 decades! We’ve both learnt from each other and taught each other about life, love and marriage. It’s been one long lesson – mostly fun 😉 Thank you Darling for sticking with me 😉 I know it hasn’t been easy. Love you.

Now of course the tables have turned and I find myself transformed into a teacher 24/7, as every parent does. Being ‘teacher by default’ to my 4-yr-old son is really the hardest & most exhausting thing I’ve ever done – watching my language and actions and controlling my thoughts constantly is tough and often I just let go and rebel against the high standards I set myself! I don’t think I would have been a great teacher in the traditional sense – I would have been fun but not very consistent and too impatient for my own and my students’ good! It takes a lot of self-discipline and that’s not my forté! And yet the thought of moulding minds & influencing others is powerfully seductive…I’m glad I have only the one student to potentially ‘screw up’ 😛 Good Luck Ishaan…you’ll need it 😉

So here’s to Teachers everywhere & in every form! May they continue their good work, live long & prosper! Happiness always 🙂





Northern Exposure – Bhopal

My reading got in the way of my little Trilogy, and I apologize for any of you that might have been waiting for this third and final instalment of my Northern adventures with bated breath 😉 (I can wish can’t I? :P) So without further ado, here goes…

After our busy Sunday in Agra, we take the AP express to Bhopal. Again not the best of timings (given that we leave Agra at 8.30 pm and will reach Bhopal at 3.30 am. Yes! You heard right!), but a very comfortable First Class AC coupe 🙂 Ishaan is thrilled when we show him how the seats become beds and laughs his head off at the sight of Mom grasping at the overhead bunk and heaving herself up awkwardly, trying to avoid butting heads with the rusty ceiling fan 😀 Ishaan & Hubby share a ‘thali’ for dinner, while I read and then it’s lights off, alarms set as we try to catch some shut-eye. The alarms go of at 3 am but Hubby and I are already awake and as we approach Bhopal, Ishaan is awake too. We get to our Hotel, The Residency and sleep comes the instant our heads hit the pillows. Welcome to Bhopal 🙂

The last time I was in Bhopal, it was 1996 and Hubby had been posted for 6 months to Mandideep to gain work-experience at the P & G factory there. I joined him a couple of months later and stayed in the guest-house at Arera Colony for 3 adventurous months! Adventurous because, at the time, I hadn’t ever been north of Mumbai and also because the guest-house hosted rats alongside humans 😉 I even saw a badger pass through the garden once! So this Bhopal visit is steeped in Nostalgia, a trip back in time as it were for me. A simpler time of fond memories 🙂 Hubby has work though (doesn’t he always?), and so Ishaan and I have the days pretty much to ourselves. This is the first city where we have no sight-seeing agenda. The only place that I think Ishaan will be interested in is ‘Van Vihar‘, a sanctuary of sorts along the banks of Bhopal’s famous ‘Bada Talaab‘ or the Big Lake. It has a few animals in large enclosures and dozens of birds on the shores of the Lake. The best part, no crowds and cars are allowed 🙂 So that’s what we do, on our first morning, but first a word about our hotel, The Residency. It’s not our first choice, but The Jehan Numa, a heritage hotel (that we saved for special occasions way back when), recently renovated, is apparently booked to its gills, and so we have to settle. The Residency is very average and not nearly as good as I remember it from all those years ago when we went there for meals. Hotel Nisarg and Hotel Amar Palace, both of which I remember from years ago are still around. Our room will do and the bathroom is clean but old. Morning breakfast is atrocious and service non-existent. I decide instantly to have all meals at the Jehanuman for the rest of the visit and that’s what we do 🙂 Those were some of the best meals we had during our trip!

So back to Van Vihar. Our driver for the duration is the best of the lot so far, quiet, polite and not eager to whisk us off on inane shopping sprees, which is a boon, considering there’s absolutely nothing I need nor want to buy here. The entry fees are Rs. 200 for the car and Rs. 20 for every person. It’s a beautiful place, even better than I remember or perhaps it’s because I’m now so much more into Nature than I was 16 years ago. Again I lament the absence of my zoom lens 🙂 The birds along the lake and in the park are gorgeous, but it’s hard to get a decent picture without the zoom. Still, there’s a cool breeze blowing and Ishaan’s constant excited chatter for company as we alight from the car at every enclosure and try to catch a glimpse of the animal within. There are a couple of hyenas, a trio of restless leopards, some bears that are barely visible, a single male lion and a couple of tigers. Ishaan is thrilled with the tigers as am I and we spend a happy morning before heading off to La Kuchina, an adorable restaurant at the Jehan Numa for a quick lunch and then on to Mandideep to meet Hubby.

