Tenga through my Lens

​Wow, it’s New Year 2017, and sitting amongst the young mountains,  I feel like my favorite writer, Mr. Ruskin Bond. His stories from the hills, about the hills have always fascinated me.

Tenga, in Arunachal is one such place which is so close to the descriptions by Mr. Bond, with only slight difference, that this place is in the North Eastside of our country.

Tenga a beautiful valley, amidst young mountains and tenga river flowing along is a site worth dying for.

This Place mostly dominated by the Army settlements is glimpse to the old world charm, but the only difference it holds with rest of the hill stations is, that it is untouched by British artitecture, as we won’t finds churches or bungalows like rest of the hill stations. The reason is that it never came under the British rule. Going by the legend, British soldiers did try to enter Arunachal,  an area dominated by the local tribe here, who chopped of the heads of the British soldiers and sent them back to Assam,  so they gave up the idea of entering Arunachal.

Arunachal was once part of Assam,  it became a Union Territory in 1971 , and later independent state in 1987.
Yes it is not easy to get here, moment we land in Guwahati, the only option to reach Tenga is through the road, which are not in very good condition, due to constant landslides here.

As we cross the place called Balukpong, the bumpy ride towards the hills start, which is not for the faint hearted, trust me on that, but then there is no gain without the pain, so to explore the wonders of Tenga Valley, one has to go through the roads less travelled, the grinding pathways leading towards our destination. 

Yes to reach heaven, one has to go through hell of a roads here.But trust me, the scenery is breathtaking.

Young mountains, with black soil and pines growing on them are in the prime of their fertility, giving way to various kinds of flora.

Arunachal is home to lot of varieties of Orchids, which I am yet to explore.

But yes I did taste the latest cultivated fruits here, and those the local kiwis here, which are slightly smaller than the imported ones, but believe me, that in taste , the ones grown here are much-much sweeter. 
The beauty of this place truly lies in its serenity and calm enviroment , other places close by Tenga are, Rupa, Bombdila and Tawang,  which are more prominent in terms of tourist inflow, due to their monasteries,  but if one plans to sit I  ease and be in footsteps of Mr.Ruskin Bond , then spending time in Tenga is worth a try.
As I sit under the mighty pines, and look at the starlit skies, where moon and clouds play hide and seek , I wonder if life could go on like this only.

Grab a book near the bonfire, or for that matter an cup of tea or a glass of wine and admire the river flowing across , giving a perfect ‘room with a view’.

On my recliner,  as I decide to sit during the day, for soaking the sunlight, the chilly breeze across my face makes me realise, that it the winter season, the amalgamation of Sun and breeze can only be felt here, on this little quiet valley.

Nature here is truly at its best, the long walks on the hill roads gives you the glimpse of beautiful hill culture, as well of the Buddhism.  The colourful flags along the roadside and the beautiful monasteries and little bridges , brings you much more closer to simplicity of life here.

All you need is basic things, such as fresh air , water and food, the requirements of people residing here are only basic, because they live such a simple and beautiful life with peace and happiness.

True worth of small 

Yes  , there were times when 25 paisa fetched us an ice cream ,  the two

rupee notes given by grandparents on special occasions was like a treasure
to be cherished .
During Lohri celebrations , when as kids , we all cousins gathered and sang
Lohri songs, the elders showered us with tinkling coins, which we happily
collected and deposited in our piggy banks.

But, this was almost two decades back, and the coins and small rupee notes
have been long replaced by the bigger ones.
We did not even realise when ones  became  tens , and tens became hundreds
and hundreds ,  crores for many. The never-ending saga of money
multiplication and society division kept on increasing.

But one thing which has remained the same, is the saving by the homemakers
and little kids .
The secret chambers in the almirahs and piggy banks still exist . Though the
expectations have taken a larger turn and we do not save small currency
notes , but go in for larger denominations .
Well the poor coins only find place in the dark corners of the cupboards ,
never to be discovered again.
Recent arrival of new notes and discarding of old ones has come as a major
jolt for the people involved with black money savings , but it has also
shook the foundations  of Grandma theories and practices of savings.

Like many old age practices by our dadi- nani  in the past , even today the
new age mothers and women ,apart from bank deposits ,have kept some savings
hidden under the pile of clothes or boxes, away from the prying eyes of
their dear husbands, which they may use to give them surprise gifts on
special occasions or for themselves , to buy jewellery etc.

