Wings and Chirps

Wanderings of an Itchy Feet

Nest – A Place You Call Home

Do deewane shahar mein
Do deewane shahar mein
Raat mein ya dopahar mein
Aab-o-daana-dhoondhte hain
Ek aashiyana dhoondhte hain
Do deewane…

As Bhupinder and Runa Laila sang this song on the radio for the nth time this morning my heartbeats multiplied to the tune of n. It’s been playing in my heart and mind ever since I was a child and witnessed my parents hunting for the many houses that we called home for the little time we stayed in them. The lyrics paint that picture perfect house in my mind.

On our way to the school every morning and back in the evening, our school bus had to cross river Yamuna. She used to be a different person in those days. She was full of energy and brimming with water. The water with black silt underneath used to flow along graciously like Rapunzel’s long locks.

Death is inevitable and my young mind knew it very well. Funeral pyres that littered the banks of Yamuna, the twin sister of Yama (the Lord of Death), and the acrid curls of smoke that rose from melting flesh and charring bones was a regular sight. Another sight was that of people who would throng the place to throw the ashes back into the water. The half burnt corpses lay on the banks and sometimes floated on the river. A feast for crows and the then abundant species of vultures that inhabited the banks. So much for a favourable rebirth.

I do remember the army of worshippers that stood up to their waist in the river on chilly winter mornings, chanting their sacred verses and then immersing themselves in the holy yet utterly filthy water. It used to be crowded during the Shiv Kanvarias season and Chhat Puja. Women in bright coloured sarees with even brighter coloured sindoor. It ranged from maroon, red, orange and even fluorescent green. I guess these bright colours were not just worn to celebrate the festival but to hide the dull, sleepy and hungry faces. All of them with the cane baskets full of fruits and other goodies. I would have loved to see their counter parts joining them and standing hand in hand, making this the most beautiful depiction of love, care and equality.

It was also the dwelling of elephant mahouts whose elephants were hired for the annual festival at the Uttara Guruvayoorappan Temple. The barely dressed children from the JJ Basti, the cluster of slum dwellers, would jump into the water as we cheered for them from the moving bus. A reciprocal waving of hands and a few words that never reached us were enough to keep us motivated to cheer more.

This was the story around one bank of the river.

My story, the one I kept painting and improving in my mind, was more about the other bank.

Acres of lush green farms on the government land on the river bed with a few thatched roof huts and some mango and banyan trees. This was a feast for my hungry eyes. There was this one hut closer to the river. It had a huge mango tree outside. There was a swing hung on it. A tyre swing on which kids could be seen swinging. One or two cows, a few goats and a brood of hens. A little away was this lady. The mother of the house. Sometimes she could be seen making ‘uplas’ or dung cakes. At other times she could be seen spreading the washed laundry. Some other times she would be making chappatis on her ‘chulha’, the traditional mud stove. Her man could be seen toiling in their nearby land.

To me, they were a perfect family. And that leaking hut was a perfect home. Imperfectly perfect! I wasn’t bothered about the security issues or the minimal space or the restricted living. The man. He made that picture complete. He was easily approachable. At times he could be seen running after the kids with a stick in his hand. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that he was there. Right there. He completed the picture. The missing link in my own family picture. And at that time I used to imagine all those letters from Riyadh being thrown high up into the sky. As they fell back slowly on to the ground they transformed into a figure. That missing figure. The one that would complete my family portrait. My Dad.

I had imagined all of us running hand in hand around the hut singing this beautiful melody from one of my most favourite movies, Saath Saath.

Ye Tera Ghar Ye Mera Ghar
Kisi Ko Dekhna Ho Gar
To Pehle Aake Maang Le
Meri Nazar Teri Nazar
Ye Tera Ghar Ye Mera Ghar
Ye Ghar Bahut Haseen Hai …

Home. Nest. Veedu. Ghar. Aashiyaana. Aabodaana. Ghonsla. Abode.