The Lake and its denizens.

Hubby’s work involves a visit to a Government office, and boy, are we in for a rude shock! The office (if one can call a dilapidated room full of crumbling files that!) is located on the first floor of a shabby concrete building that stinks to high heaven of urine. As we reach the first floor, there appears to be a minor flood in progress. The muddy floors are in the process of being washed by an old woman who looks quite blind to me, given the size of her glasses. We pick our way gingerly across the mess and step backwards in time. I don’t quite know how to react to the room and the people in it. All I know is I’ve never felt so out of place in my life! I stare at the plastic sheets that hang from a part of the roof, a futile attempt to stop indoor showers in the monsoons; at the mouldy files that are heaped on open shelves all around the room and I wonder how many centuries it will take before progress finally arrives here. Yet the people that work here don’t seem to think much of it, which makes me feel even worse. They’re so used to these awful conditions, they’ve stopped reacting to them 🙂 I can’t wait to leave the place, busy as I am trying to stop Ishaan from touching any surface, wishing he didn’t have to breathe the foul air, wishing my signature weren’t needed so I could have stayed away, wishing I could just wave a magic wand and make everything better, cleaner, healthier. Wishing, wishing…

Isn't he gorgeous?!

The next day, Hubby comes along and we go to Van Vihar again. It’s a relief to be able to breathe again of the pure, clean air here. Ishaan has a ball again and is over the moon that Papa’s around 🙂 The tigers are active and one of them obliges us with a display of territorial gestures, spraying a tree and then standing up to his full height and scratching the bark. An awesome sight 🙂 Then we run into a troop of monkeys that are quite aggressive and at one point it seems like we’re going to have a problem getting back to the car! Scary! Ishaan chooses this moment to walk nonchalantly forward saying “Go Away! Go Away!” with me screaming to Hubby to get him away! A monkey mother bares her fangs at me and I have no clue why, until I see that I’m standing near a tree where her baby is and she thinks I might do him harm. I move away and she runs up the tree to cuddle her little one. How similar mothers are, no matter their species 🙂

The Monkey Troop at Van Vihar

That’s about all we do in Bhopal. It’s a good restful two days as compared to all the running around we’ve done in Delhi and Agra. I’m glad that although much has changed, in essence Bhopal still remains a small town. There’s not much traffic (although we have stayed away from the crowded, narrow lanes of Old Bhopal and New Market), there’s greenery and I can still recognize my old haunts of Arera Colony, the Shalimar Enclave where my friend A used to live. My oldest and first friend in the company and one of my closest friends to this day 🙂 So its been a happy visit. But I can feel Ishaan’s restlessness to get back home and it’s rubbing off on me too. Tuesday night we drive to the new airport, which is large, airy & bright with steel and chrome, for our flight back to Delhi. We have a day and a half in Delhi, before Ishaan and I head back to Goa. On our last night of the trip, we head to Gurgaon, to The Kingdom of Dreams, a theme park (for want of a better phrase), where I am much impressed with their culture displays and cleanliness, and the Bollywood Musical, Zangoora, a must watch for its production values which are comparable to the West and the fine dancing by its lead actor Hussain Kuwajeriwala, who is extremely talented with an endearingly delightful stage presence! Ishaan enjoys it too and by the time we get back to our hotel, it’s midnight.

La Kuchina @ The Jehan Numa

And so ends our 10-day sojourn in the North. During these ten days, I’ve been exposed to a new culture, a different way of life – more aggressive and perhaps more expansive. From the craziness of Delhi to the history of Agra, to the relative quietness of Bhopal, it’s been a study in contrasts, informative, evocative and thankfully for the most part – enjoyable 🙂 The only thing I need to do now is visit all three places again on a photography trip, minus Ishaan so I can take pictures in peace 😛 Wonder when that will be?

Until then…there are happy memories!