My grandmother passed away with passing on the legacy to us with bundles of
hundreds and five rupee notes under her clothes in the old tin boxes .
But if she would have been alive now, she definitely would have got shock of
her life , that the notes she less valued have shot to fame over night and
the ones she treasured the most , just dwindled like the pack of cards.

Today I myself realised the true worth of small , when the whole Nation weny
topsy-turvy on declaration that 500 and 1000 rupee notes will get a totally
new makeover ,may be!!,  or may be declared null and void , and soon become
a thing of past , like the extinct species .

Rumour mongers, made most of it , to an extent that many people suffered the
shock of their lives , as their savings of higher denomination notes went
bankrupt themselves, the news spread like wildfire to an extent that many
black marketeers burnt the stash of bundles piled up in their godowns. After
all what could they declare or claim.

A friend in need is a friend indeed, this saying came true , when small
coins and notes came to my immediate rescue, till now the coins or chillar
as we say, were getting step motherly or step fatherly treatment,  lying
orphan in the drawers or old purses.

We changed our loyalties overnight , till now the ones ruling the roost ,
their empires were overtaken by the lesser ones in a matter of few minutes.
It almost became a ‘rags to riches ‘story for Mr.Hundred.
Coins became popular and in demand in matter of few hours, well never
underestimate the power of a common coin, I said. And went on a searching
spree , for the ones hiding in every nook and corner of my house. It was in
that moment I realized ,  that without one rupee note or coin, how meaning
less becomes the existence of higher rupee notes which are kept intact in
special ornate envelopes to be distributed as shagun .
Well a single one rupee has always acted as a cherry on the cake of higher
rupees ,  but it is also considered as symbol of good luck and tradition ,
apart from the ‘head and tail story’.

The revival of smaller amounts ,have refreshed the childhood memories , my
fascination with the coins, collecting them in piggy banks. Finally, they
again, get to see  the light of the day, the warmth of the pockets, since
the day they were minted and ignored for long.

They have constantly helped me, whether it was as an offering to the deities
in the temples , for fulfilment of wishes by throwing them in water or by
giving them to beggars .

The coins and small rupee notes have long become claustrophobic ,  developed
the fear of closed spaces , but it is now time ,to show them the light of
the day. To remove the vagaries of dust from them. Time to give them their
dues, as they have been long snubbed , in search of greener pastures by us,
I mean in search of higher currencies .
They have truly survived over the years, with no conception of time,
followed religiously the cycle ,from one  pocket to another with trust, they
are truly our rough weather friends ,  unlike the fair weather notes.
The sudden surgical strike of new notes, has brought to limelight the
significance of a small piggy bank of my daughter , it has resurfaced the
value of little, the true worth of Goddess Laxmi and yes of course  ‘small
things do come in small packages ‘.

)WHEN I WAS A CHILD

“​If you carry your childhood with you , you never become older”-Tom Stoppard

Looking at the vista of lavish gifts of life, ‘childhood ‘is the most enduring phase endowed upon humanity. These pleasant memories are profusely imbibed in our minds.

The imprints are still a fresh and the serenity of silent autumns and warm Summers of childhood ,still have an indelible mark on me, and for life’s longing.

​A small house with a big balcony and wide windows, where there were wide screens of  nature and not the multiplexes .  The magnificent view with chirpy birds and hustling leaves on the ground. The squirrels and mynas play takes over the computer games. The fresh and chilly breeze replaces all the airconditioners . 

The fireplace with burning logs of wood in the winters does not adds on to smog but warmth of cosy confines of the hill house.The making of paper boats in the monsoon rains was our favourite pastime and hobby.

The muddy rocky undiscovered paths leading to the house, replacement to all gyms, treadmills and walking plazas. 

People here were still untouched by junk food or beverages, as the green vegetables grew outside the house with natural fertiliser of cowdung ,did not require green houses or chemicals and chilled water from the ancient Wells barred the entry of water coolers. Thank God , I had my childhood before the technology took over.

Yes memories of childhood are pristine, our invaluable possessions , which are mortgaged to adulthood, these memories, nostalgic moments , recollections from the past, still overwhelm my mind.
Every time when vacations approach,my mind and heart automatically reminds me of my maternal grandparents and their home.
Instead of visiting unexplored lands , visiting temples as devotees for the blessings or hanging out with friends, I rather chose to visit the sojourned place every year.
The reasons attributed , may be the ‘period of innocence and dreams’ spent there, before facing the big bad world, the emotions and the urge to go back to the land of nostalgia , always pulled me back, to relive the cherished moments of childhood.