Words that I love. Words that I live by. Words that make me feel alive. Words that rejuvenate me. Words that resonate within me. Home is where the heart is. Home is the people in it. Home is the memories it creates. Home is nostalgia. Home is the pictures that one’s mind captures with bare eyes.  Home is the bonding that it represents. Home is the stories are written together. Home is where you are yourself. No boundaries. No restrictions. No inhibitions. We may grow in age, we may move places and we may forget about it totally. But deep inside, the memories, those pictures are deeply engraved within each of us. The ones of the picture perfect home that you long for even after ages.

What are your fondest memories of the place you still call ‘home’?

#QuoteCafe #2 – The Kiss (3 pictures)

The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions – the little, soon forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look or heartfelt compliment. ― Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“The sunlight claps the earth, and the moonbeams kiss the sea: what are all these kissings worth, if thou kiss not me?”
― Percy Bysshe Shelley

“What would you do if I kissed you right now?”
I stared at his beautiful face and his beautiful mouth and I wanted nothing more than to taste it. “I would kiss you back.”
Michelle Hodkin, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous. ― Ingrid Bergman

“We kiss all the time.” I clear my throat, then add, “We just…do it in private.”
“A smug expression crosses his face. “I don’t buy it for a second, ’cause if you were my girlfriend and a stud like me was livin’ in your house, I’d kiss you in front of the guy every chance I got as a reminder.”
“A reminder of w-w-what?”
“That you were mine.”
― Simone Elkeles, Rules of Attraction

“Laugh, even when you feel too sick or too worn out or tired.
Smile, even when you’re trying not to cry and the tears are blurring your vision.
Sing, even when people stare at you and tell you your voice is crappy.
Trust, even when your heart begs you not to.
Twirl, even when your mind makes no sense of what you see.
Frolick, even when you are made fun of. Kiss, even when others are watching. Sleep, even when you’re afraid of what the dreams might bring.
Run, even when it feels like you can’t run any more.
And, always, remember, even when the memories pinch your heart. Because the pain of all your experience is what makes you the person you are now. And without your experience—you are an empty page, a blank notebook, a missing lyric. What makes you brave is your willingness to live through your terrible life and hold your head up high the next day. So don’t live life in fear. Because you are stronger now, after all the crap has happened, than you ever were back before it started.”
― Alysha Speer

* Pictures clicked at Qutub Minar, Delhi premises with #Nikon #P900.

It’s a Girl!

The three deadliest words in the world…they say. To me, these are the most beautiful words that I heard twice in my life.

The three deadliest words in the world, ‘It’s a Girl.’

The recent murder of Pune Techie, Rasila Raju, has shocked me beyond words. She was with an IT giant that most of the people of my generation respected when it came to employee welfare. I hear that this is also history now. Sad.

I am a woman. A girl who grew up in the National Capital Territory. A girl who has spent a significant part of her life in her hometown in Kerala as a school going girl during summer vacations. A woman who has travelled to some of the major cities (including Metros) of this country as part of her corporate job requirement. And I regret the fact that I never felt safe in any of these places.

At home, there were men (read close relatives) who harassed and molested an eleven-year-old and there were women (read mothers) who refused to accept that they did so, let alone pacify the child for what he/she experienced. On the road, there were boys and men of all age group who left no chance of passing crude and vulgar remarks, pressing their bodies against ours, groping and molesting. The newspapers were always full of stories of child abuse and rapes. Bollywood movies that almost always showcased stalking, domestic violence, molestation and rape of women. Even in women-centric movies, it was almost always necessary for the lead to go through such episodes before she became stronger and achieved her dreams.

Why? Why can’t we as parents protect our children from people at home? Why can’t we stand up for the life that we are responsible for? Why do we always put family relations first and children last? Why can’t we teach our boys to respect a girl for who she is, another human being? Why can’t we stop waiting for the last minute? Why can’t we as a society stand up for someone getting harassed in the middle of the road, or on a bus or in a conference room?

No. We won’t. We will never. Because we are a bunch of shameless armchair activists. Even when we witness any such incident, instead of catching the abusers, we will still be whispering amongst ourselves as to how it must be the girl’s fault, it must be her clothes, it must be the time and it must be the place. I have myself been the subject of criticism many a times because I intervened. Be it on a bus, be it on the road or at a function. “Why do you have to react?”, “Why do you need to get into it?”, “It’s not happening to you.” These are some of what is told to me.