Northern Exposure – Agra

On Sunday morning, at the unearthly hour of 4.30 am, I’m bleary-eyed, smearing toothpaste over my teeth and cursing Hubby, as I attempt to get decent for our two-hour train journey to Agra to see the Taj. I’m not feeling very benevolent towards the Taj at the moment as you can well imagine, nor towards Hubby for booking the earliest train on the planet, but that’s usual 😉 I brave the chilliness in the air and pull on my various woollen layers, before waking up Ishaan. Contrary to your expectations dear reader, this is much easier than you think! My son is a light sleeper and an early riser. Two qualities that will undoubtedly be long gone by the time they become desirable and necessary! But for now, he rolls over and sits up immediately, rubbing sleepy eyes and asking in that adorable baby-voice, “Mamma! Where we going?” And so I bundle him up in his woollens and we make our way to the waiting taxi. Twenty minutes later we are at the New Delhi Railway Station, where it could just as easily have been ‘lunch-hour’, what with the bright lights and throngs of people.

Anyone who has ever experienced an Indian Railway Station will know exactly what I’m talking about! They’re like microcosms of a bustling Metropolis, with all kinds of people doing all kinds of things, on the long platform strips that become their home while they wait between journeys. So you have families huddled around a little kerosene stove, cooking a meal, their luggage walling them off from prying strangers; people sleeping on their ‘chatais’, blankets drawn over their heads in a vain attempt to shut out the constant drone of human conversation and regular chugging of approaching trains; groups of students playing card games; porters pretending to be busy; lost dogs and beggars going about doing whatever it is they do; the irritating static-ridden announcements that are always either too loud or too soft to make any sense; and pervading everything and everyone – the hallmark stench of urine! Welcome to the Great Indian Railroad Circus! Entry’s free 😉 Entertainment guaranteed 😛 But I digress!

We’re on Platform 1, which is thankfully the first platform upon entry. I walk through a rusty looking metal detector frame with Ishaan while Hubby lugs our two handbags onto the screening belt. There is much jostling, because this is India and the concept of queuing up is alien 😉 Ishaan trips and falls, but thankfully decides not to bawl and I lead him through the chaos until I find a space where the ammoniacal odour is bearable. Miraculously, the train is on time J It’s the Bhopal Shatabdi and it will travel the 700 odd km from Delhi to Bhopal in about 8 hours. We get in and immediately find ourselves in a seat dilemma, also a staple of train travel in India! I have no clue what the Railway authorities have against families travelling together but they don’t seem to take too kindly to it and so parents and children, husbands and wives routinely find themselves assigned to seats that are far apart. Again, this is India, and nobody’s about to let a tiny seat number get in their way 😉 We arrange ourselves in our seats, after an agreeable compromise has been reached with all concerned, and settle in for the short journey. Ishaan falls asleep stretched out between us, while we consider breakfast options. I’m impressed with the train – the mineral water bottles they give each one of us and the breakfast they serve are included in our fare which is just Rs. 300! A pittance! They offer three breakfast options, a non-veg option of an omelette, a veg option of ‘poha’ and a south-indian option of ‘upma’ and ‘wadai’ which is what I settle for. It’s hot and fresh and it does me good J When we pull into Agra, right on schedule at 8.30, I’m refreshed, eager and ready to see the Taj at last.

Finally! A Parrot 🙂

The whole world and his uncle have turned photographers and there’s a crazy amount of clicking going on around us. There are government approved photographers that take pictures for a fee, the usual ones…sitting on Lady Diana’s bench, the illusion of picking up the Monument in a finger-pinch…the usual suspects! We get our own photographer and take the requisite pictures before heading off towards the Taj, where I promptly go into photographic overdrive! And yet, although the Taj has a sombre beauty to it, for me the whole is more beautiful than its parts. Without the history and the tragedy associated with it, it’s just another tomb, just another example of fine Moghul architecture of which India has more than her fair share! I stare at the trickle behind the Taj, all that remains of what was once a major Indian river, the hallowed Yamuna. It looks sad and lost and forlorn, rather like the Taj itself, even with all the throngs that surround it. I wonder what the Taj would say if it could speak? We wander around the buildings, from the dark, musty enclosed tombs where husband Shah Jahan, and beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal lie interred to the bright sunshine outside and suddenly it sinks in – ‘There! I’ve done it! I’ve seen the Taj Mahal!’ And oddly enough despite my many reservations, the thought makes me happy 🙂 Perhaps there is something about this edifice, an aura of sorts that’s making me feel this way. Maybe it’s the great love that the Emperor felt for his wife that still lingers in the smooth marble walls, permeates the coloured inlays, soars through the towering minarets. Yes that must be it…this attempt at coaxing the intangible into solid form that warms my heart. I raise an invisible salute to the majestic dome and to the love that birthed it. Wah Taj! 