‘When I was a child’, The time spent with the grandparents was the short golden period , as they always shielded us from the most harsh and rude conditions. The life was full of royal treatments, superiority and dominance.
I still distinctly recollect , how the rooster played the role of an alarm clock, the mud and clay pots became our toys and the vast green fields during Summers , became our playgrounds, where we roamed under the scorching Sun or the Star-lit skies , day and night , but without any purpose, reason or objective. It was purely the luxury of doing ‘nothing.’

Heavy lunch followed by warm siestas in the lap of nature, and dinner with star-gazing session , was my favorite pastime .

The very thought of tasting the ripe mangoes under the mango trees in the orchard , still satiates and calms down my turbulent mind.

The recurring image of Gambol of children , in the afternoon, hanging to the mango trees and going to and fro and at times crash landing , is still so fresh in the thoughts.

Now , when I re-visit my memories and compare them to the present times, things have changed drastically.
Touches of modernization and fast transformation are every where.
Nothing is same now, memories are forged and recollections are deceived. I feel cheated at times, my rustic life is long gone and lost. But I am still a child at heart, ready to jump in the puddle or climb trees like monkeys.

Earlier the houses were on the finger tips and so was the name of the residents . 

But my thoughts are still diversely coloured and vividly pleasant with memories of bygone Era called ‘childhood’, the memories are similar to a swift flowing river but , at times ,some where amidst the turbulence , they get lost.
As the past and present intermingle, they lose beginning, unaware of the end and still flow swiftly at times. I still desire for old times , but then life has to move on, that too on its own pace……for better.

But I am  still a child at heart, so my “childhood is still alive in me”.

Yeh Daulat Bhi Le Lo,
Yeh Shohrat Bhi Le Lo,
Bhale Chheen Lo Mujhse Se Meri Jawani, 
Magar Mujhko Lauta Do bachpan Ka Sawan.. 
Wo Kagaz Ki Kashti, wo Baarish Ka Paani.. 


Take this money,
take this fame as well,
snatch my youth from me if you so wish,
but return me those rains of childhood,
that paper boat, that rain-water..


Kadi Dhoop Me Apne Ghar Se Nikalna,
Wo Chidia Wo Bulbul Wo Titli Pakadna ,
Wo Gudia Ki Shaadi Pe Ladna jhagadna,
Wo Jhoolon Se Girna Wo Gir Ke Sambhalna,
Wo Peetal Ke Chhalon Ke Pyare Se Tohfe,
Wo Tooti Hui Choodion Ki Nishani
Wo Kagaz Ki Kashti Wo Baarish Ka Paani, 


going out of house in strong sun,
that catching birds, nightingales and butterflies,
that fighting on dolls’ weddings,
that falling from swings, and be on your feet again,
those lovely gifts of brass rings,
those souvenirs of broken bangles..
that paper boat, that rain-water..

These lines sung by the late legendary singer Jagjit Singh, truly summarize my childhood.

.’

Dad’s kitchen garden on the hills

Delhi smog had a choking effect on the residents. From buying masks to air purifiers ,  the delhites tried and tested every thing , but the only conclusion they came to was reverting to natural things, going back to nature, to real , pure and healthy things.

From air, water to vegetables and fruits everything is contaminated here. We have to devise long term healthy measures to overcome these hurdles.

But for the time being , I resorted to old school remedies

First it was planting of more herbs around my garden and pots, by placing them near my windows. 

Second , I headed for the hills for the weekend, so that at least some purification of my lungs could take place.

When I landed at my parents place , I could easily differentiate between the smog and pollution affected vegetables of Delhi and the healthy kitchen garden of my dad, which has been planted by him.

So here’s a glimpse of a kitchen garden in winters ,from the hills:

We may find variety of celery ,  coriander or parsley in the cities, but in the villages and on the hills a simple single variety is adequate in terms of nutrition and aroma. Here it grows in clean environment unlike waste water from the factories or sewerage used in the cities . 

Fresh beans from the garden,full of proteins . 

Green tomatoes ,  yet to ripe , but too tempting to ignore, feel like plucking them now.

‘.Mini KINNOWS ‘ for tangy juice , followed by rows of carrot plants to accompany for.

My future gajar ka halwa.

Green leafy vegetables are the actual highlight of the winters, full of vitamins and minerals . Yes this is Spinach , will make an excellent tango with the cottage cheese made at home, our very own palak-paneer.

Time to have a look at my dad’s Reddish rows, the future mulli ka piranhas. Even the leaves serve as good source of vegetable ki bhujji with potato.