After all these years and after Nirbhaya, Soumya, Jisha, Swathi and hundreds and thousands like them, we have still done nothing to keep these rapists at bay. In fact, the slow pace of these cases has just increased their fearlessness.

We are ready to protest as a united force for protecting a certain traditional ritual but we don’t find crime against women and children important enough to stand up as a nation.

I don’t blame men. I blame women. Yes. Women who are the first to blame the victim on the basis of her dressing, choice of career, choice of staying alone, choice of being single, choice of the time of the day, choice of the place. We leave no leaf unturned to make her life hell. So much that we almost often drag them to the edge of committing suicide.

If you haven’t yet, you must read this interview of former CBI Director R.K. Raghavan, presently with the Tata Consultancy Services as Corporate Security adviser.

We cannot root out crime, only reduce its intensity, says Raghavan

I don’t blame the law and order alone. I blame everyone. I blame everyone including myself. Why haven’t we found this issue important enough to protest as a society? Why are our traditional rituals given much more importance than a living human being? Why are these few monsters able to repeat such offences again and again? Why are we giving birth to more and more of them through our silence and apathy?

As I was thinking of this, I had an epiphany. A brilliant one!

Allow gender determination tests across the country. Also, legalise female foeticide. That’ll put an end to all this crap. 

What do you say?

I am serious. We must fight for this. It will help control most of the crimes. You must have heard of that Hindi phrase, Na rahega baans na bajegi baansuri which vaguely means ‘No root, No fruit’. Every problem must be tackled at source. Jad se mita do. No girl. No women. No children. No molesting. No rape. No blame. Jhamela hi khatam! Neither to the government nor to the law and order officials nor to anyone else. Think over it. It’s a fool proof proposal.

If we cannot protect our daughters (and sons) we should rather not give them birth at all. I wish I hadn’t. My heart aches at the mere thought of letting my children live in this rot. And I know that as women this is all that they can expect in pretty much any part of the world. Sigh!

What an idea to share on an auspicious day like Basant Panchami when we worship and pray Goddess Sarawati (read a woman), the goddess of learning, wisdom, knowledge, fine arts, refinement, science and technology, to attain enlightenment through knowledge and to rid ourselves of lethargy, sluggishness and ignorance. The one who educates. A big bunch of moral hypocrites we are!

End Gendercide Manifesto (Picture Courtesy Pinterest)

#QuoteCafe #1 – Innocence

Picture clicked at Golden Creepers Farm Retreat on #Nikon #P900.

My love for words dates back to the 1980s when Dad left for the Mid-East for a decade long assignment. The letters soaked in bucketfuls of tears would reach him and the eternal wait for his response would continue. No amount of words could heal the wounded heart of that five-year-old or bridge the physical gap between us. But solace of some kind it provided. I was an avid reader back then. With life meddling with the daily affairs my reading has taken a backseat. However much I try I am unable to finish a book before weeks. Need to work hard on this. May be after the examinations are over.

I am mad about Quotes and Sayings. So much that most of my journal entries begin and end with quotes. The man and I fell in love not because of our looks but because of our shared love for words. I take pride in admitting that ours was a love affair that bloomed behind the curtains of emails (read Rediffmail) and exchanging books. We are both not very outgoing types and I guess that’s why we clicked after three years of acquaintance. If ever we happened to be in office at the same time, we would greet each other on WinPopUp (love finds its own way without announcing it to the world) with one beautiful quote. His first and the most beautiful gift to me till date is one such book, Wake-Up Calls: Making The Most Out Of Every Day (Regardless Of What Life Throws You) by Joan Lunden. 

Looking back at life, I am thankful for every single person, every single moment, every single happening in my life. Grateful from the depth of my heart. Life lessons.

#QuoteCafe is that one series which has been on my mind since a long time now. It will help me share my choicest clicks with a collection of the best quotes I read through the week. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed planning it.