The Taj Mahal in all its somber Glory!

We stay until lunchtime and after a brief rest at the Hotel, we’re on our way to The Red Fort! Now this is a Monument I’ve been longing to see. I must confess that I know nothing about its history other than the fact that Shah Jahan was imprisoned here in the last years of his life by his son Aurangzeb, and he watched his beloved’s tomb the Taj, from a tiny window in the room that served as his prison cell. I had caught a glimpse of the Fort from the Taj, but nothing prepares me for the grandeur and sheer size of this massive structure. I must warn you that I’m likely to gush here, coz I fell in love with the Fort completely and utterly! It made me sit up and take notice, as if it were actually speaking to me and saying, “Look! Look at me! See who I am. Know me. Here I stand indestructible, proud and eternal, home and prison to kings and emperors. Look at me!” We enter through a massive doorway and climb the slope into the Fort grounds. They are huge, as are its solid double ramparts that seem to go on forever.

Massive gateways! This is just the top-half and I was fascinated by the Star of David emblems on it!!

The Fort is more like a city really, in the way Forts were meant to be. It has several palaces and structures within, each with their own unique style. It has two enormous gates, The Delhi Gate and the Lahore Gate that stand tall like two sentinels guarding the ancient roads to Delhi and Lahore. In one courtyard, there’s a massive brass bath, which was apparently hauled along whenever Jehangir travelled so he could bathe in royal comfort! On the day, it was squirrels and children scurrying over this relic from the past. The intricate inlay work, the stone carvings, the seemingly endless passageways, the massive doors, the sprawling terraces, the painted and engraved ceilings, all steal my heart and make me shutter-crazy! If I were a beloved queen, I would want someone to build me a Fort like this one 😉

Passage to Infinity!

Later I read about the Fort and discover that it’s older than I thought, built in the 11th Century by Rajputs and then lived in by several Sultans of Delhi from Ibrahim Lodi to Akbar. It was in Shah Jahan’s time however that it took on its present incarnation. The guy was a ‘builder’ if ever there was one! I love the contrasting styles of the older red sandstone structures of Akbar’s era with the typical white marbled structures that Shah Jahan favored. I prefer the red sandstone myself. It seems fitting somehow and more alive.

The stone-sculpted doorways!

I could easily have spent many more hours happily wandering the Fort grounds, but of course Ishaan has other ideas. He’s tired and sleepy and we head back, reluctantly to our Hotel. I know as we leave for the railway station to take out train to Bhopal, which of the two Monuments is my favourite 🙂 I know I will come again to the Fort and let it reveal new secrets!

The Emperor's Darbar!

As you can imagine I took a lot of pictures, but both these buildings are way beyond mere visuals. They are special and precious not only for what they are physically, which is undoubtedly overwhelming, but for what they represent…a glorious if violent past and the superb craftsmanship of India’s artisans in days bygone.

Onwards to Bhopal!

Northern Exposure – Capital City

Here I go again!

Am just back from a 10-day sojourn in North India 🙂 Only 3 cities – Delhi, Agra and Bhopal but a host of interestingly varied experiences! This was my first trip to both Delhi and Agra and I was excited about finally being able to visit the Capital. The Taj Mahal in Agra, I must confess, didn’t have me jumping over the moon! I just don’t know how to be over the moon for a tomb I guess…no matter how beautifully built with infinite love! Macabre! But I was prepared to be impressed by the architecture even if I wasn’t moved by the sentiment 😉 I took Ishaan with me and although I was nervous about being together 24/7 for 10 straight days (how many hours is that??!!)…I was equally thrilled to be sharing this adventure with him 🙂