My favourite corner of mustard plant, I mean my favourite ‘sarso ka saag’.

Yes it is the good time to plant garlic and spring onions too, which keep your blood pressure in check.

Yes as I sit under the pine trees, sipping my tea on this cold winter day, I truly admire the bounties of nature , which are fast disappearing from the cities,as artificial and synthetic stuff takes over.

I truly cherish these times and my short stay on the hills with my parents, with fresh and clean air. But Alas! to return back, but till then just relax and enjoy.

#hills# kitchen garden #dad# winter vegetables # celebrate blogging

Plants on my windowsill 


“I  do  wonder  whether  there  will  come  a  wastefulness- chemical  wastes  in  the  rivers,  metal  wastes  everywhere,  and  atomic wastes  buried  deep  in  the  earth  or  sunk  in  the  sea.  When  an  indian  village  became  too  deep  in  its  own  filth,  the  inhabitants  moved. And  we  have  no  place  to  which  to  move.”

                                                      -John Steinbeck.
Well,  the  situation  in our  Country  Capital  is  pretty  much  same  as  mentioned  in  the  above  quote.  We  have  created  a  mess  for  ourselves  and  now  we  cannot  escape  it.  We  have  no  place  to  go,  as  how  to  run  away  from  a  place  which  gives  us  our  bread  and  butter.


We  build  empires,  make  investments  in  form  of  gold,  property  and  bank balances,  for  our  future  generations,  but  amidst  all  this  we  have  forgotten  to  provide  our  kids  with  basic  amenities  or  would  rather  put  it  this  way,  ‘that  we  have  taken  away  the  rights  of  our  children,  with  implanting  of  concrete  jungles  and  cutting  of  the  natural  ones.’ 

And now by not sending them to schools in this smog situation .

Its  a  pity,  that  water  they  drink  is  loaded  with  impurities,  the  air  they  breathe  is  full  of  toxins  and  food  they  eat  is  either  junk  or  laced  with  chemicals  inform  of  fertilizers.
Festivals  like  Diwali  come  as    monsters,  making  our  children  sick,  making  then  prone  to  respiratory  disorders  ,  followed  by  deadly  smoky  winters.  The  chill  of  winters  is  not  about  enjoying  the  warmth  of  quilts  and  blankets,  but  rather  making  rounds  to  the  doctors.
Diwali  does  not  make  us  any  richer ,  anymore,  as  Goddess  Laxmi,  herself  feels  threatned  by  the  pollution  and  dust  of  Delhi,  and  we  end  up  spending  more  after  Diwali,  by  paying  visits  to  our  doctors/paedetriians.
The  ‘never  say  die spirit  ‘  of  Delhi,  can  be  seen  clearly  on  festivals  like  Diwali,  where  we  burst  crackers  non-stop  and  burn  money  with thrill and cheer.  May  be  this  is  the  reason ,  we  end  up  offending  Goddess  Laxmi,  and  spending  more  on  masks,  air  purifiers  ,  nebulizers  and  puffs.
Economy  is  booming  with  sale  of  above  mentioned  products,  but  at  whose  cost,  well  the  answer  is  clear,  it  is  the  health  of  our  children  which  is  at  stake.  Exposere  to  pollution,  traffic  chaos,  to  much  use  of  nebulizers  and  deadly  winter  months  are  affecting  the  health  of  children  residing  in  metro  cities,  especially  Delhi.
The  Capital  of  our  country  ,  has  become  more  like  a  crime  capital  and  a  place  housing  deadly  diseases  like  dengue,  flu,  or,  allergies  or  repiratory  disorders.
During  winter  months  spotting the Sun  amidst  the  smog,  once  in  a  blue  moon,  is  like  finding  the  hidden  treasure. 
Our  children  apart  from  being  deprived  of  fresh ,  clean air,  clean  water,  are  also  not  getting  the  required  Vitamin D  for  healthy  growth.  

Malls  and  high-end  shops  of  Delhi  can  provide   any  expensive  items  to  children    ,  but  they  are  unfortunate  in  terms  of  getting  the  free  basic  bounties  of  nature.

No  amount  of  tablets  or  capsules  can  make-up  for  the natural  sunlight,  or  fresh  air  of  the  trees.
Trees  and  plants  in  the  park  and  nursuries  amuse  us,  as  if  we  have  seen  something  alien.  We  have  ourselves  deprived  us  from  these  free  luxuries.