“There’s nothing more contagious than the laughter of young children; it doesn’t even have to matter what they’re laughing about.”
Criss Jami, Killosophy

“And that’s what innocence is. It’s simple and trusting like a child, not judgmental and committed to one narrow point of view. If you are locked into a pattern of thinking and responding, your creativity gets blocked. You miss the freshness and magic of the moment. Learn to be innocent again, and that freshness never fades.”
Michael Jackson

“He stood at the window of the empty cafe and watched the activities in the square and he said that it was good that God kept the truths of life from the young as they were starting out or else they’d have no heart to start at all.”
Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.”
Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

“For children are innocent and love justice, while most of us are wicked and naturally prefer mercy.”
G.K. Chesterton

So, which one is your favourite quote(s)? Do share for I can eat, drink and breathe quotes.

#MythicalMondays – Sampati

Most of us are aware of Jatayu and his role in Ramayana. This post is about his lesser known brother Sampati. Sampati turned out to be crucial in Sita’s search in Valmiki’s Ramayana.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The great king Daksha Prajapati (father of Sati, Shiva’s consort) was one of the Manasa Putras of Lord Brahma, born from his right thumb. Daksha had two wives; Prasuti and Panchajani. Vinata was one of the daughters of Daksha and Panchajani. She, along with twelve other sisters, was married to sage Kashyapa.

Vinata had two sons with Kashyapa, Aruṇa and Garuda. She brought them out as eggs. She was promised that she will have two powerful sons when the eggs hatch. However, out of impatience and curiosity she broke one of them. Aruna, radiant and reddish as the morning sun, was born from the broken egg. Due to premature breaking of the egg, Aruṇa was not as bright as the noon sun as he was promised to be. Aruṇa’s brother, Garuda, was born at full term, and eventually became the main vehicle of Lord Vishnu. Aruṇa supposedly was the charioteer of Surya, the Sun God.

Sampati and Jatayu were the sons of Aruna. Sampati and Jatayu were giddha (vultures) of the Deva (demi-gods) dynasty. Sampati was the King of Vultures and he was an old friend of Dasharatha (Ram’s father). He was the elder brother of Jatayu.

As young children they used to compete with each other as to who could fly higher. They could fly higher and higher than any other bird in the sky. On one such occasion, Jatayu flew so high that he was about to get charred by the scorching sun rays. Sampati saved his younger brother by spreading his own wings over him, protecting him from the hot flames of sun. But in this attempt Sampati got injured and lost his wings forever. Wingless, he fell down on to the earth near the Vindhya Mountains by the Southern Sea. Jatayu also was no longer able to fly and fell near the banks of Godavari River. This way, the two brothers got separated from each other.

Sage Chandrama informed Sampati that he will have to wait there till Lord Vishnu’s incarnation reached the place and restored his wings.

Later on in Ramayana, when Sita was abducted by Ravana, Jambuvant and Hanuman led Sugriva’s army of monkeys and reached the seashore in search of Sita. Tired and exhausted, they had collapsed on the sand when an old and hungry Sampati came out of the cave and thanked the Lords for bringing him food.

Picture Courtesy – Good Kids

Jambuvant told Angad how ironical life was. He said how this vulture was waiting to feast on them while another blessed vulture named Jatayu tried to rescue Sita from Ravana when he was on his way to Lanka after kidnapping Sita. They also informed him that Jatayu had fought a fierce battle with Ravana before he was defeated and his wings were cut. When Rama and Lakshmana reached there searching for Sita, they found an injured Jatayu. A dying Jatayu informed Rama about his fight with Ravana and also informed them the direction in which Ravana had taken Sita.

The moment he heard of Jatayu’s death, Sampati wanted to perform his last rites. The monkey army helped him in this. Afterwards Sampati, who could see beyond what others could see, informed them of how Ravana had taken Sita across the sea to Lanka in his Pushpaka Vimana. He also told them that Sita was waiting for Rama in the Ashok Vatika underneath a tree. At this time Sampati’s wings were healed. After thanking Jambuvant, Hanuman and the monkey army, Sampati flew away.

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