We arrived in Delhi at night and on our way to the hotel, I was immediately impressed by her broad, deserted, tree-lined avenues and scared silly by the crazy driving and incessant honking of her drivers! And I’m from Goa – ‘Rash-driving’ Capital of the World 😛 Why, I ask you is it necessary to honk like there’s no tomorrow at 10.30 pm on roads where there’s minimal traffic? I wish I had had the guts to ask our driver, but they are a species apart in the Capital and one that should NOT be messed with! Be that as it may, I love the city that is New Delhi. It might as well be called the ‘City of Circles’, there are so many of them. One after every block! There is (to the delight of our politicians I’m sure), an endless supply of roads that can be named and renamed until kingdom come! There are overhead bridges across the broad streets for pedestrians to use with escalators on either side. I don’t know whether they actually work 😉 but I was suitably impressed. There are plenty of open spaces, excellent shopping, the weather was wonderfully pleasant and the greenery warmed my heart. What really clinched it for me though was the profusion of birds – flocks of parrots and hawks that had made the city their own 🙂 How I missed my beloved zoom 😦 There’s no mistaking Delhi for what it is…the hotbed of our country’s politics. Every building here is a ‘Bhavan’, a ‘Sadan’ an ‘Embassy’ or an ‘Enclave’! Those that aren’t are National Monuments or belong to our Defence forces.

Yes! This is a city steeped in history, peopled with humans full of their own importance and not afraid to flaunt it. The smooth-talking, subtle arrogance of manner that seems prevalent here came as a surprise to my rather bourgeois sensibilities, even though I had been warned by friends who are natives. As a rule, I hate making comparisons, but if I have to compare Delhi to the other two metro cities I have visited – Mumbai & Calcutta, although Delhi would be architecturally and perhaps infra-structurally the best city, it lacks the warmth that makes Mumbai so special to me. Also, it’s a rather unsafe city for women from what I’ve heard and sadly I saw nothing during my trip that caused me to change that opinion. Our driver was a slick, smooth-talking Haryanvi, who did his best to talk us into going to places we had no interest in, by the most circuitous routes possible (easy enough to do in The Circular City!) and seemed more concerned about where he would park his car rather than what was most convenient for us. Honestly, there were times, when I wanted to reach across and slap him, just to shut him up! We hired a rickshaw one morning to escape his incessant lip, and had a slightly better experience, although this guy too couldn’t stop talking and offering suggestions for shopping, eating and sight-seeing, even when we lied and said this wasn’t our first trip! What is it with the continuous jabber? The next time, I’m going to stick to the Metro!

Another disappointment was the food, although I think that’s our fault, coz we didn’t make an effort to go to the places recommended by some. We did eat at Nirula’s and Haldiram’s but missed out on Karim’s. Ishaan had a tough time, being the true-blue Goan that he is. Surviving ten days on fish fingers and sliced cucumber can’t have been pleasant! All-in-all, I think Bombay and perhaps even Goa (now that I’ve discovered such fabulous restaurants here!), hold the edge over Delhi in terms of food, for me. Shopping however is an entirely different ballpark!! Khan Market has my undying devotion and I will go back there anytime I can, to wander the shops and discover hidden treasures. South-Ex and the Lajpat Nagar market seem promising too, although I didn’t get to really explore them well with Ishaan and Hubby in tow. The same goes for Janpath, Karol Bagh etc. I’ve already told my friend that I want to do an exclusive shopping trip in the near future 🙂 The sight-seeing too was awesome. Because we were there during the Republic day holiday, the City was decked out in all her Nationalistic finery. Every building was lit up and there were flags & flowers everywhere. We didn’t of course have time to see every Monument, but I enjoyed the ones we did manage. My favourite was the Jantar Mantar, simply for its geometry. India Gate and the Red Fort were wonderful too. Standing at India Gate in front of the ‘Amar Jawan‘ memorial, it’s hard not to let the inherent patriotism of the place affect you. Despite the crazy crowds, it still feels like the hallowed ground that it is. It made me proud to be Indian and it brought a tear to my eye. The Red Fort is a marvel of Mughal architecture (although I must confess the one in Agra is my favourite), and although the sound and light show is average, its often violent & chequered history more than make up for it. I wanted so much to explore Chandni Chowk just in front of the Fort, but with Ishaan cranky and tired, we skipped it. So that’s another place on my ‘to-do’ list for next time J as is the Qutab Minar. The Delhi Zoo was unsurprisingly Ishaan’s favorite outing! Although we had to wait an hour for the tram to take us around, he enjoyed the ride and the animals. I was also impressed by how clean the city is. Even with throngs of people at the Monument sites, there was minimal littering. And the houses in Lodhi Estate, Kasturba Gandhi Marg…spectacular! There’s money here and it shows! The elite here are fashionable and quietly elegant in a classical style so unlike the over-the-top Bollywood fashions of Mumbai. The men in suits or jackets, older women draped in elegant silks, wrapped in warm, expensive pashminas, and the younger women styish in their muted winter colors of tan, black and beige, designer coats and Vuitton bags. Part of why I enjoyed the Khan Market experience so much, was undoubtedly the fact that it was full of these well dressed elegant shoppers! Made me want to take that extra effort about my appearance, which is nothing short of a miracle 😛