We  cannot  even  ask  our  children  to  play  in  the  open,  due  to  dust  and  smog,  earlier  there  were less  of  playgrounds  ,now  we  are  not  able  to  utilise  those  also.  
For  how  many  days  can  we  stay  outside  Delhi  or  run  away  from  the  problem??

Well  our  politicians  are  busy  putting  allegations  on  each-other  and  mud-slinging,  thus  adding  on  to  more  enviroment  pollution.
So  the  onus  lies  on  us  ,  the  common  man,  to  protect  ourselves  and  our  families  ,  by  taking  right  measures,  to  protect  our  future  generations.
For  mommies  ,  some  simple  steps  or  home  remedies  I  follow:

-During  these  dreadful  months  of  winters  in  Delhi,  try  moving  out  to  the  hills  for  a  week  or  so,  if  possible.

-due  to  space  constraints  in  Delhi,  we  all  cannot  afford  lawns/gardens,  so  please  keep  more  of  potted  plants  near  your  window  sill,  regularly  checking  the  water,  as  mosquitoes  breed  easy.

-plant  more  of  neem  trees in  the  close  vicinity, to  keep  away  from  insects  and  mosquitoes.
-plants  like  basil,  allo-vera,  garlic,  curry,  money plants  and  even  peepal  plants  which  can  be  spotted  easily  anywhere  ,  all  these  can  be  planted  in  the  pots  and  kept  inside  the  houses.
-Use  more  of  jaggery  and  herbs  in  tea.

-use  of  organic tumeric  in  milk for  adults  or  children  can  work  wonders  against  cough  and  cold. (yes  tried  and  tested)

-giving  a  mix  of  basil,  ginger  and  honey  every  morning  to  children  is  very  effective.

-bay leaves,  black pepper,  fennel seeds,  cardmoum,  cloves  in  luke warm  waters  during  winters  can  keep  us  healthy  and  away  from  cold  and  cough.
But  the  most  effective  step  would  be  planting  as  many  trees  and  plants  around  your  house,  or  keeping  pot plants.

These  are  few  steps/suggestions  ,  for  keeping  away  from  polution  in  a  natural  healthy  manner. 

 

Oldie gang

“When grace is joined with wrinkles, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age.”-Victor Hugo
Every morning as I enter the Nehru Park located in the Diplomatic area of Delhi , I get to meet the same set of familiar faces. Some are like me, who prefer to stroll or go in for their leisure walk on the cemented track, and others unlike me who run religiously on the dusty joggers track and sweat it out without looking here and there.

   As I move further , the gym area is buzzing with youngsters, children, uncles and aunties, busy lifting weights and doing cardio exercises, an old lady in her Seventies, draped in a Saree and wearing sneakers can be seen using all the equipments with all enthusiasm and hundred percent participation , no demarcation on the basis of age is there, as age no bar , all equally participate, but then suddenly the Kachnar , Gulmohar and Silver-oak trees attract my attention, as they are housing hundreds of parakeets , crows and the squirrels who busily move like the chipmunks and greedily feed on the food kept in abundance by the walkers and ad mist these trees are placed various benches where birds and love-birds are perching and pecking, well I in no mood of moral policing so i move ahead to breathe in clean, fresh air and again lost in my thoughts, when suddenly the loud roaring laughter disrupts my thought process, in the lawn area, with all the greenery and peace, people practice yoga , young and old with their loud laughter and claps make the atmosphere lively. On the other side of the lawn the karate-kids all dressed up in their white attires but different coloured waist belts practice their moves with precision. This world of hustling and bustling people walking back and forth is not crowed but serene.
The whole of the sports gang comprising young girls and boys , do various exercises diligently after the warm up, as guided by their coach and reminds me of the movie starring Priyanka Chopra ‘ Mary Kom.’ The statue of IIyichLenin becomes the source of amusement for many thus resulting in selfie-session for many, and few who know the reason of its installing it their, look at it as an symbol and embodiment of history and knowledge.    
As I walk across this 2.5 kilometre track I meet and see people from various walks and strata of lives. Some from far, some from near , some young, some old, some just chatting and lazing around on the benches, some lonely and some in herds. But one thing which grabs my attention every day is the two benches, well this is the only place in the park which has two benches facing each other under the banyan tree accommodating them, yes it is here where they meet every day, the Oldie-Gang . Yes this is what I have named them, the gentlemen in their late sixties and beyond are in 8 to 10 in number, some in salt-pepper look, some with receding hair lines and others keeping pace with the latest happenings with their jet black dyed hair, they are strangers to me but still i believe them to be true and rare example of aging gracefully and successfully. Each day when I enter the park i make it a point to stand near the banyan tree and attain enlightenment like Buddha by listening to their conversations, noisily discussing the unfolding situations all round the world, which ranges from politics to Google baba ( as they say so), to pulling each other’s leg. Listening them talk I feel relaxed and at ease, i feel growing old is not that bad if you have a gang around . The oldie-gang has made humour its weapon to deal with gray-area topics, they just laugh it out loud despite of aching backs, joints, hair loss and dentures. The other day i was mesmerised by one of the gang members humming the song by the Beatles, “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I ‘m 64” discussing about their better halves. Some in between, started feeding the crows and squirrels with the grains they carried from their homes and discussing how Gandhiji launched the final push for Quit India movement when he was 63 and comparing it todays politicians mockingly, as they never grow old or retire. This is their daily half an hour ritual before leaving for their respective destinations which they perform with with full vigour and zeal, making us the younger generations to learn from them to imbibe and follow their footsteps. They are so full of life, they have converted their sunset years to inspiring old years. There are only few people who leave an impression or impact on our lives, and yes they are the ones in my life.
I
Well, no one likes to be addressed as old man or old woman, we keep changing our definition of being old, as we grow old, when I was a teenager, thirty ( 30) for me was middle-aged but now in my thirties i believe myself in prime of life, but i guess i will think the same when i grow 40 or 50 for that matter. Aging is not a very talked about subject except for the anti-aging creams and death. 
Keeping humor aside, aging is a sobering effect, but every individual ages differently depending on the various factors .The scary part for me associated with growing old is the markers attached with it, that is, greying of hair, memory loss, loneliness, 

 . Till now i thought like many others, that getting old was for the old people, but sooner or later we all have to deal with it, but seeing the oldie-gang so hail and hearty i just want to be like them, long live the oldie-gang, lets not dread the old age.

Watching them I truly believe in this line by GLENDA JACKSON “I look forward to growing old and wise and audacious.”  

Saheb ji ki Laxmi

Prince to Pauper, all are in the celebratory mode, because it is that part of the year, when everyone eagerly awaits the arrival of Goddess Laxmi to their abodes.
We are very well aware with the historical significance of Deepawali, when Lord Ram along with his wife Sita and younger brother Laxman returned to Ayodhya, after exile of fourteen years. The residents of Ayodhya celebrated this event with lighting the clay lamps with mustard oil, it also happened to be Amavsaya that day, so it gave all the more reason to people of Ayodhya to light-up the paths. May be it became synonymous with coming of Ram-rajya, which in those times implied, that, it was the establishment of ‘Law and order’ and of course equality. 

 Times have changed now, and Delhi gives a wider perspective to the significance of Deepwali now.
Residing in South Delhi, the Lutyens Delhi to be precise, getting to share space with the creme de la creme, can be benefiting as well as disheartening at times.

Deepawali gives you a better explanation of being an elite class or a middle class.

At least in today’s time and age.
Saheb ji as he is fondly called by most of the colony ‘maids, helpers or drivers’ doesn’t have to flex his muscle power, because it goes without saying that he is all rich and mighty. The never-ending row of sedan or swanky cars, that too, for a government official is not that easy, especially for me, as I happen to be a ‘Fauji’ . But it does come as a privilege for me to share the same block number as Mr. Saheb ji, who also happens to be my next door neighbour.
Diwali gift culture is more rampant in Delhi, as compared to rest of the country.

And what better view other than Saheb ji house-hold can give.

As per the internal sources, I mean my maid, the Goddess resides in the house of Mr. Sahebji, he himself has been residing in that house for more than two decades now. He has almost established a Ram-Rajya of today for himself here, but it is more of a luxurious one.

Well the grass appears to be greener always on the neighbours end, but what do , I do, to make my grass greener, I mean apart from watering it, how do I lure Laxmi ji.

Is neighbour’s pride my envy??
How to tackle the volley of questions by my maid ,when the doorbell of my neighbour’s is rung by unknown faces, and me like an alert neighbour peeps through my window, with my eyes widened, or at times hiding behind the curtains, only to be blinded by the glitter of the golden wrapped gift boxes , the gift bearers a literally pleading Sahebji to accept their gifts.. My maid just draws comparisons of the luxurious and middle class life. And how I just give her pack of pattisha available in the canteen and five hundred rupees for Diwali, and how generous my next door neighbours are.  
Well I too, clean my house with equal zeal and effort, but still await a single door-bell for the boxes laden with goodies. For me its all about give and take, what i get has to be returned, its like passing the parcel, but not to forget, for me investment or expenditure is more than the profit , unlike Sahebji.
The coming for festivities gives me more of budget blues than enjoyment.