We stayed for three days before leaving for Agra on the Bhopal Shatabdi, a short train journey of just a couple of hours.

And then it was time for the Taj!

Next post!

Happy Monday, People 🙂


I wrote this after the 26/11 attacks by terrorists on the iconic Taj Hotel in Bombay in 2008, India’s own 9/11 😦

I will never forget waking up to the news of the attacks on the morning of my Birthday on 27/11 – what a beginning to my Fortieth!! Just as I was reaching a milestone, my city was reeling under the onslaught of terrorists with their wanton violence. The attack felt almost personal this time, coz the Taj was a place my family and I frequented often for meals and special occasions. Anyone of us could have been there on the given day and one of cousins, with whom I share a Birthday, very nearly was! It just put everything in frightful perspective. I did celebrate my Birthday and looking back, I think the only reason I could was because my friends made the day super special for me 🙂 and because distance allowed. We were still in Singapore then and I could switch off the TV and pretend at least for a few hours that all was well with the world. But it wasn’t and as the tragedy stretched on I was left wondering what the World was coming to. Why do events like 9/11 and 26/11, happen over and over again? Is it because we, as responsible citizens, let them – with our narrow vision of the World, our reluctance to get over our prejudices, our unwillingness to compromise and our penchant for talking without listening? Is it the often senseless foreign policy of our countries that is mostly (certainly in India), vote-driven and not solution-oriented? It’s all of that and more, I know. I just wonder when we humans are finally going to get it right.

The reason I thought to re-post this, was because with all that ‘s happening in Japan, surely we must see that in the disaster-department’ we are not a patch on Mother Nature. She can do what we can only dream off, on a humongous scale, in the bat of an eyelid, with no warning, no pointless posturing and no mercy. The only thing that then remains is for us battered humans to pick up the pieces, the ruptured threads of our lives and try our best to move on. To somehow find Hope amidst ruin and salvage what’s left of our broken spirits. To rise again, Phoenix-like, from the ashes of our existence. What gives me heart is how we manage, repeatedly, to do just that! A year after the horror, the Taj Hotel, opened it’s doors again to visitors from all over the World 🙂 President Obama visited it on his trip to India and paid homage to Her courage and spirit.

And so no matter how cynical I get about the future of the human race, somewhere in a corner of my soul – Hope Floats 🙂


She stands majestic by the sea,

Her brick walls steeped in history,

A century of memories, witnessing all,

Love, Intrigue, Scandals & Balls,

The birthing of Nations, Coronations of Kings,

Anniversaries, Birthdays, Luncheons & things.

Yet after all that She had seen,

Tragedy loomed, grim, unseen.

On a black day in Time ,

When the nightmare began,

Her walls lay shattered,

O cowardly hand of man!

Milky marble burnt to cinders,

Hot coal fires, fatal embers.

Her spirit torn asunder by a billion silent screams,

Blood; Blood everywhere, flowing crimson streams.

Dark those days and darker nights,

No respite, relief in sight.

The nightmare continued – endless, fey,

The sky coloured a morbid grey.

The world watched silent, as it always does,

Doing little, saying much.

Determined she battled for freedom & grace,

Wrenched herself free from Death’s embrace,

Lives surrendered, Innocence lost,

Victory was hers, but alas the cost!

People cheered, forgot their fears,

Visions dimmed by happy tears,

She rose again, phoenix-like,

A beacon of hope from the ashes of Life!

If She can do it, perhaps so can I?

Spread my broken wings and fly,

High above in cloudless sky, spread my broken wings and fly.

– Harsha