The bundle of rupees/notes dwindles or falls like a pack of cards, without buying crackers, my kids suffer the aftermath of bursting them , with air laden with pollution and dust, and I making regular visits to the doctors.  

The dogs of the colony also know about the most prosperous house in the colony and can be seen making rounds outside it, as they are fed well there, but for them too, Diwali turns out to be a nightmare outside Sahebji residence as non-stop bursting crackers till mid-night , makes them hide in crevices. Poor harassed creatures run for shelter, after all its a dog’s life , they too soon realize.
More than merry making, I am counting my left pennies, Diwali makes me realize that I am ‘ penny wise intelligent and pound wise foolish’, I go and haggle with poor road side vendors for earthen lamps but in a split-second buy all the sweets displayed in the air-conditioned shops, but only to realize later, that people now days prefer dry fruits or fresh fruit baskets, as they have become more health conscious. Yes Diwali does adds on that extra-pounds to me, well that is the only gain I have , during this festival.
After cleaning the house when it is time to make arrangements for the Pooja, the actual Laxmi , I mean Saheb ji’s wife is dressed in her traditional best, ready twenty-four hours of the day making rounds to others place , at times attending visitors and excepting gifts and at times busy in the card parties.

Well it is Sahebji ki Diwali and his laxmi too, the commercialization of the festival has only added in gains of Sahebji.
After celebrating choti Diwali , Shaheb ji locks his doors and leaves for get away destinations, away from the polluted city , the family likes to holiday individually, but receive gifts before Diwali in unison, may be Laxmi ji likes the latest and modern things now, as she showers them more with prosperity and gifts of course.
There were times when as a kid, earthern lamps and electric festoon lights brightened my grandparents home, all houses looked just the same with colourful rangoli made up of dry colours and rice flour, the marigold flowers embellished the thresholds, streets abuzz with activity, wild life safe and sound in the jungles.

But now, the hectic buying spree is more of a staus quo, the urge to splurge and indulge in extravaganzas is about blessings of Laxmi ji.

I as a middle class, with my heart and doors open, still wait for the money Goddess, is it my greed??

Deepawali means the ‘row of lamps’, and as the rockets soar high making a kaleidoscope of patterns, the neighbourhood lightens up but only to realise that the next morning has been high jacked by the blanket of thick smog and the remnants of the previous nights celebrations are scattered all over , telling us that the paper rupee notes were so brutally burnt down .
Well amidst the bureaucrats, diplomats, embassies and businessmen of Delhi , amidst the conspicuous consumption, economics involved with proliferation of shops and kiosks, dealing with gift items and of course my wealthy rich neighbours, I just forgot to mention the other side, I was so busy highlighting my own grievances that I forgot that half the Delhi almost resides on the roads, with free pollution supply and free electricity of the lamppost and blaring light of the vehicles in the night, for whom the Laxmi comes through begging and they do not have to maintain the cleanliness part, as more shabby and dirty they look, more alms they collect, for their daily meals, yes for them she pays her flying visits only , rest Laxmi ji belongs to only Sahebji, she likes to laze around in the huge lockers, like his loyalist, and for us she pays her temporary visits.
HAPPY DEEPAWALI

What a day it was!

All good things come to an end, but the nostalgia associated with them lingers on.

One such memory is of my student days of school. Those were the best days of my life, now as I look back.

It was after the gruelling session of two years, that my result was about to be declared . 

It had been torturous two years in eleventh and twelfth standard ,  when my Physics teacher, who also happened to be my class teacher made my life hell.

Constant nagging, being labelled as a weak student, in parents teacher meet parents were always asked to make their ward study hard, all practical files marked in red ink, flunking in unit tests of the particular subject had put me in the category of  dull students. 

Though I worked very hard ,but still the marks and the marks sheet always demoralised and discouraged me.

The very thought of Mrs .Bhatnagar, whom we now started calling as bhatakti aatma , i mean roaming ghost kept on haunting me, her constant taunts made me work hard though ,but most of the time it was heartbreaking . 

For those two years, i dreaded my physics classes the most, keeping my fingers crossed , every time she entered the class. Every time she picked me up for questioning,  and bombarded me with subject pertaining questions ,  I experienced the hell let loose on me. I behaved abnormally and shivers ran down my spine.

She made me stand outside the class or at the back , which was rather insulting. The complete two years were spend in fear and attending tuition classes , but the result or outcome remained to be the same.

But today , after two years ,  it was the day, which would finally seal my fate as fail or pass.

It was the day when my twelfth standard board results would be out, I had already spent sleepless nights for many weeks now . 

I entered the school premises with my parents and younger brother, but some how could not muster the courage to see the result board as my parents and brother proceeded to read my result.

Suddenly my brother came rushing back, I was about to get a heartattack , the shock of my life, but it rather turned out to be a surprise , the smile on his face said it all. 

I had passed with flying colours  with distinction in all five subjects including physics . 

My parents hugged me, the congratulatory messages from relatives and friends started pouring in. Even Mrs Bhatnagar praised me, for my diligence and dedication. It was absolutely the best day of my life, and I can definitely say, ‘what a day it was’.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’


House on the hills

2How desperately I want a house on the hills. Being a city dweller, staying amongst the concrete jungles in pint sized houses with exorbitant prices and rent , on top of that monthly installments , i truly realise the significance of houses on the hills.

A small house with a big balcony and wide windows, where there are wide screens of  nature and not the multiplexes .  The magnificent view with chirpy birds and hustling leaves on the ground. The squirrels and mynas play takes over the computer games. The fresh and chilly breeze replaces all the airconditioners . 

The fireplace with burning logs of wood in the winters does not adds on to smog but warmth of cosy confines of the hill house.

The muddy rocky undiscovered paths leading to the house, replacement to all gyms, treadmills and walking plazas. Elevators do not exist here, because young or old, all are pedestrians . 

People here are still untouched by junk food or beverages, as the green vegetables grown outside the house with natural fertiliser of cowdung ,does not require green houses or chemicals and chilled water from the ancient Wells bars the entry of water coolers.

No dengue or chickegunia can  ever spread it’s pangs as cowdung cakes acts as deterrent to such deadly diseases. No mosquito repellent creams or machines are required . 

The small hill house has acres of land surrounding it, where man and beast live in harmony.

The ancestral deities reside there and make their presence felt with chiming bells ,  the sound of which echoes across the hills.

The mighty deodar and pine houses  the numerous other tiny beings in its branches . During winters the mighty deodars appear like the snowman with a blanket of snow  over them.

The star studded skies give birth to many interesting stories as we lie on the cot on our terrace  . The gentle moonlight falling on the rooftop of the hill house  overshadows all the lampposts and streetlights of the city.

As the children sit in the porch soaking the winter sun, they have the pickle in the jars to accompany them.

The fragrance of the ghee emanating from the kitchen attracts many visitors, who sit for hours sipping hot tea and telling stories of the neighbouring houses ,  it is then we realise that chatting on our mobiles and phones is useless, the real conversation takes place here, with the people and the nature.

The  hill house is witness to coming and going of many generations ,  who spent their precious years in the lap of this house. It still stands rock solid, with numerous stories in its folds and every nook and corner.

But now for years why does it lie in neglect, is it because no one comes here now, or it has lost its charm. May be it could not keep pace with changing times, could not provide or fulfill the ever changing human greed, in want of more.

But now I want to get back here, but i do not want to rebuild it, for my selfish interests, I don’t want a modular kitchen with electric chimneys, i don’t  want the social sites,  but only the social connections.i do not want the compound walls, I am safe and secure from the prying eyes here. 

I want to run away from the suffocation of the city, sit in peace on a riverside, watch the grazing cows, unlike  the ones in the city surviving on polythene . 

Leopards and tigers roam free in the jungle, so the zoos do not exist here.

Here man and animals live in harmony and coexist  ,  as the house on the hills watches over.

I am ready to settle here, away from humdrum of noisy polluted cities but then,  when I turn around, the hill house stands in the ruins, all neglected ,  it would be a herculean task to repair it and now it has no old company of trees,birds , rivers or animals. The neighbouring hills have been cut open to make more houses and roads. To please the tourists with  the facility of electricity and water supply, the gushing streams of water lie tattered with garbage.

Amidst all this my hill house still stands but in much more inferior state, but do not worry my new abode, i will  accept you the way you are, your originalty is your strength, it holds in it my childhood.Yes the house on the hills has memories of my growing years embedded in it, where I want go back, again. It has been a shelter to me, it’s roof has always protected me.

So here I’m again to stay with my house on the hills….